GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox: Allie Spurgeon

Tuesday Toolbox: Allie Spurgeon

Tuesday, April 18, 2023 | 3:20 PM
Tuesday, April 18, 2023 | 3:20 PM Let’s begin with the obvious, when did you start riding, what was your first bike, and when do you first start racing?

Allie Spurgeon: I started riding when I was about 6 years old! My step dad rode when he was a kid, so my step brother always wanted one. They finally got him a PW, and my whole family would take turns riding around the yard. Soon we had a few more trail bikes so we could all ride together. My first was a Honda XR50. One of my parents' clients raced a local Texas series and invited us to go around the time I was about 7. I was terrified on the start, but then I was hooked!

Allie Spurgeon (right) talks about her new role with Women In Racing and MX Sports.
Allie Spurgeon (right) talks about her new role with Women In Racing and MX Sports. Courtesy of Allie's Instagram

You’ve recently taken a new role within GNCC. Tell us about that and how it came about?

Yeah, it's been awesome! A couple years ago, I felt like the WXC class was getting to this incredible, unprecedented place. Their speed, the competition, and the battles were getting so good. I felt like it needed to be documented for the fans, and to help promote these women. I reached out to the racers and started @gnccwxc (now on Instagram! Early this year, Tim Cotter reached out to me to see if I'd be interested in taking on the role in a more official capacity as Female Athlete Ambassador, of course I said yes! Tayla and I are both really passionate about women's racing, inspiring the younger girls, and building the sport for better opportunities for them in the future. I'm excited and honored to have a role in continuing that.

You’re a major asset for the series, highlighting the WXC for the ATV and Bike side of things, but you’ve also expanded into the women’s amateur, and girl’s youth classes. How are you able to juggle so much on a race weekend?

I actually feel a little spoiled this year with Tayla not racing at the moment! When she's racing it feels pretty hectic. Making sure she's prepared on Saturday, making it to the youth race quick to come back and prep her bottles, camelback, breakfast, etc while she pedals. Then during the race I'd usually be at 3-4 spots on the track for her, taking videos of the top girls, giving her pit boards, getting time gaps, communicating with her team, and going to the next! So far this season that's definitely made it a bit easier, and Tayla's enjoyed helping me take some videos in different spots too. Probably the biggest struggle is getting good service to make posts and stories! I do think it's a lot of fun for others who aren't there to be able to see the whole play by play of the WXC races, and even those who are but can't make it or aren't sure how things actually went down.

As if you don’t wear enough hats, let’s talk about coaching! Tell us about Surge Offroad Coaching. How did you get started down this path and how are things going?

Yeah, it's definitely a passion business for me! I grew up working in powersports dealerships while I was racing and training. I started training seriously as a teenager and really took to it. I trained with a "Navy SEALFit" coach, did a lot of CrossFit and strength training, and later on was heavy into cycling. I actually had the privilege of getting to go to France and do a few of the out of category climbs in the Alps from the Tour de France. I had learned a lot from doing, but I was fascinated by it, and feeling the difference it made in my racing early on intrigued me more. I ended up getting several certifications in training, nutrition, hormones, mindset etc. More for fun at the time! In 2020 I was working as a Finance Manager at a powersports dealership in Texas. Tayla was racing, I was managing her off the bike program, but I couldn't always be at the races and that really sucked. I decided to take a risk, leave my job, and start Surge, and I'm glad I did! It's tough for racers to know what they should be doing each week, how much they should be training, what they should be eating, etc. It's fulfilling for me to have those weekly check-ins when they feel it working and see the results improving. A big part of what I do with Surge is mindset. I think it's a hugely missed aspect of coaching a racer when it comes to finding flow, managing mistakes, mental toughness, building off of each race, and ultimately being able to look back and know they enjoyed the whole experience. Things were going great until I became chronically ill. For some time last year I wasn't able to work it all, things got pretty ugly. After I finally found the right doctors to help me over the winter, I'm on the upswing, I've taken on clients again and we're rebuilding!

You’ve had your fair share of personal battles. Physically, mentally ETC. Yet you seem to always be positive. And you’re an open book about your battles and struggles. I think people appreciate honesty about their struggles because it makes them relatable. We’re constantly being spoon fed the “highlight reels” of people’s lives on social media. But you’ve shared a balanced glimpse into your life. What motivates you to share your heart online and in person?

