Rising star Moriah ‘Mo’ Wilson’s fatal shooting stuns the Bay Area cycling world

The killing of competitive cyclist Anna Moriah “Mo” Wilson, in what Texas authorities have suggested was a jealousy-motivated attack, has left her Bay Area friends and the cycling community reeling. eclipse of a running star who was just beginning to wow his sport.

Austin police have issued an arrest warrant for Austin’s Kaitlin Marie Armstrong on suspicion of murdering the 25-year-old athlete who lived in San Francisco until a few weeks ago when she left his job to devote himself full-time to competitive riding. A police affidavit suggested Armstrong, 35, believed Wilson was romantically involved with Armstrong’s boyfriend, cyclist Craig Strickland. Officials said Wilson was found shot May 11 at a friend’s house in Austin where she had traveled for a bike race.

The murder stunned the Northern California cycling community, with friends trying to process the tragedy that had befallen a beloved athlete whose rising star was in the bike genre of gravel riding.

“I think the craziest thing about her was how much everyone was drawn to her,” said Helena Gilbert-Snyder, a friend and fellow cyclist. “She was very kind and caring, and she never really bragged. She never sought the spotlight – it just sort of found her.

And that found her quickly over the past year or so as she began to dominate the gravel riding world. She quickly had a “breakout year” that put her on a winning streak this year, said Craig Dalton of Mill Valley, host of The Gravel Ride podcast.

“What has been unmistakably confirmed is that she was a rising superstar in the sport of gravel cycling…that she was going to be someone to watch in 2022,” he told The Chronicle.

Originally from Vermont, Wilson had moved to the Bay Area in 2019, after graduating from Dartmouth, to work for Specialized, a Morgan Hill-based bike parts company where Gilbert-Snyder also worked. Wilson, an alpine skier at Dartmouth, was relatively new to competitive cycling. It has found its niche in gravel cycling, which features a handlebar bike with larger tires for riding on unpaved roads and trails, and can involve many types of terrain.

Her early successes led her to win the Big Sugar race at Bentonville in October, “a big event on the calendar,” Dalton said, “I wouldn’t say it was a surprise, but it definitely put the rest women on notice she was moving.

Her success against full-time athletes while working full-time as an event planner at Specialized led her to quit her job recently to focus on competitive racing full-time, moving back to Vermont. Interviewed on Dalton’s Podcast in December, she described her bittersweet feelings at the start and her love of the Bay Area, calling it “the best place to train.”

” I do not want to leave. It’s too good,” she said. “I’m still in awe of the driving around here…it still takes my breath away.”

Zachary Rynew, who runs the Gravel Bike California website, interviewed Wilson for Instagram posts in January and February and said following her was exciting as she was preparing for a “longer year than anyone could have expected.” .

“I think everyone was excited for her because it’s hard to do well in the sport of cycling,” he said. Wilson’s versatility was on display when she surprised many by beating a top field – on mountain bikes – in the open women’s division of the Sea Otter Classic 80-kilometre Fuego race this year in Monterey.

Says Dalton: “100%, everyone was talking about her. She went from someone who was showing evidence of toughness in 2021 to someone who was the leader of the pack.

Gilbert-Snyder called her friend “probably one of the best in the country, if not the world. She was going to get there,” but her cycling career was just beginning.

But aside from being a fierce competitor, Wilson was known as an upbeat, friendly person who didn’t take herself too seriously.

Rynew was impressed with Wilson’s “grace” in handling her newfound success.

“She was just humble and not ego driven,” he said. “I think it was really special to see someone with that level of competitive motivation still so well balanced. It’s really heartbreaking.

Dalton said Wilson “was incredibly friendly and serious and had a really nice energy to her.”

She hasn’t been shy about helping the nonprofit world either, said Tom Boss, director of off-road activities and events for the nonprofit Marin County Bicycle Coalition, which champions cycling and pedestrian infrastructure and bicycle-friendly policies.

When he heard of Wilson early last year, Boss said, he asked him to join the coalition’s all-terrain committee. Despite her work and racing training schedule, she “jumped on board,” he said.

His meteoric rise was an inspiration to many, his loss a “huge blow” to the community, he added. “Everyone was supporting her. And then…this tragedy happens.

In a statement to BikeNews, Wilson’s family in Vermont, said: “While the tragic loss of Moriah is unfathomable, at the same time, we want everyone to join us in celebrating his life, his achievements and his love for others. . .. Always pushing relentlessly to achieve her goals, we knew she was pursuing what she loved. We will miss her terribly and know that we all mourn her with us.

Rita Beamish, editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, contributed to this article.

Danielle Echeverria is a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]: @DanielleEchev

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