Caro and Velocio // Exploro’s newest team member

New to the Velocio // Exploro squad this year is Caro Poole, originally from Montreal she's been ripping around the US scene for a few years now and calls Bentonville home. But not only is she new to the team, she'll also be adding a team member of her own to the squad with a new addition to the family due July 2nd.

Sometime during the early fall of 2021, I received an email from Velocio // Exploro accepting me onto the team for 2022. I was thrilled to be chosen amongst many deserving athletes and found myself beaming with a new motivation for the 2022 gravel season. Three weeks later, I discovered I was pregnant with my first child.

I quickly went into a downhill spiral of doubt and negativity, worrying about my team’s reaction following my announcement. Will they still want me on the team? Am I done with racing? Is it normal or weird to have a pregnant teammate? Had it occurred to me that these questions would come up while planning to start a family? Of course not!

My husband, Olivier, and I began having the conversation about starting a family a couple of years ago, but as a female athlete, trying to find the right time to do this felt like an impossible task. Racing and training full-time requires engaging your entire body and mind twenty-four hours a day. Everything you do goes into the sport. From your physical workouts (which can include cycling, strength training, and stretching all in one day), to what you eat and drink daily, to your recovery and downtime, right down to your sleeping habits. Literally a whole-body experience. And for me, with every year I had put into cycling, I gained so much that I just didn’t want to stop! Deciding when to get pregnant was very challenging for me but I was lucky enough to have a supportive husband who is also a competitive cyclist – (so that helps!) who gave me the time to make the choice for me and for us.

When I finally realized that there really was never going to be a good time in a household of athletes who love racing and adventure, we decided to go for it – let’s bring this baby with us! Four months later there we were! I made the announcement to my team and I was overwhelmed by the amount of support and encouragement from them and am very grateful to be continuing with the team as planned for the 2022 season.

Training as a pregnant athlete definitely has its challenges. Besides the obvious of being uncomfortable with a big belly, losing maneuverability, and weight gain, I was surprised to find myself frustrated with losing the capability of riding strong. I knew it would happen, but I guess I never thought of how the experience would make me feel. I have also experienced random days of fatigue that leave me napping all day and having to skip the bike. Which I do. More than ever I am listening to my body. High-performance athletes are incredibly in tune with their bodies, and when you’re pregnant (at least in my experience) that consciousness is almost in hyperdrive. While every pregnancy experience is completely different and unique, I am grateful that I am able and capable to continue training, including strength work. I remind myself that this time on my bike is truly one for myself (and our baby) and to just enjoy the ride (no pun intended).

I am due July 2nd and plan to attend races representing Velocio // Exploro both before and after my due date. I hope that I can help and inspire other women in our cycling community who are also facing the same conundrum of starting a family while being competitive. I have found it very comforting to see other high-performance female cyclists continue with their training while pregnant (some on round two!), and thankful to those who have allowed me to reach out to them and ask questions.

Postpartum is no doubt going to be the biggest adventure I face to date, trying to juggle a new-parent-lifestyle all the while supporting the endeavors of two passionate cyclists. But I’m excited for the future and everything that I will learn from this experience. I plan to stay committed to the sport as I will be to my new family.