When I moved to Boston for school I wanted to join or start a cycling team, but my school didn’t allow us to have a cycling team because it was too dangerous. When I started working at Wheelworks I started riding with John Allis, who coached the Harvard cycling team. What I didn’t realize was that I had just become the luckiest cyclist in the world.
John Allis is a legend in New England cycling. He was in the Olympics in ’64, ’68 and ’72. He won the national road race in ’73, he set the record on Mt Washington that stood for 11 years. What sets John apart from the other racers was what he did when he retired from racing – he started coaching new riders. He never asked for money, he just showed up every morning and worked his magic.
I helped John coach the Harvard cycling team for a number of years, then it happened. one of the riders asked me to be her coach. I later found out that she asked me because she was so slow, and she was afraid that John was going to quit the sport if he had to ride with her all the time. Assisting John is one thing, coaching an individual is a giant step up in responsibility. My friends said I was wasting my time because she was so slow, but I knew there was some talent there. Her first year she finished dead last in all of the races. At the end of her second season she won the women’s B race at Army. By her third season she took a silver medal at nationals.
I still coach the Harvard cycling team, a job I take on as payment for the endless coaching John gave me when I started riding with them. I have also offered my pedal stroke classes at Belmont Wheelworks, private training rooms and one yoga studio in Winchester MA.