Written by Vaila and Krista Heinemann, daughters of Annabel Heinemann, Director of International Sales & Warranty. Foreword by Ashlee Peterson, Marketing PR & Community Coordinator; afterword by Sablle Scheppmann, National Sales Manager.
Annabel has ski-patrolled as a volunteer at Squaw Valley alongside my dad for as long as I can remember. Everyone looks so similar when they’re geared up in the uniform, so as a kid, it was hard to tell her apart from any other beardless person in the mass of red jackets… It wasn’t until I was 25 years old, when we started working together, that I realized how different and special she really is.
One night, I joined Annabel at an industry event she was a keynote speaker at. She talked about her career, going back to her epic powder days as a full-time ski patroller at Snowbird to her current work with Mountain Hardwear, inciting that hard work always perseveres. Afterward, many women came up to Annabel, thanking her for the amazing advice and flooding her with follow-up questions.
It also happened to be her birthday… And around 8:30, as we were capping off the night, (or so I thought) Annabel pulled me aside and said, “Ya know… I’ve always wanted to do a night ride on Mount Tamalpais. Are you in?” I was so confused. Is she kidding? Does she know how late and dark it is? She does realize I don’t have any gear? But I recalled her speech, and instead, I pushed those thoughts out and said, “Why the hell not? Let’s do it! ”
We went back to her house, where she riffled through her drawers to find the layers I would need, scavenged for extra headlamps, tossed me some extra shoes, and loaded the bikes up. I was so physically uncomfortable with nervousness, but Annabel’s energy and general zest for life empowered me to keep pedaling until we reached the summit. We got to celebrate her birthday with a stunning view and high stoke before the clock struck midnight. It’s still one of my favorite memories to date—the spontaneity, her excitement, and her encouragement, the feeling of shared accomplishment—all in honor of a pretty remarkable lady.
I honestly cannot comprehend how she does it all…putting in long hours at the office, the hard work she does at home with her family—and somehow having energy left over for a lunch break workout or epic mountain bike rides like this one… She’s set an amazing example for me on how to be a true lady boss, it’s no wonder her three daughters are all superstars: strong, hardworking, smart, creative, kind, warm, thoughtful, and just impressive as hell. I see so much of that in Annabel, and I can’t think of a better mentor, friend, or work-mom. – Ashlee
I’m 13 years old and love to bike, but I was born with a serious heart condition. My sisters and I learned to bike when we turned two, and my sisters are big mountain bike racers now, but I can’t even pedal up a little hill. I’ve always wanted to be like them, and my parents knew it.
At first, my mom would take me on bike rides in a bike seat, then a bike trailer, then a trail-a-bike, and finally, a tandem. We did lots of long rides and single-track on the tandem, but it just wasn’t the same as being on my own bike… When my dad came up with a plan to convert my sister’s old mountain bike into an e-bike, I was finally free!!! I started riding my own bike to school, on the trails, and all around Marin, where we live, with my mom. Next stop was Moab, Utah.
We started on the Slickrock Trail, where I could work on my skills, riding the technical sandstone rock. Then, we headed to the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park for 100 miles of mountain biking and camping. Riding the whole way like my sisters was amazing! But my mom had bigger plans.
She knew how much more I would enjoy riding if I had a lighter, full-suspension e-bike with enough power and control that I could go on big, hard rides with my sisters. Through one of her amazing Mountain Hardwear customers, she got connected with Maxon Bike drive, a Swiss company that makes super sophisticated e-bike motors. My mom spent hours making sure the bike would be ready when we arrived for our family dream trip of biking in Europe. I was scared it wouldn’t work (since all the other nice bikes I tried didn’t) but when I test-rode it, it was perfect. It could power me up the steepest hills no problem! My mom had done it! We packed up and headed to Lenzerheide, the mountain-biking capital of Switzerland, for a week of incredible biking fun.
In Lenzerheide, we rode gorgeous trails all day, every day, biking over mountain passes, through snow-melt streams, stopping at mountain huts when we needed to refuel. One day, we rode over the passes to Arosa and back around the mountain. We even got to meet Mom’s old friend who lived there that she used to ski with in Alaska before she had us kids. We were so tired after riding all day that we got a ride back to town on the famous yellow bus—equipped with bike racks, of course! Another day we took the chair lifts and gondolas so we could cover even more ground and see more cool mountain tops. We even got to visit the hut where the mountain biking legend Danny MacAskill did one of his famous movies. It was the best trip ever.
Thanks for being awesome, Mom! You helped me become the mountain biker I’ve always dreamed of being. – Krista
The MCBC Dirt Fondo: 45 miles and 7,000 feet of elevation gain throughout a series of trails here in Marin County, the route starts near Rodeo Beach, climbing in and out of the peaks and valleys on a combination of incredible singletrack and fireroad overlooking the ocean. It’s a classic ride in our wild Heinemann family. My mom first did the ride with Izzy, my older sister, in 2014. 2019 was my turn.
The fog was thick that Saturday morning. There’s no official start to the Dirt Fondo, so we got ready for a six-hour day on the bike and headed out! Side by side, we (slowly) made our way along the route, saying hi to the other local high-school riders and parents on the way. Mom’s always been one of those mountain bikers who appears kind of slow, (sorry mom!) but when it comes to long climbs, long rides, and serious endurance, she’s consistent—she just keeps going. Don’t ask me how, I have no idea, everyone’s gotta get tired at some point, right? Not her, not on the Dirt Fondo.
We arrive at the trail called Deer Park after quite a few miles. It looks innocent at the start, but soon enough, you get to the steep, 8% grade… Off goes mom! The next time I saw her was at the top, at the aid station! Izzy was there, volunteering, making crepes. Seeing her there, especially because seeing her meant extra-delicious food, was definitely a highlight for Mom and I: the personal connection to someone there cheering you on and hoping you have fun makes it that much more remarkable.
Wind was whipping by the aid station, so we didn’t stop for too long. Izzy judged the weather wrong, wearing shorts, so mom donated a windbreaker to the cause. And on we went, leaving a double-windbreaker-wearing Izzy at the aid station. We didn’t peek out of the fog until the very tippy top of Mt. Tamalpais, marking the halfway point. Coming so far and finally getting the famous view of the Bay was rewarding as always.
Descending, we came back through the aid station, down our favorite trails, back out to the ocean, and then inland again, riding all over the place, eventually bringing us right back to Rodeo Beach where it all began. (Insert sigh of exhaustion and a bunch of high fives). The end-of-ride BBQ near one of the local stables is never one to forget. All the riders are there, there are hamburgers on the grill, salad, all the food you could want. This after-party of sorts was the first time I met Otis Guy, a hometown biking hero, courtesy of Mom’s introduction. We met so many interesting people, and got to reconnect with all sorts of friends.
Riding routes like the Dirt Fondo with Mom is definitely humbling. There’s certainly grumbling about being tired or annoyed, but in the end, this time is special. Being in nature, where I can go reconnect with the great outdoors is something I’ll always treasure, and it makes it a million times more significant and memorable to share this time with my mom. – Vaila
I’m not a mother myself, but it’s incredible to see how Annabel is a role model from the trail to her profession. I admire Annabel’s relationship with her daughters, and it gives me the confidence to think that maybe I could be a badass mom one day, too. Even at work, she has motherly instincts in everything she does.
I met Annabel on my first day at Mountain Hardwear, and she has been there for me ever since. She is always there to be a shoulder to lean on and an ear when you need it, and you can always be sure that she’ll give it to you straight but end the conversation with a laugh or smile.
She might not be my mom, but I feel that same motherly energy she gives her girls as a leader I am looking to everyday – Sablle