Amanda Coker is an ultra cyclist for Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 who has broken more cycling world records than you probably knew existed. Lately, she’s been competing on the road with VBR TWENTY24 in their ultra cycling races which are 100+ miles in length. You may recognize her as the leader of the team’s weekly Zwift community ride, leading nearly every TWENTY24 group ride since July 2019. But her competitive spirit and dedication to growth was nurtured long before she joined a professional team.
Before she was a cyclist, Coker grew up swimming in Raleigh, North Carolina on her local team. By middle school, like many coming-of-age adolescents, she began to struggle with her body weight which in turn affected her self-esteem. At the age of 12, Amanda weighed in at 200 pounds. As a child on the go, it was easier to grab fast food meals and to make boxed meals at home.
“Graduating middle school, I knew I had to do something about my health before going into high school. I started incorporating more vegetables and fruits, cutting my junk food intake down, while still enjoying some treats, and became more active.” reflects Coker. “When I went to high school, I joined the cross-country team as a freshman and that kind of kicked off my love for endurance.” Coker began to drop weight and gained more confidence in herself. Growing up around her father, a former triathlete, Amanda was gifted her first road bike for her 15th birthday. She competed in her first triathlon that year, and her passion for cycling was ignited.
“By then I was staying around 150 pounds, and I maintained that for a while, but after my wreck in 2011, it slowly came back on due to being sedentary from injuries.”
In 2011, Coker and her father were on a bike ride when they were both hit by a car. Between a severe traumatic brain injury, spinal injuries, and contusions sustained in the incident, Coker thought she could never ride again.
“I had another journey with weight loss ahead of me because I couldn’t work out. My depression took over and I unfortunately turned to food for comfort,” says Coker. “I remember sitting in a recliner thinking I would never take cycling for granted again if I was ever physically able to ride again.”
In 2015, Coker moved to Central Florida and was introduced to a paved 7-mile loop, close to a vehicular traffic trail, known as Flatwoods Park. Living close by, Coker gradually increased her riding over the year, going out as often as she could, focusing on getting her cycling groove back.
“As I rode more and more at Flatwoods, not having to worry about vehicles, I started gaining my confidence back on the bike. I started thinking, if I can do this today, then there’s nothing stopping me from doing it again tomorrow. This mindset became my entire mantra for every one of my 17 world records.” explains Coker, who in 2017, set the record for the most miles ridden on a bicycle in a single year – more than 86,000. An average of more than 236.8 miles per day. Coker went on to claim the overall world record for the fastest completion of 100,000 miles, in 423 days. When asked, Coker stated she never took a day off.
Over time, more and more people came out to the park to watch Amanda ride and even ventured out on their own on the Flatwoods trail. This inspired Amanda and her friends to create two boards for the achievers, one for those who completed 100-199 miles, and another for cyclists who exceeded 200 miles. People came from all over the world to reach their mileage goals, motivating Amanda to push even harder during her world records. Coker states that this influenced her slogan: inspiration is contagious.
Since setting her records, Coker began racing in road races and time trials, in addition to her ultra cycling, and was asked to join team VBR TWENTY24 (then TWENTY20) in 2018.
In 2020, she started coaching other cyclists from all around the globe to help them achieve their goals for cycling and fitness. Coker says she is always up for taking on new clients.
“It’s so rewarding just to be a part of someone’s goals and help get them in the same mindset,” reflects Coker. “All of my athletes have been thriving with improvements. For example, I have one who started out with no confidence, doubting his ability, and being hesitant. We worked together through both mental and physical barriers and now he’s crushing his personal bests, performing better, and even asks me for the hardest workout I can come up with.”
One of her recent memorable rides in the Blue Ridge Mountains included the RockStar Challenge this past April, racing from Harrisonburg all the way down to Roanoke on her bike, conquering 166 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing.
“I had never done a self-supported race before,” says Coker. “From finding sources of water along the course, relying on a preloaded map on my GPS, and trying to stay in the lead, I was definitely out of my comfort zone!” Even though she was in foreign territory, Coker succeeded both mentally and physically, finishing the Pave with more confidence on the bike.
But venturing away from her comfort zone means one thing for Coker: growth. And she’s happy to be back in Virginia’s Blue Ridge for more.
She also lent her talents to the Carilion Clinic IRONMAN 70.3 Virginia’s Blue Ridge Triathlon this summer when she raced relay-style alongside Virginia’s 9th District U.S. representative Morgan Griffith and local journalist Gene Marrano.
Just when you think Coker couldn’t be more impressive (and couldn’t possibly have spare time), she’s also writing a book.
“I have over 250 pages written just from the HAM’R (Highest Annual Mileage Record),” says Coker, “I'd love to publish it and then develop it into a movie someday!”
Even if it’s just one page at a time, Coker has no doubt that she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to.