Robin Farina



University of Tennessee - Sports Management

It had been more than 15 years off the bike when Robin Farina decided she still had the desire to compete. Several years of dedication and tireless training later, Farina won one of the most esteemed titles in cycling, a National Road Racing Championship, in 2011.

Robin also co-owns Uptown Cycles, a bike shop and training center in Charlotte, N.C. Balancing her personal training and competition schedule with her clients is challenging, but Robin says it serves a long-standing goal: “During these four years, I've been competing at the highest level of bike racing, but I've always known I wanted to end my racing career with a business to call my own."

Find a mentor you trust and look up to, then ask lots of questions.

How did you turn cycling into a career? Tell us about the path you took to becoming both a pro bike racer and the owner of your own cycling shop.

As a long-time athlete, I've always been driven by the opportunity to compete. After earning a degree in sports management and working in various sporting event management jobs, I knew I still had the desire to compete as a top-level athlete after getting back on the bike after more than a 15 year hiatus. I wanted to see where it could take me. Several years of hard training and dedication to racing later, I found myself winning one of the most coveted titles in cycling in 2011: a National Road Racing Championship.

The past four years of my life have been dedicated to building Uptown Cycles, the bike shop and training center that I co-own. During these four years, I've been competing at the highest level of bike racing, but I've always known I wanted to end my racing career with a business to call my own.

What does your typical job schedule and day look like? Does that change at any time during the year?

My job schedule is pretty hectic, but never dull! I'm lucky to have such variety in my everyday life. When I'm at Uptown Cycles, it’s all about the customer. Whether it’s coaching an athlete, doing a bike fit or running a training class, my days at UC fly by and there's hardly ever enough time to get in everything I need to do.

During the racing season I travel quite a bit, so it’s more about juggling coached athletes and keeping in communication with what's happening at the shop and our customers. Luckily, with all our avenues of communication, I can be out on the road racing and simultaneously maintain my relationships with clients.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The absolute most rewarding part of my job is getting to help individuals find joy through exercise -- especially on the bike. The bike makes you feel free and like a kid again. I love seeing people walk out the door with a brand new bike. It truly makes me happy!

What is one lesson you've learned in your career that has stuck with you?

Always take time to mentor young athletes and students. They are the future, and if we don’t take the time to help them, then we've forgotten one of the most important parts of growing. I'm lucky to have had great mentors to help me along my path. The best way I can say thank you is to pass it on.

Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?

Of course work/life balance has occasionally become problematic. If you care about your work and your life, it’s going to happen. Both of my younger sisters are yoga instructors at their brand new studio, Shakti Power Yoga, in Nashville, Tenn. They've taught me the power of meditation and taking a couple of minutes to gather your thoughts when things get rough. I use mediation often; whether it’s a quick couple of minutes or it’s moving meditation on the bike, on a run or in yoga class. It helps clear the brain and put everything back into perspective.

What advice do you have for women who aspire to walk in your shoes?

Plan to work hard and put in long hours if you're considering owning your own business or becoming a professional athlete. I truly believe that what you put in, you'll get out. Find a mentor you trust and look up to, then ask lots of questions. So many people will want you to succeed as long as you care and are willing to be a team player and work hard.

What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?

Manage your relationships wisely and don’t burn any bridges!

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Heading up the not-for-profit Women’s Cycling Association that will help pave the way for women to have equality in cycling worldwide. Opening more Uptown Cycles concept stores in other parts of the country. It may not look exactly like UC, but it'll be similar!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thank you for letting me have the opportunity to reach out your readers. It’s fantastic to be part of such a great group of women doing amazing things in their careers and their lives!

Image | Darren Russinger Photograph