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!