alison tetrick

Alison Tetrick: Be Thankful for Life’s Wild Ride

By Alison Tetrick,
Pro cyclist, Entrepreneur, CTS Contributing Editor

There is always something to be thankful for – even missed workouts, breakups, and a lower FTP. Trust me, I know. When good things happen to us, being thankful is obvious, but the low moments, the frustrations, and the challenges, those too can be beacons of gratefulness in your life. And as we run, ride, roll, slide, screech, or crash into the end of the year it means one thing: ‘Tis the season to pour gratefulness onto everything just like gravy, a double helping please. Yum, gravy and gratitude. Plate me up another.

Today I will be sitting around the table with my family when you read this. We will be holding hands before a prayer and my dad will say these words, “We have so much to be thankful for.” Truth be told, when we gather as a family, this phrase is said just about every time. Sometimes I take these words for granted and smell the delicious food in front of me and my mind starts to wander in anticipation. What news do I want to share with my parents? What activity should we plan for later? Is my client upset with me that I probably won’t respond to their emails for a few days? Did so-and-so ride today? Will this extra scoop of mashed potatoes completely ruin my season? Did they use real butter and cream in this extra scoop? Boy, these are good mashed potatoes. Definitely real butter and cream. Definitely just ruined my season. Or made it even better.

I am glad to say that most times I can hit mute on the internal dialogue of worry, and instead soak in my mom’s hand squeeze, my partner’s arm resting against mine because a hand hold isn’t enough, and my dad’s authoritative but kind voice speaking across the table, and just absorb the love and gratitude in that moment. Gratitude gravy, soaking it in, smothering, filling the senses. I need to do more of that, crave more of that. We all do.

Through a tumultuous year(s) of ups and downs, your fitness, health, and sanity took a ride on a rollercoaster of uncertainty, stress, and alluring possibility. You were harnessed in a little carnival cart; often separated from those you love. You sometimes felt completely out of control as we careened through global pandemics, condensed event schedules, and concerns over health and well-being. What a ride it has been, and we haven’t even been let off the ride yet. We are tired. But the thing is, this ride has no end. We can speed up and slow down, jump carts to one going a direction we think we prefer, or choose the right or left fork in the tracks. It’s a choose your own adventure type of fair. And every dip, drop, swerve, and jolt we encounter along our adventure helps us to be better prepared for what’s to come, and to recognize when to appreciate a smooth section of track in life. We giggle, cry, hold on tight with bulging eyes, and throw our arms up in glee at times, and we can be thankful for every one of those moments. Genuinely thankful.

As much as we use the words grateful and thankful throughout our lives, often superfluously, at times we may not actually feel those things in that instant. During hard times, it is difficult, if not all but impossible, to feel grateful for what we are struggling through. Through illness, injury, heartbreak and hardship, “thankful” usually isn’t the first word on the tips of our tongues.

I was going through one of the hardest times of my life and career. It wasn’t just broken bones, bruised brain, and divorce, it was so much more. I was struggling with my lack of control over the outcome. I was spiraling. Somebody told me to look for the positive in my situation. I dug down deep inside and tried to find something good inside, as my body lay tied up in emotional, mental, and physical anguish. I dug and I dug, and all I found was anger and anxiety. Gratitude was not to be found. Looking back now, years later, I can open that dark tomb and I still feel the aching of failure and shattered dreams. However, as time has passed, I realize I have genuinely discovered gratitude for that time. It too was a gift. It was an opportunity to feel those lows, to know what caused them, to learn I can overcome, and to recognize more poignantly what I have now, to be incredibly grateful for simply being here and able to ride bikes with friends and squeeze my family’s hands around a dinner table. Everything one has in life can be taken away, therefore everything is a gift worth being thankful for.

I encourage you, no matter where you are on that creaky rollercoaster, to find gratitude and thankfulness. I still find myself complaining that I didn’t hit my power targets or that work is stressful. I will languish over not having enough time and not feeling like enough. But challenging ourselves towards our fitness, family, and career goals, is an absolute gift. That is a privilege that we can cherish and truly be thankful for. When we turn our best efforts and finest attempts at remaining positive and present into enough, the struggle dissipates and gratitude appears. Then, our potential is unleashed.

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So, what are you thankful for?

I am thankful for:

  • Family – let’s be honest, I wouldn’t be here without them. They made me who I am today, whether they love that or not! Here I am, and I am here to stay!
  • Blaize – my beautiful partner who is my calm in my chaos, and who has a PhD in cleaning up the carnage I leave behind from being thrown from the roller coaster, all while simultaneously helping me back on. We dance to our own rhythm, and he happens to be my Co-Founder of Saga Ventures.
  • Chosen Family – I love my chosen family that picks me up out of ditches on the side of the road, strap themselves into a sketchy carnival cart ride with me, and always gives me a place of warmth and acceptance.
  • Sponsors and Partners – I have an amazing group of industry partners and sponsors that believe in me and how we can make two wheels a powerful vessel for change.
  • Coach – Adam Pulford is 50% coach, 50% therapist, and 50% friend. Yes, that means he exceeds all the FTP numbers. I am thankful for CTS. Somebody has to keep this body and mind on a plan for success.
  • Bikes – who doesn’t love the freedom we find on bikes!?

Let’s celebrate and pour that gratitude gravy all over and realize there is truly always something to be thankful for. Maybe next week I will work on that FTP, but for now, I am thankful for YOU.

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Comments 19

  1. Alison, I love your strength, vulnerability, and warm heartedness. I’m grateful you write and share. Thank you!

    1. Ah, thank you so much, Mary! I am thankful for YOU and how you make bikes better for all. Compliments like this make the writing and vulnerability all worth it.

      Have a great new year!

  2. Well said and very truthful article. It hits us all in many different ways. Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy your family, health and community.

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