Video: Rachel Strait on Motherhood & Finding Her Path in 'Don't Define Me'

Jan 4, 2022 at 11:40
by DEITY Components  

Words by Rachel Strait

Motherhood, the state of being a mother. The quality of having the tenderness, the warmth and the affection of a mother. Being a mom is something I have always wanted. But I struggled with the idea of giving up my dream of being a professional athlete. The fear of losing everything, my sponsorships, my fitness, my career was a reality I was willing to take on in order to fulfill my desire to be a mom. As I held her in my arms on February 20th, 2021, and felt her love and the bond we immediately had, I realized it’s okay to do both, to love both, and to have both. The adversity I experience outside of motherhood is what makes me a stronger mom!

DEITY Don t Define Me featuring Rachel Strait

DEITY Don t Define Me featuring Rachel Strait

2020 was a very unique year for many professional athletes. I realized after we returned home from Crankworx Rotorua in March and the country shut down all non-essential everything, that most likely all of our events would be cancelled. I am 32, and I knew I always wanted to be a mom. Kyle and I had been talking about when was the right time to try, but to be completely honest, I wasn’t ready in previous years. I wanted more from my career. I still had so many goals I wanted to reach, and I wasn’t ready to slow down. 2020 forced me to slow down. In June I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. It was go time...

DEITY Don t Define Me featuring Rachel Strait
DEITY Don t Define Me featuring Rachel Strait

DEITY Don t Define Me featuring Rachel Strait

I waited until September to tell my sponsors. I was nervous as to how they would respond. I remember following Allyson Felix’s career. If you aren’t familiar with Allyson Felix, she is the most decorated woman in US track and field history. In 2018 she announced she was pregnant. At the time her biggest sponsor was Nike. I remember reading the article that Nike offered her a pay cut of 70% in case her performance saw subpar results as she recovered from childbirth. This woman has 9 Olympic medals! And she was struggling with sponsors… I remember reading it and thinking, “oh man, how will my career survive then.”

DEITY Don t Define Me featuring Rachel Strait
DEITY Don t Define Me featuring Rachel Strait

DEITY Don t Define Me featuring Rachel Strait

When I finally told my sponsors, I received the exact opposite response. I felt so relieved, and almost lucky… They were so excited, so supportive and very encouraging that I would be able to continue my role as an athlete/ambassador in the sport. That says a lot about the people who stand behind me. I also realized that it is because of women like Felix that I am able to still do both. All the women before me that proved being a mom doesn’t stop you from reaching your goals professionally. Their sacrifices, hard work and determination helped pave the way for me, and I can only hope that my story can help pave the way, or at least inspire other women who are thinking of starting a family.

DEITY Don t Define Me featuring Rachel Strait

DEITY Don t Define Me featuring Rachel Strait

I have heard people say, “once you have a kid your life is over…” I couldn't disagree more with this statement. Is racing harder, yes. Do you need more support, Heck Yes. But is your life over, No… It’s different. You adapt, change your mindset, and move forward knowing some days will be harder than others. But in the end, it is so worth it. In making this video my goal was to show my journey of becoming a new mom and finding my path, but also being a mom does not define who I am, I am still Rachel Strait, just with a beautiful baby girl! And I am so happy and honored DEITY wanted to partner up and make it happen.

DEITY Don t Define Me featuring Rachel Strait

DEITY Don t Define Me featuring Rachel Strait

I hope you all enjoy “Don’t Define Me”.


  • 150 34
 Who is actually out there saying women shouldn't ride bikes or be adventure moms? I feel like we've become so convinced there are people trying to keep us down that we're starting to make marketing out of our fights with windmills.
  • 60 17
 You missed the bit about new Mom Allyson Felix being dropped to 70% salary before going on to win Olympic Gold.

