I have been riding my bike outside for the last three days, of which I have ran two Time Trials. The first TT was a 28 minute effort out Otay Rd starting from Chula Vista, CA, and the second TT was a 7 mile 48 minute uphill ride that absolutely decimated me. After the first TT I rode straight back to the training center but after the second ride I thought I had something left and attempted to ride with the group. What I didn’t realize was that the described downhill ride then back up was not just downhill and after the first hill I cracked. I turned around after just one downhill section and started the long ride back. Well after a stupid head wind I found the wall. The impenetrable wall had me convinced that I could still ride my bike while closing my eyes and taking a nap. I at least had the good sense not to listen to my body and ride with both eyes open. I could not believe that I had just gone too deep and then I realize that I haven’t done an effort more the ten minutes in the last two months. I hope to never have that feeling ever again. It was very scary and disheartening to see the bottom like that. Lesson learned that anything Craig says is a far exaggeration of the truth when it comes to a ride.
Now I move on to recovery rides and repacking of the bike to ship to Arizona for a nice couple of days in the sun hanging out with Dave and Clark. I did sign up for a stage race in Phoenix, we will see how that goes, but I am going in with a very open mind.
I just realized today that in the last 10 years or so I have not missed one World Championships in either skiing or cycling voluntarily until last year. Between 2002 when I attended my first Paralympic Games in Salt Lake City and the 2009 Alpine Skiing World Championships in S Korea I have raced at 10 World Champions and Paralympics combined. Then there are all of the World Cups, Regional, and National races that I have no clue to the amount. It felt weird the first time I missed a World Championships, 2009 Track World Championships in Manchester, knowing full well that I had qualified and given up my slot to train for the 2010 Vancouver Games. The second was absolutely strange, 2011 Skiing World Championships in Sestriere, Italy. I followed with the strange feeling that if I got on a plane I could make it to at least one of the races. This feeling was as if something of me was missing. I have not been able to understand it all. The feeling I am sure has to be in part from the fact that I was not riding my bike outside due to the cold weather which normally would have been no hindrance had I been skiing. I am happy with the decision that I have made but can’t say that I don’t miss skiing. I was asked last night if I would go back to ski racing but I am not sure that I could right now. I had a ton of fun skiing over the holidays and really enjoyed myself. I am not sure if I want to give that away so that I can start to train and focus on technique and tactic more then absolutely necessary. Trees make excellent obstacles to avoid and it leads to many different techniques to getting down the hill. No one way is the right way and that is why I think I had fun. I could just be free and unpredictable. I am sure that I will continue to have this void in me for a whole until I can fill it with something else.
So what I am doing now will hopefully help my sense of loss. I am getting ready for the 2010 Track World Championships being held March 2011, don’t ask. I have already attended two high intensity track camps in Carson, CA, just south of Compton. I am on my way to the next one with a brief road camp before another Carson camp. I honestly am looking forward to being able to ride outside consistently for the next couple of weeks. I haven’t been outside in almost a month. I have tried but just can’t muster up to being cold on the bike when I would much rather be skiing. So I am leaving the cold and the Rockies so that I can go play in SoCal and Arizona. I am really excited for this trip. A weird trip but excited non the less.
I have faced my challenge and now have a meager understanding of what I need and want to do. I have been with a friend for the last week who has helped me more then I can explain in words. I got to face myself. I was able to enjoy life and prove to myself what is really important. I know this is very cryptic but that is how things are sometime, specially when you are just realizing it. Do I wish things were different, of course but as I have stated previously I look forward to change otherwise life might be boring.
When one faces new challenges, specially unexpected ones you get to see who you are by what actions you take. My initial reaction was not a wise one and after several hours of thinking it out in my head I realized how absurd I was being and how I could better myself by acknowledging, learning, and evolving from what I had experienced. Don’t let me confuse you but I had a great time. I realized that I can still love skiing even though I am not making a career of it right now. I got to do what I love and enjoy it more then ever. I have given-in that the world will not end if I’m not doing both sports. It is weird though, skiing and not giving a rats butt about gate chasing. I have been following the races on the Internet and don’t have one care in the world about being there. It is cool see familiar names and how everyone is doing but I am perfectly content on just focusing on cycling. Specially now that the cycling season is picking up.
