Women’s History Month is all about highlighting the contributions of women throughout history and supporting women through future endeavors. It’s also about women lifting up other women.
So to help us celebrate, we asked current and former pro cyclists to share stories about the women who inspire them most—the people who motivated them to pursue their passions and continue riding forward.
Here, notes of gratitude to those women who have impacted our lives and by proxy, cycling—the sport we love.
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From me, the writer: Kristen Arnold, 32 years old, retired pro road cyclist, team sport director
To: Liza Rachetto, triathlete, cyclist, and endurance coach
Thank you so much for being my guiding light for the last few years of my cycling career. I have always admired and been inspired by your endless gratitude, positivity, and commitment to the craft. Knowing I could reach out to you for guidance and support during my career kept me in a consistent head space and acknowledging what a privilege it is to train, compete, and be in this sport we love.
During our time riding together in Encinitas in spring of 2019 was such a pleasure and the stories you told about your numerous years racing as a pro have stuck with me. Looking forward to seeing each other on the sidelines, rather than the race course 😉.
From: Whitney Allison, 35 years old, pro gravel cyclist, retired pro road cyclist, premiere gravel race promoter
To: Jess Cerra, retired pro road cyclist, pro gravel cyclist, premiere gravel race promoter
Thank you for your support through multiple phases of our bike careers! As a teammate back in our Hagens Berman Supermint [pro women’s cycling team] days on the road, you were always so reliable and steadfast. One of my favorite career moments was when you won the Redlands crit and got to shine how you deserved.
When I was hit by that driver, you were really encouraging and shared your best practices after you broke your leg and came back from that. During COVID times, you were still invested in my outcome dealing with that. And as I finally entered my first gravel season, you’ve always encouraged and believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. Where we each live in this two-wheeled space has changed over the years, but I’m grateful for the steadfast friendship and looking forward to what 2022 will bring!
From: Jess Cerra, 39 years old, retired pro road cyclist, pro gravel cyclist, premiere gravel race promoter
To: Eileen Blasi, cyclist in California
Dear Blasi a.k.a. Basil,
Eileen, you’ve had such a profound impact on my life. You’ve spread your love and energy into my bike life, my professional life, and my personal life, which is why I consider you family. You set an example of how to be a confident, successful, and empowered woman as a mother, as a cyclist, and as a friend.
Whenever I’ve hit the lowest valleys in my life, you’ve been there to make sure I have what I need to make it back to the tippy top of the mountain. You’ve shown me how to stay positive and keep pushing my career while I balanced professional racing. Most importantly you’re always game for my crazy ride ideas and elaborate cream-cheese cookie sandwiches. Thank you for being a legendary human.
From: Brooke Goudy, 40 years old, gravel and mountain bike sponsored rider
To: Florence Delorez Griffith Joyner, gold and silver Olympic medalist who set world records in the 100m and 200m distances in 1988
Thanks so much for being the representation I needed as a child. I remember sitting in front of the television or looking through a magazine and seeing your beautiful flashy outfits, impeccable makeup, and long flowy hair. I wanted to be just like you. You inspired me to get off the sofa and out of my head and just do it.
Back in high school I ran track because you, and women that looked like me, ran track. I felt inspired, and even as the only Black woman on my track team, I always felt like I belonged because you gave me that. Today, as an honor to you, I stand tall as a cyclist in a sport that is dominated by men and lacks the representation of folks of color. I show up in my best outfit and magnificently fiery red lipstick. My beautiful black skin, flashy black and gold outfit, and bright red lipstick stand out in the crowd at the start line. I want those young Black and brown girls to see me. I show up as myself so they can too, an inspiration of you. Thanks Flo-Jo.
From: Romina Hinojosa, 19 years old, pro road and track cyclist
To: Chely Arreola, her coach
Dear Coach Chely,
I have no words to describe how grateful I am to have you as my coach. Since the day I joined the team, I felt part of a family. You’ve helped me regain my self-confidence and guided me to become the person I am today. I love how fun and understanding your training is.
Chely, you motivate me to become a better person on and off the bike every day. And although I sometimes slip when it comes to decisions, I know you will always stand by me. I have gone through many changes this past year, and even though I was new to the team, you took me under your wing and guided me. I had no idea coaches could be fantastic. Thank you for everything!
