01 Jan A Decade of Racing & a Decade of Support
I’m not going to lie. I’ve been working on this since Thanksgiving! Its so hard to find time now a days to just sit down and write a blog! It’s even harder to write a blog like this…
This is my favorite time of the year as it is when you start to reflect on the entire year as a whole. You start to recognize where you are and how you’ve gotten there. And you spend more time with those you love the most. Gratitude – it is a great theme to start wrapping up yet another year.
As most of you know by now I have signed with UnitedHealthcare for 2014. I am truly honored and blessed to be able to race for them next year. I am very excited and can’t wait for the season to start. But during this time of the year I always think back on everything. And since this year also marked my 10th year of racing, I’d like to write a special blog on how it all began to what brought me to my recent team signing with UHC.
It all started with mom and dad of course. Thanks to them, I was plopped on the back of a tandem and rode with my dad during his group rides, grand fondos, and centuries. I eventually graduated to my own bike, which happened to be a mtb frame with slick tires and drop bars. I won my first race on that bike and I wore an Aqua Spone zebra kit that my dad brought back for me from when he watched the Tour de France. It was the kids race that happens before the pros crit at Redlands Classic. From then on the rest is history and my parents were with me every step of the way supporting me…
I want to thank Paramount Racing as my first organized team to race for in 2004 and 2005. I won my first USAC sanctioned junior race with them. They supported me for my first state and national championships as well. You can check them out at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Paramount-Racing/185238775953 http://www.ocwheelmen.org/page/show/418418-paramount-racing
I then raced for Major Motion Cycling Club in 2006. They were known to develop local SoCal juniors in to superstars. Alex Garcia, Justin Williams & brothers, Danny Finneran just to name a few. I grew the most with this team. I was one of the very few girls among rising junior men on the team. They pushed me and I pushed them. I don’t like getting beat, and the boys don’t like getting beat by girls – it was a win-win situation. I remember sprinting to every speed sign during training rides. I guess you could say this was when I learned how to sprint, thanks to the boys. Special thanks go out to David Pulliam, no matter the circumstance he always put us first, as if we were his own kids. Connect with them at: https://www.facebook.com/Major.Motion.Development
I then raced for South Bay Wheelmen shortly in 2007. I spent a lot of time at the LA Velodrome and I had started to race the Women 1/2/3 races. It only made sense to race for a more LA-based team for the track and to have teammates to learn from in the womens 1/2/3 races. I was young and ambitious and I learned a lot from the ladies on the team, even if that meant making mistakes and learning from it. They also put on the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, one of my favorite local races and one of my first pro wins. Read more about them at: http://www.southbaywheelmen.org/
After SBW, I was picked up by another LA-based team, Velo Club LaGrange in 2008. They were one of the most supportive teams I could have ever raced for. They believed in me and backed me up in whatever would help me as a cyclist. They knew I had potential and they wanted to help me grow it. I continued to grow and develop as a 15-16 year old junior thanks to their help. Special thanks here goes out to Tom Fitzgibbon for seeing the passion for racing that I had and helping foster that. See them at: http://www.lagrange.org/
I guest rode for Rock Racing at my first full Redlands Classic. It was the first time I raced the entire stage race with a team. Before I was a cat 2, I only did the one day criterium, but it was time to put on my big girl panties and race with the big girls. I remember being really young and not really knowing a whole lot of what was going on, just going with the flow and doing my thing when it came down to the racing. I suffered like a dog through all of the stages, but it really did open my eyes to how pro racing was going to be like. The team has obviously dissolved now, but I’d still like to pay respect for their help(and their nice designer denim at the time).
That same year I also guest rode for Metro Volkswagen, but I eventually signed with them for the following year. I guest rode with them for my first Cascade Cycling Classic and the Boise Twilight Criterium. During this year I was really exposed to full pro stage racing. It was tough, but I really enjoyed it. This was my first year doing all of the big races and stage races and I thought to myself “I’m not sure why but, I really like this extremely difficult sport!”
In 2009, ProMan Hit Squad was a blessing as they picked me up during a messy situation. Nicola Cranmer welcomed me with open arms and we became friends quickly. And since I was in such a fun and supportive environment, this was the year when I won races left and right. Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, San Rafael Twilight, and the crit during Cascade Cycling Classic just to name a few. This was a start to a development Olympic-focus team.