Or political bullshit statements in general like "the problem doesn't exist" and keeping Mom's from recieving proper maternity leave...
  • 54 4
 I hate to say it, but a lot of "mom culture" we are exposed to is focused on self-sacrifice, suffering with a smile, doing every little thing so your kids don't ever feel want or pain or disappointment, and then fixing it all with giant glasses of chardonnay after bedtime. At least in my experience, women face a lot of peer pressure to leave their former selves behind and be a capital-M Mom. It's not necessarily individuals saying women/moms shouldn't ride bikes or adventure, but it is an insidious part of our culture that really needs to evolve.
  • 16 4
 The real world is. Depending on where you live, child birth is either treated the same as taking a big dump were you're supposed to be back at work asap or it's treated as a medical event in which you need proper recovery time.
  • 16 6
 @VtVolk: Ironically, I think the best way to raise kids is more the "free range kids" style. Kids need to be "ignored" to a certain extent, and be given more independence than we as parents want. My neighbor goes to pick up her older kids from school and leaves the 5 and 3 year old home alone while she does it. They just play in the back yard (or in my yard with my kids). I could never be so brave.

THe "mom culture" you speak of is people posting online pics/vids of them doing parenting stuff, and it makes you feel overwhelmed that you aren't doing enough, you should do more, spend more time, etc. when really its just a sampling bias and doing "more" isn't necessarily better.
  • 28 7
 Firstly not sure that's what this article is about, it's about a woman feeling she has to choose between motherhood and her professional career. Secondly, I think you should probably just take a woman's word for it that there are many ways they feel pressure to choose motherhood over other parts of their life. I'm not sure you're qualified to question it.
  • 12 18
flag WillW123 (Jan 5, 2022 at 9:51) (Below Threshold)
 @ViolaVesperlin: Allyson Felix net worth $4.5 million just for context. Age 32 decides to have a child. Different issues - Nike obviously thought this was a career ending move, more fool them. 70% of how much exactly?

You seem a bit reactionary to the question "Who is actually out there saying women shouldn't ride bikes or be adventure moms?".
  • 6 5
 @hamncheez: i agree. my parents dont really care what i do as long as its not causing harm to others. sometimes ill be gone for hours on my bike and it makes life more fun.
  • 14 20
flag Caligula1620 (Jan 5, 2022 at 10:16) (Below Threshold)
 @ViolaVesperlin: "being dropped to 70% salary".....70% of what? Her former salary? Did they cite the reasoning as "you had a kid now, so you're less valuable"? Otherwise I think you're implying some context that's not very empirical.

