4 years ago by Michelle Dushensky

A family affair

Riders share how family inspired them to ride

It was late morning on February 17, 2018. Rally UHC Cycling’s Erica Carney was nearing the end of Georgia’s Assault on Mount Currahee, a grueling 32-mile gravel grinder in the Blue Ridge Mountains. As she crested the last hill, she saw him about 500 meters up the road. “Dad!” she screamed excitedly. “We’re going to get to cross the finish line together!” With Carney leading the way, they entered the final circuit.

And then it all came crashing down—literally.

Realizing they had missed a right-hand turn, Carney slammed on her breaks. Dad slammed into her and fell to the ground, breaking his collarbone and puncturing a lung. In a matter of seconds, Carney and her dad, Dave Allar, had gone from experiencing “the coolest, most memorable thing that was ever going to happen” to an emergency trip to the hospital.

Carney and her dad didn’t get to cross the finish line together that day—but it was never about the race anyway. It was about doing something together, creating memories, and celebrating all the little moments that nurtured their love for cycling.

It’s hard to believe that there was a time when Rally UHC Cycling’s veteran rider knew nothing about bike racing. But when Carney met a girl in her seventh grade class who raced at a nearby track and had just won junior nationals, she knew she had to check it out. Indulging his daughter’s curiosity, Allar took twelve-year-old Carney to the Trexlertown, Pennsylvania, Velodrome to watch the races—and she was hooked. Carney signed up for a beginner racing program at thirteen, and Allar started riding as a hobby, eventually using cycling as a way to lose weight and relieve stress.

“It was neat to have my dad bring me to the track,” says Carney. “Watching the races with him, getting involved in the beginner racing program, and then actually racing where they could come and watch—it was a family affair.”

Carney isn’t the only Rally UHC Cycling rider who traces the roots of her cycling career back to her family. Whether it was trying to keep up with older brothers or sisters, going on carefree family bike riders, or wanting to be like family members who were cyclists, fifteen of the team’s twenty-nine riders acknowledge that their parents or siblings turned them on to the sport. Here are some of their stories.

Leaders of the pack

Quality time with Dad is what also led Robin Carpenter to achieve greatness on the bike. “What really got me started on cycling,” says Robin Carpenter, “was when my dad turned forty and bought his first new bike in years.” Carpenter was eight years old at the time and says his dad rode casually on the weekends to lose weight and get fit.

“One day he was about to head out on a ride, and I asked if I could come. After that, I think we both progressed together,” says Carpenter.

Robin and his dad following his first bike race in Philadelphia.

And progress together they did. Eventually, Carpenter and his dad were doing 30-mile rides on the weekends and would ride to school or work downtown, which was seven miles each way. In early June 2004, 11-year-old Carpenter competed in his first-ever bike race—with his dad by his side. The duo spent the next several years discovering the world of amateur bike racing before Carpenter went pro in 2012, joining the Rally UHC Cycling team in 2018. Carpenter has ridden into the upper echelon of the sport, most recently competing in the team’s first Belgian Classic, La Flèche Wallonne.

Reason to tri 

Evan Huffman was five when he got his first bike. He wasn’t really into cycling at the time, but he remembers riding around for fun—because that’s what kids did. Unlike most children, Evan started doing triathlons when he was ten.

“My mom first got into triathlons to get in shape,” he says. “I decided I wanted to do it, too. So it became a thing that I did with my mom a lot.”

The more triathlons Huffman competed in with his mom, the more miles he put on his bike. And as his miles increased, so too did his love—and knack—for cycling. At seventeen years old, Huffman entered his first bike race.

Huffman competing in an IronKids triathlon at age 10.

“A big part of my move away from triathlons was that I wanted to be more specific and focus on one thing,” says Huffman.

That decision has paid off. Since joining the Rally UHC Cycling team in 2016, Huffman has had the best results of his pro career, most recently winning the Most Courageous Rider jersey for stage two at the Tour de California.

Tour de Crème

Like Huffman, Rally UHC Cycling’s Katherine Maine also discovered her aptitude for cycling in her teenage years. She attributes this to a childhood spent riding bikes with her family—an outdoor activity that everyone could do, regardless of age. And more often than not, they wound up at the ice cream shop.

“Ever since I could ride a bike,” Maine says, “I would go on Sunday bike rides with my younger sisters and cousins. It wasn’t so much about the cycling, but more about doing something together. I think it wasn’t until a lot later that I sort of realized that cycling was something I wanted to do.”

Maine entered the pro scene in 2016 and has spent every year since with the Rally UHC Cycling team, her rapid progression culminating in the CanadianCanandian Women’s Elite Road National Championship in 2018.

Maine with her mother and sisters.

“Cycling just for fun for sure played a big role,” says Maine. But early on, “it was more about spending time with my family and spending time outside than riding itself.”

Looking back at their humble beginnings, the same could be said for Carney, Carpenter, and Huffman. Because the truth is: cycling just brings families together.