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The recently retired pro mountain biker will ride aboard the Bentonville brand’s Able and Echo models in the upcoming Life Time Grand Prix series, as well as other domestic gravel races.
Davison is an eight-time national champion and two-time Olympian. She is often recognized as much for her achievements off the bike — the 38-year-old co-founded the Little Bellas mountain bike mentoring program and she is outspoken on issues pertaining to LGBTQ+ rights and the environment. She will also be pursuing public speaking in the coming year.
The custom paint job on Davison’s new Allied bikes represents a message that is both important to her and one that she hopes might inspire others.
“The whole concept is ‘darkness to light,'” Davison said. “We are all hopefully coming out of our own version of the darkness with the pandemic and its associated challenges and into the light. Personally, this custom bike paint job represents coming out of the darkness and into being my true self and living an authentic life.
“There was some fear around coming out for me as a gay woman. I was afraid that if I came out, I wouldn’t get sponsor support, I wouldn’t be on teams, and I wouldn’t get the level of support that an athlete needs to make Olympic dreams come true. This bike represents living in the light and proving that you can be an Olympian, you can be a professional bike racer with sponsor support, and you can be gay. All of these three things can be true.”
At every stop along the Grand Prix event series, Davison will also be debuting a custom kit, made by her longtime apparel sponsor Garneau. One will match the bike. Like the paint job, each kit will be designed with meaning.
Davison told VeloNews that part of her motivation in continuing to race after retirement, and compete at the Grand Prix in particular, was because of the opportunity to inspire others to live their own authentic life, as well as support causes that are dear to her.
“This is really motivating for me and part of the bigger picture of using this as platform for positive impact,” she said. “I’ll pick a nonprofit or organization and design a custom kit to raise awareness for that organization. Garneau will make custom kit for each race. The organizations are around my biggest passions — women’s empowerment, LGBTQ+ rights, and the environment.”
Davison is the second mountain biker to join the Allied Cycle Works family, with Payson McElveen announcing his partnership with the Arkansas brand early in the year. Allied’s CEO Drew Medlock said that she will bring the company value on and off the bike.
“We are huge fans of Lea and what she’s accomplished as an athlete, but we are even more inspired by her energy and passion,” Medlock said. “She will play an important role in the direction of our future product and athlete talent development.”
Since announcing her retirement in late February, Davison has wholeheartedly embraced her new direction — which includes racing in front of hometown crowds and doing so with a purpose.
“Hopefully if some people see me wholeheartedly living my life, they can also come out of the darkness and into their light. We are not going to get anywhere by avoiding our feelings around disappointment or any of the challenges we have all been through over the past two years. The only way to get to the light is to ride straight at the darkness and through it.”