"Or political bullshit statements in general like "the problem doesn't exist" and keeping Mom's from recieving proper maternity leave..." I don't see anywhere in the article, nor my comment, nor any of the comments where we say "the problem doesn't exist". All I asked is who are these idiots out there telling moms to not live their lives and be all they can be? I've never actually heard someone say this, but only heard people respond to the ideologies behind them, so that's why I'm asking can someone point out a person/organizational body that is telling Rachel "hey you have a kid now, stop doing cool shit."
  • 10 10
 @VtVolk: And I get that but I feel like we are slowly awakening against the entire preconceived societal notion of "work until you drop" and that you should sacrifice everything meaningful and non-fungible for that which is financially lucrative. I guess I see it more of like a conditioning we're all slowly realizing is bullshit, rather than external voices/forces that we're fighting against, bc as I mentioned I don't ever really see these forces at work so I'm just lost on who we're rebelling against lol.
  • 7 9
 @OrangeGoblin: i identify as a woman so maybe pump the brakes on your bigoted inferences on my supposed "qualifications".. And that's fine if I misinterpreted the article, I think your initial insight was where I was getting confused as I took it as "dont let people tell you not to ride" instead of "don't let yourself believe you're done", which is a much more wholesome and inspiring message. So thanks Smile
  • 5 8
 @WillW123: Ya i feel like we're being a bit naive about the reality of female athletes in that age bracket, especially post child birth. Obviously Nike made the wrong bet, but it's difficult to imagine what they were thinking to rationalize this.
  • 4 0
 @Caligula1620: I agree with a lot of what you wrote. I guess it's hard to draw a clean line between "conditioning" and "external voices/forces" but it sounds like we're in agreement that it's out there (or in there? whatever "it" is...) The fact that you've not experienced these forces make me optimistic. Maybe things are slowly beginning to change.
  • 6 8
 It’s not just mothers who sacrifice most of the good bits of their lives to have kids. The fact is, kids under five are a total pain in the arse, babies even worse. I hate babies. There is literally nothing good about them. I love my kids to bits though. They’re pretty much my best friends. Please don’t be sexist. Dads have it hard too during the early years too, not just mums. It’s just something you have to get on with.
Also I totally endorse leaving kids alone to entertain themselves from a young age, ignoring them to teach them how to handle their own shit, and saying no to stuff for no reason other than to teach them they can’t always get what they want.
  • 6 5
 @WillW123: woke oppressor vs oppressed pinkbike won't like this.
  • 8 7
 @VtVolk: @VtVolk: Oh I have experienced the part we agree upon, but ya I've never seen first hand or otherwise anyone lecture female athletes about not pursuing their sport due to their decision to become a parent.
Then again I believe the issue of not having as many women in the sport is due to lack of interest and a very slowly growing participation rate, not anyone telling them they can't ride. Which somehow is a contentious viewpoint that i'm sure will get downtrolled by the big brain anon lurkers on here but oh well
  • 73 1
 Word to your moms
  • 32 1
 I came to drop bombs
  • 28 0
 @jray152: I got more rhymes than the bible got psalms
  • 16 0
 @JonnyTheWeasel: And just like the prodigal son I've returned
  • 17 1
 don’t forget sunscreen or you might get sun burned
  • 8 3
 @stainerdome: 'Cause I got lyrics and you ain't got none
  • 9 0
 @Caligula1620: if you come to battle bring a shotgun
  • 9 0
 @wheelsmith: But if you do, you're a fool.
  • 1 30
flag switchback249 (Jan 5, 2022 at 9:20) (Below Threshold)
 @Caligula1620: If you come to battle, bring a shotgun
  • 32 0
 @switchback249: MAN you had one job !
  • 7 1
 Your mom goes to college
  • 2 0
 @jclnv: racking up knowledge
  • 38 11
 "“once you have a kid your life is over…” I couldn't disagree more with this statement. "

Couldn't agree more. Of course I'm a man so having kids is far less of a sacrifice, but the principle is the same- sacrifice is giving up something good for something better.
  • 26 7
 its once you have two that its over. or "drastically altered"
  • 17 1
 I’m the primary “stay at home parent” and it’s a lot of work. My wife is one driven individual and loves to work but she sure loves her family a lot more. Kids are the ultimate sacrifice but well worth it, as we’ve watched them grow and learn who they are. It’s fun now cause they’re old enough to do things my wife and I like too. Being outside and letting them explore is rewarding. Their adolescent enthusiasm is contagious.
  • 17 3
 In some ways, life really gets started when you have kids. Little kids are a ton of busy work and disciplined parenting. It gets easier over time. Watching them grow and develop has been more rewarding than any job or hobby I’ve ever had.
  • 30 1
 Once you have 3, then you have to switch from man-to-man into a zone defense. Takes much more out of you.
  • 5 1
 Its funny in that it was my first son that got out family into MTBing. He was 4 lol. He'd make me drag his little 16" rigid up 2m waterfall hiking trail (filled with big rocks) just to try to survival ride back down. I had his seat sky high and he was in a watermelon helmet lol. Then we just dove in. Kids are a big mountain to climb and perhaps not for everyone, but its worth it most days. Damn if they don't expose your every weakness tho, sheesh.
  • 4 0
 Once your kids are teenagers though... that part is a bit rough, but at least you can run off and go riding to de-stress without having to find a sitter. Don't stay out too long though, or you might not like what you come back to.
  • 2 0
 @johnski: I prefer the cover 2. You get the man-to-man with a little zone in there for some added coverage.
  • 9 2
 @dtsabas: My wife is due with #4 in two weeks.

The trick is to neglect your children. Much easier that way.

