Column: Aspen pro cyclist Abby Mickey turns to culinary relief |

Column: Aspen pro cyclist Abby Mickey turns to culinary relief

Dale Strode

Professional cycling is hard. Painful, at times.

Abby Mickey can offer insightful, first-person testimony.

The Aspen native daughter and former standout ski racer is a professional cyclist. In her second year as a pro, Mickey will ride with her UnitedHealthcare Cycling teammates in the Women’s USA Pro Challenge this week.

“Being a professional cyclist is really hard. It’s definitely harder than I thought it would be,” Mickey said as she geared up for the individual time trial coming Friday to Breckenridge, the first of three women’s stage races in the USA Pro Challenge this year.

Mickey grew up in an Aspen sporting environment, traveling with fellow junior ski racers, sleeping in motels, eating on the fly and learning life on the road.

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In college, she traveled with the University of Colorado cycling team — sleeping in motels, eating on the fly, learning life on the road.

In the professional ranks, everything is magnified.

“The No. 1 thing I’ve learned is that it never stops. You can never stop. You can’t … close your eyes for a second,” said Mickey, who was part of a national cycling powerhouse at CU. “It’s definitely a full-time job.”

Training, recovery, nutrition, rest.

“Rest is really, really important,” Mickey said, “rest and recovery.”

Audio books help with the rest, relaxation and sleep, she said.

Her teammates opt for headphones, eye shades and ear plugs.

And she said she’s blessed with a considerate, fun group of teammates who have flourished in the current cycling season.

“My teammates have made it a fun year,” said Mickey, who was an all-around ski racer in high school, winning the state Skimeister title for combined alpine and Nordic results.

Something else helped Mickey as she pedaled through her second season as a professional road racer.

“You always have to have something going on outside of cycling,” Mickey said. “I’ve learned that. And this year, I got into cooking.”

She turned to a familiar face for her home-cooking expeditions.

“My mom is a really amazing cook. This summer, I’ve been cooking with my mom whenever I can,” said Mickey, the daughter of Marlene and James Mickey. “Now, I walk around with a cookbook.”

But her bicycle is never far from sight.

“I do love to ride my bike even more than before,” she said.

Just like cooking.

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