By Alison Tetrick,
Pro cyclist, Entrepreneur, CTS Contributing Editor
Don’t start me on the jokes that 2022 sounds like 2020 “too”. Wait. It does.
Ah, I remember when I started 2020, excited about my goals. I dusted off the boots and was ready. Now, here we are. 2022. Ready for something fresh and new? Maybe.
Fresh starts are just the beginning. Are fresh starts even a thing? It’s like when someone tells me it is my 29th birthday, but it’s my 36th. I say, “Nah, I like being 36.” Look where I have been and look where I will go. It took my whole life to get to who I am now. I earned these scars. Each one stung and it still shows. Are you telling me I went through those hardships to forget them? Put them on a shelf and pretend they don’t exist? Every day and year are a chance to learn and grow, even at the cost of mistakes and pain. That’s life and living, and training. Celebrate where you are today and how you got here because of yesterday, and how that prepares you for tomorrow and whatever it brings.
Looking back at the year, maybe you improved your Functional Threshold Power or maybe it declined. Maybe you suffered more hardship and stress than the year before. Perhaps you were able to attend all your events at peak fitness (tell me, please, what is that like?), or they were postponed, and you had to adjust your goals. Maybe you found all the success and fulfillment you sought. Either way, this is all a part of your progression. As athletes and human beings. I celebrate you this New Year’s and beyond.
I am looking forward to 2022, but like many of you I’m a little nervous and anxious about what is to come. That uncertainty reminds me it’s important to celebrate some moments of 2021 as I keep dreaming of possibilities for 2022 and who I will be by the end of another lap around the sun.
Most Monumental Event: Gravel Locos in Hico, Texas. Alongside some of my favorite pros in the gravel universe, I was invited to embark on a new model of gravel “racing”: a free community event organized solely to give back to the community. I was selling bandanas at the expo and walking around raising money for the local Fire Department. Grassroots events will always have my heart, and I loved meeting another extension of my bike family and truly giving back to a beautiful town.
Also, when Jess Cerra and I decided to “tie” for 2nd place, it was everything gravel should be. Why do I have to race my friend if I can shred alongside her the whole time? It was racing, but better. It was family and supporting and challenging each other. Gravel events were created around community and reminding us what grassroots is supposed to be, and Gravel Locos provided a true illustration of what community is all about.
Worst Mistake: Not keeping both hands on the bars. I had one of my hardest crashes in years this summer, which unfortunately was a week before the LeadBoat Challenge (combining the Leadville 100 and SBT GRVL over one weekend). I am pretty darn accomplished at the old one-hand-on-bars-one-on-phone style of chronicling life through the IG story, but as I was riding gravel in Boulder one handed over washboard, I crashed. HARD. I still cringe at the details. It took me a long time to recover and was a huge setback to our fun Colorado truck camping and gravel event summer. Accidents happen on a bike, but always do your best to avoid additional risk. And protect that head. More scars were earned, but I am happy to have friends that rescued me and took care of me. Crashing is scary. Let’s do less of that in 2022.
Most Proud Moment: LeadBoat Challenge, both participating and watching Blaize finish both events (Leadville 100 and SBT GRVL). It was the most hours I have ever ridden in two days, and this is my profession. They were his two longest rides of all time, and on back-to-back days. My partner finished the challenge “off the couch” (or should we say truck seat) and onto the dirt with smiles and tears.
He applied for this unique challenge a year ago and was accepted to participate. When 2021 interrupted his training in a serious way, he said that his spot in LeadBoat meant someone else did not get accepted into the challenge, so if he could start then he could also finish. And so, he did. He protected me from the crush of riders on the first Leadville descents and then hiked for hours through altitude sickness. He paced himself through hours of making new friends and exploring new dirt roads to the finish line. He persevered. He deserved that finish line beer, or two.
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Really, it can just be about finishing something you started. I have never been prouder of any result, including any of my own. Although we were separated by miles most of the time, finishing the same challenge together was so special. Celebrate signing up for a challenge. Celebrate finishing, as you dream of what else inspires you.
Most Memorable Day: NICA’s NorCal High School Cycling League GRiT Camp. I was able to attend the GRiT (Girls Riding Together) Camp in Petaluma, which is supported by scholarships from the sales of our bandanas. It was magical. The student-athletes taught me a thing or two on bikes and were able to gain access and opportunity through an incredible mentorship and coaching experience.
Often, we think of grit as a struggle or fight, like in an old Western movie, but here it is about positivity, inclusion, and supporting each other. I am proud we have been able to give scholarships for these athletes, to not only race bikes but find their strengths as individuals. Don’t worry, we have a few bandanas left, and the proceeds are still going to causes like this. Grit that builds each other up and makes our sport better. That is the toughest form of grit I know.
What does next year look like? More of all of this and more of everything. Well, in moderation, and maybe no crashing, please. I am excited to attend new events and old events. I am looking forward to seeing YOU and riding bikes. I can do whatever pace I want. Fast is fun, but bikes are pure fun at any speed. It isn’t always about winning. It is about signing up and showing up. I have already had some early season travels cancelled due to, well… you know. But if there is one thing the last few years have taught us, it is that we can adapt and make the best of any situation. Show up for yourself and show up for each other. I will restart the training after the New Year and pursue goals of giving back, fostering community, and being present.
What great things we have in store! Can’t wait to see you on the road, and well, gravel. The best present you can ever give is your presence.
Happy New Year!
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