My eyes are itchy and groggy from the lack of sleep from last night. We said our goodbyes late last night to the U.S. squad while sitting around the dinner table, enjoying some racing stories and jennie's childhood rhinestone tales, till just past midnight. Thankfully the bikes were packed, whisked away earlier by Carlos Lopez, my columbian freight friend, and all we had to do was be in the lobby for a 4am walk up call. That gave Emy and I three hours to catch some sleep. Ouch.
My eyes were shut before my head hit the pillow.
This trip, as the last one to Melbourne, hold so many fantastic memories. Countless laughs, nervous energy, hilarious encounters, third world blunders, dancing dogs, lost in translation miscommunications, etc. And not a single regret.
A lesson we learned at track trade camp: the importance of having staff. Showing up with just our bikes isn't enough, unless you have teammates with the Amazing Race traits; navigation, multi-lingual, problem-solving, detail oriented, and adventurous soles, and another set of legs. Thankfully the U.S. staff stepped up to help us, despite having a full plate with eight of their own athletes to take care of. Benjamin Sharp, Viggo, Andrew Hawkes, James Stanfill,
Jamie Staff - thank you. They kept us informed with daily itineraries changing bus schedules to the velodrome, late night massages, split times, general moral boosting and confidence that yes, we do belong here.
I'm on my last flight home, a four hour bender from Dallas Fort Worth. I can't complain though as my teammate Emy has the same amount of travel west, capped with a fourteen hour flight to melbourne. Double ouch. Good thing the next world cup isn't until February. A quick flight down to la for training here and there seems like a walk down the block now.
I've always enjoyed traveling and to be able to do it with my bike for a 3:30" ride is nothing short of amazing. Megan and I half-heartedly joked about opening up our wallets and just dumping our money out. It's true, these trips are self supported and expensive but you only live once and these memories will last a lifetime.
Personally, I'm a little disappointed with my own performance. It's not that I didn't give our ride 100%, it's just that my 100% that day wasn't close to my potential. Outside factors - being a woman, having asthma, wind, etc are things i can't control entirely. But what I can control is giving everything I do have at that particular moment and learning from it, moving on and chalking it up to valuable experience. Some days you just have bad days. We rode the same as Melbourne, a 3:38, and again, i could barely walk down the ramp. My legs buckled, my lungs gasping for air, my heart crushed that we weren't on schedule. It makes those perfect rides that much more valuable. And that much more inspiring when you see another team execute it to perfection.
Later that night, the Ouch Pro Cycling team would face off against the New Zealanders for the gold. Watching the girls in person, go through their warm up protocol and then take to the boards, is priceless motivation. Seeing how they can physically push through pain and then keep going through the tunnel of pain - Dotsie has hands down the best pain face - Sarah with her massive lap and a half to two lap pulls - and Lauren getting right on that wheel and giving it everything to remain in their slipstream. Despite their best efforts, the Kiwis pulled ahead and put two seconds into the girls. Afterward, during the medal ceremony, you could see the pain still lingered, this time from being so close to winning. They graciously accepted their medals, respectfully listened to the New Zealand national anthem, but I noticed the fierce competitor in Sarah - she was far from satisfied. Being second is bittersweet, we all know that.
Earlier on this trip, I connected with my uncle who lives in Corona Del Mar. We have had limited interaction over the years, so it was nice to get to know him a little bit and share with him a little bit of my world. Our conversation made me realize that what I do is unique and what makes me strive toward the ultimate performance a far cry from the norms of society. But I can't imagine having it any other way. The instant attraction to any sport i've ever tried is based upon if a) they are an olympic sport and b) how quickly i can get to the world cup level. Take dodge ball and kick ball in elementary school. I wasn't hanging out with the girls playing hopscotch, I was out there throwing balls at boys heads and usually the last person standing. I got used to being picked first for teams, and when I wasn't it motivated me to try harder and never give up. I threw myself into boxing, tele-mark skiing, rock climbing, basketball, track and field, volleyball and now cycling. My favorite subject in school? You guessed it: recess and p.e.. Moving my body made me feel so alive and when i couldn't due to injury, depression set in. But as soon as i was healed, I was back at it. As i've grown older and wiser, those forced down times were used to strengthen the mental aspect of sports psych, a field that really interests me.
I had an interesting lunch conversation this past week with Sarah. I asked her if she thought about life after the world wind travel and what that would entail. Her answer was to remain connected to cycling in some shape or form - a testament to her and Andy's love for sport. And as hurl through space and time now, aboard this plane, i think of all of the opportunities i had to express myself by moving my body and how the coaches over the years, the faithful supporters, cheering squads, etc played an instrumental role in me becoming the elite athlete i am today. And what better way, once that selfish pursuit is satisfied, to give back? To help others pursue their passions?
Now for a little rest and recovery back at home, in my own bed for the first time in a month! I can't tell you how excited I am for tonights slumber. I have no idea what time zone my body will think it's in. But I really don't care. A week off the bike entirely, healthy eating, connecting with family and friends should pass in no time.