TUCSON, Ariz. — A Tucsonan is doing her part to bridge the gender pay gap for professional cyclists.
“Kathryn is, I feel like, this understated hero in cycling. She’s done a lot of moving behind the scenes. And who have the big names in cycling and whatnot and they’ve helped carry that momentum, especially with the Tour de France and that movement there. But it takes someone to start the domino effect, right? And Kathryn’s been behind a lot of domino effects in women’s cycling,” said Allison Arensman, a professional cyclist residing at the Homestretch Foundation.
Kathryn Bertine is the founder of the Homestretch Foundation; a residence in Tucson that helps female professional athletes who struggle with the gender pay gap.
“And for me when I was racing as a professional athlete, I was in need of financial assistance because at the world tour level of racing, women didn’t earn a base salary that the men had,” said Bertine.
For Bertine, that meant she had to carry one or two part-time jobs in addition to the full-time career of racing professionally.
“I kept thinking, we need to change this system. We need to make sure women at the world tour level also have a base salary that’s equal to men. And until we get that in place, wouldn’t it be great if there were a residence where women could come and train for free while they pursue their pro cycling career,” said Bertine.
Female athletes don’t have to pay anything towards rent or utilities at the Tucson-based foundation, which helps in eliminating the need to have several jobs.
“Kathryn provides an awesome environment. Peaceful and obviously conducive to an athletic and professional athlete mindset. You’re here to focus on training,” said Arensman.
Cycling for 10 years, Arensman is gearing up for some races slated to happen in June.
“I love Tucson. It’s great training, great topography. I do on-road and off-road training,” said Arensman.
Arensman is from North Carolina. She heard about homestretch from a friend who stayed and trained here. So Arensman applied, was accepted, moved in right before the pandemic hit, and plans on transitioning to her own place, planting some roots in the Old Pueblo.
“And that’s also very indicative of the Tucson community. So many people love training here, basing themselves here. Not just for our amazing topography and Mt. Lemmon and all the wonderful aspects, we have to train here, but because of the community of Tucson,” said Bertine.
This is Homestretch Foundation’s fifth year. Pre-pandemic, the non-profit normally housed eight athletes on its east-side property, two per room. But during the pandemic it’s had a full roster of four athletes, keeping each athlete in separate rooms.
To apply, click here.