Tuesday, July 19, 2011

National Champion(ships)

So Wells just posted a blog about National Championships... he won his a day later than I did. Guess I am dropping the ball.
In all seriousness, I don't even know what to say. I won! I don't have much else about the race to say... I don't remember much... its a complete blur. Not only did I win, I did so convincingly. I couldn't let myself slow down, I couldn't let myself think about winning until I had done it. All I could think about until that final straightaway was pedaling, being smooth (I channelled my inner Tristian Cowie on that decent) and not winning. What would that mean? Really nothing... it wouldn't make me less of a person. But this race held so much emotional esteem for me... its hardly the most important of the season... but to win a National Championships represents so much hard work. So much frustration. So much triumph... its not something that can be felt until it happens. Until you've felt the years and the road it takes to come by one.
Maybe more than anything its the relief that comes once I crossed that finish line.
This has been the culmination of the first stages of my career. From road trips with my dad at age 15, listening to the Grateful Dead as we drove down 395 through Nevada and California, to now chasing an Olympic dream around all corners of the globe. I've worked hard... no doubt, but I absolutely wouldn't be able to do what I have done without an incredible supporting cast over the years. I will forever remember Rocky Crocker giving me my first team jersey at the Squilchucker race in Wenatchee... it was a white sleeveless Nashbar jersey with Wenatchee Area Racers silkscreened onto the front and back. I think I was 14 and I'm sure at that moment I thought it couldn't get any better. Jason Jablonski has answered hundreds of frantic phone calls over the past decade... why he always seems to be right will forever be a mystery to me. Scott Paton and everyone at Arlberg Sports has really made racing possible. Without his continued support, I have no doubt that I wouldn't be where I am today. He believed in what I was doing. Its cool to now be a role model for his son Cole... he's a super talented kid, and could find incredible success in this sport if he so chooses. It was incredible to get to watch him race this weekend in Sun Valley. I'm glad they came down. Obviously my Parents. They have always believed that what I do is valid and worth supporting, I hope I make them proud. I think I do... but not because I race well, but because I try to be honest, humble and true to myself and my pursuits. I have so many memories from traveling and racing with them.... I will always hold them close to my heart, and look forward to making more. I could go on forever about what their support means to me, but thats for another time. Marc Gullickson has given me the opportunities to race in europe, see what it means to be a professional, and how hard I have to work to be at the top of this sport. Without his guidance, there would be no National Championship for me... nor would I be finding my arguably more important successes internationally. I have so many friends who have pushed me to succeed but more importantly to love this pursuit... Mitchell, Allen, Ethan, Joey, Tad, TJ Owen, Ryan, Lydia, Jack, Kerry, Chloe, Zach... there are too many of you to name. But thank you. And now Karina too... for her emotional support when I am both home and on the road... thank you for loving the person I am.
So yeah... I put a lot of pressure on myself to win this race... I kept looking back... not just over my shoulder to see where Rob was... but into my history to see why this was the time for me to shine. To put all of that together, and honor it in the best way possible. To give it everything.

1 comment:

  1. Stephen,
    I enjoy following your blog and sharing with my children as they are aspiring mountain bikers. I know that Windham and Missoula didn't go as stellar as the rest of your season.
    I think it's good for people to see that bad luck hits and not all races are amazing. Could you please share those races as well. My children get frustrated after a bad race because they think no one else has them. Perhaps that is a characteristic you could pick up from your team mates Jack and Kerry. They always have a race report.