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      Eduardo Della Maggiora: Burn to Give

      Eduardo Della Maggiora: Burn to Give

      I DISCOVERED TRIATHLON

      I discovered triathlon very late in life, and under very uncommon circumstances. Sports have always been a major part of my life - I started playing tennis when I was 10, and throughout my teenage years trained and competed with great success in national and international tournaments. When I was 16-years-old, I started to consider becoming a professional tennis player, but I had to change my plans unexpectedly.

      Eduardo Della Maggiora triathlon bike and Boost helmet

      In April 1996 my father (who was my main fan and sponsor) suffered a life-altering accident which left him in a coma for several months. He never fully recovered and died a couple of years after. These were difficult years but shaped my life in ways I couldn’t imagine at that time. This time also significantly influenced the decisions I made in the coming years. I decided to postpone my athletic career to focus on studying and college. I continued playing tennis throughout college but slowly left the sport aside for studies and work.

      Eduardo posed on gravel road during a run

      I studied Industrial Engineering, and upon graduation, I was recruited by J.P. Morgan’s Mergers and Acquisitions group. It was like a dream come true going from Chile to New York - to Wall Street - to work for one of the biggest financial institutions in the world. I felt really fulfilled from a professional point of view. I spent the better part of the coming 10 years advising companies, shareholders and boards all across Latin America on mergers, acquisitions and divestitures while building financial models, participating in negotiations and working very, very long hours.

      Eduardo checking watch

      Eduardo tired with hands behind head

      IT WASN'T EASY

      In 2012, my mother was diagnosed with a very extreme, terminal form of leukemia. I stood next to her throughout her treatment and watched her suffer and fight cancer with all her strength. Like with my father, this was a very difficult time, but it turned out to be a major turning point in my life. My mother’s illness made me rethink my priorities and what I was doing with my life.

      I was once again hit by how fragile life is, and how everything can change in an instant. This led me to ask myself the following question:

      Eduardo somber

      IF TODAY WERE THE LAST DAY OF MY LIFE, HOW WOULD I MEASURE MY LIFE?

      Would I measure it by the grades I got in college? By my professional success? By how much money I had? After many months of reflecting upon these questions, I came to the conclusion that a good way to measure my life would be to see how I was using my skills, energy and gifts to help other people. And when I started asking myself what was I doing to help other people, I couldn’t answer the question.

      Eduardo running silhouette

      This realization made me seriously rethink what I was doing, and after 10 years on Wall Street, I decided to shift gears and make a radical change. In 2013 I quit my job in New York to focus all my energies on social change and making an impact in the world.

      IT WASN’T EASY.

      Now, everyone looks at me and says congratulations, but I won’t lie, at the time it was pretty tough. Most of the people, especially those close to me, were wondering if I was really going to do this, and why I was doing it.

      Eduardo Della Maggiora Tralyx glasses

      FOOD IS THE SOLUTION

      I packed my bags and moved to Tanzania, Africa where I spent several months volunteering, teaching English and Math to elementary school students. They were so happy, and that made me so happy. It made me realize the power of giving back. During my time in Africa, I had to see face-to-face the reality of malnutrition and people suffering extreme hunger in this world.

      One out of nine people goes to bed every night without enough to eat. If you take it a little further, one in three people in the world are malnourished. Hunger and malnutrition kill more people than malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS combined. But the good thing is there’s a solution: food.

      Eduardo during his time volunteering in Tanzania

      Eduardo during his time volunteering in Tanzania

      Eduardo during his time volunteering in Tanzania

      THE ATHLETE INSIDE ME

      While in Africa, I came across a 1-hour summary of the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii on YouTube. I was mesmerized by the incredible stories of the people crossing the finish line and couldn’t believe how someone could finish a 3.8km swim, then do a 180km bike and finish with a 42km marathon, all in the same day and in the toughest conditions imaginable. It was something very inspiring but at the same time scary. Watching this video of Kona woke up the athlete within me and took me back to my junior tennis years. In the days after I couldn’t stop thinking about Kona and something in my gut, in my heart, said that I had to do this race at some time in my life.

      Eduardo climbing out of swimming pool 

      I wrote a detailed plan on how I would embark on this journey and read every single triathlon book I could get my hands on. There was a small issue, though: up until that moment I had never swum more than 100 meters or cycled more than 5 miles. I started training, and I started losing all these pounds. I had a romantic idea of giving the pounds I’d lost to the kids in Africa.

