Sage Freshman Peddles,Upshifts to Rising Glory

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By Justin Swanson | NB Indy

Amelia “Millie” Tanner’s day starts at 4:45 a.m. She starts stretching by 5:15 a.m., then she sets her bike on stationary rollers and rides for half an hour. The semi-pro cyclist is determined, singularly focused, and just grazing the extent of her routine training.

And the 15-year-old is only starting her day.

Taking a break from the bike, she gets ready and heads off to class as a freshman at Sage Hill School.

Amelia “Millie” Tanner at Sage Hill School. — Photo by Sara Hall
Amelia “Millie” Tanner at Sage Hill School.
— Photo by Sara Hall

After school, she picks up where she left off – working out and biking for four hours, riding somewhere between 80 and 90 miles. Then she spends time with family and does her homework. She’s in bed by 11:30 p.m. That’s just five hours of sleep before she’s up and doing it all over again.

“I’m at the point where I want success so badly, I’m willing to lose a little sleep to accomplish my goals,” said Tanner, an Irvine resident. “Also, there’s a lot of coffee involved.”

Tanner’s sight is set high. She is in the talent pool for both the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games. For her to get there, Tanner will need to accumulate a certain number of international points in races to qualify. Not only that, she will also need to win a national championship, a junior championship, and a junior international championship. To her name, she has already won 10 state championships of California and Nevada and eight gold medals at the Junior Olympics among some 100 career wins. She missed first place at the 2011 USA Cycling National Championship by eight tenths of a second. She is a five-time medalist at nationals and a two-time international medalist.

“It’s always intense racing,” she said. “It’s one of the toughest sports in the world.”

Tanner rides with Jet Cycling’s Junior Women’s Elite Team, a group of 15 to 18-year-olds that are all either pro, neo-pro, or semi-pro, like Tanner. Her father, Jet, is the director of Tanner’s team.

Tanner racing Tour de Murrieta women's pro race in March. — Photo by Jet Tanner
Tanner racing Tour de Murrieta women’s pro race in March.
— Photo by Jet Tanner

Insistent on tackling whatever challenge she encounters, Tanner found and fell in love with racing when she was 9-years-old. Seeing her father come home from bike rides captured Tanner, impelling her to join him on his cool down around the block. Soon enough, her rides with her dad grew longer and longer, from around the block several times to several miles, then 20, 40 and 60 mile rides.

“It was like when you watch a child play a sport, and they take to it like a duck to water,” Jet said.

Having tried the spectrum of sports, “any one you can think of,” she said, Tanner became hooked on cycling after her first race, choosing to ride over playing softball.

“I prefer the time trial and the road race,” she explained of the differing forms of competition. The time trial is a race against the clock among racers with staggered starts; fastest time wins. A road race is a distance race with cyclists all starting together. You push your self to the limit and find out who you are.”

Tanner in the Volkswagen Sea Otter Classic in Monterey last weekend. — Photo by Jet Tanner
Tanner in the Volkswagen Sea Otter Classic in Monterey last weekend.
— Photo by Jet Tanner

Of course, Tanner manages not only a rigorous training regimen but staying on top of her studies and even branching out to extracurricular activities as a first year high schooler.

“I am absolutely loving high school. Sage is the most amazing school,” she enthused. “The community is the best thing about Sage. Teachers are so helpful, and everyone is so supportive of anything you take part in. I am so thankful.”

Most recently, Tanner helped put on the school’s Latin convention. She hopes to run for student council when she is a junior and wants to try out for the drama department and is considering joining clubs. Most recently, Tanner was accepted as a Sage Hill School ambassador, a position which requires her to greet incoming students and represent her school.

“Millie is one of the most hardworking, discipline and energetic students,” said Tanner’s advisor Amy Ray, physical education department chair at Sage. “Her drive and maturity have helped her become the person and athlete that she is today.”

She is a young woman who is always looking for what more she can do, what more she can accomplish.

Tanner can be seen riding about town or along her favorite route: From Irvine to Newport, down to Dana Point and back again. Though she may get off her bike in Dana to dip her toes in the water, she won’t stop for long.

“I’m very focused. I treat training like a job,” said Tanner.

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Tanner racing in the San Dimas Stage Race women's pro race in March. — Photo by Danny Munson/Cycling Illustrated
Tanner racing in the San Dimas Stage Race women’s pro race in March.
— Photo by Danny Munson/Cycling Illustrated

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