I "virtually" met Alison Tetrick this past summer after she commented on a social media post how much she liked our Alfonsina kit. We were all of three months old as a brand, and her words were a real boost. I sent her a kit and like all the other women who wear out kit, her story has been weaved into ours. We asked if she wouldn't mind giving us a closer look at a day in the life of a professional cyclist.
Alison Tetrick with Optum Pro Cycling P/B Kelly Benefit Strategies
Alison Tetrick didn't start out wanting to race bicycles professionally. She played tennis at Abilene Christian University, where she received a degree in biochemistry. It wasn't until after she graduated that she began cycling.
Femme Velo: What got you into racing triathlons that started you down the path to professional cycling?
Alison Tetrick: I played collegiate tennis, and after graduating, I still had a competitive bug. I loved the fitness and training aspect of being an athlete, so I just continued to run. Running a few races, introduced me to the wonderful world of the endurance community. Cycling is in my blood. My now 85-year-old Grandfather still races bikes! He had always told me that I should consider trying bike racing. Tennis skirts to spandex wasn't something that I was interested in at the time, but when I finally tried my first race, I knew I had found my forever sport. I took a quick trajectory from racing amateur to professionally in Europe in just a few months, and it was a crazy ride. I still do love to run in the off season, and sometimes to vent some frustration in season too! But my true love is the bike! Now, looking back at my seven-year professional cycling career, I am still amazed by where my two wheels have taken me, and where they will continue to take me. Bike riding can become such an expression of all those feelings inside.
Enjoying a little downtime at home
FV: Tell us about how you were injured in 2010? How did that experience change you? And was it difficult to return to cycling after that?
AT: I crashed in 2010 at the Cascade Cycling Classic, a stage race in Bend, Oregon. It was one of those fluke crashes that happen on descents where wheels can touch. I was down before I could even grab any brakes. I landed on my head and pelvis. I shattered my pelvis in two places and suffered a traumatic brain injury. This experience was life-changing for me, and I continue to recover and progress even today. Through this experience, I learned the true value of treasuring each day. I think more people need to talk about the potential effects of head injuries and also be accepting of the emotional and mental side effects that can plague us. My injury encouraged me to find more balance in my life and not define myself only as a cyclist or as an athlete. I went to grad school to learn more about neuropsychology and how we can help prevent head injuries. It was very difficult to return to racing. Long after your broken bones heal, you can still deal with the consequences inside your head and heart. I remember lining up to start a race and feeling rage that no one knew what a victory for me it was even to be at that start line. Although this impact literally changed who I am, I am happy where my life has taken me through this. I am smarter and more balanced than ever.
FV: Walk us through a typical day in your life during the race season?
AT: During race season, your schedule is often dictated by others. You learn to relinquish control to let someone else tell you when you are eating, what you are wearing, and where you are riding or racing. I have always continued to have a job throughout my career, so I will check-in with work first thing in the morning. Well, let's be honest, coffee and Instagram are always first. I have been working with Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer for several years, while going to grad school, and it has been rewarding to have a purpose outside of bike racing. After breakfast and some computer time, the team will go out for training or to the race together. Recovery after these efforts is super important, and we have the best staff and support that ensures that. We always have team meals together where the languages are predominately Italian and Spanish. We spend several hours at dinner laughing and enjoying life. The best talent of a professional is being able to leave the race at the race and to be able to release all the stress and tension when we are not on the course. The evenings are usually spent winding down and working some more as the schedule is peppered with massages and a team meeting.
FV: What are you most proud of during the 2016 season and what are you looking forward to in 2017?
AT: I am most proud of my resilience and adaptability. Cylance Pro Cycling is the best team I have ever been on, and although this year wasn't perfect, I wouldn't trade this year for any other year in my career. We raced every single UCI Women's World Tour race from Qatar to China to Europe to California. I suffered from some crashes that were difficult to recover from, but I remained positive and motivated the entire year. I think the team's chemistry had so much to do with that, as we were all motivated to help each other, even when we weren't feeling 100%.
One of the best days on the bike this year turned out to be one of my worst. During Stage 1 of the Aviva Tour, I crashed and broke three ribs. Then, about 50k later, I found myself in a solo breakaway going for the win! I didn’t feel good, but I always try my best. I was caught at the line by 8 riders only 20 meters from the finish after spending 20k off the front! I don’t know what was worse, not believing I could win until those final moments, being caught inches from the line, or those broken ribs. It was painful to my head, my heart, and my body. My eyes still burn from that day, but I am proud of my effort. Sometimes the best and worst are so close to the same thing. I am looking forward to continued variety into 2017 with a bolstered roster, and even more opportunity to express boldness.
Heartbreaking Race at Aviva Women's Tour 2016
FV: What do you like to do when you aren't training or racing?
AT: I love talking to my cat, writing, and unpacking my suitcases! Oh, I still riding my bike! Just maybe with an oyster or wine stop or two.
Birthday ride with sister, Jennifer Tetrick
FV: What one insight, tip, or piece of advice would you give to a woman who wants to race?
AT: Be bold. Never be afraid to try! Everyone's definition of racing is different. You can race yourself, you can race others, and let's be honest, you can also beat the boys! I encourage anyone to continue to find what inspires them to achieve.
We're excited to see what the 2017 season holds for Alison. Follow along on her adventure on @amtetrick and @cyclancecycling.
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