      Eduardo Della Maggoira bike leg Kona Ironman

      After two years of training, on October 10, 2015, on my 35th birthday, I crossed the finish line of Ironman Kona. It was a sense of accomplishment I never imagined I could feel. One year later I finished the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in 2nd place, only 6-seconds short of becoming a world champion.

      Eduardo battling his way to the finish line in Kona.

       

      BURN TO GIVE

      In 2017, I decided to make another dramatic change in my life and point myself in the direction of my dreams. I decided to leave Chile and move to Boulder, Colorado, to focus all my time and energy on Ironman training, and working on a project I had been thinking about for some time.

       

      Last year, I founded Burn to Give, a platform that makes my initial romantic idea come to life. Burn to Give converts calories burned exercising into life-saving nutrition for children in need. For every tracked calorie burned, a calorie is given to an undernourished child. Our mission at Burn to Give is to inspire people to become active & healthy by feeding those in need; exercising for a hunger-free world. The food is out there, and the money is out there.

      MY ULTIMATE GOAL

      My ultimate goal throughout my triathlon journey is to show people that it’s never too late in life to try something new, to never be afraid of pursuing your dreams and goals despite an unknown outcome, and that when you push past the “comfortable”, physically and mentally you evolve into a better, stronger and more fulfilled person. Living an active lifestyle can not only save other peoples’ lives, but it can also save your own life. And the difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s passion and perseverance when doing something she or he loves. I’m a true believer that when you do the things that inspire you, it inspires others to do the things that inspire them.

      For me, it’s not about winning and it’s not about being number one, it’s about pushing myself and being the best athlete I can be. I want to inspire other people to push their own limits, and it doesn’t have to be sports, it can be whatever they do. If I’m able to inspire one person, I consider that a win. My dream for Burn to Give is to become a global movement, a global community of people burning calories and giving calories away to those who need them.

      Eduardo trains and races in a selection of Tralyx glasses. Click images to view.

      Eduardo trains and races in a selection of Tralyx glasses. Click images to view.

      Eduardo trains and races in a selection of Tralyx glasses. Click images to view.

      Eduardo trains and races in a selection of Tralyx glasses. Click images to view.

       

      This story originally appeared on innervoice.life the voice of endurance sports.

      Great Season Kickoff at Women's Tour Down Under

      Great Season Kickoff at Women's Tour Down Under

      The Women’s UCI 2019 World Tour cycling season is underway and Rudy Project sponsored teams were recently in Australia to kick it off in style at the Santos Tour Down Under. Making the journey to race in the heat of the Aussie summer were Alé-Cipollini Women Pro Cycling Team from Italy and American Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank.

      2019 Santos Women's Tour Down Under Team TIBCO-SVB RidersTeam TIBCO-SVB and Alé-Cipollini riders in the bunch Photo Santos Tour Down Under

      The Santos Tour Down Under was a four-day stage race with a variety of terrain and courses to reward the sprinters, climbers and all-rounders. “The 2019 edition of the TDU has more dynamic courses that offer up a lot of opportunities for hard racing,” remarked Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley’s Bank Alison Jackson before the race got underway. “Any of the first 3 stages could change the GC. It’s going to be an exciting four days of racing to follow.”

      The first stage rolled out of Hahndorf, presenting the riders with 112.9 miles to traverse on the finish line including two Queen of the Mountain contested climbs and an intermediate sprint before finishing in Birdwood.

      Nadia Quagliotto Queen of the Mountains Women's Tour Down UnderNadia Quagliotto on QOM podium with Defender glasses Photo Cor Vos

      adia Quagliotto of Alé-Cipollini took control on the climbs early, earning the QOM jersey on the first day for her efforts and kept it to the race conclusion. As it turns out, Quagliotto’s hails from Treviso, Italy, the home to the Rudy Project global headquarters. Should she turn up for a lunch ride at the office between her many racing engagements this summer, there’s bound to be some folks suffering off the back!

      Alé-Cipollini team captain Chloe Hosking was also active out on course. She picked up a valuable time bonus in the intermediate sprint mid-race. Though her final sprint wasn’t what she had hoped for, her 10th place finish in the bunch combined with her time bonus was good enough to put her in third place on the general classification.

