Tuesday, October 1, 2013

For the love of a sport. October 1, 2013

Someone was quoted once saying something like this, "Only Champions retire, the rest of us quit." Well, today, I am officially 'quitting'. I am making the decision for the love of the sport. What it boils down to is that I LOVE RIDING MY BIKE! Period. End of story. Or maybe it is just the beginning of the story.

A little history: I came into racing late in life. Cyclocross chose me. I loved it. I raced it. I did fairly well in it and it became what I looked forward to every year. That was until 2012 when I went under the knife to relieve pressure on my nerves to my legs from a nagging bulging disc. But I wasn't done yet.  I came back to win masters nationals and worlds. Consolation prizes for missing an entire season. But here we are. 2013 cross season. I am ready. I have won 2 local races, and missed the podium at my first UCI race back by one second. Star Crossed. One of my favorites. This weekend is the storied Alpenrose Cross Crusade opener. My goals this year were more local in size. I had already planned to scale back a bit, even though Star Crossed made me a little hungry. But waking up Monday morning and doing something that took my mobility away for two full weeks made me think. I have been diligent on doing everything to come back from this injury stronger, faster, more stable, etc. I am religious about my strength exercises. And even that was not enough. Two weeks off the bike and in total misery made me really think about my options. I will forever have an impaired spine/back. That is a fact. But it is also a fact that it does not have to limit me in my activity. I can still ride my bike. I can still ski. I can still hike, run, play, etc. But if I continue to race cyclocross, will this be the case? I don't want any more time taken away from me like that. There are no guarantees. I have cried, I have debated, I have cried some more. I have talked to friends, my coach, my husband and taken rides in pouring rain trying to come to a decision. Well today, my friends, I am making that decision. I QUIT! I quit for the love of the sport. I quit because I love riding my bike and I don't want this taken away from me. 

Racing has been an amazing part of my life. Since 2007, I have traveled to places I wouldn't normally go ( Louisville, Cincinnati, Fontana, the list goes on...). I have met amazing people and raced against many of them. Olympians, world champions, etc. I have been supported by even more amazing people. I have had some amazing moments that I will never forget, like winning Star Crossed, winning the Queen Stage of the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic unexpectedly in front of a local crowd at Mt. Hood Meadows, being chosen for the World team the first time. And every time. Making the USGP podium for my first time in Portland with deafening cheers down the finish line. I felt like I had won. Having my entire family from MN in Madison to watch another podium performance. I feel blessed and fortunate that I accomplished what I did. I could not have done it without my husband, Tim, allowing me to quit my job and pursue a dream. A dream I had no right to have. Heck, I had hardly raced my bike. But it was a dream. It was living life to the fullest and not being scared to try. Not being scared to fail. I succeeded in my eyes.  And now I am on the flip side and I have to be not scared to let it go.  I have to pursue the dreams that have been on hold. I have to redefine myself and my daily purpose. It has been a long time coming and something I have been struggling with silently, but it is time to tell everyone and make it real.

Don't worry though, I am not going anywhere. I will continue to ride and share the passion I have for cycling with others. I am coaching women with their own dreams. And most importantly, I am in it for life. There may not be any more podiums to stand on, but two wheels will forever be a part of who I am. 

Finally a USGP podium!
The unexpected road stage win. Once in a lifetime.

MTB American Classic Stage race podium.

My first MTB world cup in 2008

My first year as a pro: 2007 MTB season

euro podium with world champ

My first UCI win at Jingle Cross 2007

My first world cup: Hofstade

My Starcrossed win in 2008

Arms up for 3rd. I felt like I won. First USGP podium.
That first podium was the sweetest. Even Georgia was stoked I finally made it up there.

Madison with family after podium presentation

Winning masters nats last year felt like a huge relief.

dabbling on the road: masters champ

My last UCI CX race: Starg

My first World Championships in Italy.

My last World Championships in St. Wendel ended badly.


Erik Voldengen said...

That must have been a super hard decision. Perhaps it's better to do it now while you still love it so much. What a shame it'd be to burn out and never want to touch the bike again. Right? Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Sue, you are rightfully proud of your accomplishments so far. Despite deciding not to pursue top level racing I think you will still always find ways to challenge yourself and do great things. You have been very generous to share your experiences with us over the years and I really appreciate it. Please don't stop blogging. Racing isn't everything.

Kristi Berg said...

Sue I have enjoyed getting to race with! You are an inspiring women and such a great person. I love seeing your always smiling face. I know how hard it was to make this decision, and I am proud of you. Congrats on a great Cycling career! I hope to see you at some races cheering. - Kristi Berg

Dave G said...

Sue, so proud to have had the pleasure of seeing you in River City kits over the years. You were ALWAYS such a class act! Maybe now we can go for a ride together....


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