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The nation's top downhill mountain bike racer—she was the 2003 U.S. National champion at age 38—is the author of the new book Downhill: The Lifecycle of a Gravity Goddess.
SI: You graduated with a biology-chemistry double major from Mount Saint Mary's College and earned a master's in marine biology at Maryland. Aren't you smart enough to know that biking down a hill at 40 miles per hour is crazy?
Streb: What I was doing before this was much more dangerous. I was a molecular biologist doing AIDS research. I literally sometimes spilled AIDS-infected blood on my shoes.
SI: At your age you must feel like a grandmother competing against these young punks.
Streb: I'm willing to embrace my weaknesses. I don't have to pretend I'm an 18 year-old superhero. I know I'm kind of old and kind of uncoordinated and a science nerd, but I don't mind making that public. Writing the book is egocentric, but telling people your weaknesses is at least self-effacing.
SI: You posed nude in Outside, and your book cover is provocative. Do you take guff for that kind of thing?
Streb: The men dig it. My sponsors dig it. But some women are resentful. They say, "Just because you look feminine and have C-cup breasts and we only have A-cup breasts, it's not fair that you should get sponsored." Well, there's not much you can do. That's the way the world is, and I'm sorry.
SI: Should downhill biking be in the Olympics?
Streb: If downhill ski racing is an Olympic sport, our sport deserves the same amount of seriousness. It's the same sport, just different bikes.
SI: What's the fastest you've ever traveled on a bike?