BEING PRO: Alison Tetrick
We catch up with the former professional roadie who has turned her attention elsewhere
Hometown: Redding, California
How did you find your way into cycling, and what made you stick with it?
Sports have been a huge part of my life. I grew up on a cattle ranch in California, and although we were pretty far from town to participate in organized sports, but from a young age my family has always kept me active doing chores on the ranch. I played NCAA tennis on a scholarship, and it instilled in me my passion to challenge myself both physically and mentally, as well as a great deal of organization and time management.
When it comes to cycling, my grandpa was a big inspiration. He is 86 years old, has over 17 master’s cycling national championships to his name, and still rides and races his bike. He encouraged me to try bike racing, but I was too fixated on science, tennis and cowboys. After a stint in triathlon, I tried bike racing for training and was hooked. Within three months of learning to use clipless pedals, I was in Europe racing for the USA national team and signed a professional contract. Maybe I was always supsuposed to be a cyclist?
But, I am glad I was able to explore other sports and education along the way.
I was lucky to ride with my grandpa a few weeks ago and to realize that cycling is in my blood. Cycling teaches us to clarify goals and learn through the process of finding satisfaction in both success and failure. Humility can only be taught through experience and on the road to becoming better. Did I mention that I love riding my bike?
What was the transition like going from school sports to racing full-time in Europe?
Was there ever a transition? Throughout my professional cycling career, I have continued to work in other industries and complete a graduate degree. Racing in Europe has been one of my most cherished memories of professional cycling. I love learning about the different places we travel and the beautiful teammates this brings into my life. I have enjoyed great success racing abroad—from Argentina to Belgium to the World Championships in Spain. Life is about balance, and it can’t be all about the bike. I think it is important for athletes to continue to invest in themselves to broaden their expertise and experience.
I found the bike after college, but through injuries and setbacks, I needed to readjust my priorities. I entered graduate school to learn more about the brain and also ensure that I could still learn following my traumatic brain injury. I have enjoyed juggling school, work and bikes, and think it has made me a more complete cyclist. Some of my best results have come from when I was most busy in my other careers or school. I think proper time management can lead to some really efficient training and, of course, the sheer joy of being able to race and ride your bike!
You’ve now decided to step away from racing. Looking back, what could you say were the pros and
cons of racing professionally?
I think my teammates have been my biggest love in the sport. I have been able to meet the most wonderful, like-minded women whom I admire and give me consistent inspiration and acceptance. I’ve learned so much from these empowering women, and it has developed me into the person I am today.
A difficult part of bike racing is the amount of risk that we partake in each race and how this can affect us and our families forever. I have had my fair share of crashes and life-altering injuries, which led to daily struggles dealing with the recovery. Bike racing is inherently dangerous, and this is just a cold hard truth of the sport. What is truly beautiful can also be very damaging, but there is still something that draws us back to the bike. Through the risk and the reward we keep pedaling our bikes, because we want to get better at something, and this in itself is an art. The bike has empowered me to stretch myself beyond what I thought was possible.
What are some of your favorite training and nutrition tips that you picked up over the years?
I think recovery is really important, and most people make the mistake in waiting too long to drink or eat their first bit of recovery. It is most important to ingest these calories within the first 30 minutes of completing your effort. I have found that chocolate milk works great, because it is usually always a 4:1 ratio of carbs and protein no matter where in the world you are. After a solid day of training or racing, I can chug some of that and know that I have started the recovery process. The next step is to eat a real meal within three hours.
You’ve been doing quite a bit of gravel riding lately. What is it about this new category that stands out
Gravel riding is simply the best. It takes us off the beaten roads and into new adventures and challenges. I love that it is inclusive and that there is something for everybody. Regardless of your terrain preference, you are
guaranteed to have a good time with a huge community full of people as crazy as you are. It is about eating and
drinking and exploring with your friends the vistas you can only witness when you exit the pavement. At the finish of the ride, we all have a sense of accomplishment and completion, and the celebration of bikes lives on forever.
What are your plans now that you’re looking to exit the pro racing world?
I am so excited to continue riding and racing bikes and doing all things fun on the bike! I have a lot of exciting things lined up for 2018 and can’t wait! Let’s just say there will be a lot of gravel in my travel, so cowgirl up!