      Alison Jackson 2019 Santos Tour Down Under Stage 2 FinishAlison Jackson finishing stage 2 in Boost 01 helmet + Tralyx glasses Photo Kirsty Baxter

      Alison Jackson of Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley’s meanwhile put perhaps the most consistent results on the board for the week. The Canadian rider duked it out for the intermediate sprints, finishing third in that ranking, and crossed the line in fourth on the first stage. In fact she never finished outside the top-ten in any stage, which is an incredibly strong performance so early in the season.

      Chloe Hosking Stage Four Win, Alison Jackson FifthChloe Hosking wins sprint in Tralyx glasses Photo Cor Vos

      The final stage was 42.5km circuit through the streets of downtown Adelaide, which was custom designed for the sprinters. Having won on the same course last year and having the confidence to pull off a repeat, Hosking rallied her team to keep her out of trouble leading up to the final sprint.

      The team came through on their end of the tactic and Chloe sealed the deal by besting the bunch on the line. And hats off again to Alison Jackson who contested the sprint rounded out the race in fifth place overall.

      Cam Dye: The End

      Cam Dye: The End

      This story originally appeared on innervoice.life, the voice of endurance sports.

      Cam Dye Spinhawk Glasses

      THE END OF A DREAM CAREER

      I was 15-years-old when I entered my first race.

      On that day the swim was in a pool, so it felt fitting when I ended my career with a pool-swim at Major League Triathlon in Charlotte on October 6, 2018. For a long time, I've made a living by pushing the pace and playing to my strengths.

      Now, at the age of 34, I walk away satisfied with how I went about my business: honest, dedicated, and collegial.

      Cam Dye Bike 

      We all know that it takes a particular personality to put your whole life into sports; it’s usually the kind of competitor who gets mad when they lose at Candyland. Guilty as charged. As a racer, my goal was always to see if my best was better than your best. Some days it was, other days it wasn’t. On the days that it wasn’t, I am proud to say that I raced against some of the greatest to ever toe the line.

      Here’s to you Alistair and Javier, Crowie and Macca. And then there was Greg Bennett who had an uncanny ability to show up on the biggest stages and knock it out of the park.

      You all were an inspiration to me.

      Cam Dye Bike Transition

      MEMORIES

      After 12 years of professional racing, you accumulate a ton of memories. Racing in crazy places, staying in sketchy hotels and meeting some of the most amazing people on the planet. One of my fondest memories is having raced in all three of the Island House Triathlons. Highbourne Cay is the most beautiful place I have ever been, and Mark and his staff, along with Luke and Beth the race directors, gave the athletes the racing opportunity of a lifetime.

      Cam Dye Finish Line Win

      From the best ITU guys to Ironman champions, the multi-day and multi-race formats allowed for triathlon to be raced in its most genuine form; against the best in the world. I think triathlon is unique in that almost all of the people that race are good, fun people, and those friendships are something that I will greatly miss. It’s incredible to think that I know people from all corners of the globe, and will hopefully be able to catch up with many of them again over beers, instead of in transition.

      Another fond racing memory is taking part in the first ever Super League race in Hamilton Island, Australia. The pain from racing is certainly a memory, but it was the opportunity to room with a 19-year-old future star and get to meet all of the people that will be at the top of the sport for the next ten years. I am really cheering for Super League to succeed because it’s the most fun kind of triathlon. It’s short, fast, and the distances aren’t standardized, which makes for the most exciting racing. I certainly wish it had been around ten years ago, but I will enjoy watching it and cheering for its continued success. 

      Cam Dye Winter Run 

      THANK YOU

      They say it takes a village, and there couldn’t be a more applicable place for that idea than in professional sports. I would never be able to name all of the people that have contributed to my career’s success and longevity, but I want to at least try and name a few.

      Cam Dye Swim Goggles and Cap

      One group that stays mostly in the shadows is the race directors that put on the events. They do everything behind the scenes and never get any recognition, but they make being a pro possible. I was privileged enough to work with some of the best, that care about pro racing, and are the backbone of the sport of triathlon. Again, there are too many to name all, but I really want to thank Bill Burke, Philip Lahaye and Susan Daniels for their support of pro racing, and for taking such good care of me over the years.

      Cam Dye Swim Training in Pool

      My coaches Neal and Grant have been by my side since the early days of my career. As my swim coach, Grant gave me the push to do that first race and has been my go-to for advice ever since. I was lucky enough to begin working with Neil in year two of my career, and we have been doing it ever since. Most athletes have to struggle to either find a coach that can adapt to them, or they adapt to a coach. I was fortunate enough to find one on the first try that was willing to push me when I needed it, and reign me in when that’s what I needed too.

