|Twigg in the '80s with the 7-Eleven|
According to a 1996 Sports Illustrated interview, Twigg was born in Hawaii, but was raised in the Seattle area. As a child, she was so precociously intelligent, that at the age of 14, instead of starting high school, she started college at the University of Washington where she got a degree in Biology. Perhaps ironically, her mother apparently wanted to spare the painfully shy teenager the difficulty of trying to fit in at high school. Not surprisingly, Rebecca felt completely cut-off as a young kid in a college environment. But during that time, she turned her attention to bicycle racing, where she applied her talent and passion for perfection. Within a short time, she was shredding the competition in junior girls road and track competitions. She won her first of 16 National Championship titles (in the individual time trial) at the age of 18. National titles in the road race, and her favored event, the pursuit, soon followed, as well as her first World Championship in pursuit that same year.
In 1985, she married another national-team bicycle racer, Mark Whitehead, though that marriage lasted only a couple of years. (Whitehead died in 2011, at the age of 50).
Then at the age of only 26, with an impressive run of National and World titles, Twigg retired from racing and returned to college to get another degree, this time in computer science. She then spent the next couple of years as a computer programmer.
In 1991 she returned to racing when she learned that the pursuit event, which had previously not been offered as a women's Olympic event, was being added for the '92 games in Barcelona. She took the bronze in those games, and went on to win two more World Championships in that event in the next two years.
This was from an article in Vanity Fair, 5/96,
with the photo taken by Annie Liebowitz.
You can really get a sense of the power Twigg
must have had in those legs from this picture.
|A Pearl Izumi ad from about 1984.|
In 2002, she was inducted into the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame, though according to the USBHF website she did not go to the induction ceremony, and instead her award was accepted for her by a third party. The most recent thing I could find about her was from 2004 when she participated in Greg LeMond's Fantasy Cycling Camp which was held to raise money for Eddie B, whose California home was destroyed by brushfires earlier that year. There wasn't much information given, other than the fact that she was there.
Rebecca's impressive racing credentials, as well as her pretty face, meant that one could see her in numerous advertisements and magazine covers. You can see a couple examples here. I still have a couple old issues of Bicycle Guide on which her picture graces the covers. And searching through the pages, it isn't too hard to find her picture in some of the ads -- though my favorite is probably the Pro-tec ad shown below. A quick Google search would turn up a less modest version that was available as a poster, though I don't seem to have a copy of that one in my possession.
|From the cover of Bicycle Guide, 1985|
|Another Bicycle Guide cover, from 1988|
|A 1988 ad for Pro-tec helmets. There is another|
version out there that's far less modest, and a
bit more playful. I've always liked this one, though.
Maybe somebody out there knows where she is or what she's doing -- and maybe pass this along to her. She might like to know that she still has a lot of fans out there. Among American bicycle racers, male or female, Rebecca Twigg remains one of the all-time best.