Friday, April 29, 2011

A letter to my teammates

As the semester comes to an end, it’s hitting me more and more that after this, I won’t be a part of Rutgers Cycling anymore.  So, with that in mind, I wanted to say a few thank yous and goodbyes.  I’m not going anywhere far away, and I know I’ll see a lot of you often- especially during cyclocross season, but I’ll have on a different kit, and that makes me kind of sad.  


When I first joined the team, as Chris or Rich can tell you, I went on a first bridge ride with them, almost passed out at the turning point from cold (turns out sweatshirts are not quite warm enough for 10 degree days) and Chris literally had to put his booties onto my feet for me so I could survive the ride home.  I’m sure at that point, he was thinking that I wouldn’t last a week on the team. 

But then, I started riding more, got proper cold weather gear, and fell in love with the sport and with the team.  I quickly realized that the team wasn’t just a few guys who I would see on race days: you were my new friends.  My first season racing Intros (until Karina and I got bored and upgraded to Bs) wasn’t exactly stellar, but I had an amazing time.  Racing bikes was way more fun than triathlon, for the express reason that I had awesome teammates to hang out with before and after every race.

Then…cyclocross happened.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I got bullied into racing, but it quickly turned into something more.  I had no intention of keeping it up, but then I realized that without actually being good at cyclocross AT ALL, I was still winning the Women’s B’s, and bringing in more points than most of the guys.  Thank you, lack of women in the sport!  So, I stuck with it, and fell in love with it, despite still sucking.  I also realized just how “punk rock” Rutgers Cycling is, compared to the other colleges, and I loved it even more. 

My second road season- thanks to a season of cyclocross to improve my handling skills- was much better than the first, in a drastic way.  Suddenly, the A and B women’s fields were combined, and I was staying with the top few A riders.  It hit me: I didn’t suck at this!


Cyclocross this last season was inarguably the high point of my life.  Sitting in the hotel room at Nationals watching the video that Will had put together of all of us made me realize just how much I had gotten from this team, and I actually cried from watching it, I was so happy to be part of this.

You have all been amazing and wonderful, and I will miss defining myself as a Rutgers Cycling racer, because that’s the identity I am most proud of.  This team is part of my heart, and has changed my life in so many ways.  It makes me so sad to realize that so many of us are leaving after this semester, and while I know we’ll remain friends, it hurts to think that we won’t see each other almost every day, or spend weekends cramped into one hotel room together, laughing hysterically about silly stuff.  I mean, this is the team where not one, not two, but five of us have matching cowbell tattoos.  I don’t know of any other team that can boast about that.  Almost all of the defining moments in my life in recent years can be traced back to this team, and there isn’t a thing that I would change about it.

A few specific thank yous I wanted to say:
Mark/Mama Bear: words cannot begin to describe how grateful I am for everything that you did for the team, and for me. On a cycling level, you’re the one who finally managed to teach me how to remount, which I could have sworn I would never do.  I can honestly say that you taught me pretty much everything I know about racing bikes, cx in particular.  And on a personal level, you have been there for me so much in the past two years, and I can’t tell you how much I’m going to miss you when you’re in Texas.

Charlie, Pat, and Matt: I love you guys, plain and simple.  Cyclocross wouldn’t be the same without you, and I can say without any exaggeration that Nationals was the most fun 4 days of my life.  There’s so much more I want to say, but I don’t have that kind of eloquence/space in this email, so I’ll leave it at that.  You mean everything to me.

Karina, Gina, and Gabby: thank you for being women!  Seriously, having you on the team has been awesome.  The women on this team are nothing short of amazing, and I don’t think I’ll ever find a team with a more fun group.  (Also, Karina and Gina, thanks for being part of our awesome TTT team in Philly last year.  We kicked ass.)

Don: thank you for every single pre-race speech about how I “have the fitness” and am “better than all these girls.”  And for teaching me how to corner when I first started racing.

Blake: you were the reason I got into triathlon to begin with, and when I was just a freshman, you introduced me to cyclocross (though I didn’t realize how I would come to love/live it at the time).  And, more importantly, without you, I never would have known about the Rutgers Cycling team.  So, thank you.

Thanks to Will, Marcos, David, Andy, George, Nick, Eugene, Adam, Chris, Rich, and everyone else: I could go on all day with how much everyone has meant to me.

You all have been my family for the past three years, and I have loved every second I have spent with all of you.  There is no team I would rather be on, and the time I’ve spent with you has been unforgettable. So, thank you all.

I’ll end on a note that most of you will appreciate: with a quote from Adam Myerson that Mark had sent out to the team a couple years ago.
“Do you love racing your bike? Is this team the gang you want to be a part of, to throw down with, to stand side by side with?”

Good Luck to everyone graduating, and to everyone staying: I'm expecting great things from all of you next year!