And so my adventure begins.
Whisked amongst the clouds hovering above a cold seattle afternoon, a huge smile spreads across my face. My happiness radiates outwardly as I begin my first international travel to race my bike abroad. The pinch me i must be dreaming feeling still surrounds me and the reality hits me cold when the united ticket agent charges me $400 in bike travel fees. $200 for a bike, $200 for overweight. My box weighs in at exactly 70 pounds and not a hair over. I try to argue and plead my way out but the agent is a play it by the books kind of gal.
No matter, my bike will arrive in Melbourne. I take that back, my bikes. It's quite an ordeal to travel with such equipment. Gone are the days when united used to hand out bike ticket coupons - that hay day stopped five years ago. Now to save on fuel costs and get travelers to lighten the load they impose high fees. The mention of going to international competition and my aspirations does nothing for a person having a bad day.
The past week has given me ample time to do some reflection. To ponder the how I got here and why. To remember those golden moments along the way and know that this journey was going to happen whether I wanted it to or not. The planets aligned, the path set forth in front of me and all i had to do was continue the steps one after another. Life had it's ups and serious downs and yet spun madly on.
I've been thinking about Ryan a lot lately. I turned on pandora yesterday and one song after another, after another transported me to a couple of years ago. The music didn't bring a specific memory to me but rather a feeling; a connection; a sensation. Sometimes there are ghosts that hide out in melodies, that come to surface and remind you that you are not alone. You are never alone. I like to think my ghosts are the non-threatening kind. They are they to help you along your journey and path into what feels like the unknown. But I also think that those ghosts know something more... That they can sense what is to come in some cosmic sense.
A memory has come to my consciousness time and time again this week. I recall going to post alley with Ryan, Ryan miller, Johnny shehan and a few others. We met at an Irish pub and were celebrating a birthday. I had only been cycling for a year and had developed a great coach/athlete relationship with miller. Over beers and loud music, both Ryan's told me that they were convinced I had what it took to get be a world champion. They recognized my dedication, passion and talent would get me there. I remember at thinking at the time, wow, I can do this. If they, two guys who were both life long athletes and people whose opinions I highly value, believe it, well then it must be true. And so the confidence building began. They weren't afraid to voice their musings and now, six years later I am on the path they called out several years ago.
A pilar of my motivational foundation started that night. I thank my lucky stars that those two, perhaps a little belligerent, spoke up. If you know someone in your life who is trying to do something new - regardless of the complexity of what they are attempting - the best thing you can do for them is to support them. Speak up. Let them know that what they are doing is important and worthwhile. For me that little bit of confidence has carried me all these years.
And as an athlete and someone who is trying to do what few have the ability or gumption to do, it's important to me to let those who have touched me know that they do too. That their little part, or big part for that matter, is appreciated. I know Ryan knew and knows how much his love and support meant to me.
When i line up in a few days in melbourne, with a lot of unknowns and firsts to be experienced, I will do so with the confidence of the army of supporters behind me back at home. Thank you to all of you who have played a part in getting me where I am today. And thank you to those who will continue to support me in my quest to follow my dreams.