2017 Season ReCap
It’s tough to even attempt to sum this one up; so much has gone down this road season!! I can’t write everything in this one post, but if you’ve been following you’ve seen the big things play out throughout the year. Here I’m trying to give a ‘brief’ overview of the season, but please see my previous race posts for the juicy details!
I started the year searching for a DE (or higher) team only to get rejection after rejection. It was hard on my confidence and spirit, but I also understood…. I hadn’t been in the scene long, needed more results, and to establish myself as a strong racer. This did mean I’d be going at the season solo, no support; financial or teamwork in races. I’d like to insert that there was no local team support available, there are no other cat1/2 female road cyclists in my area and no local shop or team offering support at that level for women. While I was a bit bummed, I didn’t realize just how difficult it would be to race solo as the year went on, races got strategically more difficult to accomplish without teamwork, equipment needs mounted and travel expenses increased. A large part of my season was devoted to gaining personal sponsors, working hard as an ambassador, and even asking for donations. I cannot thank everyone who contributed enough, without all of you this season wouldn’t have been a reality.
THANK YOU SPONSORS!
Canyon Bakehouse + FAWEN drinkable soups + GO RAW + Cleveland Kraut + Skin Food + all the others who pitched in!!!
Training started early than ever this year. I stopped running in November and started really dialing in bike training in December. With a coach’s guidance, I balanced hard/long group rides with lots of time on the trainer doing intervals and efforts. While I did feel the fun aspect start to slip away as the time devoted to my TP workouts increased and riding socially decreased, I tried to stay focused on performing well in the season ahead. The structure and sacrifice was worth it, I started off the season feeling fit, fast + strong. I dominated the local road races and earned guest spots onto 2 UCI races early in the season. While I didn’t have stellar results at those races, I did learn a lot, improved handling skills at Gatineau’s technical course, and was able to contribute to team success at Gila. I entered ProNats on a whim with the mindset ‘can I even register for this? Am I good enough to be at this race?’. Well I went and rode my legs off; even finding myself driving the pace at the front of the peloton with the professionals. Again, I didn’t finish where I wanted, but I did get noticed and was starting to be on race scene radar. I sent out more race resumes and instead of getting straight rejections, I got phone calls and follow ups. A huge confidence boost and glimmer of hope for the year to come.
There was also a lot happening off the bike as well. I still have to work, although not at a standard 9-5 type position, my job seems to never have off hours. Studying for my CSSD and becoming credentialed as a sports dietitian was also consuming a huge chunk of time. Traveling was exciting, but being on the road is also exhausting. Waking up early in random parking lots may sound like a dirtbag transient lifestyle, but its also one of an elite athlete. I got great at making a pot of coffee in a parking lot and by the end, strange stares went completely unnoticed! There are time zones to deal with, always eating on the go, unpacking a bag just to repack it, bike maintenance to keep up with, meeting new people, going from host housing to hotels to a van cot... Whenever I was home from travel, catching up on work took over and having a normal life was slipping away. But.. who wants a normal life?! Not me. Not any elite athlete I know. It just doesn’t come with the territory. So sure, it was a little hard to adjust to, but overall, I was having a blast getting to experience #vanlife, traveling all over, riding my bike over mountains, through jungles, around the coast, in freezing rain, and desert heat and I was taking it all in. My Instagram account took off and I was getting ambassador inquiries and having great conversations with other athletes, both getting and giving advice. It’s very rewarding to be in a position to create a positive image and represent racing, living healthy, and eating well to others!
Performance wise, I found it increasingly difficult to be in limbo between locally being on top and nationally struggling. Going from the podium in one race to DNF in another is difficult to comprehend. Racing regional stage races + omniums helped bridge the performance gap. I continued to improve and was racing better against fields much more experienced and skilled than myself. Still, there were highs and lows. I went on to take the top female spot at Taiwan’s Road to KOM Challenge, but a week later failed bring that power to Cascade Classic. I tried looking at power increases and other small progresses to stay motivated but I was really struggling to feel good about how I was riding. Cascade offered an incredible experience guest riding with a strong pro team and competing against the best cyclists around. However, it also presented me with a ‘its bike racing, shit happens’ moment when I was unable to avoid going down when a girl crashed in front of me in stage 1. While I finished the stage and continued to race, due to mechanical issues I wasn’t able to make it back on the peloton. I was so back too far time wise to make anything up in the remaining stages. Starting the 5 day stage race like this mentally broke me. I was in a deep dark hole after this for a quite a while. I had worked so hard and put so many resources into riding this year, that the pressure to perform was immense. I wanted it to pay off and see good results, but it wasn’t happening. I was sick of not having fun, sick of trying, sick of being away from home so much, sick of it all. Luckily I bounced back, at the end of the year, but it took some big changes including gaining a few pounds (hello chocolate + wine back in the diet!), returning to unstructured training (I just need the freedom), and making social rides more of a priority. I was able to guest ride with a team for Chattanooga and had one of my best races on the road stage. I improved overall; power to weight, handling, descending, cornering, nutrition and my current USAC road ranking is impressive (at least I think so). I started the season racing in a plain jersey I bought ~6 years ago, got to wear several team kits as a guest rider, and even have my very own Cadence Kitchen kit. While I didn't come spend the entire season on the podium, I did get there and I did get an understanding of 'winning isn't everything'. Of course, it is still my main goal to get results and perform well. I am a results driven athlete, but I’m learning to go with the flow, enjoy the process more, and look at the big picture. The year has been a lesson in mental and physical endurance!
Looking forward, I have my head in the game and I will race again in 2018. Currently, I’m taking a month of down time to enjoy some running (not much!), roller skiing, maybe a little cross, and lots of just riding to ride. I want to go into the 2018 road season stronger than ever and with a smile on my face! I’ve been in talks with some teams and feel pretty confident in my selection… official announcement to come! I’m most excited to begin a season of racing with so many experiences behind me, a strong foundation, and be joining a group of fun, talented women for lots of potential team success. Look for a future post about my off season and another about proposed 2018 goals and race schedule.
· Completing 16 P1/2 races
· Racing a UCI 1.1
· 12th national ranking out of all CAT1 females (see image ->)
· Competing in 36 races this year
· Not getting pulled from a UCI crit
· No longer tail gunning crits
· Improved handling; cornering + descending
· Improved power outputs across the board
· Guest riding with 4 teams
· Helping with team tactics for a Green Jersey Win
· Gaining personal sponsors
· Living out of a van for extended periods
· Traveling all over the US, Canada, Taiwan to ride
· Earning Certification as a specialist in sports nutrition during the season
· Inspiring others through blogs + Instagram posts
Read the season details in these past posts!
Please post all your support, questions + comments below! I love hearing from you!