It is that time of year where our calendars are filled with holiday parties and riding in inclement weather, which can take quite a bit more time than you initially plan. If you are like me, you catch yourself reeling from the chaos and also finding a faint sense of nostalgia of the year rapidly closing. No New Year’s party or endurance ride feels like it gives the appropriate goodbye to a passing year. Just as you are knee deep in memories, your cycling shoes are dry and your rainy day laundry is clean, so you are back on the bike planning grand expectations of a year to come. This year will be different. This year will be better. Before you ignore the lessons learned, acquired scars, fleeting glory, take a second to reflect on this year and tell me your “Top 8 #Bestof2015 Moments”. This is the time to award those moments with the recognition they deserve, or at least acknowledge those now notorious incidences.
No matter how turbulent your year, you can still find those times that exceeded your expectations, touched your heart, and of course those you would like to forget, but you know you will not have that luxury. Take notes, learn lessons, cherish each day.
This was hard for me to select only 8, but here are my #Bestof2015!
- Tour Femenino de San Luis: It is hard to believe one of my favorite moments happened so soon into 2015. Winning a race in January is hard enough, but it also sets a high bar for the next 11 months. I will never forget racing on a small composite Argentinian team and all the warm that consumed my heart each day. The hospitality and beauty of this country was only rivalled by their innate ability to dance, laugh, and sing in any occasion. Every moment seemed to deserve its own form of celebration. Of course winning is fun, but crossing that line there I felt like I was a part of something much bigger and more comprehensive. It was family, culture, and purpose. If only I can keep this vitality in my daily life, I will be a better person from these memories I shared with the Xirayas de San Luis.
- USA TTT National Championships and World Championships: It was a pleasure racing for Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies in 2015. I loved being on an American team racing the World Championships as National Champions on our home soil. After winning USA Cycling Pro TTT Nationals, we donned the best patriotic robes we could fine to make a bit of scene at the World Championships in Richmond, Virginia. Laugh all you will, but the World Championships only happen once a year, and who knows how long we will have to wait for them to return to the USA! Go America!
- Champs-Elysees Romance: Some people go to Paris to fall in love, and some people go to Paris to shop while sightseeing. I went to Paris to race my bike around the Champs-Elysees in a diesel soaked rain in the Tour de France. Although I crashed multiple times and was not having a necessarily shining moment, I still get the chills remembering racing in Paris. I guess you can say I completed the stages of grief, and now can file that memory into a deserving special place. I am still hoping for a consolation handbag from the streets of Paris for my efforts, but for now, I will just take the bruises with pride. Ok, and maybe that hematoma that is still there too. Darn.
4. Always beat the boys: No, I am not signing up to race the men’s Tour any time soon. But these wise words were given to me by one of my favorite little superstars. Chiara came out to watch me race in Lodi, and told me that her race strategy at school was to always beat the boys. She has a point. Never sell yourself short, dream to accomplish big things, and know no limits. Sure, winning the race was fun, but the power this girl instilled in me was even better. She doesn’t have to grow up to be a bike racer, but she can grow up to be a strong, successful, independent woman who pursues a healthy life with passion and grit. This encompasses why I race bikes.
- Taking Yourself Out #soPro: Crashing is one thing, crashing yourself on the live stream while off the front at USA Pro Nationals takes it to a whole new level. Sorry, Mom and Dad! Like a true professional, I crashed myself out and although the glory fades, the scars and YouTube live forever. Although it does make a great .gif and has led to plenty of discussion of why I crashed, it still happened. It was one of those Perfect Storm moments and before you know it you are down and bloody. It is a moment that I would like to forget, but it is one I will always remember. First of all, the scar will never leave me alone, and it is one of my better pictures of the 2015. At least beauty is only skin deep?
- BeNe Tour Dream Team: Belief in yourself is viable, but when your whole team believes in you, you can exceed all expectations. Especially your own. This doesn’t just apply to bike racing, but into work, family, and friends. When you feel the true support of those around you, you can conquer all. Remember to relish those moments where you are bolstered with the power of your support network, and also use this feeling as a reminder to support those around you. Teamwork does go a long way, even into Belgium on cobbled streets. Winning on classic Belgium turf makes me a bike racer, but I only could complete this feat because of the team and our goal. Be inspired by those like-minded people you surround yourself with!
- Family First: It isn’t all about racing, it is about so much more. The best memories of 2015 were the times I could spend with people I care about and love. It was amazing to have my 84 year old bike racing Grandpa in the follow car with me at the USA Pro Challenge. Although he swore he has never cried before, he admits to having tears in his eyes watching me suffer up that steep time trial climb. Sorry for blowing up so badly, Grampy! It happens to the best of us. It was so demoralizing, I think my team director, was just happy I didn’t get off my bike and walk, but that is another story. My Grandpa, with his over 17 national USA Cycling titles, introduced me to bike racing 6 years ago, and it didn’t take me long to realize it was in my blood the whole time. Thank you to Paul Tetrick for showing me that sport is a lifestyle and cycling can be life. Thanks to the cheers and hugs from my Grandma after the race too. Even when things don’t go that well, you don’t remember the failure, you remember the love.
- Not Racing: Some of best memories of the year were found out of the races and out onto to the open roads of experiencing the world by bike. Whether it was a trip to the old family cabin in Hume Lake with my Mom, riding down the Monterey beach with my Dad, or ascending to the top of Mt. Evans, it was these views, introspection, solid company, and deep breaths that never can be replaced. There is something about just exploring and being completely present where you are that truly refills your batteries. You find satisfaction, you make time for others, and you reacquaint with yourself. These are the moments you grow, learn, and discover.