The heat was incredibly oppressive. A mirage was shimmering just ahead on the road. I had broken from the field three laps earlier with more than half of the race in front of me. A train of chasers had formed in pursuit but my lap splits from the announcer indicated that I was gaining time-just seconds really-with every lap. I had risked it all in this attack. I had put it all on the line. No one expected me to stay away. That’s how I escaped in the first place. It’s a simple formula. Attack once and let yourself get caught by the field. Attack again, get caught by a small group. Attack a third time, get away. The downside is that you can only do this series once, from the front of the field and if it doesn’t work-and it usually doesn’t-you’re left watching the race from the rear, or worse, the sidewalk.
Was today to be my day? I was hoping it was as I pushed an impossible gear, bouncing on my saddle, chest bursting from the pressure. I wasn’t sure what my speed was or how many laps were left. It didn’t matter. I couldn’t go any faster. My arms were aching as much as my legs from leveraging them against the bars. I spat out the metallic taste of blood in my mouth as I rounded one of the corners alone, hunted. I was hoping that I could just hang on when I saw the back of the field just ahead and a smile swept across my face.
This is how I train. This is what I think about. This is what hope means to me. It’s a powerful emotion that requires complete, unflinching commitment. It’s the uncompromising sense that what we do now, how we train today, results in extraordinary performances tomorrow. It’s looking forward and seeing beyond yourself in the mirror. As the new year arrives on a carbon-fiber frame and silk tubulars, let’s applaud and thank our financial partners; Bikesmiths, Oliver Winery, Royal Toyota, FedEx and BikeMine. They are hope for us. Because of their generosity, we have our team jerseys and discounts on equipment and our own race. We are the team we aspire to be. Why do they do this year after year? Is it good for business? Does it help their bottom line? Probably not much. They support us because of what we represent to them. Dedication and perseverance in a competitive environment. A deep commitment to a purpose and a focus on performance. We become more than a cycling team when we commit to excellence. We become the mirror that our sponsors and, to a larger degree, our community, look into. Visit our financial partners. Support them. Tell your friends about them. Tell them how much it means to you that they care enough to help us. They are hope for us. We are hope for them. It’s a delicate balance that we must earn every day. Tom