      I owe them both a tremendous debt of gratitude. 

      FAMILY

      My family is the reason I was successful. It’s that simple. My parents taught me at a young age how to work hard and overcome failures, while at the same time they allowed me to chase any dream I wanted. They were my first ever sponsor - my Dad wrote me a check, and in the subject line it said ‘sponsorship’. When there were plenty of reasons to get a job after college, they told me to give triathlon my best shot, and they meant it.

      Cam Dye and Wife

      I can truly say my wife is responsible for every win I have ever had in triathlon. I met Natalie about five months before I won my first big race, and she has been along for the ride ever since. Getting married and having kids early in my career definitely made for some challenges, but now it allows me to have unrivalled support and love. I am excited to watch my kids play sports, take more family vacations, and relieve my wife of ‘Single Mom Saturdays’. Natalie’s support has been unwavering in this crazy and unpredictable sport, and it is what has allowed me to get out the door every day and chase my dreams.

      NEXT PHASE

      I have tried hard to treat triathlon as the job I love, but not completely link my identity to being an athlete. That said, identifying myself as a former athlete is still going to be a struggle. Since that last race, I have spent lots of time in the gym lifting really heavy because I finally can put on a few pounds. So far we’re only at six, but it’s a start. I’ve played lots of racquetball, and a few rounds of golf and been able to enjoy watching my Hawkeyes play on Saturday morning.

      Cam Dye Coffee 

      I have gotten so much from the sport of triathlon, and I want to continue passing that on through coaching. I will also be turning my hobby of trading equities into a job and heading into the wide world of finance. 

      Thank you again to all my family, friends, and supporters for what has truly been a dream career in triathlon.

       

      Matt Chrabot: I'm a Racer

      Matt Chrabot: I'm a Racer

      This story originally appeared on innervoice.life, the voice of endurance sports.

      I race opponents rather than racing myself. I’m a born swimmer, decent cyclist, and quick runner, therefore, I feel like I can be in control from the gun. In general, I aim to come out of the water near the front and in that neighborhood the rest of the day. I’ve always tried to stay with the contenders throughout the entire race. When there's a surge or someone gets dropped, I wonder if I’m going too hard or vice versa. Sometimes you can let guys surge and they'll just naturally slow down and come back to you if your pace is consistent. Other times there are moves where you have to make a judgment call. You think to yourself “I probably should go with these guys because I may not be able to run them down by the end.”

      To race against the best, you have to be willing to take risks, but there are times where taking extra risks are unnecessary or harmful to your potential result. Lionel Sanders and Sebastian Kienle zipped by me at St. George a couple of years ago and cycling at their pace turned out to be a mistake. Even though I could keep up with them on the climbs, the constant power that they would push downhill was a little too much for me. By continually trying to stay with them I quickly dug myself a hole and eventually burnt out.

      I FELL IN LOVE WITH CYCLING

      Growing up, I gravitated to the water, spending most of my teen years in the pool or competing in surf lifesaving competitions along the east and west coasts. I like to think I would’ve been into a team sport like water polo, but it wasn’t available in my area. I was into swimming because I really liked it. You’re constantly improving, and it’s apparent in your times. I swam for George Mason University and since I wasn't on a scholarship I felt the freedom to explore other sports in my free time, like running and cycling. Being a skinny swimmer, these sports came natural to me.  

      I fell in love with cycling independently of the other two disciplines of triathlon. I was interested in Lance Armstrong’s story and his background had some triathlon. Even though I cycled for my university, I figured I’d never turn professional, so I happily continued to run, and focus on triathlon. In my late teens I found a myriad of ITU World Cup videos, and I concluded that there was no reason why I couldn’t be a contender one day. Eventually I entered the Olympic development pipeline with USA Triathlon and things took off from there. Racing Ironman rarely ever crossed my mind but over a decade later, here I am prepping for my second Ironman World Championships.

      I’ve always taken the three individual sports seriously and think that’s an important approach for all triathletes. Outside of my swimming background, I have competed seriously in both cycling and running races. When it comes to Ironman and long distance, it helps to really enjoy cycling. After all, most of the day is spent in the saddle.