Those that know me well will sometimes poke fun at my positivity, and I love it, LOL. I dove into personal development and growth head first when I was about 20 years old. I spent the majority of my life before that being pretty miserable inside, and funny enough, it was my fault! Although I went through my share of traumas that might've molded my brain and programming to feel that way, it was my responsibility to change my future experience. That last sentence is a core belief for me. We get to CHOOSE our experience. Whether it's a flat tire on the side of the road where Tayla and I can either have a fun adventure or a raging hour that ruins the rest of our day, it's our choice, and it's already happened anyways! I bring that to my racing clients too. When we have a bad race with frustration, struggles, and adversity, it's our perspective that can drive us to improve, or wallow and ruminate on it. Mental toughness is studied, and it's the ones who are the most optimistic that are the most mentally tough, it's a linear correlation.

I did my best to bring that into, hands down, the most difficult thing I've been through. I went from an athlete who was racing dirt bikes, training a couple hours a day, eating 3000 healthy calories a day, to what felt like a hospice patient for a year and a half. Tayla and I had a bad case of Covid in 2021, she was better in a few weeks, and I just never got better. For nearly 6 months we had no idea why. Too many doctor and ER visits to count and based on their tests I was "fine". But I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't think, sometimes I couldn't even walk. I think a lot of people didn't realize (other than the dramatic weight loss), but when I left the camper at the races, I'd put a smile on my face and do my things. I'd spend the next two weeks in pain, not able to leave bed, and muster up enough strength to do it again the next race. It was brutal. Last winter things got even uglier, I went to Texas to visit my family, and they totally freaked out, saying I wasn't going to live another year if something wasn't figured out. It was my new normal, so I thought they were just being dramatic, but in hindsight, my body and brain really shutting down.

Allie has continued to jump on a dirt bike when she can.
Allie has continued to jump on a dirt bike when she can. Courtesy of Allie's Instagram

I went through some really dark and painful emotional periods in that year and a half. I learned A LOT about myself. Early on, I decided to "choose my experience". I wasn't going to get that time back, I had no idea if it would even end, so if this was it, I wanted to make what I could of it. I'd always think, "how would someone I'm inspired by handle this situation", that helped me a lot. I wanted to be that person when I looked back on this. I also had this strange feeling really deep down, even in the darkest times, my gut said, "this will be the best thing that ever happened to you". Strange I know, but it really is. It made me stronger, it made me someone who could help others through really difficult things, because I'd been there too.

I started sharing my journey late last year. The ups and the downs. Like you said, I think we get a lot of "highlight reels" that can give us a skewed view of what reality can be, and what to do when things don't go well. We're not really taught how to handle our emotions and move through difficult things. The hard things are what builds character.

So I guess my positivity is a choice, but over time it became my default. I know from my experience that the more I choose positivity, the better things get. My motivation for sharing it is simply just to help someone else. I know what happened to me turned out to be a good thing for me, but if others can learn from it too, that's even better. When I started sharing, it was crazy how many people I never thought would relate to it messaged me about their own struggles and thanking me. I believe in the end things come down to two things that feed into each other. One, how we feel about ourselves, by ourselves, and two, our connection to other people. I'd prefer a happy, positive, fun version of both of those :).

Let’s talk personal life! When you’re not at the race or coaching riders, what do you like to do for fun?

Well for a year and a half, that was about all I could do! The rest sucked, but now that I'm feeling better, man am I excited to do more things! It's crazy even little things light me up now, I'm just grateful to be up and moving around regularly. Before, Tayla and I loved riding together, training together, going mountain or road biking, etc. Of course training and exercise is a big passion of mine that I lost, I'm pumped to rebuild that. Tayla and I really like cooking together and finding new adventures to take our house on wheels to, we really like exploring new towns and restaurants. We're definitely kids at heart, probably the goofiest, weirdest, almost-30-year-olds you'll meet, just about anything can entertain us haha!

Allie by Tayla's side after her accident on News Years Day.
Allie by Tayla's side after her accident on News Years Day. Courtesy of Allie's Instagram

Your wife, Tayla, was able to throw her leg over a bike and race the last EMTB GNCC. I know that meant a lot to you, and her. What has Tayla’s recovery been like, from your perspective?

