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.
August 2023: Zack Allison
….by Timothy Wooten, BFC Community Relations and Program Coordinator
Back in September 2022, we featured Whitney Allison. As promised at the end of her story, we are back with her partner, Zack Allison.
Zack has been part of the Fort Collins Community since 2008, but that’s not where his cycling story starts. I met up with Zack at his Bike Fit Studio inside Brave New Wheel just as he finished a custom bike fitting, one of his many talents, but I will talk more about that later. Zack started racing bikes at the age of 12 in the Washington, DC area. “Riding was a means of exploration and getting out of the neighborhood as a kid. If someone said ‘Don’t go past the stop sign at the end of the street,’ you can bet that’s the first thing I’m going to do. There’s a ton of places to explore around DC, and as a kid, a bike was the best way to do it. I also liked to go fast, and my dad was into road bikes. We started on the trails and did some century rides, and then I wanted to race some JR races, and it snowballed from there into a road racing career.”
Zack started racing road and track from childhood into his professional career, but a few years ago, he moved into the gravel racing circuit. Knowing at some point, he would age out of the racing scene, Zack decided he also needed to get a college education. CSU had the best of both worlds when looking for an affordable school with great cycling. He joined the cycling club there and quickly fell in love with Fort Collins. That is where he met his partner Whitney through mutual friends.
Both Whitney and Zack are racers and wanted to bring a different kind of race to Fort Collins; thus, the Foco Fondo was born with partner Jake Arnold in 2015. Affectionally known as “Not Yer Grandaddy’s Fondo,” this funky race is for all sorts: die-hard racers, weekend warriors, or the push-yourself crowd that wants to have fun and a few beers along the way. It truly embraces the bike culture here in Fort Collins. In 2020, Zack and Whitney brought the Foco Fondo under their brand Bike Sports, which also includes Gravel Graceland, a biking expedition and adventure travel experience in Northern Colorado. If that wasn’t enough, Zack continues to race supported by ENVE Composites, is a coach with Source Endurance, and is also a bike mechanic.
Zack sees a great future for the Fort Collins cycling community. “Being a road cyclist in 2008 in Fort Collins was very different. Especially coming from DC where cars, bikes, and everyone mingled on small city streets…” Zack reflects on his early years of riding as Fort Collins was growing as a city, “[It was] a rough place to ride; from getting into fights with ignorant motorists, or smogged [blasted by exhaust fumes], or run off the road.” Despite the city’s early challenges with cycling infrastructure, Zack thinks the “biggest improvement in bicycling in Fort Collins is a tie between driver education and signage” and even further, “Not to say that the improvements made by Bike Fort Collins and FC Moves aren’t massive, we’re a platinum level cycling city and that’s rad, but in the type of riding I’m doing most of the conflicts are on the edge of town where the bike lanes end.” Zack has distinct memories of positive changes, “I lived here when the 3 feet to pass law was passed in 2009. Which, when you think about it, is like a bare minimum, but drivers didn’t know it was a law or didn’t care…” Further, “unless they see a cyclist get buzzed with their own eyes,” the police face challenges enforcing the law. The good news is, “Now, there are 3 feet to pass signs on most county and state roads.” And Zack’s perspective is more than fair, “You can’t drive with your eyes shut…so those signs and driver education has really changed the feel of riding in Colorado as a whole.”
While Colorado weather isn’t always the best, Zack is committed, even on the worst days: “The thought of me getting dropped 50 miles into a 150-mile gravel race because I didn’t train enough.” keeps him motivated. I asked, “What would you like to tell someone who is thinking about starting to ride a bike?” He smiled and said, “Just go for it, and don’t overthink it.” and it seems Zack is living his life the same way.
Did you enjoy this edition of YKM? Read about other inspirational local folks here.