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Laurel Rathbun Speaks

TSH and Laurel Rathbun have been through thick and thin. racing, collection shoots, delayed flights, on-time flights, emergency rooms and podiums. Today she announces officially that she is racing her last season as a professional at 23. Big hugs from TSH to this young champion!

Laurel Rathbun Interview

TSH

Ok you kinda let the cat out of the bag on social media last fall…is it true you are retiring at 23!?!

Laurel

This is not fake news. This is my first time announcing that I am retiring from the sport of cycling; I made a statement in a Donnelly Cycling interview in December 2018 that I was retiring from cyclocross, but not cycling as whole. The simplest reason I have to explain why is: there are a lot more bad days than good days in cycling and, to me, the good days do not outweigh the bad ones – not anymore.

TSH

Does this mean you are never going to jump into a local criterium?

Laurel

I don’t know… I haven’t completely ruled that idea out. Cher had like 5 farewell tours so I think I am allowed to a few retirement parties. I love racing and I am a very competitive person so, I’m sure the urge to get an adrenaline rush will catch up to me soon, but I am leaving those decisions for Future Laurel. For now, I need to take a large step back from the sport. I have an accounting job starting at Ernst & Young in Winston-Salem, NC at the end of September and I just want to focus on my career for a while and become an “adult”

TSH

Phil Gaimon has been perfecting the “worst retirement ever”, Do you think you are interested in some post career cycling life?

Laurel

I would still like to be involved in the sport in some way. I have been racing since I was 7 years old and I am passionate about women’s cycling and helping it grow. However, I don’t think I can do that as a racer anymore. I’m not sure what the next step in bolstering the sport is but, again, Future Laurel will figure that out.

TSH

What does your last summer of racing look like from here?

Laurel

My team – Colavita-Bialetti – is mostly #critsquad so we are following the USACRITS schedule for the rest of the season. USACRITS is a 10 race crit series with races all around the US (equal prize money for men & women yippeeeee) and we are making winning the individual and the team competition a top priority. Right now, we have 5 riders in the top 11, and are currently second in the team standings. We are about to start our big block of races Boise (July 13), Salt Lake City (July 20), San Rafael (July 27), Littleton (Aug 3) and West Chester (Aug 10). My last race will probably be Gateway Cup in early September with a soon-to-be-announced surprise for the end of September.

TSH

I know you are a no regrets kind of person but you suffered a big crash with many injuries at the Aviva Tour in the UK which took you out of racing for a year and involved a big recovery. This was your World Tour debut UHC, Let’s play what if you did not crash and you got a pro contract to race your bike in Europe, would you still be retiring?

Laurel

It’s tough to admit, but honestly no. If I had not suffered that big crash in the UK I think I would still be racing or finding a way to balance having a career and racing as so many of the women have to do. Being injured was a very rough time in my life, there are a lot of mental things I still need to deal with from that crash. I have really great ability of being able to put all these bad feelings in a box and never deal with them. I skipped that step in the recovery process and went straight back to racing as soon as I could. Somewhere down the line a lot of those feelings caught up with me and a realized that the risk was simply not worth the reward to me anymore.

TSH

What is the biggest thing you learned racing your bike?

Laurel

A strong instagram game goes a long way. :)

TSH

You wrote some lessons for young cyclist for TSH a few years back. Any new things to add as you finish up your road career this summer?

Laurel

A few things:
• Go to college – Andrew Talansky recently had a great post about his partnership with RISE Cycling that everyone should read
• Leave or send a thank you note at every host house you stay at
• Good days/ races don’t mean anything if you don’t have anyone to share it with
• Whole Foods hot bar is a great place for pre (or post) race dinner, lunch, breakfast, snacks, etc.
• The “Vamos Para La Playa” is the best warm up playlist on Spotify
• Always get a bowl at Chipotle and ask for the tortilla on the side
• Remember there’s more to life than bike racing

TSH

Best memory from racing?

Laurel

I don’t think I can choose one memory – there are so many good ones. A few memorable days include:
• Donnelly (then Raleigh-Clement) offering me my first pro contract
• My teammate pouring a bowl of soup on her former team director during team dinner
• Tulsa Tough any year – especially 2019
• Jingle CX 2014 when I had the race of my life / was introduced to TSH for the first time
• My teammate Lance wall twerking at Pan-Ams
• Gateway Cup – #teamlaurene
• My first National Championship in 2008 in Irvine, CA
• Road tripping with my best friend Emily to race West Chester Crit
• Getting to be a podium girl at Hartford CX Nationals 2017
• Eating an entire box of flavor blasted goldfish at Sea Otter 2013
• Almost any collegiate race with Marian

TSH

What will you miss the most?

Laurel

I am going to miss the people the most – my teammates, my friends, my pre/post race dance partners, sponsors, managers, fans, etc. I promise I will make guest appearances at the big races to fangirl my heart out for all my homies. To everyone who believed in me, supported me, sponsored me, cheered for me, helped me and liked my tweets – thank you. You made the bad days not so bad and, for that, I will always be grateful.

TSH

Thank you Laurel. I know a lot of people including TSH is going to miss you at the races. You presence will not be forgotten.