I plan to throw more curves my way through various endeavors to keep me on my toes. All in the name of challenging myself and not sitting still. Anything is truly possible if you try and I am going to try a lot of new things!!!
I am sitting on a plane traveling from San Francisco to Seattle, final destination being Spokane, and I just realized how much I miss the snow. I haven’t even touched it yet and my desire to sit at the top of a mountain and just be is taking me. I am looking down from the sky above and all I see is snow covered peak after snow covered peak. I have been avoiding this all season. I have not any thought of travel up into the mountains, just miles from where I live, for the fear of this moment. How do I go fourth? How do I harness this desire and stay focused? All of these answers elude me.
I miss the regiment of early morning preparations to go train, the freedom, the exhilaration, the team, and believe or not the cold. There was a flow to how it all was and I have been in that flow for the last 20 years then by choice I stopped. I fully enveloped myself in cycling, life, and friends, but now that I am staring at my life time passion what do I do? Is this like an recovering alcoholic driving by the Liquor Discount Store that is the size of Texas and not plowing straight through the front door?
I know that next couple of months are going to pass in a whirlwind with multiple trips to California in preparation for the World Championships but at the same time how much will skiing have ahold of me? Out of sight out of mind? Easy to say about keys, or chores, or daily living, but what about an entire way of living? Does out of sight out mind work? All of these questions are going to be faced. Facing my challenges is the one character flaw about myself that I like because I am going to hit it head first and straight on. Why skirt around the edges? I want to know how to handle it and where to go next. Will these revelation change my future goals, probably not but it will help me understand who I am. For now I stay my course and train my little butt off through Worlds and then hold on to the reins as the season continues all the way through November.
I do enjoy the cycling team, we get together and work as one, train as one, and win as a whole. If one person has a bad day the team knows and always tries to support one another and at the same moment if one has a breakthrough the team congratulates all the same. In skiing I was surrounded by that everyday, even off days chilling with teammates. I do miss that.
All in all I think that this is a good way to realize that this major change will not ruin me but allow me to grow and understand more if life. There are going to be many more changes in my life and this one challenge is going to be a minor one compared to what still has in store, well at least I hope so otherwise I might get bored.
In every one of us there is a passion for life. Whether that passion takes you outdoors, indoors, or to the moon, we all have passion for life. My passion for life is only growing stronger and stronger. I sit here in paradise trying to motivate myself to leave and go home but each day I grow a bit more passionate about this place. I can literally ride out the door, pedal for twenty to thirty minutes, and I am at the top on a single track that goes left, right, up, and down. I can see the ski hill that will soon be covered in snow from the breakfast table. I am experiencing an atmosphere of complete love for the outdoors. The community here revolves around the outdoors and love of adventure, whether on a bike, on foot, on skis, in the rain, or in the sun. Why would any sane person want to leave? To leave the majestic fall colors that shine brightly before the coming winter. This is a paradise where all seasons bring life to the community. I am falling in love with this place and I will be back no matter what. I tell myself this so that I know I will be back, that I will return to paradise with the full intention of submerging fully into the passion that is radiating from every pore. I have only been here a couple of weeks and people recognize me without curiosity of “who are you?” but with the “welcome to our paradise please indulge yourself.”
Every person should be able to find that passion that draws you to a place, to an atmosphere where Utopia is almost possible. I am passionate for many things but none greater than the other, for there is a harmony to it all, even the chaotic bits. I am a creature of habit but this place allows me to break out of the pattern and live life to the fullest, to explore new realms of myself. To again and again experience new attributes of whom I am. Nobody fully knows who they are until they have tried something new and even then there will be always be another path to follow and break away from. You define who you are and you should never be able to finish the whole story. You should continue to write new chapters, to explore new beginnings and endings. And when you think you have done it all, make the left where you would normally go right. Climb the hill that nobody said you could climb, read the book that everybody said you would hate. Never say no to the new, the crazy, the abnormal. We are all individuals that need to live our lives to the fullest, to experience everything that is out there for us to experience. Say yes to the impossible. Say yes to the unknown. Say yes to the nos. Never stop listening to your heart and where your passion leads you.
