Lea Davison competes at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 on Aug. 20, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
Lea Davison and Frazier Blair are sitting in the kitchen of their home in southern Vermont. Or possibly the dining room. It’s hard to tell in this world of video calls.
It’s the eve of their fourth anniversary—from when they first met. And it marks three months since Davison returned home from mountain bike racing in Europe.
It’s the longest stretch the two have been together since they married on September 22, 2018. In normal times, 37-year-old Davison is on the road from January through September, competing in UCI World Cups and other mountain bike races, chasing her dream of winning more world championship medals and hopefully next year, an Olympic medal.
“It’s been really wonderful,” said Blair, vice president of merchandise planning and women’s merchandizing for Orvis. “There have been many challenges for both of us professionally [during the pandemic]. But spending so much time together has been one of the unexpected silver linings.”
Rather than competing in world cups, Davison has been mountain biking around southern Vermont (new turf for Davison, who grew up in northern Vermont) and doing virtual races on Zwift in the basement, including a team time trial with Team Twenty20 teammate Chloé Dygert, reigning world time trial champion (they set a course record). Davison is the only mountain biker on the team.
“[Zwift racing] is really hard,” said Davison. “There’s no recovery. I saw the highest heart rate I’ve ever seen, well, that I’ve seen in 20 years. It’s wild.”
Davison’s goal is to win a medal at her third Olympic Games in Tokyo next summer. She finished 11th at the Olympic Games London 2012 and seventh at the Olympic Games Rio 2016.
“I felt like I had unfinished business,” she said of her decision to keep competing for another Olympic quad. “I had won the silver at world champs [six weeks before the Rio Olympic Games], and then I did not get an Olympic medal. So that was a little bit disappointing, and I wanted to go for it.”
For now, Davison and Blair are enjoying their time together.
They met four years ago at a Brandi Carlile concert in Shelburne, Vermont, a blind date set up by a mutual friend. Both women grew up ski racing in Vermont—with Blair racing NCAA Division I for Williams College and Davison on Middlebury College’s NCAA DI alpine ski team. Davison began mountain bike racing in 2001—between high school and college. Both women enjoy cross-country skiing too, and Blair mountain bikes as well (although she does not compete). As Davison joked, Blair “checks all the boxes.”
The day after the concert, Blair asked Davison to meet for dinner at a nearby popular restaurant. Davison wasn’t sure. She had stitches in her elbow, was taking antibiotics, and was covered in a full-body rash.
“Should I go or not?” Davison asked her mom.
“She’s a ski racer,” replied Davison’s mom. “Get your butt out the door. And put on a dress!”
Davison and Blair married in September 2018 in East Burke, Vermont—home to both a well-known ski academy and the Kingdom Trails, a world-renowned mountain bike trail network.
As their wedding day approached, Davison—who had not often shared her private life with fans—became aware of the importance of her platform.
During Pride Month in 2018, one of her sponsors, posted photos of Davison and Blair on social media, congratulating them on their upcoming nuptials. Then Davison’s clothing sponsor, created custom wedding kits for the two women—white skinsuits detailed with specific experiences from their relationship.
“It was a turning point for me,” said Davison, who realized that she needed to actively share more about herself publicly. “This is a really important part of me, and I need to show that it’s OK, you can be a professional mountain biker and be gay and be successful and have sponsors support you.”
The feedback came quickly. People began messaging her to express what it meant to them to have an Olympian talk about being gay.
“It was a moment,” said Davison. “Out of a 20-year career, that was the first time that a sponsor had celebrated me being gay.”
The co-founder of a girls’ mountain biking program called Little Bellas (with her sister, Sabra, and Angela Irvine), Davison has long been a proponent of empowering girls—and women—through mountain biking. Now diversity and inclusion have become part of her personal brand as well.
“If I only reach one kid with my story and make an impact, then it’s worth it,” said Davison. “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it. That’s the whole thing.”
Davison and Blair have no specific plans to celebrate Pride Month—other than just being together. But the month holds deep meaning for the two women, who support Outright Vermont, which strives to build hope, equity, and power with LGBTQ+ youth in Vermont.
“It’s a really important moment to acknowledge justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion,” said Blair, “and to celebrate it and acknowledge it.”
An award-winning freelance writer based in Vermont, Peggy Shinn has covered five Olympic Games. She has contributed to TeamUSA.org since its inception in 2008.