I'm often asked 'why?'. Why do I give up weekends and any free time I have when not in school or at work to race my bike. To wake up, sometimes at 4 a.m., to drive four or more hours and pay money to suffer in the sweltering heat or the pouring rain. I stop, I think and I can't come up with a good answer, other than I want to know just how far I can take this.
Of course, there is a love for the sport, the rush of pushing myself to the limit, the feeling of victory and accomplishment or the humble feeling of racing against the best in the world, but it comes down to wanting to know just how far I can go.
I'm going into my third year of racing and I struggle with priorities. I am a full-time student finishing up a program in graphic design. I work 30 hours a week as an in-house designer and marketer for an outdoor company and I train when I can. Some weeks I can stick to my training plan and other times I fall short. Every week I struggle with what I compromise.
I can't cut back on work because bills need to be paid. I can't compromise school because I'm paying for it and to be honest I'm a perfectionist. I want to be the best at what I do. I have a passion for design and I want to start my career in the next few years with my best foot forward.
So often it's my training that suffers and so I am left wondering will I ever realize my potential? I was told last year by the person closest to me that the only thing that will stop me is myself. I think about this all the time and I know it to be true. I ask myself is a cycling career possible if I invest the energy that it takes?
Going into this season I had more training in my legs then the last. I feel stronger and have been holding my own in NRC races. After each race I walk away with a lesson learned and am left wanting more: more hours on the bike, more chances to play new roles, more opportunity to improve, more more more. After each race I can see and feel the progress I have made as well as how much I still have to learn. Riding this year for SugarCRM Women's Elite Team is a huge part of this experience.
I watched this team race in previous years and was often duking it out with Mary-Ellen Ash, Karla Kingsley, Jen Van Muckey and many of their other strong riders. I thought if we join forces we could become a really strong team. It was not only their strength on the bike that drew me to the team but also their love for cycling.
I would always see them working together as a team, sharing laughs and good times before and after the races. They were approachable and respectful. So when Liza Rachetto, the new SugarCRM director, asked me to join the team I could not pass up the offer. Not only was I joining a great team, but I was joining a team with a great director who brings her own talent, experience and passion for racing to the team along with a vision of developing this team into a respected women's elite team. For myself I thought this would be a great opportunity to be part of a growing team, develop my strengths and see my potential.
So far this season I have had many opportunities to play new roles, try new tactics, travel to new races and be pushed both mentally and physically. This experience so far has left me with that 'wanting more' feeling. When I have fallen short or accomplished what I set out to do I think what would have happened if I trained harder, if I trained more, if I dedicated more of myself?
With this question resonating, I wake up some mornings and I’m just not feeling it, it’s raining out, or I was up all night working on a project. I start to make excuses and then I think about those 'what if' moments and I get myself out on the bike, sometimes bribing myself to at least make it to the coffee shop an hour away. This in itself is a huge accomplishment for me this season.
I think the change and the extra motivation came from seeing success in my development, from having support from my teammates and director and a feeling of not wanting to let them down. It comes from the push of my coach and the love and support from my friends who also want to see me realize my potential. With this new-found dedication, new opportunities have presented themselves and more time to train has appeared in my schedule. I think the universe was just waiting on me to make the dedication to myself for doors were revealed.
The next few months are going to be interesting. I finish up my program at school, I will move to a new place that I can afford and the saved money will allow me to get to Europe for a month to race and gain experience and fitness. I am looking forward to the changes and the season with SugarCRM. I am ready to see just how far I can go.