Last night, as the fireworks blasted over the packed velodrome, I looked around at all the faces staring up at the night sky, and I felt happy. Riding into the velodrome, being announced as an Olympic Long Team member, National champion, world cup medalist, and the new 2016 Rider of the Year will forever be a memory, in front of a packed house, family, friends, and the Pee Wee Pedalers. This morning I woke up bright and early after too late of a night out, to almost 40 smiling faces, who couldn’t wait to tell me, “I saw you race!”, or “I want to race like you!”. Sitting there, at the end of the summer season, I felt whole, which is a feeling I haven’t had in a long time.
Watching the women’s keirin at the 2016 Olympics on TV was heartbreaking. I held my composure and emotions very well, but inside I was dying. I have been for the past 10 months. I always felt as though I was holding onto a piece of it, with hope that I still might qualify, that I might go…even though I also knew it was impossible. Now that it has passed, it is over, it is old news. I can breathe again. There is nothing that can be done, it is in the past, and the future is here…the anxiety around the Games can leave.
I closed my eyes, and I took a deep breath, and as I opened, the fireworks grew into a spectacular show that dazzled the crowd. This summer, I’ve changed. This summer I learned to love my bike again, I learned how to race without expectations and without time standards. I learned to just race, no matter what the outcome, to line up and pin on a number just to be there. I learned there is more to life than bike racing. I learned to let go, and let it be. I’ve told the truth, I’ve spoken my mind. And I’m striving to give back more than I have received.
Winning the Elite Women’s Scratch Race title was a great experience. That gives me the automatic right to a place at the Pan Am Championships, if I choose to do so. I won the Women’s Open, to back up my Keirin Cup two years ago. Winning Rider of the Year is a true honor, and next year I’ll wear #1 in front of the t-town crowd proudly. But I think I’m more proud of the table I built, the shelves I created, the garden I’ve grown, the plants I’ve decorated, and the home we’ve built.
Owning ERO Pennsylvania is a dream come true. Every day is a step forward in building a brand and helping my clients trust in my ability. It takes time, it takes a lot of energy, but it is more than worth it. Working at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center with the Pee Wee and BRL programs has connected me with the community and helped me find a “home” here in Pennsylvania. I will always be a California/Minnesota girl at heart, but that doesn’t mean I can’t add Pennsylvania in there somewhere.
As the fireworks decorated the sky last night, a part of me is no longer missing. I was a little emotional, but I kept it to myself. With each explosion, I felt a weight lifting. The Olympics have passed, the season has passed, and I felt the anxiety leaving. There is no way of telling how trauma affects oneself after an accident. There’s no telling how much time it will take, or what actions need to be taken. There’s no telling what will be next, where we will go, or what life has in store for us. I did not end up where I wanted to go, but I am so glad I didn’t.
Thank you to the Valley Preferred Cycling Center for an incredible summer of racing, and for fueling my love for this sport again. Thank you to Andy Lakatosh and BIG Picture Cycling for dealing with my on and off training as I changed my mind all summer. Thank you to Women’s Sports Foundation, BeetElite, FREZZOR, Wheelbuilder.com, ERO Pennsylvania, ERO, Vie 13 Kustom Apparel, DMT, RPSports, and Klean Athlete for continuing their support. Thank you to my family and friends, and of course my puppies, although they could care less if I win or lose.
Thank you all.
Back to work.