Salt Lake City, Utah
I’d run out of fingers and toes pretty fast if I were to use them to tally the amount of times I’ve had in the past twenty decades where a dream has become reality. Specifically, the times when the here and the now seem just too good to be true. The incredulousness of these moments almost always stem from a past experience. Most are fleeting moments that plant seeds representing ideas of what is possible into my consciousness. The seeds have been watered, grown and cultivated in the world of sport and the past few weeks are no exception.
The fleeting moment came nearly a year ago in California. I was in southern California training on the velodrome with the goal of trying my hand at the team pursuit. Right to Play asked if I could fly up to Morgen Hills and do a short presentation to the HTC Highroad Pro Cycling Team. They wanted to me to share my experiences with RTP in the field in Africa and in my own life. Right to Play had been chosen as the official charity for the team a few years prior. I was pretty nervous to stand up in front of the entire team and staff and share. I was just a speed skater in front of the force of the best team in the cycling world. I don’t remember much about the speech but I do remember re-connecting with a few former teammates and competitors who were still kicking butt in the world of two wheels.
One such person was Ina Yoko Teutenberg. Ina and I have kept in touch because of mutual friends in speed skating and some good times shared on the bike. She even came to two of the three Winter Olympics I competed in and won a few bets about my abilities along the way. I’ve sent her countless emails congratulating her as well. Anyone that knows Ina’s prolific ability to win knows I stopped counting long ago.
So there I was, at the HTC dinner/party/let-loose event up in Northern California and I was back on the bike. The thought of trying to get on the team did cross my mind but passed as fast as it came up. I was too focused on my own objectives to think of being on any kind of team and, to be honest, didn’t really want to be on a team.
Until I went through my first season as a bike racer, that is. Last year was a learning experience and I have to admit, I made some pretty big miscalculations in judgement thinking I could do everything myself. I knew pretty early on that not only could I not race as an independent because of the stress involved in organizing everything; I knew I did not want to. Racing was boring all by myself. I wanted a team to race with, a sprinter to lead out, a climber to tow the group for. Most importantly, I wanted to feel like I was a part of something and contribute to the possibilities and the seemingly impossibilities of succeeding as a team.
So many times last year when sprinting in races, I would visualize Ina on my wheel to get the most out of myself. I wanted this for real.
Which leads me to the whole point of this little story. A year ago, I was flown in to give a speech to this team; a year later, here I am, on the damn team. What a difference a year makes. I found myself wandering around team camp the past week and a half thinking ‘am I really here, now; am I really a part of this?’ That it’s real makes me believe that anything is possible. Like so many other moments in my sporting life, what I have dreamed of has come true. Only the reality it so much better.
I have some photos from that visit to the HTC camp last year to go with some of this year’s closing party last night. I won’t go into the arm wrestling events, however, and will leave the telling of a rather hilarious inaugural arm wrestling tournament within the crazy Specialized-lululemon girls to my teammate Chloe (one of the ‘little ones’ as Ina calls them). She is far more skilled at scripting humor than me.
MY NEW TEAM!!