Allar shares love of cycling

At 31, Rally cyclist passes knowledge on to younger riders

Posted: April 2, 2017 at 1 a.m.

 Erica Allar rides up a hill during Thursday's time trials of the Joe Martin Stage Race at Devil's Den State Park on Thursday, March 30, 2017.
Zoom

Erica Allar rides up a hill during Thursday's time trials of the Joe Martin Stage Race at Devil's Den State Park on Thursday, March 30, 2017.

WINSLOW -- Erica Allar "dabbled" in gymnastics, basketball, track and field and even the marching band.

Erica Allar (front) of Rally Cycling makes final adjustments before starting a 3-mile climb Thursday during time trials of the Joe Martin Stage Race a...

"I tried all sorts of stuff, but nothing really stuck," Allar said.

TODAY’S TICKET

Joe Martin Stage Race

Sunday Criterium

Category^Start Time^Race Time

Elite Men 1,2^12:45 p.m.^50 minutes

Cruiser Parade^1:45 p.m.^Parade lap

Kid’s Ride (FREE) - Ages 3-12^2:00 p.m.^varying distances

Pro Women^2:30 p.m.^50 minutes

Pro Men^3:30 p.m.^85 minutes

*For more information, visit joemartinstagerace.com

Finally, something did. A middle school classmate introduced Allar to cycling -- and her life was never the same.

Now a professional racing cyclist for Rally Cycling, Allar is in Northwest Arkansas for the 40th Annual Joe Martin Stage race. In the general classification standing for overall time, Allar's in 16th out of 71 competitors heading into today's final stage.

Allar has spent nearly half of her life as a competitive rider. After beginning as an amateur at age 16, Allar later won multiple collegiate national track championships while attending Penn State. By age 23, she had won two national criterium championships as a professional racer.

In her first national criterium, Allar was an underdog who ended up winning the event. She even bested a "three-on-one" late in the final stage by outpedaling three riders from the same team as they attempted -- unsuccessfully -- to defend their position against her.

That's when Allar's passion for the sport truly began.

"You don't always necessarily see the strongest, fittest, fastest person win," Allar said. "There are so many elements to doing well in bike races that come together. Sometimes, the most savvy person wins. Sometimes, it's the person who knows how to race in less-than-favorable weather conditions. It's usually a person who is smartest, savviest and most technically sound that wins, although sometimes it is the strongest person who wins, but it's not always.

"I think that's what's cool. There's a favorite, but that doesn't mean that person is always going to win. It's who takes advantage of opportunities and their team situations with the best strategy. I love that about the sport."

Entering her second year as the oldest athlete on Rally Cycling's team, Allar has learned to love her new role as a mentor and teacher. She's only 31-years-old, but already has so much racing experience that she can offer advice to younger riders on the team like first-year Rally member Caitlyn Laroche.

"She's the mature, guiding force of the team and her experience and her insights are invaluable," Laroche said. "Coming to the team as a newbie, I really appreciate having her around. Plus, this is my first year as a professional, so she's helped me learn a lot of things not to do. She certainly knows her stuff."

While riders with Allar's love of coaching combined with her level of experience may look to transition to a team director role after competing, Laroche has her sights set on a different path. At Penn State, she became the first person from her family to graduate with a Bachelor's Degree. Allar recently moved to Demorest, Ga., where she's pursuing her Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education at Piedmont College.

"At some point when I'm done being a bike racer, I'll teach elementary school," Allar said. "But for now, I enjoy being a little more of a mentor-type position. I have been doing this for so long and I have been afforded a great opportunity to do this with such a great support system that I feel like I owe it to the sport to try to help teach the girls with everything that I've been taught over the years."

Sports on 04/02/2017