Last month while training in the beautiful Malibu mountains for the Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies training camp, I got to thinking about how lucky I am and how far this sport has taken me. It was about that time that it dawned on me that mid-Feb 2013 marks my 10 year anniversary of owning a road bike! I bought my beloved aluminum Fuji Roubaix because of a knee injury from running and I needed to supplement the mere 40 mi/wk running that I could manage with the injury. I also remember my 1st ride going up Linden Dr. in Boulder and having to dismount my bike because it was so steep and I couldn't go fast enough to stay upright (despite having a triple chainring). I'm glad I stuck with it.
I wonder where I'd be if I hadn't gotten that knee injury and bought that first road bike. Would I have eventually gravitated toward cycling somehow? Or would I have continued on my goal to make the US Olympic Marathon Trials in 2004? At the very least, I bet I would have lasted longer than a semester in grad school for chemistry before dropping out to pursue my cycling career! It's hard to say where I'd be now if it weren't for that first road bike. All I know is that I'm super thrilled with the way things turned out these last 10 years. Even with all of the injuries, gut-wrenching losses and even the doping bullshit that I went through, it's been an incredible 10 years. Maybe I'll start designating my age as anno bici (A.B.) or year of the bike. And in that case, I just hit double digits and turned 10 A.B.! I feel like I should celebrate with balloons, ice cream cake and perhaps a pinata.
I finished my first race of the year last weekend in Merced, CA. The Merco Cycling Classic has developed into a really nice race. The organizers do a good job of keeping the race challenging, yet safe and organized. And I always feel welcomed by the community during the few days we are there. This year, the race committee organized a 'Champions Dinner' after the first stage where they did the podium presentations and thanked all the sponsors, etc. Their guest speaker was Davis Phinney, one of my cycling heroes. I look up to him, not so much because he was an absolute stud as a racer in the 80s, but because of the way he handles himself and for all of the work he's done creating and promoting his Davis Phinney Foundation in hopes of improving the lives of those inflicted with Parkinson's Disease. Anyway, Davis told us a very inspirational anecdote that was very relevant to the current teetering point that cycling is on. It related to personal integrity and doing the right thing despite any 'justifications' that you could use to take shortcuts. I loved it.
Next up, I'm off to Portugal for a 1.2 race and then the Volta ao Alentejo, a 5 days stage race in the flat-ish part of Portugal. I don't really know what to expect, but it will probably be pretty easy. I've heard racing in Portugal is like doing your local group ride - only as hard as you make it. Totally unrelated, sometimes I find it challenging to convey sarcasm in my writing.
Thanks to all of you who have supported me in my cycling endeavors these past 10 years! Let's Party!