A Love & Gratitude Post
Today, as I was spinning out my legs after a weight-lifting session at the gym, I found my mind wandering. My thoughts lingered on what an incredible race season this summer has been, the friends and family I have to thank for being in my corner, and that this is only the beginning. I am consistently in disbelief that my "day at the office" is either out under the open sky on scenic gravel roads, lifting heavy things and putting them back down while getting amped by the music blasting into my eardrums, stretching on a yoga mat, or recovering while curled up under a soft blanket with my two beloved fur babies and a thrilling book in my hands.
Overwhelmed with gratitude, I felt compelled to acknowledge and thank all of the incredible forces at work in my life at the moment.
First and foremost: to my mamabear and papabear.
Thank you for raising me to believe that women are more than decorative objects in a home, that we can be anything we want to be, that we can be athletes, that being strong is beautiful. Thank you for teaching me to be stubborn in my ambitions, to never be afraid to stand up for what I believe in, to get up every time I fall down, to shatter the boundaries my mind tries to trap me in. Thank you for being there for me at my lowest lows, not just at my highest highs. I know I was not always the most easy-going kiddo to raise... thank you for never giving up on me. Without your support, wisdom, and guidance, I would not be the person I am today.
To my swolemate and banana mancake: Conor Steward.
Thank you for being my better half, for pushing me to be the best version of myself every hour of every day. Thank you for inspiring me, making me smile and laugh until tears line my eyes, believing in my dreams, and believing in me. Thank you for volunteering your time to coach me and for doing a damn good job of it. You have already taught me so much in such an unbelievably short amount of time; without you, I would not be able to chase this dream. You remind me to set rational expectations, to value the training of my mind as much as that of my body, to "just go to work" on those rare days where I would rather do anything but, and to "have fun, go fast, stay kind". Thank you for teaching me what it takes to be a professional cyclist, and for believing in me before anyone (even I) did.
To Jim Steenhagen and Celeste Monforton.
Thank you for being my first local sponsor. I am so appreciative of everything you have done for me, from donating to my Rescue Project fundraiser last year, to sponsoring and helping support my cycling career this summer. It means the world to me that you acknowledge the path I'm on and support it with such selflessness. Having you in my corner allowed me to access so many doors for my future in this sport, and for that I am forever indebted to your kindness.
To Rescue Project.
Thank you for being an organization I believe in and could race for before I was on an "official" team. Thank you for the work that you do for our furry friends without expecting anything in return. The world could use more organizations like you.
To my new cycling family: Team Wolfpack Racing.
Thank you for believing in my potential and giving me the opportunity of a lifetime. I am endlessly grateful to DS Kelly for giving me the chance to develop into the elite cyclist I aspire to be. I have admired this team for a long while now; their riders known for being champions on and off the bike. It means the world to me to have signed on to a team that I have looked up to since the beginning. I promise I will do everything to work hard and smart this off-season, and come into the 2020 USA Crits swinging.
To the Driveway Series.
Thank you for being a welcoming, nourishing, and wholesome environment, while simultaneously managing to be challenging, thrilling, and competitive. Having the weekly opportunity to race at the Driveway all summer long is something that I am immeasurably grateful for. Having an environment where you can learn exactly where your strengths and weaknesses are every single week is such a incredibly valuable resource. I credit this series for helping me develop rapidly and confidently. Not to mention, the community this series generates has made me feel at home since day 1. I look forward to many more summers of racing at the Driveway.
To all of the friends who were there at the beginning and still are.
Thank you Hayley Kwasniewski: you were the single greatest force that got this whole thing rolling.
Thank you Leigh Dukeman: you have always been such an inspiration to me and I look forward to racing next to you (even on different teams) in 2020. From sleeping on your floor in St. Louis for Gateway Cup to winning Hilly Hundred (piggyback edition), our friendship is something I cherish and I cannot wait to see where life takes us next.
Thank you Brooke Hannon: for being my teammate and partner in crime racing for Rescue Project at Intelligentsia Cup. Those 9 days will always be in my heart and soul. AND thank you for being a puppy whisperer and rescuing more pups than I can count!
Thank you Mary Penta: for helping me dip my toes in off-road cycling, for always being down to go on adventures, for mercilessly dropping me up every climb, and for always being way too prepared.
Thank you Chase: for being one of my favorite riding buddies and showing me beautiful, secret, gravel roads. You will always be my gravel wifey.
To the new friends I have made along the way.
Thank you Luke Gentry: you are a Strava-route master second to none, a must-have companion on seemingly impossible/"stupid" adventures, and a consistent force of calm in this chaotic world
Thank you Brian: for having ridiculous calves that all aspire to have, for being a cyclocross lord, and for your memorable "baptism by fire" introduction to mountain biking in Purgatory
Thank you AJ: you always manage to rip my legs off... trying to follow your wheel usually scores me at least one QOM and for that I am grateful
Thank you Jolene: for sharing your wisdom with me, for the work you do to advocate for WTF riders, and for always being down to go to dirt church together
Thank you Sarah: for looking out for me after my first crash! Your thoughtfulness and consideration mean the world. I look forward to many more adventures as we discover the Austin area together!
I am filled with so much sappy love and gratitude for every single person I have crossed paths with on this adventure thus far. Here's to making many more memories filled with love and gratitude.