If anyone has ever told you that the grass is greener on the other side... they were right! Traveling from one side of the country to the other proves it. The grass is not only greener, but it's visible (and not hidden under several feet of snow!) Don't worry, I won't use a billion descriptive words to tell you about the perfect the weather and how breathtaking the the singletrack along the coast was. Instead, I'd like to share a lesson I learned.
I've been lucky enough to travel the country through the sport of cycling and experience different climates, terrains, and communities. Of all of the places I have been, I was convinced that I'd like to live in Bend, Oregon. That is, until I had the pleasure of meeting Marin County, California. Now this is where I belong. I was in complete awe of the enormity of the cycling community that existed there (not to mention the resources that are available to this west coast community.) The image of hundreds of cyclists riding by on a Sunday afternoon left me in disbelief. There HAD to be a parade or something! Nope, just people riding bikes. To those of you who have even small communities of cyclists, you may be surprised at my reaction. However, I'm from a rural town where oftentimes I am the only cyclist to be seen. Seriously, there were so many cyclists, that signs were posted by houses on popular routes asking the riders to whisper as they ride through on Sunday mornings. Everywhere I looked there was something bike-oriented. Heaven.
I was fortunate enough to spend the week before team camp riding mountain and road bikes and taking in the sights. The first day of camp arrived and I was excited to meet my new teammates and hear the sponsors' presentations. Having done most of my workouts on the trainer leading up to camp, I knew the climbing and mileage was going to be challenging for me. It was, but I still managed to climb almost 5,000ft on our first team ride. Definitely the most I've ever done in one day - but now I know I can do it. After all the sponsor presentations, I was overwhelmed by the amount of support that surrounded me. I've never truly felt what it was like to have so many people focused on helping me achieve my goals. At the end of the weekend, I felt like I belonged there. You think I would have been stoked and ready to tear it up. Oddly, I almost felt the opposite. I felt like I was at a disadvantage in my sport because of where I live. The good news: I had 4 long days of driving to think about it.
On the way home, I had a sort of revelation. I didn't want to be discouraged by using the comparison of where I live to someplace else as an excuse to fall short of my goals. I've accepted the fact that I don't have mountains out my back door, or trails closer than one hour from home, or a high school league. Heck, most of my friends live hundreds of miles away. This acceptance has given me a surge of motivation to prove that I can overcome my "inconvenient placement" and prove to the team that they chose the right girl.
Ever since then, I have felt this huge sense of determination to perform to the best of my ability. To show that I deserve every bit of that support and that I don't take it for granted one bit. I might have to train indoors for 4-5 straight months, but I have accepted that reality. When I'm on the trainer, I see it as earning my race season; the time when I am rewarded for what I put in over the winter. If this sounds like it's intended to be an inspirational post, it's not - really it serves as a reminder to myself. A reminder of how far I've come and how far I still have to go. A reminder that I am writing my own story.
I feel like I've always been motivated but I have not always been inspired. A huge thank you to the Whole Athlete / Specialized Team for an amazing experience that inspired me. I can't wait to represent during the 2014 race season!
Enjoy a slideshow of photos from the trip!
People post pics with water bottles, bike cleaners, kits, bikes, and all kinds of things in an effort to support their sponsors. Makes sense, right? Showing appreciation for the companies who work hard to provide top notch products just so we can race hard and feel like pros. What about the stories behind those pics? In many instances, sponsors are inherited when you join a team. That is why I feel so lucky to be on a team that is sponsored by many companies I supported before being accepted onto the Whole Athlete team. Here is the story about how I came to use one of those products…
As a kid who raced year-round, road, mountain, and cyclocross, I had a lot of bike washing to do. Yes, my dad helped me out on many occasions but I was most definitely a big part of the “process.” I say “process” because that’s exactly what it was. And it wasn’t something I looked forward to. So many gadgets and brushes, which then had to be cleaned after the actual bike was cleaned. I’m the type of kid that always likes to do a good job so slacking off wasn’t an option. I knew my parents would just make me do it over anyhow. So I continued to spend hours scrubbing and dreaming of how I was going to invent something that would make this easier or (dare I say) more fun? Well, my dreams came true at mountain bike nationals when I met Bruce Dickman.
I rolled up to the ProGold tent in hopes of a sample of lube that would keep my Specialized Fate running smoothly. Of course, Bruce started his schpeel about the products and I, in my head, knew it was too good to be true. You see, up until then I was a skeptic. Yep, my dad and I had tried it all and knew that there was no way around the arduous task of cleaning bikes. Bruce challenged me to wash my bike with a different brand at the wash station. I did. After the years I’ve spent meticulously cleaning my bike, I knew it wasn’t up to par. Then, Bruce told me to take his personal brushes and go wash my drive train with ProGold. Oh man, are you kidding me? It’s hot, I’m tired and hungry, and I have to go wash my bike again?
I took my time walking over to the wash station because I wasn’t looking forward to what I was about to do. And then it happened… a miracle in my eyes. I sprayed the Blast Off, and had the most sparkling cassette I had ever seen with minimal effort. I bet you’re think I’m being dramatic right now, don’t you? Well, if you wash your bike a lot, you’d be thrilled with the amount of time you would save using these products. Unlike the slow walk to the wash station, I ran back to the tent. “Give me a box with everything in it, please!” Completely forgetting about the heat, and my hunger, and how tired I was, I proceeded to wash at least 8 more bikes of complete strangers. My dreams had come true… not only was the bike scrubbing process easier, it was… fun.
Click here to take a look at a step by step tutorial on washing your bike with ProGold!