This article was initially posted online - April 30, 2016.
Author: Jamie Smith
As part of our series of exclusive interviews of Michigan riders who have reached the major leagues, we are happy to introduce you to Allie Dragoo: Allie is one of the fresh faces in cycling today. At first glance, you may think she came out of nowhere since she didn’t race much on the road in Michigan, but she’s paid many dues unseen by road cycling fans. The 26-year-old Grand Rapids native is currently racing for Team Twenty16 RideBiker p/b ShoAir Women’s Professional Cycling Team. She graciously took the time to speak to us recently.
It’s April 30th. Where are you right this moment? And what race are you doing next?
I am in Salt Lake City. My next race is Tour of the Gila in Silver City, New Mexico (May 4-8) then AMGEN Tour of California!
You took a different route to road cycling: via BMX. (John Tomac and Mike Simonson got their start in BMX.) Talk about your path from BMX to Team Twenty16 and tell us about how BMX helped you develop as a rider.
I raced BMX with my brothers for a few years and when they stopped, I was the lone soldier. I raced for roughly 13 years and 2 years professionally until I made the choice to go to college. I received a four-cross scholarship which is similar to BMX… at school the roadies persuaded me to go on a road ride and I was hooked ever since. BMX has helped me in the road scene by being able to hold my lines, ride in a bunched up peloton, sling through the grass if necessary, and be able to take a nudge without grabbing a handful of brakes (most of the time) ha.
You were offered a golf scholarship to college. So really, you could be at a golf tournament right now in a warm sunny location. Instead you chose a much harder (physically) sport. What is up with that?
I played golf in high school and one year of college. I still like golf and think it is relaxing to watch and play, but riding and racing bikes is a lot more fun. Both sports can be very frustrating and I swear I never choose an easy sport to play… BMX, hockey, golf, road racing… Being pushed and pushing the limits is a thrill for me!
You've chosen a different career path (Allie majored in Physical Education at Marian); what kind of support to you get from family and non-cycling friends?
All of my family, friends (cycling or not) are very supportive. I do have a rule though, since cycling is my full time job I do need a mental break from it- so when I go home I allow about thirty minutes of Q&A about cycling and then I just want my family, friend, and me time.
When you ride past a golf course, do you still check out the pin placements?
I do not check out the pin placement but I do know when I am approaching a golf course even if I cannot see it; I can smell it. I also like watching people tee off, putt, and I often wonder if I asked them to assist them in technique if they would let me? I had a coach and many mentors/friends who I listened to and watched closely on form. I like to think I know a thing or two and can help out!
In golf, the women's side of the sport is much more developed than cycling, but still lives in the shadow of the men's game. In cycling, what do you feel it will take to grow women's cycling?
Women’s sports in general are often overlooked. I think we just need to keep being strong and racing our best. We knew from the get-go that we are overshadowed and underpaid, that’s why I don’t complain too much about it… I look for personal sponsors and ALWAYS remember to have fun while I’m racing and training.