Five Questions with Gravel Racer Amity Rockwell
Interview by William Tracy; Images Courtesy, Backbone Media
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Amity Rockwell, 27, established herself at the forefront of the gravel racing world with her breakout win at the DK 200 (now UNBOUND Gravel) in 2019. In 2021, she will be riding for the Scuderia Pinarello ambassador program, which brings together an eclectic group of athletes, including a pro surfer and an ultra-runner, who are focused on more than just placing well at events. We caught up with Amity to talk about the new ambassador program, her plans for 2021 and her personal project, Fast Friends.
Peloton magazine: Tell us a little bit about the Pinarello Scuderia ambassador program. What makes it unique compared to previous brands or teams you have ridden for?
Amity Rockwell: It is very different conceptually. I would liken it the Easton Overland project. It’s a collection of people who all keep different priorities, but share common goals through those different approaches to the sport. That’s what attracted me to it initially, is that we’re not out to find the people who can occupy the top three podium spots of the races. That being said, obviously as somebody trying to make some headway into the sport, the number one priority for me is results.
That being said, I really enjoy a holistic approach to cycling, and when they presented me with the Scuderia plan—they don’t tell you any athletes who have been signed before the new year, but all the hints they were dropping, I was like “Woah, this is an eclectic group of people,” and I’m kind of the only one who would put gravel racing at the top of all my priorities. That was really cool to me because it’s way better for me, way more educational, way more of an experience for me to surround myself with people who aren’t just like me. I think that was the appeal in it. Less about covering all the bases, and more like finding people who have forged their own way through in life and been successful at it.
PM: Are there new opportunities the Scuderia program is giving you, and what are you most looking forward to pursuing with the program?
AR: I think so much of the opportunity comes from their backing of whatever it is that I want to throw myself into, and that’s where the main opportunity for me on a personal level is. That being said, it’s pretty obvious that I’m alongside people with a wealth of experience in everything from BMX to surfing to road racing. It’s about opportunity and what I want to make of a ridiculous amount of amassed years of experience between all of us, whether it be competition or racing tactics or mindset or community engagement. Literally anything I think. I think we in a weird way got it all covered.
PM: How would you describe the atmosphere of Scuderia? Does it have a team-like feel and have you had the chance to meet everyone yet?
AR: I have not met everyone personally, obviously, because of the pandemic. We have had virtual team meetings, which have been nothing short of hilarious thanks to Jamie [Bestwick]. He’s a riot! I don’t know what to make of that man. I haven’t met them all in person, and some I know better than others—Jess [Cerra] and I are super good friends.
I’m excited about the relationships that will be formed. I think I would be lying if I said I had super strong bonds with everyone already. They all seem great over the internet! The one thing we all made super clear to each other during that first meeting is that we’re all very much here for each other. I do feel like I could call any one of them up and ask for some serious life advice and they would be there for me. I think we all share that attitude of being super, super open and present for each other.
PM: Is there any event you have your eye on this year? Or is it still a bit hard to say with the uncertainty of the calendar?
AR: Besides the obvious [laughs] I’m really excited for TransRockies, not only because it’s an opportunity to leave the country but because it’s a hard stage race, and I think stage racing is what I really want to see more of in gravel. Not because it’s something I’m particularly good at. In fact, I think I’m pretty poor at stage racing, whether on road or gravel. But it’s always a more immersive experience and it allows you to see more of a place, and I think that’s always been really important to me with gravel, getting to know a place really well, whether it’s through competition or training or travel.
I’m really excited for TransRockies. Obviously, coming back to defend my UNBOUND title is paramount for me. Jess [Cerra] is having a ride as well in Whitefish [called the The Last Best Ride]. I’m also really looking forward to the opportunity to come home to my home events, hopefully race some Grasshopper Series in the spring, as restrictions open up a little bit. I’m definitely looking at smaller home opportunities to connect back to what started it all.
PM: Tell us more about your personal project, Fast Friends
AR: That is very much a work in progress, but I decided to launch it as a work in progress because I really wanted it to be shaped by the community that formed it. It’s a Discord server—which for those who don’t know is like a very casual non-work-based Slack. I started it because for me coming to the sport, and for me in the sport right now, I constantly see that one of the biggest hurdles is just communication. When you’re not constantly running into people like you who do the same sport, it’s hard to get solid advice and make friends and feel a lot of those connections we look forward to in the sport. I just wanted a way for women and nonbinary people to communicate on a very basic level, because I think it’s that simple. If more of us talked to each other, if more of us shared things, whether it’s advice or like actual physical things, I think that’s where progress happens on a faster scale. I always talk about that human-to-human connection, and I just wanted to create a place for people to talk.
We received a lot of interest in the first week. I was literally answering DMs all day, every day. I’m working on ways to fast-track it as a resource. A lot of what it arose from was me having a lot of one-on-one conversations where I would share something or somebody else would share something valuable with me, and that was where that ended. And I was like, “Well, what if this could live on somewhere permanently as a reference?” So kind of what I’m hoping exists on this channel as it gets a little bit older and more used is that anyone can go into a specific subset of this channel, whether it’s nutrition or training or mechanical help or whatever, and find this wealth of information through the questions that have been asked. I like to call it a living resource. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, you at least know there’s two-hundred-some women behind the screen ready to help you out.