"How has your pregnancy been?" She was a prenatal massage therapist with a soft voice and gentle hands. No part of what she was about to do to me involved digging fingers into sore muscles, pulling fascia and painfully working out knots, everything I know from years of cycling-specific massage. She was used to coddling soft, gentle, glowing expecting mothers who lovingly cradle their bellies. "Well," I began, "It's been hard. I was...uh, am...a professional cyclist and I've tried to keep up with training. I had a bleed at 12 weeks and broke my arm in a crash at 20 weeks. Now I ride indoors 10-12 hours a week and walk a lot of miles when I travel, and so everything always hurts and feels tired. But I keep going anyway." I sounded insane. This was not lost on either of us. She asked if I'd tried prenatal yoga and ...continue reading.
We met a year ago, when I first started penning this column while riding the trainer in my parents’ garage in Virginia. Now it’s a year later and here I am in California with a vastly different life, typing this column while riding a trainer in a garage. The more things change, the more they stay the same. But that is the story of life, of yours and mine, of everybody we know, cyclist and otherwise, pro or not. Seasons come and go, we make gains and face losses, teams fold and start, riders retire while others launch careers. You’re a different person than you were at the beginning of 2017; maybe now you’re faster and a cat 2 racer, or maybe your bike has fur from all the dust gathered on it. But you’re still reading Peloton, which tells me your heart still lies in cycling (or your day ...continue reading.
The Amgen Tour of California recently announced the 2018 race route and host cities to much fanfare and excitement. It’s exciting news; a huge race in America that comes with worldwide publicity, epic crowds, and big events surrounding each stage. I’ve raced the Tour of California yearly since 2014 and it’s always the most hyped event of the season and the one teammates nearly come to blows over in the battle for a roster spot. Problematically, the women’s race this year is one day shorter than last year’s four-day event, and still substantially shorter than the men’s seven-day event. When the race announcement came out, it was met was substantial grumbling from supporters of women’s cycling. The passive-aggressive tweet I was too lazy to post said, “Guess the promotors wanted to make sure I was home sooner to breastfeed and get back in the kitchen.” It’s disheartening to see that ...continue reading.
This past season was not an easy one for running my team. Frankly, I hated it and in the weeks after crashing out of Tour of California, while hammering away on the trainer determined to come back stronger, I drafted multiple emails to other team directors letting them know I was on the market for 2018 and interested in just being a rider again. The very idea felt like throwing off a huge weight. But I couldn’t bring myself to hit “Send” quite yet, and then the whole baby thing happened. The scariest part about being a pregnant professional cyclist (aside from the realization that you’re about to get fat, push a human out of a small orifice, and then manage that person for 18 years) is the fear of becoming irrelevant. Being a pro cyclist is a huge part of my identity. It’s the thing that makes me interesting ...continue reading.
Today was the first day of the Cascade Cycling Classic - a 95-mile road race - and I'm sweaty, exhausted, and dusty. I'm completely spent and yet, when our team van pulled over on the side of the highway eight miles from my host house, I got out and started running home. Well, running is an optimistic term. It was barely a jog into a headwind along a wide-open uphill highway at altitude. The struggle was real. It got even better when all the other team vans driving home from the stage started passing. I'd have hidden behind a tree if (a) there were any trees and (b) I'd had any energy to spare. I had to run, though, because my only exercise for the day thus far had been driving the team van and working the race start and finish. It was hard enough to sit out the race; ...continue reading.
It’s the end of July and while the calendar year is just past half over, for professional cyclists around the world, thoughts have already turned to next season. While there’s still racing left in 2017, it’s contract time, the joyous period in which riders evaluate their worth as cyclists and humans through whether a team is willing to give them some free clothes, gear, and a small salary. Professional cycling is already a challenge with its risk of injury, low pay, absence of employee benefits, and constant travel. On top of that, pro cyclists also face a lack of job security. From season to season, teams launch and fold, sponsors come and go, and riders are picked up and dropped from rosters. It’s not common for a rider – especially in the US – to sign a multi-year contract, which means there comes a time annually when riders have to ...continue reading.