The active career of a professional cyclist is a relatively short one. While there certainly are some exceptions, most pros retire in their early 30s.
As an athlete, their whole life revolves around the next training session, the next race, the next goal and the next season. Their lives are filled with travel and their social circles tend to consists of other cyclists with the same lifestyle.
And so, being a professional cyclist is so much more than a job. For most, it’s an identity and a way of life. Losing that when retirement comes can be very difficult and each athlete copes with it differently.
In this mini-series, we spoke with cyclists about their retirement, and life after racing. While some have moved away from cycling, others are finding retirement quite difficult.
In this second instalment, we chatted with Will and Shoshauna Routley, a cycling couple that retired at the same time and have now started a business together: brewing Kombucha in Canada.
A well-respected rider in the North American peloton, former Canadian road race champion Will Routely ended his pro cycling career in 2016 at the age of 33. In his 12-year career, Routley took several high-profile victories including the Canadian National Road title in 2010, a stage and King of the Mountains at the 2014 Tour of California and a stage victory in the 2016 GP Liberty Seguros in Portugal.
Routley had off in mountain biking as a 10-year-old boy in Whistler, BC, but switched to the road at the age of 21. He made his professional debut in 2008 with the Canadian Symmetrics team and continued on to ride for Jelly Belly, SpiderTech C10 and the Belgian Accent Jobs–Wanty teams before ending his career with Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies team, which later became Rally Cycling.
“I was still super fit and could have raced longer but I wanted to move on. I was excited about all the new projects we are doing now. I waffled back and forth a lot for a good few years [on whether to retire or not]. I had accomplished most of my goals, and felt like maybe I was able to continue to perform but maybe not improve and surpass the previous results,” said Routley. “There’s only so much time in life and sometimes you just have to get onto the next thing.”
Will’s wife Shoshauna also retired in 2016. After a short-lived pro career, in which she rode for the American BMW Happy Tooth and Hagens Berman Supermint teams, she decided to join her husband in a new venture: brewing and selling their own brand of Kombucha.
“I didn’t necessarily want to retire last year, it just sort of happened. A number of things mounted up, and so it goes. Not everyone gets to leave the sport with rainbows and unicorns and all those things. Moving on is a challenge, but I’m good with it now,” she said.