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.
The first thing any professional cyclist thinks upon crashing is, "How long am I out?" (Well, right after thinking choice words not fit for print.) The answer might be 30 seconds; you disentangle from the bike, assess physical and equipment damage, and if everything checks out, jump back on and chase after the race. Those are the lucky accidents. For the bigger crashes, the time is measured in days, weeks, or sometimes months. Those are the unfortunate ones; not only are you dealing with ongoing pain, struggle, and the slow process of recovery, but you're watching the rest of the world keep training and racing while you're on the sidelines fretting over lost fitness. On May 13, I had one of the unlucky crashes. It was the second stage of the Amgen Tour of California Women's WorldTour race and we were 80 kilometers into the race. To be honest, I'd ...continue reading.
When I'm out in the world away from cycling and get asked what I do for work, sometimes I lie and say I'm in sales. That probably sounds stupid, but when I'm honest and announce that I'm a professional cyclist, that inevitably leads to questions. "Wow, how cool!" people say. "What's that like? Do you love it?" The last time somebody asked this, it was less than a week after my crash and collarbone surgery, when I was in pain, concussed, drugged, constipated, bruised, and not sleeping. YES, I thought, I AM LIVING THE FREAKING DREAM. "It can be great...at times," I replied tactfully. While I actually do love my job and feel proud to be a professional cyclist, sometimes I just don't feel like answering the usual questions. When my dental hygienist is elbow-deep in my mouth, explaining the concept of a crit feels tiring. When I'm getting my ...continue reading.
Months ago, I was typing out these columns while pedaling on a trainer, dreaming of where this year would go. I say "dreaming" because everything I envisioned was good; strong rides, podiums, team wins, a season calibrated to make the most of a hard winter of training and renewed determination to take on an aggressive race schedule. I'd lost weight, dropped a bad ex-boyfriend, shed the huge baggage of paying for a condo that I hadn't occupied in years. Nobody fantasizes about having a shitty year. Nobody makes dream boards about failure and injuries and setbacks. I was marinating in an imaginary stew of success. The year is not going quite as expected. I'm back on the trainer and it's late May; my plans for the season hadn't accounted for reverting back to my CycleOps as the only way of working out thanks to an untimely crash. Who wants to ...continue reading.