I have been very lucky. All I do is ride my bike, do a little workout, and hang out with really cool people. Last week my friend’s good friend drove twelve hours to come and hang out for the week. The timing wasn’t fully coordinated for the same time that I was going to be here but that is just what it happened to be. I had a ton of fun. I was riding everyday and loving life. I got my first mountain bike, a Giant for all those who just have to know. It was a great deal and I have gotten to ride it in the past. Having multiple friends out here my host was riding twice most days, usually a ride that I was good at and then one that the boys could go out and hit some jumps and skinnys and trails I wasn’t ready for. I have been pushing my own limits and learning how to keep up. I am not quite ready for the really tough runs but I am getting there. Hopefully by the end of my stay I will have conquered a bit of trail that conquered me last time I was out. The trail is only a small section but it is a much more difficult trail then what I usually ride. I have figured out the complicated art of hairpins, dips, and riding up rocky and tree root infested trails. By no means do I call myself an expert but I am having tons of fun. There are a good variety of rides out here in the self proclaimed mountain biking capital of Canada. Some of the rides that I have done include a 20-30 minute pedal up an old forest service road and the riding back down to the bottom. One trail that we recently discovered is a loop with part uphill service road, up hill single track and then a section of new soft down leading into an almost perfect, bmx style bottom back to the car. One of my favorite trails is a full on descent with plenty of hairpins, roots, rocks, and dirt skinny sections. According to my friend from when I first road the Duney, practically my first ride, to what we just did yesterday we made it down 15 minutes faster. I know that this is trip is not a competition and that there is no pressure to get faster, but it is way fun to just point the bike down the trail and hold on for dear life. There was a section where I was right on him. I know that he is holding back, only slightly, but I still feel how much faster I am going.
I have just arrived to Bozeman, MT and am going to be hanging out with the great Sam Kavanagh. Prior to this glorious day I was in Reno, Nevada where I helped and watched the Reno Air Races. How did I help you ask?? My dad is a pilot in the International Formula 1 class. In perspective my dad flies a little mosquito compared to most planes. The plane is a single person craft that goes 230mph at 3900rpm. The plane has a four cylinder engine that is regulated to keep all of the pilots on the same playing field. The planes also have same is for the lift surface of the wings and the pilots have to weigh in at 160 lbs when in the cockpit, some have to add weights. The IF1 class is only one of two classes that start their race on the ground. There are eight planes on the start line in a three-two-three configuration. The pilots are also broken into three racing classes, Gold, Silver, and Bronze, based on qualification times. My dad qualified 8th so that meant that he was going to be in the Gold class and because of lack of participants he got to race in the Bronze and Silver as a fill-in. Running the extra races is awesome for the experience but that meant a lot more work for the crew. The crew gets to clean, polish, and service the plane. My cousin, my dad’s nephew, was there to help and ended up doing a ton of work. There was also Ron and Ted, buddies of my dad’s from Leadville and Buena Vista. I was named crew chief but really didn’t do much other than make sure breakfast was ready to go. I was at the hanger at 6 am every morning and didn’t leave most days until 8 or 9 at night. Most of the days were 8 am starts but most of the days were multiple starts with my dad racing in different divisions. That was tough considering you have to drive the plane to the run way, going only 10 mph with it towed out the back of my car. The other tough bit was going to get my dad after he had landed taking the plane to get re-fueled and then driving back out to the line for the second race. On the double race days we weren’t getting back to the hanger until lunch time and that was very long time sitting in my car going nowhere. On the other hand I had front row viewing spot every time he flew. We were positioned along the taxi way with no obstructions to the race area. My dad did very well considering the rag a muffin crew. On the final day the wind was brutal on the course. The officials even decided to start on a different run way to help everybody out, which in the end might have hindered more than anything. The winds were a quarter tail-winds which meant the winds were not coming in from the front and the engine was not getting the oxygen that it needed to run at full power. My dad felt this until he was up in the air while others had a bit of a harder time. Invictus, piloted by Phillip Goforth, ended up taking off in the sage brush, damaging his propeller, wheel pan, and tail. Phillip managed to take off and get going but immediately turned around and landed realizing his propeller was no good. Miss USA, piloted by Gary Davis, didn’t even make it off the ground. He started to take off and a wind gust basically pushed him over. He was able to cut his engine to minimize damage but stopped on the nose of the plane. The good news was that everybody was okay. I had a ton of fun and I am definitely interested in flying. Every pilot there asked me when I was going to start racing. I gave them three years and I will be there. If I started racing planes I when have so much fun. I would have to get my private license and go to pylon racing school in Reno. My dad is already planning everything out. Career change, or should I say another adventure where I still wouldn’t have a real job.
