Valued for her work as a selfless teammate and domestique, Ally Stacher (Specialized-Lululemon) has big plans for 2015, both on and off the bike. Making the move to Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies for next year, Stacher will bring years of high-caliber race experience from her tenure with both HTC-Highroad and Specialized-Lululemon.
Over her seven-year career, she’s competed in some of the world’s biggest races, including the Giro Rosa (formerly the Giro d’Italia Femminile), which she finished four times.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the best women in the world like Ina Teutenberg, Evelyn Stevens, and Clara Hughes, and riding for them has only made me stronger over the past few years,” said Stacher. “Always having to be a worker has given me both great race experience and taught me a bit about how much I’m able to hurt during a race.”
In 2015, Stacher will take the lessons that she learned in Europe and bring them back to the States for Optum.
“I’m really exciting about going over to Optum next year. I’ve been with the same team now for a few years and wanted to be part of something new,” said Stacher. “I really want to be able to do well at some goal races next year, and when you’re on a team like Specialized-Lululemon with some of the world’s best riders, it’s harder to do that. Obviously Optum has some great riders already, but at the same time, I’m also one of the big riders that they also signed for 2015.”
Also on tap for next year is the growth of Stacher’s race-ready energy bar company, Ally’s Bar. Started as a side project a few years ago, Stacher has taken her idea and turned it into a full-fledged business, with manufacturing beginning earlier this fall.
“I started making them for myself and teammates a few years ago and in 2013, I decided to make a ton of these bars for a team camp. After a week of training, everyone was telling me that I needed to start a business with these,” said Stacher. “So I created an LLC and started making them out of my kitchen, but I was getting too many orders that I eventually needed to start working in a commercial kitchen just to keep up.”
As of about a month ago, Stacher and her two business partners have increased their investments to keep up with product demand by working with a manufacturer out of Oregon to produce the bars.
“Because I was spending so much time racing in Europe all season, it was too tough for me to keep up with the demand while I was away,” said Stacher. “The facility that makes the bars in Oregon is one that I did a lot of research on, and they operate with very sustainable manufacturing practices. Everything is gluten-free and non-GMO, and that means a lot to me and the product I’m selling.”
Looking further down the road, Stacher hopes to “carpet-bomb” the U.S. market by selling to as many bike shops as possible, but also create business that can sponsor a high-level women’s racing team.
“In a few years, I’ll probably retire from racing, but I don’t want to leave the sport. I pride myself on being a part of the women’s racing movement and would love to be a part of that movement going forward by being the title sponsor of a women’s team,” said Stacher.
Currently, Ally’s Bar supports a very small women’s cyclocross and mountain bike team, consisting of Stacher and a few others, but looking to 2015 and onward, Stacher plans to build this team even more.