Jill Hamilton is one of those exceptional people who seems to make every situation she enters into a better experience for all. I met her at an outlaw downhill event a year ago. She was the only female racer in attendance. The slender, curly-haired brunette managed to blend seamlessly into the boy-crowd mentality of the moment without sacrificing an ounce of girl power. I believe Jill scored fifth overall–an impressive finish for a mass-start event on a secret course–no practice runs allowed.
Our paths crossed often, and we kindled up a pleasant friendship. I learned that Jill raced all-terrain vehicles most of her youth–a dangerous motorsport that groomed her for the lesser dangers and more tempered attitudes of mountain bike racing. The last time we hung out was at Snow Summit, in Big Bear Lake, California. I was testing downhill suspension. Jill had driven about 180 miles from her home in San Diego to practice on her Santa Cruz Super-8, and was camping nearby for the weekend.
Being unfamiliar with Snow Summit, I relied upon Jill to guide me through the ski areas network of gravity courses. Her bike handling skills underscored the fact that Hamilton was currently undefeated in Southern Californias expert class. Next season will be her first as a NORBA pro.
As we traveled up the chair lift, our conversations covered topics ranging from technical aspects of mountain bike suspension, environmental politics, the future of downhill racing and the inestimable pleasure of eating certain fast foods. I got the distinct impression that, if I gave her my Nikon and a lap-top computer, she could take over my spot at MBA.
Thankfully, Haro recently hired Jill as an inside sales rep, which should allow me to keep my editorship a while longer. Jill joins a compact crew there who are famous for their sardonic wit and hip creativity. She was excited that Haro already had a new downhill bike on order for her to finish off the season with. If everyone over there is half as sharp as Ms. Hamilton, then it is easy to understand why Haro is flourishing at a time when so many established bike companies are suffering. Keep an eye out for her in the results next season.
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