I am crazy some days but on August 29th, I was especially crazy. I was invited to ride up to the top of Pike’s Peak, 14110 feet. The ride started in Manitou Springs and I started my ride from the Olympic Training Center. That was the earliest I have ever gotten up to go on a ride and this was going to be the longest time that I have spent on the bike. I am figuring that I spent in total getting to the top of Pikes Peak from the Olympic Training Center five hours on my bike. Now I would love to say that I was able to ride up non-stop to the summit but I am not that good. I rode to Manitou Springs and met up with the group that was hosting the event and hung out there until 7:00 am when the ride was to start. Once we got going I made it half way up the dirt section, around seventeen miles, before I made my first stop. At Glen Cove, little over eighteen miles and two and half hours in, I took a break and got some food into me and refilled my bottles. From that point on I took my time and stopped a lot, mostly at switchbacks and other aid stations. At 11:30 am I summitted Pike’s Peak, with a total elevation gain of 7700 feet over 24.5 miles. It was a gorgeous day with a bit of wind, well a lot of wind. There were 30-45 mph gusts once I was past Glen Cove. At many points in the ride I could have turned around. I never once thought about it. I figured that this is one of those climbs that once I do it I won’t ever have to say I need to do it again. Yes it would be fun to summit again but not any time in the near future. At the top of Pikes Peak my first priority was to take some photos and eat some doughnuts, yes doughnuts. The visitors center at the top of Pikes Peak makes fresh doughnuts and after that long of a ride I figured I earned it.
2010 Para-Cycling World Championships
Baie-Comeau, Quebec, Canada
Leading up to Road Worlds I spent a lot of time climbing the various hill around Colorado Springs, Palmer Lake, and Castle Rock. I was having fun and somehow found my time trialing leg and mental place. The training camp leading up to our departure was awesome. The team was able to really come together and I was able to push my body harder and further then I had thought possible. I was tired after all of the hard practices but was able to find the strength for the next morning. I found the bottom on one of the practices but told myself in order to get onto the top of the podium I needed to be able to find the bottom and know what it feels like so come race day I would know to push myself harder and leave everything out on the course.
Going to worlds I knew that I was in top shape. I was riding faster and stronger then I had in previous years. I was ready. We got to the venue before most of the teams and were able to ride the course several times without distractions and others there. I loved this course to be honest. The course was going to be hard and I knew that I could go deeper into the pain cave then most and that this course is going to make people suffer. The hill that was going to make or break the race was a two tier hill, each tier about a kilometer long with a 200 meter reprieve in the middle. Some would see this hill as the main obstacle of the course but I saw it as the best part. After some debate about whether the course was longer than allowed, the number of laps was cut in half. Originally I had to climb the hill twice for the time trial and four times in the road race. Now, in my time trial, I was cut down to only chance to use the hill to my advantage. I had to ride harder then I ever had up a hill. Twice up the hill meant pacing, once up the hill meant sprinting.