       

      STAY PRESENT

      When things aren’t going to plan I’ll break the race apart by preparing to reach the next aid station. Staying in the present moment is critical. When you’re training alone and things go wrong in the middle of nowhere, help can be a long, long way away. But in a race, sometimes it's just around the corner. As long as you’re moving, an aid station is somewhere on the horizon. To get there, I try to stay present and focus on the small things. As an example: staying in the aero position on the flats and being efficient with my energy by keeping my upper body still on the climbs.

      I tend not to say much to myself while I’m racing. I don’t really have mantras or words. My inner dialogue is just...not really there. There's definitely some regrets that pass through my head, like, “Uh oh, I’m thirsty. I’ll take my time going through the next aid station and make sure to grab extra water and drinks.” The words wouldn’t necessarily be there, but I’ll plan out my next move by visualizing it in my mind - an empty bottle toss or a bottle hand-off from a volunteer. I find visualizing it also helps prevents the mistake of a dropped bottle.

      “As much as I would love to be a coach someday, I'd prefer an advisory role where I’m helping to develop young talent or share ideas with athletes that want to race to the very best of their abilities. I don't have a strong desire to micromanage the ins and outs of a 25 week training block. Their wisdom and one liners can be comforting, but I feel like many coaches that are ex-pros simply train their athletes the way they once trained, and that may not always work. The best coaches, like Krista Austin, are brilliantly flexible in their approach.”  

      ALL IN FOR KONA

      I'll be racing in Kona in October. It will be my second appearance, but the first time I'm centering my entire season around the event. Training has exceeded my expectations. There are good days and not so good days. On the best days you think you could either win a world title or make the podium, but on the bad days you're like, “Thank god today isn’t the race!” It’s still early September and that's actually how I feel today. I just put in four or five days where I was knocking it out of the park and everything was going well. But yesterday I got half-way through a hard run and realized I just needed to shut it down for a couple of days. When it comes to the Ironman World Championships, Olympics, Olympic Trials, or any major one-day event, timing is everything with training. Better to be slightly underdone than over-cooked.  

      In Ironman, the name of the game at the elite level is to race the last 25% of each of the disciplines really well. That’s the last kilometer of the swim, when your low back is tightening up or your hip flexors are sore because you kicked too hard. In order to prepare yourself for that you have to create the right type of fatigue in training, and have enough of the right kind of swimming in the bank. If you’re not spending enough time in the pool it will hit you like a ton of bricks by halfway. The same goes for the bike. There are different faces near the front in the beginning compared to the final miles. Lastly, the run. Athletes come off the bike and they’ll look strong, but it can be hard to tell who’s going to succeed because many are running the same pace. But the beauty of Ironman is that a time deficit the size of the Grand Canyon could vanish in the blink of an eye with just one or two bad patches.

      NEVER GIVE UP

      A great memory for me was during a very, very hot ITU World Cup race in Huatulco, Mexico in 2011. My frozen polar water bottles never thawed, and I crashed my bike on a small hill. A lapse of judgement in the intense heat meant I clipped someone’s wheel and we both went down at low speed. My iced bottles were rolling down the hill and I felt like I had to chase after them for the little fluid I could get from them. I was able to catch the main bike group by the time I entered T2, but I could barely slide my shoes on. The thought of quitting never crossed my mind. I wasn't even angry, sad, or frustrated. I felt nothing. The only thing I looked forward to was the first aid station at 1km down the road. There, the volunteers gave out an unlimited amount of 250ml bags of water. Since I wasn't able to take the race out at the pace I normally would've with a strong group, I had to race to the best of my ability and negative split the run. I reeled in the entire field in within 9km and even had enough time to enjoy the last kilometer, gliding into the finishing chute.

      FIND BALANCE

      In my view, plenty of triathletes and successful athletes (or people for that matter) can be incredibly selfish. What I mean by that is they’re self-centered with their time and focus or with what they're willing to contribute to life outside of their career path. This may work at the highest levels, but I've seen relationships fall apart when the athlete doesn't know when to turn it off or dial it back. Creating some sort of balance when not training or preparing for a race is crucial.

      I greatly admire those who can get work done efficiently, then seamlessly switch to family time without skipping a beat. My wife is one of them. Constantly using the excuse that the next workout is more important than helping out around the house can take its toll, especially when it’s little things. I've seen great talent go to waste because their timing of when to “turn it off" is off by a mile. At this stage of my athletic life, I think that's vastly important.

