Julia Violich

Sara Clawson

“Learn your theories well, but be prepared to put them aside when you touch the miracle of a living person.” – Carl Jung

Team Role/Title: Head Soigneur

Place of Birth: Kaiserslautern, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

Currently reside: Greensboro, NC

About Sara -

At age 15, Sara’s first love – equestrian hunter-jumper and eventing– came to an abrupt halt when a horseback riding accident left her with a fractured pelvis and doctor’s admonition to hang up her riding boots.  Searching for solace and a new active outlet to balance her rigorous academic pursuits, Sara found cycling, and with it a community of friends and supporters who helped to fan the spark of what would later become Sara’s passion and career. She competed as a junior and in USAC Collegiate cycling at Guilford College, and recognized that her path into the sport as a career would not be as a professional rider, but in a support role to athletes who could become the best of the best.

After finishing her licensure and certification as a professional massage therapist and launching a private practice, Sara completed a Master’s in Sports Medicine at the University of North Carolina. The following summer, she followed an opportunity to work at the Tour de l’Abitibi, a UCI juniors stage race in Canada, where she met a network of colleagues who would shape the direction of her career. Sara spent much of 2014 in Europe working with the USA Cycling Elite Development Program juniors, women, and U23 men in The Netherlands. In 2015, she focused on growing her private practice, took a faculty position at Greensboro College teaching kinesiology and biomechanics, and contracted with TWENTY16 for US Pro Road & TT National Championships in Chattanooga and UCI TTT World Championships in Richmond. Sara joined TWENTY16 Ridebiker in 2016 as team staff and will begin working on her Doctorate in Kinesiology this fall at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Prior Teams & Organizations:

USA Cycling National Team – Junior Men, Elite Women, & U23 Men

Cycling South Africa – Junior Men, Elite Women, U23 Men, Elite Men

Flagstaff Development Team – Junior Men

University of North Carolina at Greensboro Collegiate Athletics

Five Major career highlights from working in cycling

  • 5th at UCI TTT World Championships in Richmond, 2015 (TWENTY16)
  • 1st and 2nd GC, Best Young Rider, and Points Jersey at 2015 Tour de l’Abitibi (Adrien Costa & Brandon McNulty)
  • 1st and 2nd TT National Championships, 2015 (Kristin Armstrong & Carmen Small)
  • 4th in Mens Juniors TT, UCI World Championships in Richmond, 2015 (Keagan Girdlestone)
  • 1st GC and Stage Wins at Valley of the Sun Stage Race, 2016 (Allie Dragoo & Alison Jackson)

What are you looking forward to working with such a strong team of diverse female athletes?

Kristin Armstrong was one of my greatest heroes when I was a junior cyclist myself, and getting the opportunity meet her and to work with the women who will take up her torch and build even more on her example of excellence is a thrilling experience. I hope to bring my evidence-based kinesiology and sports medicine background to the team and support their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing and performance in this exciting upcoming season.

What do you see as the most difficult aspects of working for a professional women’s team?

TWENTY16 Ridebiker is definitely the highest profile team I have worked with yet, and I take performing my job at the pinnacle of women’s cycling very seriously. I am very demanding of myself and work extremely hard to make sure the riders’ needs are met and every expectation is exceeded. I am constantly seeking opportunities to improve, and perhaps my biggest challenge is maintaining some semblance work-life balance on the road with the team. I am especially grateful for the support of my family, who hold down the fort at home without complaint.

What are your ultimate goals/overall vision for the team and its athletes?

I am tremendously excited to see what this season holds for the team, and I expect more than a few heroic performances this year! I am committed to bringing a calm, professional approach to the multi-faceted position of head soigneur, and to support the riders in every way on their journeys through sports and through life.

What are your essential tools of the trade?

Oakworks massage table, Biotone massage cream, Kinesio tape, T-bar massage tools and liberal use of elbows (to save my thumbs), Selective Functional Movement Assessment model, and my newest and perhaps my favorite tool of all: Mobot mobility bottles!

What are 5 things athletes should know about sports medicine and recovery to perform better?

  1. Strong commitment to recovery practices is probably the most overlooked aspect of training plans when amateur athletes try to emulate the pros – without factoring in sleep, rest, stretching, therapeutic modalities such as massage, hydration, immune health, and stress management, it’s impossible to get the full benefit of on-the-bike training.
  2. Massage is clinically shown to reduce stress hormone levels, help with pain management, mitigate post-activity muscle soreness, and accelerate mitochondrial repair in tissue damaged by intense exercise. There is no support for claims that massage flushes out toxins or impacts blood circulation. If your massage therapist says that you need to flush out lactic acid or similar statements, he or she may not be up to date on the current research.
  3. Foam rolling, or self myofascial-release, is an excellent method to support recovery if daily massage isn’t an option – or even if it is! When using a foam roller, a good rule of thumb is to only use about 80% of the pressure you think you can stand, and roll for twice as long as you think you need to. This will help your muscles and soft tissue structures relax and adapt to the work better with a less painful experience for you: a win-win all around.
  4. The most common complaint pro cyclists have about their bodies is glute and hip flexor pain. For recreational athletes seeking massage, if your therapist isn’t working on your glutes, you’re missing a huge piece of the picture. Most massage therapists are trained to work hips, glutes, and deep lateral rotators; if getting used to the idea takes a bit of gumption, you may ask them to work on your hips through a sheet or drape.
  5. There’s a reason pro cyclists are always toting around a bottle of water; hydration is an essential part of successful recovery. Try adding fresh fruit, berries, mint leaves, and lemon to infuse your water with pleasant flavor to encourage you to drink up.

TWENTY16 has a strong focus on development and preparing girls for Olympic/world level racing. What sets this team apart in terms of development?

As an educator myself, I am ecstatic to see the emphasis TWENTY16 puts on education and helping women to become well rounded as athletes and successful in life beyond cycling. I am impressed to see the flexibility women on the team have to complete their rigorous training and racing schedules while still pursuing education and professional opportunities. In terms of development, TWENTY16 is setting an amazing example for juniors and offering them opportunities to train and compete with the UCI pro team, which helps them grow both as athletes and as confident young women.

What would you be doing if you weren’t working in cycling?

I would probably have combined my interest in sports medicine, anatomy, and health with my enthusiasm for art and creative media to become a medical illustrator. It’s actually something I hope to explore some in the course of my doctoral program.

What does RideBiker Alliance mean to you?

An innovative way to address some of the biggest goals and challenges in the sport, which will benefit everybody who rides a bike. Advocacy is essential to meaningful change, which RideBiker embodies.

Tell us something that people would not know about you.

I’ve played the piano since age 4 and I recently started participating in festivals and competitions again (mostly as physical therapy for my hands!).

Your favorite things to do when not working with the team?

  • Mountain biking and hiking with my beau, Nick, and my dog, Cadence
  • Teaching sports massage continuing education and anatomy classes
  • Growing flowers and vegetables in my garden, and raising backyard chickens
  • Singing in the choir at Jamestown Friends Meeting

Favorite Foods:  

  • Vegetarian ethnic cuisine, especially Thai, Vietnamese, and Middle Eastern
  • Artisan cheese, chocolate, bread, craft beer, and great wine!

SRAM Felt Bicycles ZIPP Quarq JL Velo Kenda Tire