A surgeon sliced into my abdomen ten days ago and pulled out the person that had been growing in there for nine months. “Rest for six weeks,” they told me. “You can walk - walking is good!” But walking doesn’t feel good; I am not a walker, I’m a cyclist. My body feels stiff and unfamiliar after surgery and days of sitting and holding a baby. Muscles that never hurt are sore, my legs are scrawny and noodle-like, and I miss feeling sweaty and strong. So I decide to spin. The incision is glued shut and nearly healed, the pain inside is a lot better, and I genuinely believe a spin on the trainer will get the blood flowing and not do any harm. I kit up. It’s been 11 days since my last ride. At that time, I was hugely pregnant and wrapping up a long, challenging block of ...continue reading.
Dear Caroline, It's February 12, 2018 and you are going to be born today. This is absolutely mindblowing because (a) I was starting to think I was going to be pregnant forever, and (b) somebody is going to pull you out of my body, introduce us, and then let me take you home to love and raise you forever. Or until you are 18 and ready to be pushed out of the nest. Pregnancy has been hard. One of my goals as your mother is to be honest and frank with you, so I will tell you that, truthfully, I have hated being pregnant. The only parts I’ve enjoyed are feeling you move (except when it seems like you are trying to forcibly climb out of the front of my stomach) and imagining who you will be and how life will be once you’re in it. Otherwise, pregnancy has been ...continue reading.
"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.