Meet the Visit Dallas Cycling Team

Anna Grace Christiansen

Occupation: Cyclist and Designer
Age: 29

"The people of Dallas were very warm and welcoming and I was impressed by the culture and art in the city. There is also very beautiful bike riding within and just outside of the city! My initial impression left me curious and wanting more. I look forward to spending more time exploring Dallas in the future!"

How did you get into cycling?
I found my love for cycling after a move to Portland in 2010. I struck gold with the first team I joined and was blown away with the dynamics of team racing. I quickly climbed the ranks at local events and tried my first professional race in 2011, finishing 15th.

What keeps you busy outside of cycling?
My love for cycling has propelled me into finding nonprofit endeavors to benefit the cycling community. In 2014, I spearheaded a fundraising campaign that benefits women's cycling clubs in the Pacific Northwest through cycling kits and apparel that I designed myself.

Career Highlights
1st 2014 Mt. Tabor Circuit Race | 2nd 2014 Capitol Stage Race | 1st 2013 Nature Valley Grand Prix - Amateur Competition


Olivia Dillon

Occupation: Professional Cyclist, Personal Trainer, Coach
Age: 41

"I want to come back and spend a lot more time there visiting the Art district and museums, experience the culinary uniqueness and watch locals walking the streets in the shadows of skyscrapers dressed in suits, cowboy boots and cowboy hats. In addition, I was mostly struck by the friendliness and fabulous hospitality of everyone we met."

How did you get into cycling?
I started racing in 2007 while working full time and competing in triathlons. My passion for bike racing took hold and I took a leap, quitting my job in financial services and dedicating my life to the sport. In 2009, my first year racing full time, I achieved multiple top 10 NRC placings.

What keeps you busy outside of cycling?
Off the bike I enjoy exploring the trails in Marin County, cooking and experimenting with new recipes, as well as checking out live music as much as I can.

Career Highlights
1st 2014 Cascade Classic Sprint Competition | 1st Tour of Utah Sprint Competition | 2nd 2014 Joe Martin Stage Race


Kat Hunter

Occupation: Freelance Writer
Age: 31

"Dallas is probably the city I know the least about in Texas.... But when you really get to experience a place and spend time with the people who live there, you see how much more there is to it. I left thinking there was more to Dallas than I'd imagined--for example, there's more of an active, outdoor component--and I look forward to visiting again."

How did you get into cycling?
By most standards, I arrived to the sport of cycling late. I got my first road bike in 2008 at the age of 24 and discovered bike racing in 2011. I'd always been involved in sports but soon discovered that cycling was my real talent and passion.

What have the last few years been like? 
I've primarily raced in Texas, with a few guest-riding experiences at NRC events in 2012 and 2014. Last year, guest riding for FCS Cycling, I won the final stage of the Cascade Cycling Classic in Bend, Oregon. This will be my first year to race on a professional team and focus on national-level races.

Career Highlights
1st 2014 Cascade Cycling Classic | 6th 2014 Joe Martin Stage Race | 1st Texas State Time Trail Championship


Mia Manganello

Occupation: Professional Athlete
Age: 25

"Being a huge foodie, I love the fact you can be anywhere in Dallas and find amazing food."

How did you get into cycling?
I retire from inline speed skating in 2010 after missing qualification (by one second!) for the Olympic trials. After taking a year off from competitive sports, I felt the urge to go for a bike ride. After joining a few local group rides I was urged to try racing, not knowing the addiction that was soon to follow.

What's made you stay with the sport?
I've been racing for three years now with the support of my family, friends, and amazing team. I am very proud of my success and consistent growth but the best is definitely yet to come!

Career Highlights
3rd 2014 Cascade Classic | 5th 2014 Valley of the Sun | 2nd 2013 Joe Martin Stage Race


Amber Neben

Occupation: Professional Cyclist, Author, Speaker
Age: 40 

"I loved the downtown Dallas scene. The evening skyline was eye catching, and the excitement in the streets over the Mavericks win was‎ fun!"

How did you get into cycling?
I began cycling seriously while studying for a PhD in molecular biology, genetics, and biochemistry at the University of California in Irvine. After a top-10 finish in the collegiate national championships, I decided to cut my doctoral studies short - taking a master's degree in biology instead - and enter professional cycling.

