During the Blankets 6 hour race last month, somebody who was holding onto my rear wheel, asked how I was always "so (insert expletive of choice) fast?" At that moment, all I could say was that I was blessed. I have been able to reflect back upon this moment and can now provide a little better explanation.
Blessed, in my case, is a culmination of lots of things:
1. Hard work. Rain or shine, hot or cold, I am out on the bike, focused on the session for the day. No whining allowed.
2. Proper nutrition. Being celiac + intolerant to grains, legumes, and dairy kinda makes this one easy, at least on paper. Nonetheless, meal planning is a constant, arduous task. For road trips, I either have to find a place to cook my meals or bring along my travel kitchen (microwave, cooler, blender, steamer). I can't press the easy button, i.e. restaurant.
3. Rest. This is perhaps the hardest to do. I am like a shark ... if I stop moving, I fear I will die. Judge Judy does give me 30-60 minutes of forced rest each weekday night, tho'. I also try to get 8-9 hours of sleep each night.
4. Family network. Having a husband that allows me the opportunity to spend large chunks of time away from him and understands my need for the bike is wonderful. Having a daughter who enjoys staying with Dadda or the grandparents while I am racing is nice, too. I also have awesome parents that enjoy Carly's company. Occasionally I will "drag" Carly to some of my events, but it usually involves a bribe of some sort.
5. Coach. Lynda is boss! She has been coaching me for 5 years and at times I think she knows me better than I. She loves her job and it shows. And as an added bonus, she is pretty darn good at the nutrition thing, too.
6. Zeke. He has been my training partner for 8 years. He got me into this mess and now I guess he figures he owes it to me to keep me safe on the trail. He puts up with my doggedness and faithfully follows me along on my adventures.
7. The Outdoor Store. They have been my LBS for 14 years. Bruce is an amazing mechanic and has never let me down in prepping my race bikes. I buy 90% of my bike stuff from him ... the 10% I don't is because he tells me to get it elsewhere. I do shop online quite a bit, but when it comes down to bikes, parts, and accessories, TOS gets my business!
8. Sponsors. Without these companies, racing would be exponentially harder. At times, I don't feel like I am worthy as I probably gain more from them than vice versa. But then, people tell me how I have influenced them in regards to certain products and I take that as a small victory.
Having said that, I am proud to announce some new sponsors for 2014. Cysco Cycles, based right out of Ooltewah, Tennessee has created a work of art for my single speed campaign. Industry 9 has crafted a set of stellar wheels. And Cane Creek has sent me their exquisite 110 head set. Endless Bikes has been on board for 3 years and will make it 4 for 2014. All made in the good 'ol USA.
9. Luck. Be it chance or something more (higher), sometimes it takes a little bit of this to make all the pieces of the puzzle fit. I seemed to have had my fill of the bad, but this year I think the tables have turned and I am in the black. For instance, at Nationals my bike worked perfectly ... on race day. And then 3 weeks later, at Blankets, I dropped a chain twice, cranks came loose, and I burped a tire.
So there may be an ingredient or two I have left out, but by and large, the above is what makes me FAST. Now, if I can just keep it up for another year ...