I was starting second to last, based off of last year’s results, following a Spaniard and being followed by my teammate. I knew that I had to catch everybody and had to do it on the hill. Good news was that my other teammates, Kelly and Greta, were out on the course the same time I was. It just so happened that Kelly was starting her second lap right as I came out of the start. Thanks to this coincidence I was able to get a little bit of pacing from the start and some words of encouragement from my coach who was in Kelly’s follow vehicle. I managed to keep Kelly and the van in sight all the way to the hill four kilometers in to the course. At this point I was also able to see other riders; a competitor form New Zealand, and my competition from Spain. I did a bit of recovery on the flats before the hill and was glad that I did, as I was able to maintain a sprint up the hill for four minutes (well two two-minute sprints with a forty second reprieve in the middle). I made up half of the distance between the Spaniard and myself climbing the hill and then the other half on the decent heading back to the finish line. I started second to last and finished first. I came in with so much energy that all of my teammates standing around told me that I should go do the course again. I was so excited as I knew that I had just done it and done it right.
For the road race I put extra pressure on myself because I knew I was faster and stronger than the other girls and if I didn’t win it was because of something that I had done wrong. With some good coaching from Craig (our team head coach) I had confidence. For the first two laps of the course I rode at the groups pace, taking my time and ever really pushing my own limits. On the third lap I rode the bottom of the hill at an easy pace and then at half way up the second tier I rode at my pace. I thought that my competition was going to be able to get back up to me on the flats but she never did and I just kept on going. Every hill that I hit I pushed a little bit harder. I recovered on the flats and I think she was making up ground until we got back to the hill for the final lap. I never saw her again. I rode as hard as I could and left nothing out there. It was an amazing feeling knowing that I was able to control the race and to be able to feel confident in my riding.
So its been a while but a lot has happened. After a wonderful time in Rossland I returned home to get ready for track nationals and worlds team qualification. The prep leading up to races was awesome. I was riding on the track twice a week with a lot of specificity on the pursuit. Even though I would ride a sprint race any day I am good at the pursuit and I seem to do okay when it comes to race day. My coach and I both agreed that I need to ride a bigger harder gear for both the 500m and the 3 kilometer, but what I didn’t realize is how big he was thinking. He left for some races with Greta and few other teammates up in the Chicago area, leaving myself and Clark to ride with Mark Tyson’s morning group. My coach gave me a workout and I thought that the gearing I was on was for the 500m, 8 inches bigger than last year (in cycling that is a big jump). Come to find out that the new was for my pursuit! I thought he was crazy and out of his mind to think that I could ride that gear for that long of a time. I then asked another coach if that was my pursuit gear what my sprint gear should be and he told me an even bigger gear. I thought they were both crazy. There’s no way I should be able to ride that big of a gear. No Way!!
Well, come race day there was a pretty heavy wind and after previous discussion I thought I would drop the pursuit gear to be able to handle the gear in the wind. I trust my coach and he told me that I would be able to handle the bigger gear in the wind. I told flat out that he was crazy and insane to think that I could power this big of a gear in this wind, but I trust him and put the bigger gear on. I was able to roll a pretty good time considering the conditions and the gear felt awesome. I was actually pretty impressed with what I was able to do. My performance was good enough for second place in the qualifier, which meant that I was riding that afternoon in the gold medal round. I didn’t feel it at all. My leg felt dead and tired after the morning’s effort. The good news was that the wind and dropped and actually turned so it wasmore helpful for my start. I was able to run four seconds faster in the afternoon and that was with a really fast first kilometer. On Sunday I raced the 500m and it was a blast. There was little to no wind and I was feeling okay considering the two pursuits I did the day before. I went all out and it paid off with a new American record and a personal best by .7 seconds.
Now that nationals are done it is time to refocus on Road World Championships in Baie-Comeau, Canada. We leave August 13th and races will start on the 19th. First will be a 24ish kilometer time trial and then a 50ish kilometer road race.