JKJK! I spend lots of time with my kids.
  • 2 0
 @TwoNGlenn: curious if the down voter has kids.
  • 7 0
 @hamncheez: are you mad?! After 2 I could not get to the doctor quick enough!! Stick that red hot rod through my ball sack and save me from pain!*

*except for the next few days.
  • 5 0
 I don’t even have a dog to not be tied down to
  • 2 0
 @ilovedust: Nah its efficiency at scale. The per-kid difficulty drops with each new kid. I wish we could have more, but my wife and I got started too old and IDK how many more we will be physically able to have. My angel of a wife has tough pregnancies.
  • 2 3
 @5afety3rd: yeah! No kids train here as well. Currently partner has an older lab that is a hinderance to traveling. Looking forward to free reign again in near future.
  • 2 0
 @ReformedRoadie: probably in reference to Rule 11.
  • 4 0
 I agree. Life isn’t over, though many forces in our society have been wanting us to believe that it is when we have kids. In reality, it’s just better, with more love, fulfillment and purpose.
  • 1 0
 @TwoNGlenn: I must be a twatwaffle...
  • 1 0
 @ilovedust: I had twins 3 years ago and we’re thinking exactly the same thing. If it wasn’t fit COVID delaying all the non-essential stuff I’d be skipping to the doctors
  • 32 8
 disgusting!! A mother has no right riding bikes. once a femail becomes a mother she should instantly become a housewife and give up all her hobbies!!
  • 31 2
 best put your sarcasm disclaimer up quick before the downtrolls arrive
  • 4 5
 You laugh, but for a very long time that was basically what society said, and although it is much much better now (at least here in the UK) I am still looked at by friends, colleagues and other people in play groups, etc as being the drag at home dad (very part time worker) but I f*cking love doing it and wouldn’t have given up these last 2 years to be back at work and missing out on them growing up.

Until the last few years in some industries/companies if you were a woman and had a baby it was almost guaranteed that your chances of promotion were over or at least much more likely to be passed over. I mean “who wants to promote some woman who might have another baby and go on leave for a year again?”

Hopefully this sexist bullshit is being replaced by more equality in the home and workspace.

Also dudes, it might be really f*cking hard work to raise your kids while the wife goes back to work but you get to take them to pump tracks, swimming, etc and you have to go to work less.
  • 21 4
 Good on her to mention the BS that Allyson Felix had to go through, as it's happened to other athletes in other sports as well and not to mention all the BS that still happens to normies in regular jobs. In the US for example, proper parental leave is myth.
  • 8 1
 It is a tough situation tho. Felix built her sponsorship around results more than being an "ambassador" or public figure in track and field. If she stopped winning, her advertising value to Nike drops as well. If Nike had "saved up" to keep paying her essentially a maternity leave, they couldn't have afforded to pay her as much before.

I personally think that a female athlete can still easily promote and sell products if they are a mother, they just need to incorporate that into their ads. "I love motherhood, but I never let it slow me down", Felix says into the camera, and then she sprints away. Or something kinda cheesy like that. Celebrate parenthood within the ad campaign.
  • 6 7
 @hamncheez: Sorry but completely disagree. Felix had multiple gold medals already; Nike wanted to drop her salary because they *thought* she was done. Felix dumped Nike, won 3 more medals and got a record number of world championships. Nike f*cked up, plain and simple.

Did Nike stop paying Michael Jordan went he went to play baseball? Do they drop Lebron's pay if he sits out games due to injury or covid?
  • 7 1

To bring up injuries/covid is comparable to what exactly? Having a child is a decision and having an injurie is not.
  • 2 1
 @Serpentras: Comparable to a forecasted drop in performance pulled out of someone's behind
  • 7 1
 @matadorCE: I think we are all speculating too much. I have no idea of the details of Felix's Nike sponsor are public. Maybe its a year-to-year contract, and once she proved she was winning again they would go back up? Maybe it was a percentage of sales revenue? Maybe based on viewership metrics?

