Bike Fort Collins first launched You Know Me. I Ride a Bike. Back in 2009 as a broader awareness campagin featuring local residents active in our bike loving community. Beginning in 2021, we are excited to reintroduce this bio-series, recognizing one new Fort Collins resident each month here on our news-blog/website, The Pedal Post eNewsletter and BFC social channels, and highlighting their love for bikes. Please join us as we hear their stories and learn more about these remarkable folks who live and ride right here in our community.
September 2022: Whitney Allison
….by Jennifer Hoover, BFC Board Member
Whitney Allison is the coolest. Period.
Honestly, I didn’t have enough time to excavate the layers of Whitney that deserve your attention.
So, this is a teaser, really. I hope you meet her, ride with her, or just read more about her career and accomplishments. I hope you will be inspired by her and support her efforts professionally and in our community to support cycling, women and safety.
I ran into Whitney at, where else, Brave New Wheel, which, as an aside has been my favorite place for all things bike since I move to Ft Collins in 2008. And I mention the location of our meeting only because I value that this is my “hometown bike store,” and appreciate that I would run into this month’s feature and hometown hero sitting there typing away on her computer. Whenever I am mad at Fort Collins for growing up before my very eyes, these things remind me that this is still a small town.
Whitney and her partner Zack created the FoCo Fondo, with partner Jake Arnold in 2015, promising a fun and serious racing opportunity; in their words, “not yer grandaddy’s fondo.” In 2020 they were able to bring the Fondo under the ownership of their company, Bike Sports which also holds Gravel Graceland under its umbrella. They are proud that the race is sustained solely by volunteers and local business partnerships, not by corporate sponsorships. It remains and intends to remain a community-based race that raises funds for Safe Routes to School, a program of Bike Fort Collins (in partnership with the City of Fort Collins and the Poudre School District) dedicated to increasing safe active transportation (non-vehicular travel) to and from schools. Browsing the brands that they have created makes you wonder if they ever sleep, and that is just what they are doing when they aren’t racing.
Whitney is also the founder of the Fort Follies, a women’s cycling group she started in 2012 to “empower women in the Fort Collins area to be active and impactful members of our cycling community through riding, racing, and philanthropy.” Later that year she organized the Fort Follies Grand Prix, drawing both crowds and big names in women’s professional racing to a criterium in Old Town. She parlayed the success of the event into a push for the first Women’s USA Pro Challenge in 2015—the first professional women’s race held in Colorado since the 80’s. She was, and is, a tireless champion for women in professional racing, making a space for women that did not exist in Colorado racing. Focusing on her own professional racing career would have been enough to juggle. During our short conversation it is clear that Whitney has a moral compass and energy that is greater than most.
Whitney is incredibly humble when discussing her career, her accomplishments and various projects. I asked friend and Follies teammate Natalie Santelli to describe her to me for this post. She texted back immediately, “She is a kick ass pro cyclist in town!” I know, I know, I said, but what kind of person is she? “She is kind, quiet and fierce. Dedicated to everything she puts her mind to.” It is perhaps this inner fire and strength that carried her through what had to be one of the darkest moments of her life. In 2018 Whitney was hit by an Airstream trailer on a training ride. It changed the trajectory of her racing career and was a catalyst for her shift into gravel racing. Between 2018 and 2020 Whitney was in a period of physical recovery and social media silence while she waited for her case to go to trial. She describes 2020 as a period of waiting and hoping to still be relevant in the racing world when she was able to reemerge. During this time, with Zack, they began to build the Bike Sports Brand. And that brand has supported inclusivity and opportunity in a way that doesn’t just “offer the opportunity,” but helps people, “level up to where they want to be.” Whitney and Zack have created ways for people to participate in FoCo Fondo without racing in it, like Fat Tire Bingo. They also offer BIPOC scholarships, equity in prizes, and a way for people with economic hardship to volunteer in exchange for entry.
It is clear in our conversation that Whitney does not dwell in any aspect of being an accident victim and does not want to focus attention on her experience personally. She isn’t unwilling to discuss it, but she does so in the same measured thoughtful way she talks about everything else. Recovering from an accident like hers isn’t purely physical, she went through a PTSD program to recover emotionally from the trauma of being hit. Her case eventually settled but the process took two years. Without complaint she acknowledges that her body isn’t the same, that she lives with pain that didn’t exist before her accident and with gratitude that she is alive, knowing it could have been so much worse. She still rides road and credits the PTSD therapy she went through with helping her understand the “randomness of life,” the concept that things happen regardless of doing the right thing, or what kind of person you are.
Between the time that I interviewed Whitney and writing this post I kept running into people who wanted to tell me about her, which was funny because I don’t know her personally and don’t travel in her circle. “She’s wonderful,” an old colleague raved, “an incredible person.” Another said, “she is a person that is very present. Not distracted.” Whitney Allison has already accomplished so much, overcoming obstacles personally and professionally. As a community we are lucky that she calls Fort Collins home. Her grace is something to aspire to and she epitomizes “making the world a better place.”
Note: BFC originally planned to feature Whitney and Zack together and a lot of this story has included their joint endeavors, because they are inextricably linked. It is hard to talk about the Fondo or Bike Sports without Zack, as they are clearly partners in all their amazing endeavors. Whitney, true to her humble nature wanted to make sure we didn’t leave Zack out. YKM will be back with Zack Allison, who has his own ‘love of bikes’ story and is in his own right is incredibly accomplished as well.
Did you enjoy this edition of YKM? Read about other inspirational local folks here.