Archive for the ‘comic relief’ Category

The Answer is . . .

I’m working on posts about the Cali World Cup specifically, the current World Cup season broadly, the road to London, what I’m doing, who I’m doing it with, what my role is, how I got here, etc. etc. etc.

But yesterday was a really long travel day.

We were up at 7am, left the hotel at 11am, on a plane at 3:30pm, another plane at 6pm and landed in LAX around midnight with about half the 22 pieces of luggage we traveled with in hand.

Everyone was in good spirits, but tired from a week of racing, eating, sleeping, traveling to the velodrome and back again, with precious few of us knowing the language.

(Fortunately, every Columbian I met was kind enough to let me stumble through my high school knowledge of Spanish while they practiced English!)

So before I get back to sharing my unique perspective on the above, I want to pass along something a friend sent me while I was in Cali:

The Meaning of Life.


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While at the Pan Am Games, I lost track of how many times I was asked “What sport are you with?”

It’s standard elevator talk. But the reaction of surprise was so consistent when I said,  “I’m an athlete, a track cyclist,” I felt it was time to get something out in the open.

I’m not a young woman.

I’m not a coach for the US Team, nor am I a soigneur, a press officer or logistics coordinator. There are people far more capable of doing those things than I am.

I’m an athlete. I compete for the United States, at the elite level, on the track.

And I’m 42 years old.

The reason I bring this up is because, well . . . 1/ I don’t look or think like a 20 year old. And 2/ I’m tired of tucking my tail in about it.

I started this blog as a line extension, if you will; to the one I started for Bicycling.com titled Livin’ the Dream.

I stopped writing that blog because the politics of being me in the sport of cycling became unbearable.

For two years, I lived two lives: one I could write about for a publication that promotes cycling in all its’ glory and one I couldn’t, because no female would enter this sport if they knew.

Then I stopped riding bikes. And I stopped writing this blog. And I stopped writing all together. And I kind of stopped communicating in any sort of meaningful way to the outside world or hanging out with people who had anything to do with bikes–which is just about everyone I know.

It’s very hard when something you love so much that you’re willing to give up everything safe and familiar and consistent to pursue it–this love–turns on you.

But the opposite of love isn’t hate, right? Didn’t that Nobel Peace Prize winner guy say the opposite of love is indifference?

I’d like to paraphrase the great Garrett Morris here and say, ‘Cycling . . . been berra, berra good . . . to me.’

At the very core, I love riding my bike. So I shuffled my way back. Some things are just worth fighting for.

Back to the original topic: I can see the confusion in people’s eyes when I tell them I’m an athlete. Eventually I get around to telling them my age.

Their eyes grow wide when I say I race for the US.

It gets even more fun when I tell them I just returned from the Pan Am Games, where my partner and I set a new American Record in the Team Sprint.

When I say I’m a sprinter, they give me a head-to-toe body scan. Then comes the smile and nod.

They’re usually the ones who ask if I’m going to London.

I tell them we’re going to do our best.

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I spent February and some of March in LA this winter. It was good to get out of the cold, dark East and great to hang with my friend Stacey, who I stayed with before the ’07 LA World Cup.

Stacey & Molley Girl

Stacey & I share huge love for our dogs. She recently had to say goodbye to her sweet pal Molly (pictured right).  Molly was the kind of dog that barks at you and expects you to understand what she’s saying. Funny thing is . . . after living with and feeding her for a week or so, you actually could start to understand her.

I got a strange sensation riding along the Strand . . . not because the last time was there was in 2007, but because the first time I was riding that path was 10 years ago to the day.

In March of 1999, I made my first solo trip to the West Coast to race what was then called the California Spring Classic Series. I entered my first EDS Track Cup, then raced the Sea Otter Classic (Cat III road &  mountain), the Napa Valley World Cup on the mountain,and got spit out the back of the Visalia Crit.

I somehow convinced my boss at Runner’s World to let me take a month off and race my bike.  (thanks Ken!) I flew to California, rented a mini-van, floated between El Segundo at my cousin Cheryl’s and Pasadena at my friend Tony’s when I wasn’t traveling to races. It was me, a van, 3 bikes and a map of California. I was rider, mechanic, team manager and soigneur.

What I remember most from the trip was how much I learned in a short time, and how hard it is to race back to back weekends when you’re handling all the logistics yourself. Since that moment, I’ve been in awe of road pros. I’m pretty sure that’s when I realized the ‘arena sport’ nature of track racing was more my style.

I dug out the journal I kept while on the road and found this report on my first EDS Cup.

Race Report, EDS Cup 1999

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When I tell people we live in a 10,000sq/ft warehouse, the first thing they do is look at me as if we’re rich (we’re not), and wonder how we heat it.

Our home is a concrete brick structure embedded in a working class neighborhood in the coal mining-turned-tourist town, Jim Thorpe, PA). Outside, it’s a curious industrial building attached to a row home. Inside, it looks like a New York loft. 

Lath’s passions are building things, pre-fab homes, mountain biking and the outdoors, so when he stumbled across a structurally-sound, nondescript vacant building in the heart of undeveloped wilderness and heard the price, he blurted out, “Sold!”

I was looking for a place to call home, and had we met first . . . I’m sure we would be closer to my friends in something that came with heat, an oven and a finished bathroom.

But I digress. Love does funny things to you. When we met he was camping out here, surrounded by books, sketch pads, a stereo, space heater and a bed . . . picking away at projects and wearing many, many layers. In the five years since, I’ve lost track of things I’ve done and learned I never thought I would do in my lifetime; one of them being shuffling 1-ton bins of coal around our basement with a pallet jack.  

So in the spirit of grace, this post goes out to Ellis (right) of L.U. Balliet, Inc., who brings us coal each October and who’s industry allows us to heat our living space affordably. And, to Lath, who’s single-handedly made a cold, dark building into one kick-ass place to live. 

At $215 a ton, rice coal will get us through the winter; and let us heat our space for around $200 /month. 

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