Alison Dunlap: Cycling in retirement

By Sue George

Just over two years after retirement from a career that included two trips to the Olympic Games and a World Championship mountain bike cross country title, American Alison Dunlap remains involved in cycling.

"There are parts of racing I miss," said Dunlap thinking of her career which spanned four years as a collegiate athlete and continued at an elite level from 1992 to the end of the 2005. "I miss the friendships and hanging out with the team talking about the course and commiserating afterward. But what I don't miss is the training and the stress of racing and learning how to ride some of these really hard World Cup courses, the travel, dealing with the rain and the mud.

"So 90% I don't miss at all. 10% I will always love and will probably always miss that little bit," said the 38 year-old.

Dunlap is still a regular on the National Mountain Bike Series, but now she plays a different role. "I'm there doing racing clinics," she said. "I love watching the racing. It's really fun because I know how hard it is and I don't have any desire to be out there. It's great to watch the chaos."

Still an official member of the Luna Women's Mountain Bike Team, Dunlap said, "I go to some of the Luna ambassador teams around the country and help them run clinics with the local women. I also do some media stuff - running race reports, press releases and doing media tracking."

A day in the life

"My day is so much busier than it ever was," said the long-time Colorado Springs resident. "I usually spend a few hours on the computer in the morning, emailing athletes, updating programs, talking to USA Cycling about selection. I'm on the selection committee so I get lots of emails about Olympic selection. I work with USADA, too."

Dunlap said she tries to squeeze in a daily ride. "But the ride time is much less. Most of the time I can justify about two hours and if I get more, I'm excited. Usually I can justify an hour or an hour and a half."

Laughing at herself, Dunlap chuckled, "I have the total master's syndrome now. As soon as I get on the bike, it's all about going hard. Now it's all about burning calories. If I have time to ride my bike, I don't want to waste it on a recovery day. So I'm always riding hard."

"I used to make fun of those riders when I trained, but now I'm one of them, so it's pretty ironic. But I'm not racing so it doesn't matter. I ride to stay fit. I still love to eat. If I didn't ride my bike, I'd be 180 pounds."

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.