We all like to throw judgement and analysis around, but I fear we don't know nearly enough about the details.
  • 4 0
 @hamncheez: This isn't that complicated. If you want more details, just look up how Nike changed their female athlete policy after Felix rightly dumped them.
  • 3 1
 @hamncheez: this is true, even from solely a heartless business point of view Nike seemed to miss the fact that she would now have become an Nike ambassador/athlete/inspiration who could be marketed to the huge group of people that are mothers.
Butit wasn’t just Felix, there were a lot of athletes across the whole spectrum of sports struggling with sponsorship cuts or being dropped as soon as they got pregnant.
Luckily (hopefully) it’s getting better thanks to Felix, Williams, etc.
  • 3 2
Sad that you need this marketing stuff to get people interested.
  • 2 1
 @Serpentras: well all these companies spent so much time targeting their marketing at men and young women while completely writing off mothers. I read a book a few years ago written by someone in marketing, forget the actual companies they worked for and their name (poor memory I’m afraid), but it was quite enlightening and sad at the same time
  • 18 2
 Best advice I received about being a parent came from an older partner at a law firm I was working at: “Don’t let your child stop your life. Do the things you do and take them with you. Sometimes it won’t work, but most of the time it will.” 18 years later, I have to say it was true. I made it through a divorce, played single parent, started my own law practice, and kept riding, first with my son in a Burley trailer, then on the back of a tandem, then on his own. Now I just wish I could keep up with him.
  • 8 0
 Awesome. Shoutout to all the wonderful Moms and Athlete Moms who sacrifice to make this world a better place. Props to the sponsors who understand the value of family and stay loyal to their athletes who chose to start a family - I love to see it. Congratulations to MTBs power couple. Keep up the awesome work. Sincerely, -a Dad who shreds (Thanks again for the Supreme 29er Kyle)
  • 5 0
 Loved this! You both are super inspiring to watch and Stevie is so blessed to have you as a mother, the part about '...whatever she's into' brought a tear to my eye.. on pinkbike lol. I have a 10 year old and am fully into whatever she gets into, nothing better than watching your kid enjoying what they love.
  • 4 0
 'Mom.' Noun, informal. Plural: moms.

One's mother.

E.g. 'My mom gave us each a slice of pizza'

See also: 媽媽

@Caligula1620: religious fundamentalists

  • 3 0
 Great article. Bikes and babies just get better from there too.

Your baby grinning back up at you from the baby seat while gripping the handlebars with their tiny hands and the wind in their hair is the best bike related experience ever.

And then their first micro BMX. First wheelie...and for little Stevie so on all the way up to her First World Cup win.... Smile ?
  • 2 0
 Awesome rider, hats off to you balancing everything. As a father of 5, carving out time for yourself is very hard and you need to rely on your partner, family and friends but you do need that time. Cheers to you and your family.
  • 2 0
 I think it's more of a society thing than a mountain bike thing. My wife had to put up with a lot of "oh you're not going to be able to ride like you're used to", or "no time for anything anymore, guess you'll be selling your bike now" comments from the general public and non-riding friends. Riding friends were more like "as soon as you're ready to ride - let's go". She's actually had better race results since having kids than before - including a 3rd at the Whistler EWS (masters).
  • 5 0
 Don't define me. Words for every human to live by.
  • 4 0
 Biggest change for me when I had kids, now I split my MTB budget three ways.
  • 1 0
 That's great that her sponsors are still supporting. I am guessing that's why we're getting this lifestyle piece because there is no way she'll be able to ride or compete as much now. They'll be appreciating that backyard set up they have all that much more now.... Kids are the reason I moved my trails to my parents woods. I basically can only ride when the kids are napping. Shiiiiiiiiiiittt
  • 2 0
 Does becoming a parent define you - Yes for the vast majority of people. You have to change. Now if you're rich and can afford a nanny and not spend time with your kid that is a different matter.
  • 1 0
 Few things here: Rachel, this is awesome. Props to you for not falling prey to what society thinks you should do. Secondly, Stevie is adorable. Thirdly, this is really well shot and edited and a nice change in pace-well done to the crew. Lastly, f*ck Nike. Seriously.
  • 8 8
 I love this. No political agenda here, just straight up navigating life. Way to go GT for keeping her on. I couldn't imagine the difficulty of being dropped or dialed back in sponsorship. You'd have no recourse. You can't complain or the current/future sponsors wouldn't touch you.
  • 4 0
 omg that little pink helmet
  • 1 0
 Stoked that Papa Throop was able to hold that grandbaby!! Cheers to being parents and riding bikes, Straits. Now go have for more kids and stay stoked! Who GAF what they say! Word-
  • 4 0
 Looks like a good life! Vid made me want to ride!
  • 2 1
 It needs to be said that a lot of women retire from professional sport (especially mountain biking) due being dropped by their sponsors when they become pregnant. This needs to change.
  • 1 0
 I enjoyed this a lot. Nice family, and being a 54yr old dad of a 26yr old daughter who now lives 8k miles away, I say milk every second of it guys, because it goes so damn fast.
  • 4 2
 The real question is how does a a racer with her average results get all those sponsors and pinkbike highlight in the first place?
  • 1 1
 This is nothing- check out Rides Like a Mother doing the big hits and 3 kids!!
  • 1 0
 very inspiring and heart warming video, Rachel. I am still asking myself what will happen when I will have kids, will sponsors drop me? I don't know, let's find out!
  • 1 2
 does this mom realize how many people would give their left whatever to have the chance to be a swimsuit model and ride bikes for a living in the first place? Borrow some money from the family bank account and stop crying about it already. Some of us out here have real problems.
  • 3 0
 Papa Throop's stache FTW
  • 1 0
 Didn't know they'd become parents. Goodbye sleep. Like going off a drop for three years!
  • 1 0
 Hold up, my kids aren't supposed to sleep on their faces?

