With nearly a full year of racing with the Luna Pro Team in cross-country mountain biking and cyclocross under her belt, Teal Stetson-Lee is taking advantage of all that her new team has to offer.
“I am more than willing to admit that I’ve got a lot to learn and I am soaking it up like a sponge,” the former collegiate national cyclocross champion told VeloNews.
Joining the most successful women’s team in mountain biking history provides access to the experience of riders at the top of the sport, including 2011 world champion Catharine Pendrel, 2012 Olympic and world championship bronze medalist Georgia Gould, and four-time Olympian and 2011 U.S. Gran Prix of cyclocross winner Katerina Nash. Stetson-Lee, who hails from Durango, Colorado, and worked as an anti-tobacco advocate before dedicating herself full-time to racing, is making the most of those examples.
“I would say that everyone on this team is responsible for helping mentor me, to a certain degree, just getting settled in my first year,” said Stetson-Lee.
Earlier in the year, teammate Pendrel told VeloNews she was eager to support and mentor Stetson-Lee, and eager about the “young dynamic” she brought to the table.
“I also like to think that I’m part of this team because I have something to contribute, so I like to think of it as a collaborative effort. We all find ways of building each other up,” said Stetson-Lee. “Even if I’m not at the top, getting the best results like some of my teammates, I can be there still, supporting them and bringing a positive attitude to the team. Those little things all play into the big picture.”
Stetson-Lee’s contributions have come in the form of results as well. Since joining the Luna Chix, she won the cross-country race at her hometown Iron Horse Bicycle Classic and the first day of Spooky Cross in Los Angeles, and earned podiums at the Trek U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross SmartWool Cup and the Colorado Cross Classic.
Stetson-Lee has faced several changes over the past several years. She made the transition to elite cyclocross in 2010 with Cal Giant-Specialized, and finished a long cross-country season feeling exhausted. Last year was completely different for her and, focusing full-time on racing, Stetson-Lee pulled out elite cyclocross wins and USGP podiums.
The move to Luna has proven a huge change, according to Stetson-Lee, but two changes in particular are especially notable: having a consistent team and the focus on women’s athletics.
Access to a consistent team across the board for mountain biking and cyclocross is one of the highlights of the team for her.
That consistency “makes the transition seamless. I’m familiar with everybody, I’m familiar with my equipment and that’s really helpful,” the 27-year-old said. “The other big change that’s wonderful for me is that Luna is, obviously, focused on women’s cycling and women’s athletics, and that’s a really big deal, because there’s still a lot of inequalities that exist in the cycling world, so to have a team that is behind you, not only for your athletic pursuits but also from the perspective of saying that we’re going to help you find a way to blaze a trail in this male-dominated sport, is really big.”
In addition to her individual benefits, Stetson-Lee recognizes the influence that her all-women’s team has as the number one women’s mountain biking team in the world.
“It sets the bar really high as a world example. I am totally honored to be a part of that,” she said. “It’s a big reason why I do what I do.”