The Hit Squad eventually morphed into Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12 in 2010. New sponsors and a team credo, if you will. We picked up more riders and our objective was the 2012 London Olympics. We had the likes of Lauren Tamayo, Shelley Olds, Katherine Carroll, on our side. We were a force to be reckoned with at any race we entered. This was my first year fully “pro” racing the full pro schedule. This year was also the year in which I won 2 bronze medals at Junior World Championships in Italy. Special thanks go out to Women’s National Team coach at the time, Manel Lacambra. He taught me a passionate way of racing in Europe, I picked up on it and returned results. The team name stayed the same in 2011 during my first year racing outside of the junior ranks. I had some ups and downs that year, including a very bad crash at the Ladies Tour of Qatar which knocked me out and resulted in a major concussion.
It was the Olympic year, 2012, and Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12 became Exergy TWENTY12 thanks to a new title sponsor. It is hard to describe this year in words. I had the intentions, but my heart and my head wasn’t there. I raced the Ladies Tour of Qatar again to rid of the demons, but I primarily raced collegiate this year with Marian University. Then I hung the bike up for the remainder of the year, hit the reset button, and really had a thought about what I wanted to do.
After about 8 months off the bike, I decided it was time to do what I loved to do. Simply riding my bike. Taking some time off was good for me and the right decision. I had the chance to indulge in “normal” life, but then I realized that there is no such thing as “normal” and I am not “normal”. During the beginning of 2013 I raced collegiately for Marian, but over the summer I collaborated with Breast Cancer Care Cycling thanks to my friend Rene Groot. I missed racing in Europe and I figure why not just spend my whole summer in Europe and see if I can survive on my own just racing my bike. Not only racing bike, but also representing a cause, Breast Cancer. I had loads of fun, met new people, traveled to new places, and raced well too! I was podiuming in the UK crits and even managed to score my first UCI points placing 5th at the Sparkassen Giro just behind sprinters like Kirsten Wild. America will always be my homeland, but there is something about the beauty of Europe that I just love.
During my time with Exergy TWENTY12 and Breast Cancer Care Cycling, there was a common denominator that was supportive no matter what and that would be Marian University. Although I am not finished with my time at Marian, I can easily say that going to school at Marian and racing my bike for Marian has to be one of the best decisions of my life. Not only do I have the opportunity to major in Marketing with a concentration in Entrepreneurship, but I also have the most fun racing my bike with my fellow Marian teammates. Everything is so lighthearted and genuinely fun, yet competitive – because nobody likes losing! I even got to try mountain biking and a little bit of BMX! During some of my deepest lows I was given the opportunity to help with the 2012 Collegiate Track Nationals squad as an Assistant Coach, I was wholeheartedly open to sharing my track experience to my teammates who pulled off yet another team omnium National Championship. Along with that, I learned how hard coaches and staff work for the athletes, it gave me a whole different perspective of the sport and I learned to appreciate all the little things other people do for me. Adversely, Marian University also supported me during one of my highest highs. My first pro race back from my break I raced in the Marian kit, there is no other team I would have wanted to represent more. Lo and behold – I won my first pro race back at Sunny King Criterium. After 8 months of no riding, my talent, passion, and drive combined with the selfless support of Marian University propelled me to victory. And let me tell you, there is no better feeling than sweet sweet victory – but it takes a team to accomplish that and I am proud, blessed, and honored that Marian University is on my team. I have grown so much at Marian and I don’t think I would have gotten the same opportunities and experience elsewhere. Special shoutout to Dean Peterson here, words cannot describe how he has helped me grow into the individual that I am today. And a thank you goes out to Nate Keck for helping get some structure back in my riding.
And all that story telling leaves us here – the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014. I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart to those who have supported me in the past for what you have contributed as I would not be in this position without you. To my family, teams, school, sponsors, friends, and fans – THANK YOU, for all the love and support! I have experienced a lot over my last 10 years and I plan to learn from the good and the bad and continue on. Most people my age would be lucky to have experienced what I have in 21 years as they have in their lifetime and I am very very grateful for that.
I look forward to seeing what the year holds with UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team. I am extremely excited to be racing again in the full pro circuit, it will be good to be back as I miss it very much. And all at the same time I will cherish my moments at Marian University as I am now a Junior with 3 semesters left. I am on the tail end of college, a part of me is excited that I am almost finished and the other part of me is sad that it will be finished.
Nonetheless, 2014 is looking to be full with excitement. My 11th year of racing. Racing age 22. Starting the year with 51 US National Titles. New team with UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling. Junior at Marian University. Collegiate Cyclocross Nationals in Boulder, CO. Collegiate Road Nationals in Richmond, VA and will act as the test event for 2015 Road World Championships. Now enough of this talk…time to walk the walk!
Happy New Years folks – here’s to 2014!