Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dichotomy of Emotions

I’m going to race the Vuelta! And my Dad’s cancer has returned. Unsure whether to congratulate or console me? The same thoughts are racing laps in my own head.

Today, the team announced our Vuelta a Espana roster, and I’m on it! Ever since it was mentioned as a distant possibility last fall, I have been hard at work and full of hope. With my directors’ and coach’s carefully constructed racing and training schedule, I’ve been pushed past my limits multiple times this year. Just before the fatigue became too much, I was given rest. As a result, I’ve experienced what I feel to be a huge improvement already this year in my ability to handle longer races at a higher caliber.

Earlier this year, I had my doubts about my ability to handle a 3-week race. I was absolutely ruined by the end of Catalunya, my first WorldTour race, and it was only 8 days. The thought of 2 more weeks was staggering. But then I recovered and got stronger throughout a tough block of California, Belgium, and Dauphine, and my chances started looking better.

And what do you know, I’m going to the Vuelta! The thought of venturing so far into the unknown is daunting, but I’m excited and ready to suffer. I’m so grateful for my team’s willingness to give me so many opportunities for development in just my first year at this level. Just last year I was racing local events around the US, and now I’m going to start a Grand-freaking-Tour! 4 years ago, when I went all-in as a bike racer, I could not have imagined reaching this point so soon. Talk about riding on cloud 9….

Now, then, about the title of this blog post: all is not well in my world. Just a short month after my realization that I was taking my dad’s health for granted, we learned that it’s back.

This news came at the same time I got the nod to race one my sport’s pinnacle events.

That’s not a rollercoaster of emotions, that’s a brain-boggling explosion.

My family has been here before—twice, in fact—and we know the battle that lies ahead. This time around, though, the best course of treatment is uncertain. We are relying heavily on faith, family, and friends to make sense of it all and move forward. The most difficult part for me is the literal ocean between us at the moment, as I would really just love to give him a hug.

I’ve kept the news mostly quiet until now, as I needed time to process it all first. Cancer and Vuelta in the same thought cycle is like asking a simple handheld calculator to solve complex differential equations: it’s just going to sit there and think for a very long time before it can make sense of it all (sorry for the engineer’s metaphor). I’ve finally come out on the other side of it.

One thing I can say: the cancer’s return has reminded me of why I’m here in the first place and motivated me that much more to be the best bike racer I can possibly be. Now I get to take this motivation to the biggest stage. Bring on the Vuelta!