It Takes a Village to Win in Cycling

It Takes a Village to Win in Cycling

From Local Racing to the Tour de France

By: Jennifer Sharp, ALP Cycles Coaching

It's easy to think that riders that stand atop the podium are an overnight success. That somehow, they've magically discovered the sport of cycling, flown through the ranks and appeared as though granted a wish and stand smiling, hands waving, champagne being sprayed and flowers tossed to the crowd afterward.

Yet in reality, it takes years of practice. Or rather, roughly 10,000 hours of practice, according to Malcolm Gladwell. That's roughly 20 hours per week for 10 years. Talk about a lot of time, dedication, and sacrifice! Hopefully, this doesn't discourage some of you from following your dreams. 

My biggest tip to those newer to sport: find joy in the process. Figure ways that you can push yourself mile after mile, week after week, and season after season.

One of the best ways to do that is to share this love and passion with your support network. It's that army of people who encourage you: coaches, mentors, teammates, competitors, officials, directors, massage therapists, doctors, friends, and family...basically anyone you come in contact with from the moment you put on your superhero spandex to the moment you go to bed and every moment in between. They all want to help you achieve your goals.

And sometimes the most important support network comes in the form of a kind word from an acquaintance or stranger. 

During my second year of racing in the Pacific Northwest many years ago, a local badass woman came up to me and said, "you're doing it right, Jen. Just keep working. Keep pushing your boundaries." Jennifer Sharp USA Para National Track Championships

That brief encounter has stuck with me throughout my racing and coaching career. She didn't have to say a word since we were competitors and yet she did. The beautiful part is that I get to pass that one on and share those kind words with others. The ultimate butterfly effect.

And don't forget to thank them - it's important to acknowledge and give thanks to those who have impacted your work, directly or indirectly. Words can have such a big impact - choose them carefully.

After a recent stage win in the 2019 edition of the Tour de France, team Jumbo-Visma's yellow jersey leader Teunissen, nailed it when he said: "No, I'm standing here right now, and the other riders are here too, but there are so many other people who allowed this to happen. If you see how many people are working for us at the bus, to get us ready for the time trial. Then it's obvious that there are many more people in offices or at home. We're working on the podium with eight riders, but there should've been about a hundred people on it," Teunissen said. (Cycling News Article by  July 07, 2019 8:18pm

Photo: Standing atop the podium: ALP Coach Jennifer Sharp with ALP Athlete Wendy Werthaiser at the USA Para National Track Championships. Sharp and Werthaiser are competing this August at the ParaPan Am Games in Lima, Peru.

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jen sharp - alp cycles coachingJennifer Sharp, a USA Cycling Level 1 Coach, started racing in 2004 as a means to fulfill her competitive itch. Previously a national level boxer, she grew tired of getting hit in the head and decided to pound the pedals instead. She bought a pink Kona road bike completing several recreational rides and found herself passing as many people as possible. Since then she has multiple podiums at elite track national championships, master track national championship titles and world cup finishes under her belt.

Jennifer, a Seattle native, joins the ALP Cycles Coaching with a background in road and track. Her experience as a USA ParaCycling team tandem pilot, part-time work at USA Cycling in the Coaching Education Department and love for all things cycling is a welcomed addition to the ALP Cycles Coaching team.

About ALP Cycles Coaching

ALP Cycles Coaching is located in the mountains of Colorado, and is a cycling coaching company with over 25 years of professional sports experience. ALP Cycles Coaching is unique in that we have 4 coaches, Alison Powers, Jennifer Triplett, and Patricia Schwager who each brings her own coaching strengths and personal experiences. We work together to create a training plan that works for each and every person. Visit them online at