That was incredible for me to watch her do that, and a little nerve racking! The wreck she had on New Year's Eve was terrifying. She called me with a broken arm and a "scraped" chin. I picked her up thinking we'd grab a couple x-rays in that town and be done. I saw her and I about had a heart attack, she didn't know about her chin but from my angle her face was falling off, 13 days before our wedding (sweating emoji). She then told me about her neck, her chest, and everything else, I rushed her to a major hospital where we spent the next 3 days in the ICU, surgery, etc. Things sure escalated quickly. When things calmed down, we were just blown away and grateful that she made it out without any deficits, she took it really seriously too. It was scary.

For me, I had just finished my 6 week in clinic rehabilitation for my illness, so I had JUST gone from glued to the bed to being a human again. That was a lot. Tayla's the last person to be able to sit still, so 3 braces on 24/7 and glued to the recliner wasn't optimal and pretty claustrophobic for her. 13 days from the wedding had me in full throttle taking care of her and getting everything ready from being a week behind. It honestly ended up being the most incredible day despite everything, we can't wait to share those photos with our kids one day!

After things settled, I tried to get her out as much as possible, knowing she can't be in the same place too long. I was really worried about her. Things healed up the best they could. As with most racers, Tayla isn't one to follow doctor's orders after injury, but she did with this one and it paid off.

I can't say enough about how well she's handled all of it. For a pro racer, after losing last year's championship at the last round the way she did, and now not being able to fight back for it, can be really freaking hard. On top of that, just the adrenaline rush from competition they're used to  being totally halted can have a rough effect. Despite all that, she's been so happy day to day. I think the accident definitely put things into a different perspective for her. I really wanted her to do that E-MTB race even though it scared me a little, she needed some competition back in her life. It was really special for me to watch and see her back in the center of that GNCC podium in a different discipline.

What has been your experience getting to know the many different women’s riders on the four-wheel and the two-wheel side?

I think that's been the coolest part! Getting to know all these amazing athletes, what drives them, how they got here, etc. I knew the WXC bike class fairly well before, so getting to know the ATV girls has been fun. That class is honestly really special. If you watch them on the line or at the finish, they're all chatting and hugging and having fun with each other and congratulating each other afterwards. They have an extra special bond even though it's game on when the green flag waves. The Women and Youth classes have been exciting for me too. Before, I didn't realize how many there were! It's incredible to see so many on the line and the classes growing. Getting to know the younger girls and seeing their drive to make it to those WXC classes is awesome to witness and share.

Allie and Tayla's proposal at the Ironman GNCC.
Allie and Tayla's proposal at the Ironman GNCC. Ken Hill

What are you goals in the racing industry and in rider coaching? 

I've always been someone who thinks a lot about the future and likes to have a vision and a plan in my career. But being I’ll definitely changed me and I'm still finding who that is. To be honest, I've forced myself to focus on my health and what's in front of me right now this year. I'm not totally better yet, so my number one goal is to be healthy and active again come 2024. There's some other things in motion BTS, but otherwise I'm enjoying rebuilding my coaching business, excited to create online courses to reach more people. Tayla has started Building Champions Academy coaching racers on the bike, we held the first group clinic last weekend, and it was amazing! Building the two of those together and working alongside each other is really special for us. Of course building the side of things and the other social media pages I work on! I'd like to see some tangible results for the women over time, whether it's bigger classes, higher followings, better sponsorship opportunities etc. 

Who are the sponsors and people you’d like to thank? 

In light of what we talked about here, I'd really like to thank my amazing wife, Tayla. I couldn't have made it through the last year and a half without her. She picked up the slack without skipping a beat, never made me feel like a burden, or like I was less than I was. I think the things we've been through can tear people apart, and instead it brought us closer together. Definitely my parents, and my mom, Tammi, especially. I'd spent every dollar I had trying to get better. When we finally found the right doctors, it was a hefty amount for treatment, and she was all in. I wouldn't be writing this today if she hadn't taken the risk trying the treatments. With everything that happened in December, there's no way we would've had our wedding without her. I have four pretty amazing parents; they've all been there for me even a thousand miles away through my illness. I wouldn't be here today without them. I'd also like to thank Tim Cotter and Carrie Coombs-Russell; I'm truly honored to be chosen in highlighting and building women's racing at such a large platform.