Standing at the counter of a café I frequent while writing, I glanced down and saw a case of Ally’s Bars. Sweet potato. I picked up the green package and read the other ingredients, which pretty much described the contents of my grocery list – quinoa, banana, dark chocolate, flax seeds, and almonds. I ate it for breakfast and was surprised that it actually filled me up and tasted as good as it sounds.
Ally Stacher, the professional cyclist who created the bar, lives in Western North Carolina. I caught up with Ally over coffee, although that’s the last thing this always-in-motion-palpable-kinetic-energy woman appears to need.
Mountain Mama: Have you always been adventurous?
I grew up in Etna, a small town nestled between the mountains and rivers of Northern California. Even as a child, I never said no to an adventure. From rodeo to wrestling to hunting with my dad, I leaped at the chance to try something new. I’ve killed a bigger buck than any guy I’ve ever dated.
Mountain Mama: How has biking influenced you as a business owner?
Cycling taught me to work hard. As a professional cyclist, excuses and short-cuts don’t cut it. It’s been scary to take the leap of going to manufacturer my bars, but I’ve got an incredible team surrounding me. Nobody has been down at the same time, so we’ve always been able to encourage one another at the right time.
Mountain Mama: How do you balance running your business with cycling at the pro level?
Ally’s Bars started back in 2013 and for a while I was traveling back and forth between racing in Europe and running the business in the States. I was spread too thin. In October 2014 we began manufacturing the bars. We chose Oregon because we found a gluten-free manufacturer there that treated employees well and sourced organic ingredients. It was all the things we were looking for.
I still ride all the time. I make deliveries to the hundred stores that carry Ally’s bars. You know that song, My Head is a Jungle? That describes me. I’m happiest when I’m busy.
These days I spend more time on the trails than the road. In May I placed third in Mountain Bike Nationals held in Augusta, Georgia. It was a tough course and I crashed a couple times so I was pleased to place at all, although nobody likes to be second place’s loser.
Mountain Mama: What’s your stress management strategy?
I go for a bike ride and deal with it. Cycling has taught me how to deal with ordeals and everything is better after a long ride.
Mountain Mama: What’s your biggest obstacle?
Not having enough hours in a day. Getting enough stuff done. All of team members have multiple projects that we’re trying to grow at same time grow Ally’s bars.
Mountain Mama: Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
I’d like to have Ally’s Bars sold in 500 stores nationwide. Right now we’re in a hundred stores, Earthfare, biking and running stores, some cafes. We started at 30 stores in January. I’d like to offer three to five flavors by then. We’re launching two new flavors this summer. I’d tell you what they are, but it’s a secret.