The COVID-19 pandemic has brought professional cycling to a halt. In the coming weeks we will be reaching out to pro riders and other personalities from the sport to understand how their lives are continuing amidst the shutdown.
Like it is for all professional road racers, when she was riding in the UCI Women’s World Tour, spring was all about the classics for Alison Tetrick. Although her last appearance at a spring classic was Strade Bianche in 2017, Tetrick says that her new passion, racing gravel, isn’t all that different from racing the slippery cobbles of Europe.
“The courses are generally long, hard one day events, and if the weather is good you are still riding in dirt, but as the weather changes, it can become a muddy slip and slide. Basically, either way, cow manure is involved.”
Tetrick was lucky to get a few days of racing in inclement weather in at the Grasshopper Adventure Series races before the season was shut down due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
Location: Petaluma, California
What are the current regulations for where you live about going outside?
Petaluma is in Sonoma County and we are currently under a “shelter in place” ordinance along with a County Health Order. It recommends staying home and limiting contact with others. I am still able to ride my bike outside, but I do not attend any group rides. The parks and beaches are closed, but any public road is still open for travel.
I saw a post from just south of San Francisco in the Palo Alto area that stated cyclists are supposed to stay within five miles of home. We all hope for less restrictions, but to prioritize health and safety, I’m just thankful I can get out and pedal today and I’ll take advantage of my solo rides until I can’t.
What races were you planning to do have been canceled or postponed?
This weekend, I was supposed to be at Nova Eroica, in Cambria, California. It was going to be a very special day, as it is my birthday, and on some of the most beautiful mixed terrain roads that the Central Coast offers. Several of my former teammates and friends were coming from across the country to celebrate bikes and life. This event has been postponed with no alternate date set yet. I was really looking forward to this time, as most of my birthdays have been spent racing either Redlands, or Flanders, or work.
The other events on my calendar that have been postponed are Rasputitsa, Belgian Waffle Ride, Chino Gravel Grinder, and Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder plus some Northern California races I like to participate in to support the local cycling community and mix up training.
What are you doing today?
It has been weird being home consistently for the last three weeks. It is one of those cases where you need to be careful what you wish for. You spend so much time hopscotching from one event to another and you crave being home. But then, when you actually have to be home, all you want to do is travel and see your friends and play bikes around the world. And when you’re required to be home for the health and safety of all, having been to so many communities worldwide and met so many amazing people, it is painful to see the carnage this is causing, for event promoters, athletes, industry partners, and the local communities that host these events and the businesses that always rally in support.
Today, I will be riding my bike. Probably a little too hard, because it dulls some of the chaos and simplifies things within your mind.
Are you doing workouts? If so, what specifically?
I love riding my bike, and I work with a “flexible” structured plan with Carmichael Training Systems. Flexible, because well, I raced road too long to need to do intervals every day, but I need the structure so I don’t ride myself into the ground, and I can have a healthy work, riding, and life balance. It is difficult to juggle my career as a communications professional specializing in biotechnology and ride my bike all day. Structure helps with that.
So, I will be riding from my house out to West Sonoma County. I’ll ride a consistent difficult “sweet spot” effort of about an hour and then cruise home. It isn’t so much an interval, but a targeted effort to maintain fitness without generating fatigue. Besides, it’s my birthday this weekend so I get to do the “workouts” that I want!
What indoor gear are you using?
A stovetop and a corkscrew? I currently have a Wahoo Kickr indoor trainer with my Specialized Diverge on it. I don’t really train on it, but I did hop on it the other day during a conference call, for a recovery ride.
What is your motivation to train right now?
My motivation is to train for life and happiness. And, I love to ride my bike. And fit is fun.
How are you communicating with friends and family?
There is so much FaceTime and Zoom going on! Virtual happy hours with my collegiate tennis team and my friends both near and far. I even had a friend ride 41 miles one way to stash a present for me. In some ways, I am communicating more than ever with friends and family. That being said, with the limited work and travel, I could sure use a hug and a trip to my parent’s ranch right about now.
Have you received any helpful advice?
To treat each day as a gift. This is painful and frightening, as is injury and setbacks that we can’t control. I used this advice throughout my career and started making lists about all my hopes and dreams of what I wanted to do in the future – adventures and exploration and results.
Then, I made another, possibly more important list, and this contains what I can do right now with my time. It could be calling your Grandma, scrapbooking, or writing a snail mail letter a day. You can color coordinate your closet, or actually open some of those boxes in your life that need attention. This is a time to invest in yourself and others (at a safe distance) and exit this time as a better version of yourself.
When do you think you’ll race again?
I think it is optimistic at best to think we will be racing by fall. That is a heart-wrenching thing for me to say, but I think there is a far greater need in this world than just sports. We need to be realistic about the health and safety of our communities, both near and far. The sooner we face these challenges, the sooner we can meet again on the gravel roads.