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Cyclist Evelyn Stevens gears up for London Olympics

The Acton native took the fast track from Wall Street analyst to, at age 29, Olympic cyclist.

Evelyn Stevens will represent the United States in road cycling at the London Summer Games.

Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

Evelyn Stevens will represent the United States in road cycling at the London Summer Games.

I was an analyst in the investment banking program at Lehman Brothers in New York City and then another firm. I DID THE 100-HOUR WORKWEEK. I wore a suit and I looked like a pale, puffy zombie.

In November 2007, I went to visit my sister in San Francisco for Thanksgiving. She signed me up for this cyclocross race, which is a hybrid between mountain biking and road cycling. And I just loved it. I came back to New York and DECIDED TO BUY A BICYCLE. That was probably the biggest one-item purchase I’ve ever made — a $1,000 entry-level bike. In the beginning, it just sat in my living room. Finally, I got the courage to start riding it in the city. I STARTED COMPETING at the amateur level in the summer of 2008. I got a coach in 2009.

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I fell in love with HOW FREE IT MADE ME FEEL. Instead of going to business school, I decided I was going to take a year off and see how good I could get on the bike.

Moving out of my apartment was when the reality hit me. I gave everything away on Craigslist — my desk, my dresser, my bed. I’m sitting in this empty apartment in New York City with a bag and my bike and crying hysterically. I was like, “Oh, my goodness, what kind of adventure am I on?” The adventure continues to unfold. HERE I AM GOING TO THE OLYMPICS.

When it comes to physical suffering, I can push my body to pretty extreme limits. I’m a strong climber. I’m a strong time trialist. The one thing I can guarantee you is I WILL RACE MY HEART OUT at the Olympics. Hopefully, by racing as hard as I can and as smart as I can, it gets a medal for me or for my teammates.    

— As told to Shira Springer

Interview has been edited and condensed.

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