For 3/4 was/is the only way they sleep!
  • 1 0
 Yay Rachel! The world needs more strong women like you, and I’m certain you are making one!
  • 1 0
 Great content Rach.. Big props for you guys for keeping up riding and parenting.
  • 1 0
 She's the definition of inspiring.
  • 1 0
 Ouch Nike, ouch! Not the first time either.
  • 3 1
 Stunning and brave.
  • 3 2
 Hopefully Atherton bikes dont drop Rach
  • 1 0
 Nice to see DHaRCO supporting both the Straits !
  • 1 0
 Some people without legs and arms are riding bikes
  • 1 0
 What a great video, so inpsiring!
  • 15 15
 Alternate video title: "White Moms Can't Jump"
  • 7 17
flag lucacometti (Jan 5, 2022 at 8:49) (Below Threshold)
 Alternative website for you: cycling tips. Get out of here you spandex dork.
  • 10 0
 @lucacometti: You get the reference to the movie, right? Ironically, Billy could jump, just like Rachel can jump.
  • 6 0
 @lucacometti: And "spandex dork"? If you don't get the joke, think about it before name calling. The joke is actually a compliment to Rachel, but I guess you missed that.
  • 5 5
 How many grips sold today?
  • 3 3
 And your the manager that terminates those like Her.
  • 1 0
 Great article!
  • 1 0
 Skip to 8:51
  • 1 0
 Snow Summit!
  • 1 0
 100% yes
  • 5 5
 She had a kid??
  • 9 2
 Nope, fake new article. She’s not married to Lyle either. . .

Really need the facepalm symbol now.
  • 5 14
flag fracasnoxteam (Jan 5, 2022 at 7:38) (Below Threshold)
 @sunringlerider: Kyle*
  • 2 1
 @fracasnoxteam: He is known as Lyle by his Natty Ice brethren, hahaha!
  • 2 1
 @fracasnoxteam: pretty sure it's Lyle. Get with the times.
  • 2 1
 @fracasnoxteam: Not 100% certain, but pretty sure it's Lyle
  • 1 1
 @fracasnoxteam: Except she really isn't married to Lyle...
  • 1 0
 @sunringlerider: your fervor for sarcasm has prevented you from detecting the sarcasm. This person doesn’t give a f*ck about what’s going in Lydia and Randall’s lives and this is not news to them
  • 3 0
 @sunringlerider: listen dork I don't pay attention at every move that Rachel Atherton does or her boyfriend but apparently you do you're probably pounding your PUD to pictures of them. ‍♂️‍♂️
  • 1 0
 @Mntneer: actually you missed the sarcasm on that one too. But all is fair
  • 1 0
 @tdog123: dork? Yes I am.
Wait Rachel Atherton is in this article? It is cool Rachel Strait and Atherton for that matter are moms that are still riding.
  • 4 5
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