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Culture

How Mari Holden and community leader Anthony Carter are making cycling a more inclusive space

The Scuderia Pinarello teammates are trading tips that will benefit each other, both on and off the bike.

While 2020 got a horrible rap, it was also a year of unlikely connections. In fact, 2020 was the perfect year for Mari Holden and Anthony Carter to meet.

Holden is a six-time U.S. national champion time trialist. In 2000, she won the world time trial championship after winning a silver medal at the Sydney Olympics. She’s worked as a director sportif and coach, and she serves in the current role of community director at USA Cycling.

Anthony Carter lives outside of Washington, D.C. where he came to cycling later in life, in his mid-40s.

Carter will race the Unbound Gravel 200 in June, his longest effort ever. Photo: Courtesy Pinarello Photo: Courtesy Anthony Carter

“I was the new guy on the block that came and tried everything in my path,” Carter told VeloNews. “I went from picking up a bike to joining a club to advancing to the front of the pack to starting a race team and competing in races.”

Last year, Carter’s involvement as a participant, coach, and race team leader for Maryland’s Getting It In Cyclists attracted the attention of Pinarello’s senior marketing manager Kim Rogers who asked him to join the eight-athlete Scuderia Pinarello gravel squad that launched earlier this year. While each of the athletes on the squad will bring their own flavor to the world of gravel riding, Holden and Carter presented a particular opportunity for collaboration. They’re calling the project ‘Coaching Mr. Carter.’

Carter calls himself a ‘domestique to the streets,’ and it’s an apt descriptor. He’s perfectly situated to make a difference for cyclists in his community because he was, and really still is, just a regular guy who discovered a joy in cycling. He does, however, want to up his game in terms of a more formalized approach to coaching and a more structured approach to his own training. Enter Holden.

The two have been working together for nearly six months now, so we caught up with them via a Zoom call to let them explain exactly how ‘Coaching Mr. Carter’ is going.

VeloNews: Anthony, what did you want help with? What did you need to work on? 

Anthony Carter: I wanted to get a better understanding of a more professional way to teach. It’s gotta be more than just riding your bike or doing intervals. I needed the integral parts. I’ve never been coached before, so I’m just a raw cyclist. So to have someone that I can talk to and tell me exactly what I should and shouldn’t be doing and the reasons why I should or shouldn’t be doing it was super important. This gave me the resources I needed to help connect the dots.

Holden on the Pinarello Grevil, the team bike of the Scuderia Pinarello. Photo: jussioksanen

VN: Mari, what’s Anthony like as a student?

Mari Holden: He’s enthusiastic. He’s great. He has so much going on. For me, looking at his training and going through it with him, that’s a challenge. This community that’s he’s building, he has rides almost every day of the week that he’s put together. When I look at his training, I realize that what he’s doing with his personal training is just as important as what he’s doing with his community. So, we’re trying to continue to build community but also with an eye toward his personal goals.

VN: What exactly are you two working on?

MH: In a way, I’m more guiding than coaching. He has a lot going on, so we’re making sure he doesn’t overdo it. The really important piece is that he is working to get a more traditional background to move his coaching career forward and build community. He’s working on his Safesport right now which is really important to me, it keeps kids and athletes safe. He’s working on getting his coaching license. Going through the USAC manual. He’s working on having more tools to grow his community so he can guide more people.

AC: She’s always there if I have any questions, anything I’m concerned about. She’s there via text or phone call to send me in the right direction. She’s given me drills, skill set things for my students. I have to take some tests to get my license. I was studying Safesport last night. She’s been real keen on my training, working me real good, helping me get ready for Unbound. Mari’s been real dedicated to looking at my work and making sure I recover.

VN: Mari, how has working with Anthony been different than other coaching you’ve done?

MH: If I look at how I’d be training someone who’s trying to make a national team, it’s very different. We talk about everything — this movie we’re making, him being tired — it runs the gamut. Honestly, I feel like one of the other pieces of the Scuderia [team] is that I can learn from Anthony and the others. Everyone brings something different to the table and makes me realize I can’t always stay in my own lane but I can learn from others and try and grow. Anthony’s dynamic personality and the way he engages with people and motivates them is something I can definitely learn from. I was so focused on my own personal goals in sport, I would love to learn how to engage a group the way he does. He just makes everyone happy. I would love to learn how to do that.

AC: I’m a motivator. I inspire a lot of people. I’m always telling people not to quit, to never give up no matter how old you are.