“Just got to let ‘er buck,” says Allison Arensman, accentuating a Valdese, N.C. accent as she describes how she approaches certain sections of trail. Sometimes, that’s just how it goes for many mountain bikers, you just have to lean back and let the bike do its thing.
She’s the second oldest of nine kids, and they’re all really competitive. According to Allison, you had to be to get heard. But being competitive is just the tip of the iceberg for this recent Brevard College grad, collegiate national champion, business owner, coach and barista.
Allison began her athletic career as a swimmer, and although she had good form, she was slow, which is frustrating for someone who wants to “let ‘er buck.” Her older brother and her dad competed in Ironman Triathlons, which piqued her interest. She signed up for a time trial series, and riding her brother’s bike (which was much too big), she wound up winning her age category.
That got the ball rolling, and eventually a family friend who coached cyclists had an athlete with an injury and a new cyclocross bike collecting dust. Her first season racing cross she won the Cat 4 category.
By 2015, she had turn pro and earned a spot on the Pepper Palace women’s road cycling team, where she rode while taking classes at Brevard College. Cyclists can compete professionally while earning prizes and money during college because collegiate cycling is not governed by the NCAA, which she says is good because there is just less scholarship money for collegiate cyclists.
Allison graduated from Brevard in 2016, and, moving away from road racing, started her own female-only cyclocross development team. “It was a lot to take on. I was finishing school, working as a coach and training myself as an athlete,” she said. “I needed support as a professional rider but I also wanted to start creating a development pathway. As I came up through the ranks, God really helped me create my career.”
She said there were certainly struggles, which were catalysts for her to create her own program, because she wanted to help other young female athletes realize their own dreams. From her perspective, there is not a clear pathway for young female cyclists. Her program was the first female junior cyclocross development program in the country and it has been running strong for three seasons now. Allison has expanded her business and now coaches road, mountain bikers and one BMX racer who has moved on to motocross this year.
“She doesn’t have any body mass at all, so the whole idea there is teaching her how to lift, working more with body weight and plyometrics, but it’s really neeeded for the effort and strain she is taking on her body,” she said. “I cant wait to see how that affects her handling, when she is able to throw around a dirt bike and then the cross bike when cross season comes back around.”
This season Allison has shifted her focus a little bit after constantly working for the last seven years with a goal of rebuilding her own athletic abilities. After so much racing, training, studying and coaching, she developed chronic fatigue syndrome last September. In the past, she said, she would go out for an easy ride, come home and sleep for two hours and then go about her normal business, but it eventually caught up with her. For someone who has raced all over the world and across the U.S., it can be hard to turn down a challenge.
“But, I am usually a zombie by the end of it,” said Allison. “But this year I am competing in some XTERRA races to get some aerobic and threshold base rebuilt. I want to learn more about multisport athletics, so I am getting into that and recruiting clients from that world also.” Her favorite training partner happens to be her sister, Hannah, who is also her roommate and the person who pushes her the most. Both sisters have competed in World Championship races, where Hannah won as a junior and Allison won the U23 category in 2016.
“I was at Brevard College during her first semester as a freshman when Brevard moved from D2 to D1 athletics, so that year we won mountain bike nationals, and cyclocross nationals was my last race with the team. It came down to the team relay on the last day. Hannah and I were on the relay team together with two male teammates. Our second male rider took off and put in the fastest lap of everyone that weekend. We won the relay by a landslide and we won the team title. Being able to compete alongside my sister at this level is such a blessing,” she said. Allison’s goal for the next couple of years is to be able to move to Europe and race there full time, but she is not getting tied down to a timeline.
“Make your goals, but focus on the moment and focus on the steps to get there,” she said. “If you’re focused on the end game, one, youre not going to learn a lot and you’ll be disappointed in the result instead of the process of getting there.”
Allison says the “carolina cobbles” of the Wilson Creek area of Pisgah National Forest made her the hardened athlete she is today.
“Carolina cobbles, that’s the secret. Our training rides, when I was younger, were on Maple Sally Road outside of Lenoir, which is pretty close to my hometown of Valdese,” she said. “That road in particular is so hard. It’s a nice warm up, and then you hit the two hour climb. That’s how we got ready.”
Anyone interested in coaching services can contact Allison at Allison@studio7multisport.com.