Risk vs. Reward

There is a parallel between life and training for triathlon, or really any sport in general. Choices we make determine various outcomes. As humans, we try to control these outcomes as much as possible. However, time and time again we are taught that life is unpredictable. We can plan and prepare as much as we want, but sometimes the unexpected happens, and you have to be adaptable if you want to succeed.

Triathlon is a dangerous sport. Swimming in open water, riding a bike on the road, and running on trails all have dangers that go along with doing them. There are dangers of injury even if you train indoors in a controlled environment every single day. Unfortunately, crashing (which will be referred to as the c-word from now on…to avoid any superstitious juju that goes along with saying/reading the word…) is part of the job. There is an old saying in cycling that “you aren’t a real cyclist until you fall off your bike.” It can happen anytime, anywhere. Draft legal racing raises that bar of danger a bit because you are constantly surrounded by other cyclists that you are forced to trust.

This past weekend, I decided to jump in the local stage race. My typical Saturday group ride, the shootout, was not going to be as full on because of this race. I wanted a good quality ride, and I figured that this would be the best choice. The first day (Friday) went great. I won a time trial on my road bike, and showed up on Saturday to wear the leader’s jersey and get in a hard ride. However, not even 5 min into the race, I found myself hitting the pavement (see…avoiding the c-word).

I had done everything right. I was at the front (within the top ten), riding smart, and on a wheel I trusted more than others. However, it only took one rider to do something foolish, and that left the rider directly ahead, and in turn me, with no time to react. I am okay, and thankfully just scratched up a bit. My bike did not fare as well. The carbon on the seat and chain stay broke, rendering the bike essentially very beautiful wall art. I was very frustrated, and although I was lucky to be able to drive myself home that day, I left pissed off at other riders for their mistakes, and questioning if I had made the right choice in racing.

After reflecting on this for hours, and talking with my support team, I found peace with the whole ordeal. Everyone from my coach and parents, to my sponsors were nothing but positive. We all determined this is what happens when you ride a bike. It could happen on any group ride, and as I am sure many of you have read about, it could happen even solo with reckless drivers and even obstacles in the road.

One of the major takeaways for me out of this experience is how important it is to surround yourself with a good support team. What could have been a huge blow to my season has only turned into a minor nuisance. I had numerous people that I exchanged emails and calls with, and not only was able to vent a bit, but was able to formulate a plan for success. I was able to get my mind on the right track, and work towards a solution and not focus on what is wrong. I also have some of the best sponsors in industry.

I was able to contact Trek within a matter of hours, on the weekend, and formulate a plan to make sure I have the best equipment to race on next weekend. As you can see from the pictures, I was overnighted a bike, and have it up and running with more than enough time to get it just how I like it before I leave for my two races down under. It is a beautiful piece of carbon, isn’t it?

If anything, I feel rejuvenated after this crash. I had a brush with death and lived (a bit overdramatic, but there was quite an adrenaline rush). This is the biggest year in my triathlon career yet, and I am not going to let anything get in my way. I feel more fit, focused, and ready for anything than I ever have. I am living my dream right now, and qualifying for the Olympics is the main goal for me. I am doing everything in my power to toe the line May 14th the fastest I have ever been, and a few bumps and bruises will not hold me back. A career, season, or race is never perfect, and adjusting is part of the job. I am looking forward to racing here soon and seeing how much my fitness has improved since Florida.

One of the things that should be taken away from this besides resilience, hard work, or anything like that is to always do your best to be safe. Nobody plans to crash, so at least take the time to put on your helmet. Your brain is your biggest tool when racing, so it only makes sense to protect it. While you’re at it, make yourself faster with the Bontrager ballista helmet (shameless sponsor plug). It not only keeps my head safe, but it is the fastest road helmet you can get!

With that, I am saying goodbye until after my next couple of races: The New Plymouth World Cup, and Gold Coast WTS. I always love traveling down under, and I am looking forward to wearing the Stars and Stripes again soon!