In my teenage years, I was such an avid cyclist that I would ride as far as I could and not worry about being home late for dinner. I would set goals for myself: impressing my friends by cycling over 40 miles to a sporting event of theirs (and then riding home in the dark); riding my bike to and from work every day (despite the rainy weather in the Pacific Northwest); taking my ten speed up to the mountains on the weekends (knowing that it was all downhill on the way back); and [back in the day] throwing around 100 newspapers to porches from my paper-bike. Still, what I felt that I needed was a big ride to conquer that inner-yearning of a huge goal accomplished...
As luck would have it, these pedals were made for riding.
My discovery of cycling began back in Colorado at age 11. I remember it vividly. Waking up at 5 AM I would go out to the curb in the cold to collect bundles of newspapers that my route manager would drop off. After rubber banding and loading the ninety or so copies of the “Rocky Mountain News” into the two bags that drooped from my handlebars, I would head out into the darkness and begin my morning ritual. My goals seemed simple back then—to finish my route before my rival could finish his and beat him to the Winchell’s Donut House. This newfound speed, and the need to ride my bike faster each day, would ultimately lead to my zeal for the sport of cycling.
During my summers in Colorado, and later when I moved to the state of Washington, cycling became my obsession. I followed the great Greg LeMond in the Tour de France, and female champ Rebecca Twigg on the velodromes of Europe and the US, hoping that someday, maybe I could ride as fast as they. This passion however, would find its limitations along the way. It was not for the lack of my love for the sport, but rather it was the simple reality of just what it takes to be a world-class cyclist. The commitment, nutrition, training regimen, and unabated desire to ride faster than everybody else, would require my “A Game” now more than ever!
I set my sights on the Seattle to Portland bicycle ride which would prove easier said than done after two attempts. I believe that the first attempt was more to impress that girl I liked in high school, than it was for me. As the story goes anyhow, my first race was the STP (Seattle to Portland), an arduous and sometimes hilly 192 mile route. Although my spirit was in it, my legs were not. This first tour had me completing an unforeseen STC (Seattle to Centralia), after suffering from leg cramping 100 miles into my ride. After some soul-searching, rigorous training, and dismissing the good luck kiss goodbye from dear Helga, I knew that the following year would be different. Joining the Cascade Bicycle Club the next summer and gaining knowledge for my trip from cycling magazines and other seasoned riders, I was able to invoke the power within to complete the STP, and that pretty girl in high school ended up just as pretty proud of me after all.
Cycling for me has never been about watching the pretty scenery as you ride by (although I have seen some wonderful things in the many miles on my many journeys), but rather it’s been about getting from A to B as fast as I could, or as I like to call it “in a Seattle-Second.” Because I had always set higher goals for myself, as I grew older and more experienced, I was able to learn how to cope with any injury that might befall me.
On my daily bicycle rides to and from work, or at about 25 miles round-trip, I could be at the mercy of some could-care-less automobile drivers. One such incident occurred on my way home from work and it took me a while to overcome the injury. There I was cruising along the bike path at about 35 mph when some yahoo decides that traffic is just too congested for him. Because of the twenty or so cars lined up at the stoplight in front of him, he decides he's not going to wait for the light and takes a right—right in front of me! The impact caused me to fly over his front hood and about thirty feet later... I ended up on my back with a broken tailbone.
Looking back on those days now, it occurs to me that I felt invincible, that I was riding like the wind and was unstoppable. Cycling, and my ability to set goals for myself and then carry through with them, has made me the person that I am today.