“La infecció és de la mida d'un ou!!! (The infection is a size of an egg!!)” my Catalan dentist exclaimed yesterday while I was sitting in her chair in Girona, Spain with a grotesquely swollen face. It was a tough day for my vanity and my mouth. The after effects of my recent wisdom tooth removal left me looking like a poster child for the trashiest of supermarket tabloids. (Girl with Two Heads Found in Spain!)
I’ll spare the gnarly details of what happened in the Catalan dentist office, but I will let you know that my face is less swollen and I am actually thankful for dentists. (If you’re dying for the details, email me.)
My wise coach, Matthew Koschara, strongly “suggested” for today no training, no running errands, no long walks of exploration, but rather a relaxation day so my body can absorb the antibiotics and properly fight the nasty infection in my mouth. Inactivity usually doesn’t come easily to me, but as I sit here in a cafe greedily consuming the free internet to download my favorite American TV shows from iTunes (yes, I am not ashamed to admit it, I love Gossip Girl....) I find myself reflecting on my first year as a professional with HTC-Columbia and figured why not share some of these thoughts with the readers of Cyclingnews.
Before I begin, I would just like to add a small disclaimer: this is my first diary, blog, form of writing for public consumption, etc. and that’s causing me to sweat a bit more profusely than normal. I hope I can entertain, but know it will be some time before I can match the wittiness of my fellow cycling diarists.
The switch from working full time in a Manhattan office where my wardrobe consisted of mainly business suits and flats to being a full time cyclist on one of the best teams in the world with a wardrobe of mainly lycra (but I am lucky, very nice lycra!) has been quite a change and an incredible learning experience.
I was extremely fortunate that HTC-Columbia took a risk and signed me for 2010. I was able to race with the best women in the world, under the guidance of the best directors and with the support of the best soigneurs and mechanics. I had enriching opportunities provided by the Highroad infrastructure, all while being on the best equipment and using the latest technology.
Season in Review
I was given opportunities to learn a tremendous amount in my first 365 days as a professional and had a bunch of extraordinary adventures. As I am sitting here nursing my decaffeinated coffee and my swollen face, I thought I would share a few of my favorite memories from the season.
I love racing in Italy. The country’s enthusiasm and love for cycling spills into every race, and the energy is hard to beat. Additionally, the food is fantastic and the views while riding (well that is if you can look up) are breathtaking. Some of my favorite memories of the season took place in Italy; one in particular was the Giro di Toscana. Toscana was my last race of the season with the team and it was an incredible display of teamwork and determination from stage 1 until we finished on the streets of downtown Florence on stage 6.
The team started the race off with victory in the team time trial, a win by Noemi Cantele on the Volterra stage and the overall win by Judith Arndt. It was an impressive demonstration of teamwork from start to finish, making it a fun and satisfying way to end the season.
One of the best parts of my first season was being able to share my adventures with my family and friends. At the world championships in Australia my sister, Angela, was able to ride in the follow car during my time trial. My sister is responsible for me discovering the magic of cycling and it was so special to share my first Worlds TT with her. Even though Jim Miller (the Director of Athletics at USA Cycling) refused her offers to work the microphone, her cheers powered me through the entire course. Additionally, at the Tour de l'Aude my coach Matthew and his wife Diana kindly made a detour from their vacation to come and watch the race.
I have worked with Matthew from the beginning of my cycling career and he has been a rock, providing me with superb training, continuous support and guidance in this new path in life. On stage 6 of the race, Ronny Lauke (our stellar team director) invited Matthew to ride in the team car. I usually share my daily training and racing adventures with Matthew via phone, email and/or skype, so having him experience the race in the team car was especially awesome.
When I joined HTC-Columbia the directors told me that rider development was a large focus of the team and fortunately for me they weren’t kidding. It soon became apparent to the team that my newbie descending skills were seriously lacking. In order to avoid a disaster, Lars Teutenberg, the Technical Director of HTC-Columbia, took three days out of his busy schedule to put me through “downhill camp.” These three days were some of the most challenging and rewarding days of the season, and I’m lucky to be part of an organization that is willing to give such time and resources to their riders.
Heading to 2011
Well I could keep going, but I realize most of you all only have a few minutes to scan the articles on Cyclingnews (perhaps you are currently toggling between a Microsoft excel sheet and Cyclingnews, just in case your boss walks by your cubicle and you need to look busy...) Much to my happiness, I’m riding for HTC-Columbia again in 2011.
We have an incredible team for next year and I am hoping that I can take everything I learned in my first year and continue to grow as a cyclist and a teammate. Recently, after a tough swim practice, my badass ten-year-old niece, Elisabeth, said to my brother, “Dad, today I was really hurting but then I looked up out of the water and saw the HTC water bottle Aunt Evie gave me, and I thought, I am going to suffer a little bit more for her.”
Elisabeth, in 2011 I’m going to be right there with you pushing myself to new levels of suffering to make myself a better rider, and I’m excited to share my cycling ups-and-downs with you and all the readers at Cyclingnews in the coming months.