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Emma White’s world tour -- Duanesburg native reflects on race to top of bike-racing world

Emma White’s world tour -- Duanesburg native reflects on race to top of bike-racing world

Union College graduate eyes 2020 Olympics
Emma White’s world tour -- Duanesburg native reflects on race to top of bike-racing world
Emma White, 21, of Duanesburg won the Pro Women’s Criterium national champion on June 28.
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER

DUANESBURG -- Emma White is on a world tour.

There’s no tour dates, no opening act and not even any music. Her only merchandise is the gold medals with which she brings home.

The 21-year-old local pro cyclist and Duanesburg resident is on the road right now in France, fresh off her Pro Women’s Criterium national champion victory on June 28 in Knoxville, Tenn. She became the youngest woman ever to take the title. Right now, she’s preparing to take home a few more with her Rally UHC Cycling team.

“I went into it with a team plan and started the line with six other girls,” White said. They really helped me get to the line first, it’s a team effort. I’m so fortunate that they backed me up.”

White says her successes are a result of those in her corner, like her parents, friends and professors at Union College, supporting her goals. And when it comes to her introduction to cycling, she thanks her family for that, too.

She remembers the first, “tiger-themed,” bike that her dad bought her as a kid. It was about the time when her brother, Curtis, started racing, when she was 8 years old. When her family started traveling on vacations to see Curtis race, White knew she had to get involved.

Kid races aren’t split up by gender, White said, so she got a thrill from racing and eventually beating boys. She remembers a race where she flew by a boy in the final corner and won. She caught a glimpse of the boy crying, and that’s when she knew winning was something she’d be doing for a while.

She went on to race in national championships from ages 11 to 18 and scored a spot on her pro team in 2016. White won the junior Cyclocross National Championship in 2011, 2012, and 2013, as well as the 2013 and 2014 junior time trials at the USA Cycling Amateur and Para-cycling Road National Championships.

But she has a backup plan for when she wants to settle down.

As a student at Union College since 2015, White has discovered what she wants to do with academia. The professors in her computer science department are bikers themselves, and understand that she has to balance her studies and athletics, and take time off during the 10-week trimesters every now and then.

“They look forward to my future as much as I do,” White said.

While computer science and her other major -- science, medicine, technology and culture  -- are the concentration of her current studies, she still wants to focus on cycling before she uses her brakes. While she already walked the stage last semester at graduation and still has one more semester left in her programs, she currently has her eyes set on the 2020 Olympics and won’t be looking for a computer science job in the meantime. 

“Then we’ll see really where the sport takes me,” White said. “Depending on if I stay in this country or move to Europe for cycling, I know I’ll be able to find a job when I want one.”

White’s no stranger to Europe or racing internationally. She visited Spain at 16 years old during her first international race. She has since been to Berlin, London and Poland, and that’s just this year alone.

Currently, she’s in France at the La Course, which is put on by the Tour de France.

“Since then, it’s been a lot of travel,” White said. “I had no idea I’d even get to be at this level at that point.”

Her newest motivation now is 45-year-old, three-time Olympic gold medalist and mentor Kristin Armstrong. Armstrong won time trial gold at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

“Knowing that she’s been through this all, she has my back,” White said.

Still, White’s prime motivator is everybody who has led her to where she is. She hopes to make them proud with her accolades and continue coming home a champion.

“I want to do it not just for myself and because of my own dreams, but also for all the time and effort people have put in this dream,” White said. “It’s no longer just me. I’ve got a whole team and I want to do this for them.”

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