Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Year, New Chapter

If you follow my blog on a regular schedule, you might have noticed I have not updated my experiences of life since Thursday August 16th, 2012...  that's quite a long time. I have not quite my blogging, rather, I have taken my off season hiatus from blog updates.  I take a break not only from blogging but I took a break from racing my bike and living out of a suitcase week to week.

After speaking with friends and family who love to follow my updates of racing on the road, they commonly asked me when will I publish my next blog post. I figured since it is a bit past the new year, and everyone seems to be twiddling their fingers in anticipation for the 2013 racing season to begin, it is a great time to update my "School of Life".

 I have experienced SO much change in my life in the past 3 months.  I witnessed how easily God can change my life and my plans in a matter of days.  I thought I was living for his glory, yet I was not fully submitted to His plans for me.   I listened, prayed, and studied His owner manual (the Bible) and realized that God was going to shake up my life life a salt shaker.  I have submitted to His plans for me.

To back peddle a bit, I experienced my first year of college at Mars Hill College.  It is a wonderful small school where everyone knows just about everyone (there are only about 1200 students; that's smaller than my high school).  I went to church events (youth worship) just about every night of the week.  I joined a D-group which is basically a small group of female (only) students that meet together to talk about and pray for one another.  It was great to have such accountability.  We studied the Bible, laughed a lot, and created a sisterhood.  For me, it was one of the best experiences to help me transition into my first semester of college.

The training at Mars Hill is absolutely fantastic!  I can start climbing from mile one if I want and just about every ride is classified as an "epic ride".  The area is like a pearl hidden in a lock tight clam: a rarity and secretly placed in the Blue Ridge mountains.  The ever changing weather, ambiguous routes, and the jagged ups and downs of the mountain terrain classifies Mars Hill as a heaven for cyclists.  Not to mention, on average, about five cars pass me on my rides.  The area is my giant playground!

Mars Hill is a great place to live and get an education.  The coach, Hugh Moran, is completely dedicated to the cycling team and there is a close bond between the all of the teammates.  Hugh is developing the next generation of pro cyclists.  We hang out together, train together, eat together, and a TON of laughing together.  The college provides a lot of support to the cycling team for instance, we do not have to pay for kits, or food when we go to races, or gas.  It's really nice to receive that support from a college!

I got the opportunity to race for a new team for 2013.  I honored to announce that I will be racing for a UCI team called Diadora Pasta-Zara.  The team is based out of Italy they have been developing women's cycling for over twenty years!  However, before I begin on my new opportunity  I wanted to describe how privileged I am to have previous opportunities!

 NOW Women's Professional cycling team has developed me for the past two years.  I have been given an immense opportunity and the blessing to race in the pro women's field as a junior rider.  There are not many junior women who have the same chance to race professionally and learn from experienced professional riders like I got.  I am truly grateful and very thankful for the whole NOW squad.  I got to know two wonderful people who love cycling and are passionate about developing women's cycling- Phil and Louise Keoghan.  They manage NOW Pro cycling; I was pretty nervous the first time I met them, but I immediately clicked with them and I felt like family!

 Kurt Stockton, the team director, gave me a shot to race a full season in 2011 as a pro.  It was a tough year for me.  I got dropped from almost every single race, yet each race I did, I got stronger and faster and I learned how to suffer longer. Determined to improve and progress, I trained harder, focused, and listened. Kurt has provided me with the opportunities and foundations in becoming an elite bike racer.  He gave me a second shot in 2012 and though I was not winning races, I was able to contribute to the team's successes.  He never failed to tell me what I could do to improve on my racing every single day.  That alone, my learning curve increased and I respected everything he did for me to have the patience to teach me how to race my bike.  Kurt is a dang good director!

Robin Farina has been the main person to lead me in my development in cycling.  She not only served as a coach, but a friend, a mentor, a sister, a teammate, and a boss all at the same time!  I would not be progressing without her unconditional help, support, and love.  She took me under her wing and poured out her knowledge and opportunities of racing on me.

Experienced riders like Alison Powers, Anne Samplonius, and Olivia Dillon helped me become more tactically savy and more efficient in the races.  I was well entertained by our sprinter Christina Gokey-Smith (aka Gookey).  Often times, I was to be her protector in a race; I brought her bottles and always made sure she was in good position in the field. We had a close bond on and off the bike because of the role I got to play has her domestique.  My other teammates, Beth Newell, Devon Gorry, and Ashley James each taught me separate skills of bike racing.

I was a bit upset to leave my NOW family and come to my senses that if I want to continue to progress in professional cycling, I knew that I needed to take the next step in cycling and join the new team that would take me to International racing and Europe!  I will never forget all the fun memories I had on NOW and I won't forget who developed me in my racing career.

I now get to experience all new things being on a different team.  Different languages, equipment, management, countries, and teammates!  I get to be teammates with two Amber's (Amber Neben and Amber Pierce-Rais).
Yet again, I get to start from the bottom of International racing and start working my way up the ladder again.  I am so excited to learn more and race alongside very experienced women.

I am SO privileged to be able to take on this next chapter of life! Welcome to Chapter 2 and welcome 2013 racing season!

More to come so keep following!

Huge thanks to teammate Amber Pierce Rais for including me on #ClickThruThursdays and reminding me the importance of updating my blog.


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