A little over a week ago, I walked in my college graduation ceremony. This past weekend, I competed in the 2012 Collegiate Road National Championships in Ogden, Utah. And tomorrow, I begin the next chapter of my life, in a new city, new time zone, new goals, and a new life.
I graduated at 8:30am on April 28th in the glorious Whalen Gymnasium on the Fort Lewis College campus. My dad, stepmom, mom, and future stepdad, came into town to witness this moment in history, and they were able to spend some time in Durango too! Final grades have come out, and I can say that I have passed and I am completely done with my education at FLC.
When I came to Durango as a freshman, I knew one person. That person left after my first semester, and I was there, with a bike, some clothes, some books, and a cycling team who wanted me there. I experienced my first time ever on a track within my first weekend being on the collegiate team, and i podiumed in my first track race with 6 days of riding left turns. Throughout my time at FLC, I’ve been on 10+ nationals teams between track, cx, and road. I’ve medaled more than 30 times, also being the highest placing FLC member at track nationals with two 2nd place finishes in match sprints and the points race. I was on the 2011 Kowalski’s Markets Collegiate All-Star Team, part of the 2009 cx national championship team, and received a 4 year scholarship through the Tom Danielson Cycling Scholarship. But more importantly, I am graduating from FLC with a bachelor’s in Exercise Science, and a minor in Coaching.
This past weekend, we had collegiate road nationals in utah. I took home a 5th place finish in the criterium, which, i took, but not satisfied with. Some day, it will come together, but for now, it is what it is. It was a super sketch race, but I managed to stay upright with little injury, and finished the best I could. I am happy to put FLC on the podium for the second year in a row, and help contribute to our 3rd overall finish for the event. Our women’s team also podiumed in a 5th place finish in the team time trial. The great salt lake smells, fyi. If you didn’t know. Our TTT was on antelope island, and it smelled of rotten farts and the worst smelling sewage I could possibly muster in my mind. But, as I said, our team placed 3rd overall with the men taking the TTT victory, a 4th in the crit, and the best of 6th in the road race. Our ladies took 3rd and 5th in the road race as well, which was a great showing.
Being part of the FLC Cycling Team has changed my life. I came in as a young junior racer, who didn’t even know collegiate cycling existed. I didn’t know track, mountain or cyclocross existed. I had done a few road races, less than 5 times trials, and all i wanted to race were crits. But the biggest change that came to me was working on a team. In a way, we are a bunch of nobodies. We’re a group of kids that just wants to race their bikes. Whatever bike we can find. It’s got down tube shifters? Let’s do it. Who cares. You can ride a bike, you’re in. FLC is a club sport. We’ve got over 60 members at one time, and up to 40 people on a single race weekend. We pay club dues, we pay for our kits, and we race our bikes, hard. And we’re the #1 D1 Cycling team in the United States. And 99% of us aren’t paid pros.
I feel truly honored to have been part of such an elite group of athletes, across the board. It takes a special team to become the #1 D1 Cycling Team for three years in a row, against the toughest cyclists in the country. Once a sky hawk, always a sky hawk. I have grown more through being on this team that I have through any other experience. And I have my team to thank for that.
To all the coaches that have passed through the team since I started, to my coach, Rick Crawford, to our team manager who has been there through the thick and thin, Dave Hagen, and to the countless mechanics that we have had travel with us…thank you. It’s been quite an incredible ride.
Tomorrow, my world changes. I’m moving out of Durango. It’s time to start chasing my own dreams, and I’m LA bound. I’m going to miss waking up to the sun coming over the mountains, seeing the snow caps on a regular basis, hearing the train roll out the valley, crossing the river on my way to school, and coming home to the two greatest roommates one could ask for. Tomorrow I’ll have 12 hours to reflect on it, and from that point on, it’s not looking back. There’s no velodrome in Durango, but there’s one less than 20 minutes from my apartment in LA.
Goodbye Durango, and goodbye Fort Lewis. Long live randy/ie/ee/alina.