From: Maria Larkin, 35 years old, pro cyclocross racer
To: Daphne Karagianis, racer for DNA pro cycling
Daphne, it’s safe to say that you got me into this mess. After asking if I’d like to join a cycling team with you, having no idea what I was getting myself into, I found myself on a run-away train filled with racing, riding, friendships, and nonstop fun. At first, I hated training and riding hard but you pushed me, just as you pushed yourself to demand better out of every ride. You set the bar high and inspired me when you flew right over it. Thirteen years later, we’ve gone on many adventures together on all different bikes and terrain. Thank you for keeping it interesting and most importantly, fun.
From: Ayesha McGowan, 35 years old, UCI World Tour pro road cyclist
To: Sarah Elizabeth Pass, her grandmother
I appreciate the way you always find a way to support me even if you don’t fully know what I’m doing. By watching you, I’ve learned never to let anyone convince me I couldn’t do something I wanted to do and to absolutely never settle for less. You’ve taught me patience, compassion, and how to be both a leader and a team player. You are always yourself and from that, I’ve learned that being yourself is the best and only way to be. I know I can count on your words and your spirit to lift me up on my darkest days even if we’re not physically in the same place. Anyone who ever gets to be in your presence is the luckiest person alive. I am who I am, because of you. Thank you.
From: Clementine Nixon, 38 years old, pro cyclocross racer
To: BrittLee Bowman, gravel team owner, manager, and racer
You have been my rock. Your strength as a woman and your simultaneous ferocity as an athlete inspired me to pursue racing. After hearing you speak at an NYC woman’s community panel about racing for Richard Sachs, I decided to try my first cyclocross race in Queens, where you ran around the entire course with me as I raced, yelling instructions, and cheering at the top of your lungs in the snow. Over the past four years our friendship has blossomed—racing together, going to community cyclocross practice on Randall’s Island, and enjoying sunsets.
Your relentless encouragement has motivated me to keep pushing myself, to strive to chase the dream of racing elite cyclocross. Today not only are you one of my closest friends, I’m proud to follow in your footsteps, racing for Richard Sachs, with you by my side as my manager. I couldn’t have gotten to where I am today without you, Britt. I am forever grateful for your fire, your giggles, and your strength.
From: Nikki Peterson, 35 years old, pro mountain bike racer, NICA director
To: Larissa Connors, two-time Leadville 100 mountain bike race winner
Thank you for being the most inspirational cyclist and human I know. I was completely unsure of my place in the pro women’s field until we became friends and training partners. Thank you for constantly reminding me that I belong on the start line alongside the National Champions and Olympians and that my results contribute to a deeper women’s field. You have taught me that even though we suffer alone in our own minds during endurance events, cycling still is a community effort. Lastly, you have shown me the power of women lifting women in sport, work, relationships, and life in general. I hope to pass along the same lessons that you have helped teach me!
From: Liza Rachetto, 48 years old, retired pro road cyclist, Ironman athlete, and cycling coach
To: Kristin Armstrong, former pro road racer, three-time Olympic gold medalist, and coach
We worked together as lifeguards 31 years ago. Kristin became a friend, teammate, mentor, training partner. We did our first triathlon and first Ironman together in the 1990s, became teammates in the pro cycling world, and now work as coaches. Kristin has been a sounding board for me that I have relied on for decades, sharing her perspective, experience, and perseverance. The learning never stops as an athlete and a coach; listening and talking to Kristin on training rides has helped me evolve to who I am today.
From: Selene Yeager, 53 years old, mountain bike racer/Ironman athlete
To: Rebecca Rusch, adventure athlete, world champion, author, speaker, and activist
Thank you for showing me that I could start racing at an age when the world says you should be slowing down. You never made a big deal out of your age—and still don’t. So I didn’t know I was “old” when I was racing through my 40s. That quiet affirmation gave me the confidence to step up to the biggest mountain bike stage race start lines in the world—and to eventually share those start lines with you, as both a teammate and competitor.
Meeting you was a liminal moment in my life, after which I crossed a threshold to accomplishments I never would have dreamed possible. Watching your evolution as an athlete now that we’re both in our 50s inspires me to continue pushing and evolving and forging a path where re-invention rather than retirement means the best years are always right in front of you. Thanks for bringing me along on your adventures and trusting me to tell your story through Rusch to Glory. Be good. (Your sister from another mother.)
Kristen Arnold is a board-certified sports dietitian specializing in sports nutrition for women. She owns a private practice working with clients one-on-one and in group settings from the recreational to professional level in sport. She is also a Level 2 USA Cycling coach with Source Endurance LLC, a retired professional road cyclist of 7 years, and a current team sport director for domestic elite women's professional cycling team Wolfpack p/b ProBikeKit. Through all of these pursuits she fulfills her passion for enhancing the health and performance of active people and communities.