Thank you, Emily!
After 5 years, Emily Newsom is leaving the team to focus on gravel
After five years as a professional road cyclist, Emily Newsom is ready for a change. The gravel bug has bitten the American rider hard and she has decided to swap the narrow roads of Europe to focus on the burgeoning gravel scene in the US and to have more time at home with her family.
It’s been a privilege to call Emily a teammate. She’s helped the squad to wins across the US and in Europe, spent countless kilometers in the breakaway, and been a true friend and teammate though it all. Join us in wishing Emily all the best in her next endeavors.
We sat down with Emily for one more chat. Read on to find out what the future holds for her, how she feels about making such a big change, and what this sport means to her.
What made you decide to leave the road and focus on gravel?
I haven't left the road! But I have narrowed my focus and will only race a few road races in the United States with my primary goal being gravel. Last year showed me I perform my best when I have a stable home base to return to after races. American riders racing in Europe usually move there for the racing season, something that has not been possible for me to do. Traveling back and forth took a toll and though I was happy to carry out what was asked of me, I felt that it was difficult to find my groove as it would be time to leave as soon as I was adjusted to the new environment and time zone. In some ways it is hard to move away from European racing. I love the aggressive and extremely challenging competition. I love being in Europe soaking up the culture, and I worked hard to become proficient in the peloton. However, with gravel booming right in my backyard, combined with my natural propensity towards it, it seemed like a wise step to turn my attention more fully on it. I also have discovered how much I love the environment surrounding gravel and mountain biking. Riding through wide open countryside, dense forests or stark desert mountains, I feel a great peace and I know that I am happier here than in a chaotic peloton.
How does it feel to make this change?
The change of focus feels right. It has been coming for a while now and several events coincided perfectly to make the change happen seamlessly. Though I feel some twinge of sadness to leave one path and pursue another, I also feel a great amount of excitement and determination. I have a renewed sense of motivation and am confident in my ability to be successful in off-road racing. There is still a lot of work to be done, but I'm very good at working hard.
What will you remember from your time with EF Education-TIBCO-SVB?
The relationships I built with both sponsors and teammates as well as with Linda Jackson, the team founder, will always be what I remember and treasure the most from my time on the team. Second to that will be the opportunity I had to travel. As a child I traveled the states with my family, but we never left North America. Through college I dreamed of traveling, but it seemed a distant and unattainable goal. It was beautiful to later end up in a job that required me to journey to many different countries experiencing them in an unique and personal way.
What have you learned in your five years with the team?
My time with the team has been one of growth and learning in many ways. I remember the first team camp I went to and how incredibly nervous I was to be around so many other women. As a pianist, I practiced alone and was used to a solitary type of discipline. Being part of a team was very new to me and though I was in my early 30s, I felt intimidated. It would take several years for me to become used to the dynamics that were involved, but it was a character development that wouldn't have happened if not for being on the team. This also helped me become better at understanding personalities, lifestyles and beliefs that were much different than my own and seeing life in colorful angles I wouldn't have otherwise seen.
How has cycling helped you become the person you are today?
Cycling has been a tool for self learning. I learned I am stronger and more resilient than I realized, but I also found fragile and insecure parts of me that I needed to address and face. I faced fears that I would have rather buried and learned how to accept myself even when I didn't perform to my expectations. I realized the power of a positive outlook and the importance of visualization. I saw how much I need others to succeed and how much they need me in return. Teamwork instilled in me the power of working together and how united we can win, but divided we will always fall short. I also learned how to be proud of who I was, something I have always struggled with. In my days as a pianist, I was severely negative towards myself, thinking I was never enough. I carried some of this into cycling, but learned through the help of others and deep self reflection, that negativity is a downward spiral that can crush the joy out of life. The life lessons I learned in my five years with the team will be applicable to other paths I pursue in the future and for this I am grateful.
What does cycling mean to you?
From the age of 19 until I was in my late 20s I was focused on becoming a concert pianist. Granted, I was a very different scholar at 19 years of age than at 27, but the desire and passion for music was always there. There was nothing else I wanted to do, and being able to perform for a living was my dream. When this dream seemed to crumble in front of me, I felt aimless for many years until I found cycling. Finding cycling after music was the perfect example that there are many things in life to pursue and after one dream ends, there is always another one waiting. And while I am by no means finished cycling, I am also excited for what lies beyond it. I have no doubt I will find something else fulfilling and exciting to wholeheartedly embrace.
A word from Linda Jackson, team founder and owner
Emily is one of the special ones that I will always remember for what she brought to our team. An extremely gifted athlete, Emily is also an amazing pianist and mother to the adorable Marijke. She is one of the most selfless teammates we have ever had. She was always up for that long breakaway that was doomed to be caught and whatever else was asked of her. She never hesitated to turn herself inside out for the team. She was always humble, exhibited grace under pressure, and was supportive to all around her. We'll miss you Emily. This isn't goodbye, it's see you on the road/gravel!