Professional cyclist Addy Albershardt, 19, gave up a cyclist’s dream of racing in Europe from June through October to help others in Charlotte.After racing professionally and traveling the world for three years, she decided to cut the 2013 season short, put her racing career on hold, and spend time helping children. “One morning I woke up and realized that cycling wasn’t where God intended me to be; it wasn’t where my heart was telling me to be,” said Albershardt. She struggled for more than a month with the decision to leave cycling. “All I’ve done in my life is cycling. To think that all of that, all I’ve been working for, could be taken away, it took a while to soak that feeling in,” said Albershardt. Her father was a professional cyclist and she began cycling at age 10. At 15, she began entering professional races with the help of cycling pro and coach Robin Farina, co-owner of Uptown Cycles on West Morehead Street. Albershardt got her first professional contract at 16, racing in the U.S. with the team NOW and Novartis for MS. Albershardt went on to race with the U.S. National Cycling Team throughout Europe. Most recently, she raced in Central America with Pasta Zara, an Italian international professional team. Albershardt represented the U.S. three times at the Junior World Cycling Championships. Her events included her specialties - road races; criteriums, which are closed circuit track races; and individual time trials. Throughout the racing season, which lasts from January through October, road race distances vary from 70 to 100 miles, criteriums are approximately 30 miles, and time trials involve racing against the clock for approximately 20 miles. Throughout her racing career, Albershardt would return home for one month at the end of each season and for a few days each off-season month. Otherwise, she was out of town to train. She graduated from East Mecklenburg High School, making sure to turn in course work on time, keep her grades up, and receive tutoring, since she was away so much of the school year. Now that she is back home in the Sardis Forest neighborhood of Charlotte, she is a counselor at Camp Eagle Rock. She spent her first week working with underprivileged children from Grier Heights. “It was a moving week for me. I’ve lived in Charlotte since I was 6 years old and I never connected like that with kids from a different area of Charlotte before,” said Albershardt. During her second week working at the camp, she was able to use her professional cycling skills to help children complete triathlons.“I helped the kids strive to finish the race. There is a lot of endurance involved and I taught them to finish strong and just do their best,” said Albershardt. She spent the next week working with children on the autism spectrum and was assigned to a girl with non-verbal autism. “We’re camp buddies. We’re finding ways to connect and communicate through activities like arts and crafts,” said Albershardt.The change has been rewarding, she said. “Bike racing is amazing and fun, but as a camp counselor I’ve already been able to impact children’s lives in just three weeks in such diverse areas. It’s an amazing experience for me,” Albershardt added. She feels being a camp counselor is also preparing her to work with children in the villages of Haiti, where she will travel in October as part of a Forest Hill Church mission team.
Friday, Jul. 12, 2013
Charlotte cyclist parks her bike to help kids
Allison Osman is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Allison? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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