While at the Pan Am Games, I lost track of how many times I was asked “What sport are you with?”
It’s standard elevator talk. But the reaction of surprise was so consistent when I said, “I’m an athlete, a track cyclist,” I felt it was time to get something out in the open.
I’m not a young woman.
I’m not a coach for the US Team, nor am I a soigneur, a press officer or logistics coordinator. There are people far more capable of doing those things than I am.
I’m an athlete. I compete for the United States, at the elite level, on the track.
And I’m 42 years old.
The reason I bring this up is because, well . . . 1/ I don’t look or think like a 20 year old. And 2/ I’m tired of tucking my tail in about it.
I started this blog as a line extension, if you will; to the one I started for Bicycling.com titled Livin’ the Dream.
I stopped writing that blog because the politics of being me in the sport of cycling became unbearable.
For two years, I lived two lives: one I could write about for a publication that promotes cycling in all its’ glory and one I couldn’t, because no female would enter this sport if they knew.
Then I stopped riding bikes. And I stopped writing this blog. And I stopped writing all together. And I kind of stopped communicating in any sort of meaningful way to the outside world or hanging out with people who had anything to do with bikes–which is just about everyone I know.
It’s very hard when something you love so much that you’re willing to give up everything safe and familiar and consistent to pursue it–this love–turns on you.
But the opposite of love isn’t hate, right? Didn’t that Nobel Peace Prize winner guy say the opposite of love is indifference?
I’d like to paraphrase the great Garrett Morris here and say, ‘Cycling . . . been berra, berra good . . . to me.’
At the very core, I love riding my bike. So I shuffled my way back. Some things are just worth fighting for.
Back to the original topic: I can see the confusion in people’s eyes when I tell them I’m an athlete. Eventually I get around to telling them my age.
Their eyes grow wide when I say I race for the US.
It gets even more fun when I tell them I just returned from the Pan Am Games, where my partner and I set a new American Record in the Team Sprint.
When I say I’m a sprinter, they give me a head-to-toe body scan. Then comes the smile and nod.
They’re usually the ones who ask if I’m going to London.
I tell them we’re going to do our best.