      In my downtime I play a small role at a Registered Investment Advisor group. I work in portfolio and wealth management, building financial models while learning the ins and outs of the industry. Most of our clients are high net-worth. Some people are generationally wealthy or incredibly successful while others are savvy with money and have invested well into their retirement accounts throughout their adult lives. That’s another thing that hit home with me. Retirement. What’s next in life after racing is over with? No matter what, I’ll constantly strive to grind, read, learn, adapt, pay my dues, and be a better person than yesterday.

       

       

       Follow Matt on Instagram: @mattchrabot

      Words by Matt Chrabot, images and editing courtesy of innervoice.life

       

      Alison Jackson: I Belong Here

      Alison Jackson: I Belong Here

      BIG FISH

      I’m from a town called Vermilion, which is in east-central Alberta. It’s a town of maybe 4,000 people. I really wanted to be a farmer and just play outside and be with the animals. I had a lot of 'outdoor energy', which eventually got directed into sports. I played just about every sport that was offered in town - gymnastics, soccer, athletics - and for the most part I won everything that I did, but it was on a small scale. I was a big fish in a small pond. I remember with gymnastics, because it was so small in my town, when I would go to the city for a camp it was this ‘woah!’ moment. I didn’t even realize people could do the types of things these girls were doing. You were just immersed in something with people that were so much better than you. The good thing is you learn so much quicker when you can see what is possible.

      I find that with cycling too, and it’s one reason why I love racing in Europe. I raced for two years as a pro in North America, and then last year I threw myself in the deep end and raced for an Italian team. In North America I could, with a certain degree of confidence, pick races on the calendar and say ‘I’m going to win this one.’ But in Europe, you’re racing with the best of the best, and you can be on the lower end of the totem pole. I’d rather that than to continue being the big fish in the little pond. 

       

      BELIEF IS MORE POWERFUL

      For the Rio Olympics, Canada only had three spots for the road race. I was in contention for a spot, but I was named the 4th rider - the first alternate. It was great, but really I just sat at home and watched the race on TV. That was my second year of being a pro cyclist, so now I have a pretty good idea of what it takes to get back there. I mean, the safest option is always to podium at the World Championships, or be Canadian national champion. For me it’s about gaining more experience, winning some races and learning how to be the best teammate. Hopefully it will make me a more complete package for 2020 in Tokyo.

      My coach and I are thinking about the smaller, more detailed stuff - the marginal gains. It’s everything from how I train, to focusing on the mental skills, learning how my body reacts to nutrition, and doing aerodynamic testing. The little things will make a big difference in the end. I’m super easy going as a person, so the main thing is fitting all of this to me and my personality. Other types of athletes might be super rigid and detailed and structured, and I definitely need to add some of that in and try it. But for me, having my teammates, my family and my husband believe in me is more powerful than some of the rigid science stuff. 

       

      I'M A SOCIAL PERSON

      Some of the things I hadn't considered when I turned pro was stuff like how you’re supposed to do your taxes. They never tell you that, but when you think about it I’m travelling all over and in Europe we race in so many different countries. Do I need visas for all these countries? And if so, am I visiting or working? Even some of the financial planning is difficult, because parents are always keen for you to save for a house.

      All that said, I think I thrive when things change and everything is new. Travelling and meeting new people is awesome. In Italy, though, it was so much more about the racing and less about having friends on the team. I’m a social person and I love telling jokes and laughing, and making people laugh - the silly stuff. That's what I have loved about North American teams; there’s a bit more emphasis on fun and personal connection. But with the language barrier and the cultural differences that wasn’t really part of it in Italy. It’s really hard to make jokes in another language. Or, sometimes at the dinner table my teammates would start talking faster and faster, and by the time I’d figured out the joke they’d already moved on. It made it hard to make friends on the team, so the hardest part was sitting there realizing I haven’t laughed in a couple of days.

      “Yeah, I've always had really positive self talk and I think it comes from how I was raised. My family is really big on faith and belief in God, which has instilled in me a really grateful kind of attitude - like hey, you're here for a purpose.”

      VAN LIFE

      My dad is still doing the farm thing; we raise bison. My husband works with Dad for some of the busy periods, then he travels around with me for the rest of the time. We mostly live out of a van, which some people find funny but it totally works for us. My husband doesn’t race and doesn’t ride road bikes but he likes being a nomad and living on the road, so he was the one behind the van life for us.

