Harnessing the fire inside | Genevieve Evans

By Tim Hauserman · 


Genevieve competes and wins in the Cascade Cream Puff in 2014 · 

Tahoe is full of world-class athletes. Some we see in television commercials looking ravishing selling underwear or GoPro. Some we see in videos jumping off cliffs or doing promotions for new products. It’s all good. That is the nature of the game. Promote yourself to obtain sponsorships.

But there are also a lot of amazing athletes in Tahoe who work full-time jobs in their fields, get little in the way of financial support, and, yet, still find the time and energy to produce some amazing results. The kind of person that you pass by in the supermarket and have no idea that underneath the mild exterior there is a fire inside. One of those people is Genevieve Evans. She is quiet and unassuming, but an incredible athlete.

When we spoke recently, Genevieve reminded me that the first time we met was when I taught her skate skiing (one of a long list of my former students who can now kick my ass). The last few years, she volunteered to be a Strider Glider coach for Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area. We were the instructors for an advanced group of fifth-grade skiers.

Often, (back in the snowy years) I would take the lead and Genevieve would take the back, skiing along in cruise mode chatting with the kids. Then, when I perused the Great Ski Race results, I was surprised to find that she had captured 3rd place in her age group. Unbeknownst to me, she is an awesome skier. But to Genevieve, skate skiing is just her winter sport. What she excels at is off-road triathlon and long-distance mountain bike races.


Riding in the Park City Point to Point 75-mile race · 

Work, life balance
Genevieve, now 41-years-old, grew up on the swim team and running cross-country at Long Beach Poly High School. She went to UC Berkeley, and obtained a degree in economics, but the mountains called, so she moved to Tahoe.

“I wanted to become a ski bum,” she said.

So, she took her economics degree from one of America’s foremost institutions and put it to work like many other Tahoe folks – at the rental shop in Squaw Valley.

After three years in Tahoe, she and her future husband, Jim McHugh, decided they needed to try career-oriented jobs so they moved to Oakland, where she spent four years commuting to work in the financial industry in San Francisco. But she missed the mountains, and was sick of city life, and was disappointed that “I was the least fit I’d ever been,” she says. She quit her job and hiked the Pacific Crest Trail.

“I gained this incredible level of fitness while walking. I wanted to keep that up.”

So, she competed in the Donner Lake Triathlon, and was hooked. Triathlon combined all the sports she loved. She found an internship with LSC Transportation Consultants in Tahoe City, that later turned into a full-time, career. She still works there as a planner.


Going all in for La Ruta de Los Conquistadores Adventure Mountain Bike Race in Costa Rica

At home on the dirt
Once she was in Tahoe she began mountain biking in earnest and decided that on the dirt was where she belonged. The XTERRA off-road triathlons were best suited to her skills and desires instead of the road-based triathlons. In 2012, she captured a second place in the amateur division at the nationals in Utah, which qualified her for a pro license.

“I’m competing in the Pros now, which is super competitive, and becoming more so,” she says. Last year at the nationals, she was 11th among the pros, which was her personal best time.

She enjoys being surrounded by other athletes from around the world at XTERRA events, but the real reason she competes is because she loves “being outside, being on the dirt, in the woods. It is addictive. Being fit makes you feel good. Also, if you go long distances you can see so much terrain.”

Genevieve put that focus on going long distances to good use by taking on some grueling mountain biking events. One of Genevieve’s favorites is the Cascade Cream Puff in Oakridge, Ore., which she first attempted in 2006. It’s 100 miles on a mountain bike, with 18,000 feet of climbing. Grueling.

The first season she didn’t finish it, missing the time cut off at 92 miles, but a few years later she won the woman’s division. She says the course was “ridiculously muddy. I had to walk my bike on the downhills.”

Evans has also competed in the six-day Breck Epic event in Breckenridge, Colo., which she rode with her husband. She picked up a first in the 40- to 50-year-old age bracket in that race.

A new attraction for Genevieve is international stage races. Last fall, she competed in the La Ruta de los Conquistadores in Costa Rica, “which starts at the beach in Jaco, and ended at the beach in Limon. Three days of mud, hike a bike, river rafting and carrying your bike over these rickety railroad bridges. Good times though. Looking forward to my next international stage race,” she said.

What’s next? While she has been avoiding Ironman because she wouldn’t get to ride on her beloved dirt, she believes that she might have to give it a go.