To start things off, I’d like to nip a couple of things in the butt. I’d like to address the numerous questions I’ve been asked regarding the world cup team that was selected for the first round of UCI track world cups in Guadalajara Mexico. I realize no announcement was made from USA Cycling on the team, which has left quite a few of you even more confused as to what is going on in general.
So, to answer a few questions: Yes, I was the only female automatic selection for the world cup after meeting the time standard three separate times this year. Yes, I am the highest ranked U.S. rider in the UCI world cup eligibility rankings. Yes, I had the highest placings at the 2014 Elite Track National Championships in the individual Olympic events, and yes, I did secure one of the two spots for a U.S. female rider at the 2014/2015 world cups.
I chose to give up my place at the first UCI Track World Cup this year in Guadalajara Mexico. After this entire year of needing to make selection criteria via the UCI and USA Cycling, there was no option to take time off after I received my MRI while racing in Ttown last june. I continued to race and train while eliminating events from my race schedule that were unnecessary for selection. After meeting all the section criteria and securing my spot at the 2014 Pan Am Championships and UCI Track World Cups, it became apparent that my body needed rest, recovery, and finally a chance to heal. The pain had not only begun to affect my riding, but my daily life as well.
Now, a few weeks into my minimum of 12 week PT program, we are pushing things a little faster than we are advised. I am not yet close to being pain-free, but with a goal to be ready by the London World Cup, only time will tell if this injury will hold out through this world cup season or it this could be the end to my 2016 Olympic quest.
Although it kills me to not be competing, there is life beyond cycling, and completely breaking my body down at the age of 24 could lead to complications for the rest of my life. I’ve chosen to step aside and let another rider have my place at the first world cup. Given there is Olympic qualifying on the line, the maximum number of athletes will be selected for each round of the World Cup, meaning two female will be represented. I wish them the best of luck, and hope they do what they need to do in helping to secure a spot at the 2016 Games.
After letting the fact that I wasn’t going to the world cup, (something I had been focusing 100% on all year-long), sank into my soul, I wrote off any events within my recovery period, including the LAGP. After coming back from Pan Ams, I wanted nothing to do with bikes, and that was well deserved after an entire year of pushing. I’d done what I needed to do to qualify, and I’d become the only US female to meet the automatic selection for a team to the world cups via USA Cycling’s selection criteria. It was time to let my back take a rest, heal, and start over again. But, I signed up for the LAGP just a couple of days beforehand, figuring, why the hell not? I knew I wasn’t going to be world cup ready, but UCI points for next season, local race, home crowd, home track…let’s just do it. I had nothing to lose. A lot of people thought it was a bad idea, but in the end, I think it was a really good one.
The event was shorter this year than previous. Last year I teamed up with Tela Crane in a women’s team sprint on Friday, but this year, we only had a saturday/sunday program with keirin and sprint. This entire year, I’ve been racing from the front, using my power and speed to just plain outride my competitors, especially in the keirin, but this time, with little training, not much strength, and no speed work, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do that. With Monique on the motor, and me lined up in the very back in 5th place, I waited, and waited, and waited, and bombed underneath as gaps opened up, until I found myself right on Monique’s wheel, and coming out of corner 4 on the home straight of the final lap, I came up and around. It was pretty unbelievable. It’s what I wanted to do, but until that gap opened up, I didn’t think I was going to pull it off. It proved to me what talent I do have, despite what was said/done at pan ams, the environment of encouragement and belief to succeed, put me in a place where I could succeed. And I’m incredibly thankful to have many people in my life who help me do that.
On Sunday we had the match sprint tournament. According to the schedule published the night before, we would be riding our flying 200m around 11:40am. At 9:30, I was preparing to leave my house, when I was informed via text message from a junior athlete who had just arrived at the track, that there were approximately 6 heats of women’s omnium 500m left before my qualifying started. Evidently the officials had changed the schedule at 7am that morning, without sending a communique or any form of notification to athletes. We drove faster to the track than I have ever gotten there. And arrived with 20 minutes to get my race gear on, bike built up, and to get me changed. Andy started working on my bike immediately, and together him, Travis, and Dominic got my bike ready. I ran and changed. Just as I got on the rollers, Travis ran over to say he convinced the officials that only having 3/10 sprint females present because of the unannounced schedule change wasn’t going to work…which they agreed too. All things considered, I ended up riding a 12.0 flying 200m, which is significantly slower than anything I have done in LA in competition in a really really long time. But it qualified me in 2nd place behind pan am medalist Monique Sullivan from Canada, the previous days silver medal winner in the keirin. I ended up taking silver to Monique in the gold final rounds, in only two rides. My test to see how long my back would last on me this time was a true test, as the morning of the tournament I already had pain. It seemed to loosen up, but by the end of the night, I was already struggling.
Tuesday after the LAGP, I traveled my way down to San Diego to visit UCSD, as part of the USOC’s National Medical Network. I am incredibly thankful to have access to these amazing doctors. I was able to get a doctor visit, x-rays, physical therapy appointment, biomechanics analysis, CT scan, and Dexa Scan all done in one day. The doctors were incredibly helpful, and despite the last-minute appointments, they got everything done and are wanting nothing more than to help me get better. Andy was a champ all day, staying by my side, catching me as I fell over, and driving too and from San Diego in traffic. In a few days I’ll know some more answers, and hopefully get a better time frame, or hopefully a full plan of what my options are, or what the prognosis looks like.
So, lots has been going on since my last post. Taking care of myself has been priority #1. For 2.5 years I’ve been doing everything in my power to reach the next level of the sport, and despite this injury, I will see to it that I compete in my first world championship this year. I’m still having a hard time stepping back and letting someone else take my place at a hard-earned position at this first world cup, but even so, I’m glad someone is there to earn points and to take my place. I’m excited for what the future brings, when I am healthy and straightened out again, because there is no point to keep pushing when it’s dragging me down and limiting my development in this sport.
I think the most important thing that has happened in the past month is my love for the sport is here. But more importantly than that, the realization that I am doing this for me, not for anyone else. I don’t have any control over what those in charge chose to do, but I do have control over what I do, and how I react to it. My health and my future come first. Just like last year, the LAGP has once again shown me how much I love this sport, and I will forever be grateful for that. It’s something I need to keep in mind amongst all these other things. Once again, thank you for reading, and thank you for supporting. I may have been patient in my keirin on Saturday, but off the bike, I don’t like to wait long. It’s been a whole year of being injured. It’s time to be patient and reverse these last 12 months.