      For a while we wondered how we could fit our seemingly very different career and life goals together. It seemed like our schedules were mostly clashing instead of complementing. It took some getting used to, but once we figured out the right mix of give and take it has been great for us. We both love the wilderness, exploring new places, simple living and chasing the sun. It’s been really neat to see how God has made us complementary to each other, while being really different as well. There are times where maybe living out of a van doesn’t make sense, but this is a really good way for he and I to be together while I do what I want to do, which is make the Olympics. He just really wants to see the world and meet new people. So, sure, we’re not both professional athletes out riding around together, but we have a complementary lifestyle and sometimes you need to think outside the box to be able to keep pursuing what you really want.

       

      Photos courtesy of Alex Jackson

      ADAPTABLE

      I think being an athlete has taught me to be adaptable and to control your reaction, so when real life gets stressful or hard or chaotic, I’m able to stay calm and assess the situation. Just deal with what’s happening right now. If there’s a problem, my self-talk kicks in and says “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.” It might hurt, it might not be a nice situation, but just go through the process and problem-solve it. Cycling has a ton of ups and downs and things that are unexpected, and if you let these outside stressors get to you then it’s no good for your performance. The same is true in life. If you work through it step-by-step it helps, rather than taking on all the stress and emotions at the same time.

      I’ve learned through being an athlete that sometimes things are full-on, and other times they’re more relaxed. There are going to be times in life where you really have to be full-on 100% attention, where it takes a lot of effort all at once, but then you’ll get other moments where you can chill. Whatever moment you’re in, you need to be fully engaged to what that situation has to offer.

      SHE'S SUPER INSPIRING

      I think when I was younger I definitely took my mom for granted. She did all this stuff for me and was super helpful and would make anything I wanted come true. Now I recognize there’s a lot of work that she did, and a lot of sacrifices she made to encourage me. Last year she had breast cancer and she’s taken the whole thing with so much grace, which just reaffirms a lot of how she interacted with me when I was younger. I really see now. I admire her and all the things she did on the sidelines, or behind the scenes, that were never properly recognized. I think she’s super inspiring.

      I’m really thankful for technology like FaceTime and Skype that keeps us connected. I love social media, mostly because that’s how I keep up with how other people are living their lives. I’m not physically there, but I get to keep in touch. When I signed my first professional contract I knew that I was going to have to miss out on some family time and other social things, like weddings. In my first year as a pro, my best friend from college was getting married and I was really sad when she told me the date because I was racing Redlands that day. I’m sure it was a hard thing for her to understand why. I mean, she’s my best friend and I’m choosing this bike race over her wedding. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing for her, but I was confident in my goals and made the decisions that were best for my career. Even now I have FOMO, but you have to be okay with the consequences.

       

      “One of the exercises I did when I was running at university was to imagine seven different ways I’m going to win this race. Once you can figure out seven different ways, when you get to that critical moment you have a more automatic reaction rather than having to think about it on the spot.”

      YOU BELONG HERE

      I use a lot of keywords, and sometimes they’ll even be specific to that particular race. Often it can be as simple as “you belong here,” which helps you believe in yourself when you’re new and no-one knows your name. Absolutely you belong here at the front of the peloton, or next to the world champion. In Europe, I really had to tell myself that I belonged because athletes at the top, top end all know each other and they expect the same people to be around when it gets to the pivotal point in the race. So when someone new comes along they almost team up to get them out of the way. I had to keep telling myself that I belonged and that, big fish in little pond or not, I could do it.

       

      YOU NEVER REALLY KNOW

      I’m big on building reference points to have in the back of your memory. Something like when you have a hard race and you didn’t think you could do it, but you get through it. I had this one race last year where we had a terrible preparation going into it. I had to wake up at 4:30am for a 6:00am flight. It was six hours to France and then we did another six hour drive to get to where the race was. When we eventually got out for a ride my legs felt terrible, I was so tired from the travel. We raced on the WorldTour the next day. It was meant to be a good course for me, but my legs felt terrible and I’d convinced myself that I wasn't going to win. At the end, though, I was at the front of the group and when it came time to sprint I was passing people. Oh my gosh!But, it was too late. I missed an opportunity to be aggressive or go for it because I had given up before I even started. Now I use that as my reference point: even if the preparation doesn’t go to plan, always put in 110% because you never know what you’re going to have at the end of the stage. 

      FOLLOW ALISON

      Footnotes: Words by Alison Jackson, Photos by Matt Clark (Stirl and Rae Photo), Edited by Cody Royle, Published by Travis McKenzie, Copyright NTSQ Sports Group