Destined For Greatness

Angelo Washington takes the same meticulous and detail-oriented approach to downhill racing as he did in his former career as a semiprofessional baseball player. Photos: Jonathan Mehring

Destined For Greatness Angelo Washington's Journey From The Baseball Diamond to Downhill Brilliance

Dig back far enough through Angelo Washington’s YouTube channel and you’ll find “The Experience.” Posted at the end of 2014 Washington’s first year of riding—the video captures one of his earliest forays on his new bike, a clapped-out, 26-inch, gunmetal gray Dawes Roundhouse he scored off Craigslist for $300. The shaky, pixelated GoPro footage shows Washington’s point of view, which looks down on his long stem and narrow handlebars as he navigates the trails at Powhite Park in Richmond, Virginia.

When Washington’s tires leave the pavement and hit dirt, red text sprawls across the top of the screen. It reads, “No turning back now!” There is no introduction and no narration; just five minutes of newbie mountain bike action. The climax of the video comes at the three-and-a-half-minute mark, when Washington stuffs his front wheel into a root and dives headfirst over the handlebars. The viewer is then treated to a slow-motion replay of his crash set to an orchestral soundtrack, which ends with Washington splayed out in the leaves.

What’s remarkable about this video isn’t the clip itself, although it’s endearing in a home-movie kind of way. Rather, it’s a fascinating glimpse of Washington’s first deep dive into mountain biking, which makes his extraordinary skills progression all the more impressive. Today, if you race downhill in the southeastern United States, you probably know Angelo. After his first racing season in 2016, Washington, now 36, quickly blazed through the downhill amateur ranks. In 2020, he moved up to racing Category 1 and now receives support from Commencal, 100 Percent and Etnies.

Much like his riding, his YouTube game has stepped up, too: a better GoPro, a clever handle (Angeloam_Duff), custom thumbnails, interviews with pros, an ever-growing fan base. Washington’s vlogs are still raw in feel, what he calls “Angie’s Style.”

“It’s about me telling my story not as a professional rider but as your everyday dad rider,” Washington says. “I want people to see that I’m out here trying, and I do fail. It’s not just me showing all of my successes.”

Washington’s road to success, both on the bike and in life, has been winding, full of unexpected detours and sudden pit stops. But to fully appreciate his journey, there are two things you should know: Before he loved bikes, he loved baseball. And before he loved baseball, he loved wolves.

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