SARATOGA SPRINGS – Rachel Uccellini, 38, kickstarts her mornings jumping into her full riding gear, gathers the kids, makes sure they're fed, dressed, and buckled into the car to shuttle them to morning drop off. Yes, dressed head to toe in her full cycling kit. She’s got about three hours left to scramble back home, hop on her bike and begin her intensive training. After miles are biked throughout town, she jumps off her bike and back into her car to pick up her youngest from pre-school and resume mommy duties. That is an average morning for this dedicated Category two cyclist balancing her passions for the sport and her passion for her family.
"For me, the juggle is looking at my week, and just fitting all of that in, in a way that does not take away from my kids being kids,” said Uccellini, who bikes 200 to 225 miles per week in preparation for her next road races.
Ten years ago, Uccellini purchased her first road bike and would spend her free time biking around town with her fellow cyclist friends. A few years later Uccellini decided, almost on a whim to try her hand at a race in Killington, Vermont and thought, "Oh this is fun, something to train for, not having any idea what racing was like."
With little to no formal training, Uccellini came in second place and thus, her passion for competitive racing was sparked. With help from her husband Tommy, Rachel got connected with local T3 coach Kevin Crossman who aided her in learning the technicalities of competitive cycling.
In the spring of 2016, she began seriously competing and training and noticed early that she had a lot more to learn. From having her bike properly fitted by Steven Fairchild to learning proper gear ratios to shift in and out of, and proper racing etiquette.
"The best way I’ve learned in cycling is in a race,” said Uccellini. “When you make a fatal mistake out there, you're sure to never do it again."
Uccellini is currently coached by Kyle Wolfe, a level one USA cycling coach of Finish Fast Cycling. In a short span of time, Uccellini competed in several races with some wins and some losses. But if you ask Uccellini, she’ll tell you that she’s never truly lost a race.
"I never lose, I learn. Cause honestly, I’ve lost a lot more than I've won. I've had a lot of successes in a short period of time, but I’ve definitely lost. And you have to take away from that situation…so much of bike racing has to do with being smart, not strong," said Uccellini
Labor Day weekend, 2019, the largest professional/ amateur stage race in the region The Green Mountain Stage Race took place, and for Uccellini, it’s her most anticipated race of the year.
“We were to leave Thursday, and my daughter fell off the monkey bars on Wednesday and broke her arm. I spent that entire day in the emergency room with her - I didn't really sleep that night.”
Dedicated to both the wellbeing of her family and her passion to compete, Uccellini fastened both her athlete and mommy helmet. As she had to juggle tending to her injured daughter, wake up early to head to the race, pack activities for her kids, get them packed away in the car, register for the race, pre-ride the course and then get her head in the competition.
With the support of her family and teammates, Uccellini not only tackled the race with all of her drive but came in second place – resulting in her athletic category upgrade to a two. Uccellini has an ambitious goal to make an upgrade to becoming a category one cyclist by the time she’s 40.
"I have these aggressive goals in this aggressive timeline because my children are getting older. My daughters are gonna start having interests...it’s not gonna be summer of Rachel anymore. They're gonna be soccer camps and practice and weekends are gonna be completely dictated by their schedules because I’m not gonna cheat them of that. I realize my daughters are gonna have dreams and passions too."
With two more years, two achieve her new goal Uccellini uses each of her passions to fuel the other.
"This is a hobby at the end of the day. I love it, so much, but you can't lose sight of what's truly important. My husband and my daughters are a big part of what inspires me to do this. So I have to make sure all of that is paid forward."