What keeps you busy outside of cycling?
In 2014, I started the Dare to be Project, a nonprofit organization geared toward helping homeless and underserved youth embrace adversity, assist in setting life goals and teach the freedom and responsibility that comes with owning bikes.

Career Highlights
2012 Team Trial World Champion | 2008 and 2012 U.S. Olympic Team member | 2003 Road Race National Champion


Flavia Oliveira

Occupation: Professional Cyclist
Age: 33 

"It's a gorgeous, wide open, vast city that is well kept and super neat. Which makes it easy to want to explore the outdoors and the lovely scenery, whether it in the city or the country side."

How did your family inspire you to get into cycling?
I swam competitively for many years in Rio de Janiero, my hometown, alongside my younger brother whom had lost his legs due to a contaminated polio vaccination when he was a toddler. I moved to the U.S. when I was 16 and quickly found a home running track in high school. After losing my dad in 2004, I moved to California and quickly moved on to triathlons, placing fifth in my first race.

What's been a major accomplishment in your cycling career?
In 2009 I was invited to race professionally with the team Michela Fanini, the longest standing professional women's racing team in Italy.

Career Highlights
1st in 2014 Vuelta Femenina a Costa Rica | 1st 2014 Vuelta a El Salvador | 2nd 2014 Tour of the Gila


Beth Ann Orton

Occupation: Physician Assistant
Age: 33 

"Dallas exceeded my expectations; particularly in the depth of its arts community, architecture, and of course, its cycling community."

How did you get into cycling?
My love for cycling began after I graduated with my master's degree in 2011 and thanks to a handful of good friends and mentors, I found mountain biking and cyclocross racing soon after. I spent 2013 testing the waters of USA professional cyclocross, where I notched multiple top-ten finishes, top twenty in the USA Pro CX rankings and acquired my first UCI podium.

What keeps you busy outside of cycling?
With a background in mountain sports, ski guiding, range climbing and experience as a wild-land firefighter, it's no secret I'm most at home in the hills. When not racing bikes, I work at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland where I retain a part-time practice and faculty position in the family medicine department.

Career Highlights
1st 2014 Star Crossed Cyclocross | 2nd 2013 North Carolian Grand Prix of Cyclocross | 6th 2014 Cascade Cycling Classic Prologue


Anna Sanders

Occupation: Professional Cyclist, Director of Coaching at Sigma Human Performance
Age: 34

"I have visited Dallas many times since I have family in the area, but have never been downtown. One word I would use to describe the downtown area...WOW, actually BIG may be more fitting!!! What a cool clean city with BIG things happening everyday. I LOVED seeing all of the parks integrated into the downtown plazas. Seeing grass in the middle of the city with food trucks and local cafes all around created a nice vibe that made me want to explore more."

What was your life like before cycling?
I received my B.S. degree in Exercise Science and Master's degree in Exercise Physiology from The University of Mississippi and was a four-year starter on the woman's soccer team. While completing my master's degree I served as graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Ole Miss Rebels athletic department and completed an internship in strength and conditioning at Auburn University working alongside 14 Olympian swimmers.

What's been a major accomplishment in your cycling career?
I represented Team USA in the Age Group World Championships Triathlon in Vancouver, Canada where I finished second among Americans and twelfth overall in my age group.

Career Highlights
1st 2014 Valley of Fire | 1st 2014 Not so Underground Crit | 2nd 2014 THF Realty Gateway Cup


Rachel Byus

Occupation: Cyclist, Visit Dallas Cycling Team Manager, Artist
Age: 29 

"Dallas is a great place, I hope we as a team can have a huge impact on the cycling community by improving bike lanes, bike share and cycling awareness in general. I love going back to Dallas for the great art, food, entertainment, and of course my family and friends!"

How did you get into cycling?
My parents helped run the local track when I was growing up and by age four, I had learned how to ride BMX. In 2007, I joined the Visit Dallas Cycling team completely new to road cycling and became the manager of the Visit Dallas Cycling team.

What's your role like as team manager?
I work behind the scenes and ensure the logistics for the team at every race. It's a lot of work, but all the hard work is worth it when I see the girls smiling on the podium at some of the biggest races in the U.S. This team is my family and I do for them.

Career Highlights
First place in O'Fallon Grand Prix Omnium | Second place in Marian University's 17th Annual Midwest Classic