Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Running Start

In reflection, during the last week of racing at the Cascade Cycling Classic I was launched right off the tip of a three-meter springboard! Not really, but that's what it feels like. Previous to Cascade, I was deep in reflection about my racing career and literally trying to remember simple things like how to turn my bike. Now, with my first-ever NRC win under my belt and a stellar week of stage racing at Cascade with the Aaron's girls, I feel like I'm not just back on track but maybe I have even taken a leap forward. Todd says winning does that for you and you know what, I'm going to just believe him. That's how I got into pro cycling in the first place...blind faith in Todd and Frankie, "its ok that you haven't raced with pro women before, you can do Philly, you'll be fine" and I just believed them...and I WAS fine! This blind faith seemed to work years ago so why not now? I'm going with it.

I definitely feel like I've got my groove back and I'm so happy to have it again. Loving something so much like I love cycling, as in any relationship, can also be painful when things go south. But once the relationship has healed, the bond seems stronger than ever and that's where I'm at. I DO love racing my bike...and winning was obviously a blast too. I love working with Julie, our twenty-year-old protege, and watching her grow and develop right before our eyes. Meredith, Felicia and my break-away-partner/tempo-setting-superstar from stage 2 Alison are all incredible women. And Carmen, our leader who has never waiver her support of me, is beyond fantastic. A recent Velo News article says "Patience Grasshopper" and I guess that is the lesson of all of this. It seemed like an eternity but it was only a matter of a few weeks for me to turn my head around...a very wise friend of mine told me that set backs are not failures, but instead they are life giving you the room to step back and get a running start at something. In my case, I got a 5 minute lead on a ten mile climb and I rode as hard as I could all the way up, in the race and in my life. With the help of the girls, Honey Bunny, Frankie, Pam, Mom and Dad, I succeeded. Not just in stage 2 but in the bigger piture as well. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Remembering Why I Race

These two cuties are easily my favorite things about the 2008 Nature Valley Grand Prix. They are the daughters of our host family in Minnesota and they helped me race better...more than they will ever know! Each day when we woke up, they came running to join us for breakfast. As we packed our bags for the race, they were there to help and ask questions. They sent us off to the races with big smiles and waves. And they were there to greet us when we returned as if we had just lit the world on fire! 

As I re-focused and searched the depths of my soul for the passions lost in the Mt Hood crash, these two helped me remember why I race. Because I love it. These two don't yet know about the fears associated with big goals nor do they know about innocence lost. I do and I wish I didn' Anna and Lucia remind me to just ride my bike. That's what they do...out the garage, right down the driveway, even in the rain. What's the big deal? Just ride, ride your bike because you love it. It's so simple and so that's what I'm gonna do. I race my bike because I love it! Thanks girls :) you're the bomb!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My Favorite Race

Me, Rebecca, Erica, Meredith, Kat and Carmen at the fountain in Philly

Commerce Bank Liberty Classic is my favorite one-day race. Not because it's my day for glory but because the fans are out of this world, solid throughout the 16-mile course AND because this was my first-ever big race. The field is big, the course is challenging and the spectators are loud and I LOVE IT! I'm so happy to arrive in Philly from Montreal, for many reasons, but the big one is because it's familiar, more like home then Montreal will ever be! My Mom and Dad flew in from Florida to watch the Aaron's team tear it up! 

Our plan was one I like: race hard! And that's and easy task considering the four times we'll be ascending the world-famous Manayunk "Wall." As usual, positioning was tough and the pace was even tougher. Our team raced hard and, unfortunately, I raced harder...flatting at the entrance to Manayunk and thus, chasing for nearly the entire second lap...of four! Thankfully my legs were good and I was able to give it a-go a few times with some well-timed attacks. My plan was to either escape or wear out the other teams and, along with a couple of teammates, we made plenty of chasing happen! Coming into the finish, Kat was positioned well and on Carmen's wheel yet the roar of the crowd kept Carmen from hearing Kat's "GO GO GO" instructions. With 300 meters to go, a crash changed the fate of the Aaron's team, putting Kat back but Erica, well, I took my own safe route on the far right all by myself! Erica rock with a 10th place among many of the world's best. All of us were in the front group of about 35-40 women. 

In pro-bike-racer fashion, I crossed the finish line, rode straight to the team tent, jumped off my bike and into a car to the nearest hotel shower and straight to the airport to catch a flight to the next Minneapolis! I felt like a rock star for about 2 hours...until the fatigue set in from the race while crammed into my non-exit row seat on the plane!