The realization of retirement snuck up on me and when it presented itself, it was a shock. I took a big deep breath and told myself, this is it, Colorado Classic will be my last professional race. I've known all season this was my last year racing. I just knew in my heart my career had run its course and I am happily leaving the racing behind. But it all came faster than I was thinking.
I left Cortez early for a couple of reasons - I was tired of training on the same roads(pretty common every year towards the end for most athletes) and I wanted to visit some friends in Colorado Springs. Shawn Morelli, my para teammate was in Italy winning another world championship when I arrived at her house. She was home the next night, picked up her dog Rosco while I was out riding and I came home to a cautious dog that wasn't sure who just walked in the door. We became immediate friends. Shawn showed me some of her rides, how to get across town and we cooked dinner every night besides the celebration dinner. I mean she had just won ANOTHER world championship, you have to celebrate.
This is Shawn, she is pretty amazing.
Shawn and I before our ride.
I met Katie and Leah for coffee one day at a beautifully restored school called the Ivy Wild School. They had a cafe, restaurant and brewery along with a couple of small shops in each of the classrooms. It was really cute and reminded me of my elementary school. I also visited with Steve Bitter, Caroline Mani and Katie Compton - friends I've made in the sport. Caroline and Katie also raced Colorado Classic, so it was fun to see them pre race before everyone had their game face on.
Ivywild School - it is worth checking out.
One of my rides in the Springs, how cool!?
Had to take a photo of the Broadmoor also...
The bottom of Pikes Peak. I had hill intervals one day so I figured why not on the side of a mountain :)
Signs for Bigfoot!!!
Doing the work!
I came from down there.
Once the race got closer, it was back into the race routine without me having to even think about it but I WAS thinking about it. I was thinking about every little detail -the last of this, the last of that. At the oddest moments I would tear up thinking about it ending. I couldn't even bring myself to publicly announce my retirement because I was scared. Thankfully one of my friends asked if she could say something and once she did it was a cascade of emotions and friends talking to me, people messaging me. It was so heartwarming. I don't know how many times I cried over the weekend of racing but it was a lot. I also laughed a LOT and listened to some good advice from those who have been in my shoes.
Taking some deep breaths while riding with this crew, not because of the altitude, more for the emotions.
The race was great, we won- AGAIN. Our team won every, single stage race this year. Has that ever been done? I don't know but it was such a great ending to a wonderful team. Others were just as sad as I was because as of now the team is folding due to lack of sponsorship. So this weekend wasn't just MY last race, it was the last race of the team as well. So we were all a bit on a roller coaster.
What a group of ladies. We were waiting to go to the podium for winning team general classification.
The race gave me a call up because I was retiring. It was heartwarming and moving.
I knew that once the race was over, going directly home wasn't something I wanted to do. I have driven over these mountains so much over the last couple of years, I wanted to explore them more now that I had the time and freedom. Usually I'm headed home to train more for Europe or the chance for a spot on the worlds team. I decided to stay in Estes Park, Salida and Pagosa Springs. I rode my bike in Rocky Mountain National Park, mountain biked with Andrea Wilson in Salida and rode over Wolf Creek Pass in Pagosa Springs. It was all so majestic. I saw elk, lots of tourists, waterfalls and even had a chance to soak in the hot springs in Pagosa. I want to do way more adventures like this. It was a good way to clear my head, process the weekend's emotions and look forward to the fun ahead.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Riding with Andrea in Salida.
The bottom of Wolf Creek Pass that morning.
The mid morning soak before heading back home.
I'm still training hard because Brad and I have a lot of events coming up and I know I have to be ready to go full out.
Bricks and Spokes, Vicksburg, MS
Ride of the Ancients, Cortez, CO
Ridgeland Fondo, Ridgeland, MS
Mike Nosco Ride, Newbury Park, CA
El Tour de Tucson, Tucson, AZ
CYCLEkids Fondo, Canton, MS(tentative)
I'm scared, excited, nervous, anxious, relieved about what is next. I don't know what is next, I want to stay in the industry as a mentor and/or brand ambassador. I want to help the ladies of our peloton and be there for those that need help. But I also need an income.
Andrea Dvorak, a teammate and friend of mine.
Janel Holcomb, friend and teammate. Good people.
So here's to the next chapter.....
Reading: Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon by Michael P. Ghigleri and Thomas M. Myers
Watching: free LOCKN' Live music stream of Dead & Co
Listening: crickets outside
Eating: yummy salad recipe from Run Fast. Eat Slow.
What's next: Bricks and Spokes Fondo - Sept. 29th