Emily Newsom wraps up the Life Time Grand Prix series in fifth

American placed second at the final event, Big Sugar

October 27, 2022

After more than 28 hours of exacting competition across three gravel races and two mountain bike races, Emily Newsom finished the first edition of the Life Time Grand Prix series in an impressive fifth place.

Big Sugar is one of Emily’s favorite gravel events on the calendar so she was excited to wrap up the series, and her racing season, on a route she knew and loved. For the second year in a row, she placed second, showing her consistency and strength on the challenging gravel course, but it wasn’t her podium result that left Emily grinning from ear to ear at the end of the day.

“Having my family there was amazing. It felt right,” she said. Emily had driven to the race with her husband and seven-year-old daughter, Marijke. “It gave me a great sense of peace because they haven’t been able to come to anything yet this year and not in the recent past years either. It’s very special to have Marijke there and James as well. It felt right to have my family more involved.”

Knowing her family was there to support her gave her that much more motivation to wrap up the series on a high note.

“I just went out because I loved it and I trained for it and I could bring my best because that’s what I was focusing on. I felt strong the whole time,” she said. “I fueled really well. I handled my bike really well. Nothing happened, no punctures, and those rocks were crazy — so sharp and jagged and there was exposed, embedded rock and then loose descents. Technically, it was very difficult. I was pleased with how I handled that.”

For Emily, harnessing the ability to be in the present moment, free from distraction and worries about what may be waiting up the road, is her overall highlight from the series.

“In Unbound, when the rain hit and I had fresh tires, no punctures, I was completely able to focus on my effort. I remember feeling so good when the rain hit because it cools you down and I get a second wind when things cool down like that. I was feeling good and I was six hours into the event. I knew I could keep going for another four, five hours. I remember thinking, ‘This is so cool that I get to do this.’”

The series also pushed Emily to race a discipline outside of her comfort zone. New to mountain biking, the Sea Otter Classic proved to be a challenging day back in April, but by the time Chequamegon rolled around in September, Emily found herself enjoying it.

“I was at the very back, getting clipped in and then sprinting. I did get up to where I was maybe 10th or 12th so I made up ground really fast and then I had that feeling of going deep. I know I’m in good shape when I get that feeling, almost diving in and embracing it. No, this isn’t pain, this is what it’s supposed to be and enjoying that. It was cool to feel that and to be able to stay with those mountain bikers because they’re used to that kind of thing. That was special for me to be like, ‘Yes! It’s working! I’m with them — on a mountain bike!’”

Emily fully embraced the challenges that the Life Time Grand Prix presented her — from juggling an off-road program with a road program, to racing without teammates, to finding joy in mountain biking — and is glad to have done so.

“It feels great to be done with the year. It’s been pretty busy! It’s nice to finally finish it all out,” she says before pausing. “I’m excited for next year.”

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