In late September I was scrambling, pleading to find someone to support me in cyclocross, for a team to ride with. My procrastination was getting the best of me again. I began searching the results for team ideas from all the 2006 local races and from nationals, then Googling the names in attempt to find some sort of contact information. But then what? What to write when you know it is far too late in the year for a team director to welcome you aboard? What to write for yourself when you know it is your own fault for assuming things will work out? Things always work out, right?
Well, actually, yes…everything worked out splendidly. Alex Burgess, Velo Bella – Kona Team Director called me back the next day. Without the normal formality of a phone conversation, Alex got right down to business. “Ok, I remember you being a peanut, so will a 47cm frame work?” “That was a Selle San Marco saddle you were riding right? Was it the Aspide or the Blaze?” “Sidi shoes, right? Kids shoe or do you have to wear triple layers of socks to fit into an adult shoe?” “And your helmet…that Giro looked like a melon on you…we’ll get you their smallest size.”
Geez, I thought, creepy, who is this guy? This guy is one of the most selfless people in the cycling world. See him in his pink suit with his purple boa – his life seems to be centered on supporting women in this world of a man-dominated sport.
Well that was easy. But then he asked for my goals…something I have never been very good at communicating. I can’t remember what I stumble-mumbled out, but after Alex said “…hmm…” I knew it wasn’t what he was looking for. “How about you go out there and race your bike when you want to and have fun, and smile for goodness sake!” Wow, pretty laid back and relaxed; this will be a low key year.
From there things turned into a whirlwind of a year. I started riding faster, and with the 2006 U23 title, Alex wanted me at the USGP’s. So I started traveling and not only was the support incredible, but I was meeting new Velo Bellas on my new team every weekend. After traveling to races alone last cyclocross season, I embraced this amazing new change, and was so excited to have fun, smart and smiling teammates. I never did meet every single one of my seventeen teammates, but my 2007 cyclocross season as a Velo Bella has left me forever a Bella.
To all the Velo Bellas who made my trip to Worlds possible, I cannot thank you enough; your generosity and support has been overwhelming. Truly, this trip would not have been possible without the plethora of outreach from the Velo Bella family. I am having the time of my life here in Italy and Belgium, racing my bike, enjoying eye-opening new experiences, sampling new and delicious foods, and loving every second. I am happy that I have been able to be a part of the Velo Bella story and look forward to the coming years.