Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Dynasty Starts Tonight

My dad always makes fun of my because I say that I love everyone. I always respond by saying that I just have a lot of love to give. And the love I have for these two women is enough to make me tear-up as I write this. These women were the backbone of the team and frequently went without the praise they deserved. Without them RideOn would not have been such a rich experience and I would be a lesser person.


We found Morgan at a callout, she claimed she had never ridden a bike before bbut was still interested. I remember texting her saying ‘Well if you want to ride you need to come to practice today.’ And she showed up, jumped on a stationary bike and told us that she had just transferred from Syracuse. She was painfully quiet and I wasn’t sure what to think of her the first few times we interacted. She seemed like a nice enough girl but I wasn’t able to get to know her very well. I remember her telling me that she didn’t need to ride that year; she was just testing out the waters. I was selfishly happy she said this because it meant we would have one less broken heart come race day. I went on a retreat with another organization and randomly ran into Morgan’s boyfriend’s roommate who assured me she was a great girl but that life at Syracuse hadn’t been much fun.

Time passed and Morgan wasn’t able to be with us on spring break but by this time she was getting rave reviews from all our other teammates. When I finally had enough time to give to little five I met a Morgan who wasn’t even recognizable as the girl at the first practice. This Morgan was loud, hilarious and full of joy. It was impossible to go to practice with her and not become a little bit more obsessed with her. Laura would always recount tales of how awesome she was when she would give me track updates. Morgan became my role model, she showed up every day knowing she wasn’t racing with a positive attitude and the will to improve. I loved watching her in ITTs and Miss-n-Out and hanging out with her at various team dinners. The night before the race she declared her major after a couple months of exploration and I have never seen a happier person. As we sat in Danielle’s front lawn she assured all of us that the race was going to be great and she was going to be standing right behind us the whole time.

After we finished the 100th lap on race day she jumped over the fence and hugged all of us. I can’t remember what she said to all of us right then but I know we were all crying. She gave our team light and hope through it all and became a woman I am eternally grateful to call a friend. She will be a rider again next year and a director in SAA and I know I will continue to look to her as a role model of humility and positivity. I think all the women of RideOn would agree with me when I say that Morgan Smith truly was the backbone of our team. And she will have me bawling next year when I get to see her ride, so get excited for the longest and tightest hug you have ever gotten girl.

5 AM Spring Break Workout

It is impossible to know Trish and not be inspired by her. There are so many reasons to be. She has a grace and poise about her as she works with 100s of students a year that puts us all at ease. She has the ability to challenge us to be better version of ourselves without coming off as cruel or overbearing. And in the last year if you have watched her transform her body, losing over 150 pounds, through hard work, dedication and self-sacrifice you can’t help but stand in awe.

I like to think I have more reasons than most to be inspired by her. She is the only reason my dream of creating RideOn came to fruition. Without her I probably wouldn’t have gotten to ride again and 100s of students, families and fans wouldn’t have been able to experience the fun and passion of the Little 500 season. She helped us build a budget, create Rider’s agreements, and start a tradition of service to the community and alumni association.

But she did more than that for me. She helped me be the captain that my team needed. I spent many afternoons in Trish’s office asking her for advice on interpersonal conflicts, how to challenge riders and how to bring RideOn together. We had many discussions about where we wanted to go with the team and how excited she was for the race and to see us all ride. Through it all she was constantly supportive and encouraging, she gave me the confidence to make decisions for the team and stand behind them. She taught me what being a leader really meant and pulled me outside of my comfort zone as a friend and teammate. The joy she had about being our official timer on race day was unmatched by any of our fans. It is truly remarkable the amount of time, energy and love she gave to us all. None of us will ever forget that.

Next year Trish can get excited for text messages and phone calls haranguing her to go on rides with us or pressuring her into racing in the alumni ride. Even though her role with the team will change, I know she will still be our backbone. I can’t imagine going to ITTs in the freezing
cold next year if she isn’t shouting ‘The dynasty starts tonight” right beside me. I hope that for many years of riders to come her legacy, one of dedication, poise and absolute fairness will live on in the captain each year.

Without these women I can’t imagine how different not only RideOn would have been but my life as well. I am lucky that neither of them plans on escaping Bloomington anytime soon and I can’t wait for many more bike rides, meals and fun together. So thanks ladies!

One Month Later

It is amazing to think that a little over a month ago I was standing on the track at Bill Armstrong Stadium waiting for the race to begin and the clouds to part (sadly the second part never happened). I had the time of my life on the track that day. Isaac was actually mad at me for smiling too big at one point. Having the opportunity to ride in the Little 500, something so unique to Indiana University, is awe-inspiring and thrilling. To race for RideOn and represent the Student Alumni Association was a true honor and to share that with 6 of my best girl friends was so amazingly joyous.

For those of you who were at the race you saw the outpouring of love that we all share as a team. The cinders embedded in our legs, the sweat, the tears and the calories we left on the track unite us all. However, RideOn shares more than that. We are proud to say we built our team from scratch. Over a year ago I brought this idea to the Student Alumni Association. We wanted to create a tradition in the organization of having a competitive cycling squad. But I don’t think any of us imagined what creating a team meant.

There were definitely times when I never thought we would get to the track. I remember one evening in particular completely breaking down in the middle of a solo ride and screaming at two plastic lawn ornaments. Telling them that it would make my life so much easier if they could transform into Danielle and Laura who were out of the state and the country at the time. We ironically took a picture with these deer on another fateful day months later.

But with second semester came new hope. Blake and Nate created a committee who built a huge team of support around us. Then Laura and Danielle came back, Helen stuck with us and Morgan and Kelsey fell into our laps all in a matter of weeks. Laura taught all the girls how to have confidence on the track while our SAA team designed t-shirts, put on events and kept me sane. It seemed like we would finally get to the race. I don’t think I will ever be so relieved as the day we qualified for the race. I remember looking Laura straight in the eyes and saying, “Shit, I didn’t think we were going to do that on the first time.” The two of us finally took a breath.

But through the stress and the uncertainty, a team was born. A group of random girls came together on the track. We learned exchanges, how to push each other and how to instantly make each other’s day. But more importantly we created a tradition. There will always be girls wearing red and black cycling jackets during spring break in Bloomington training to represent SAA. Those girls feel the pain of a hard workout, the joy of racing and the fun of being hit on by multiple guy’s teams since all the other IU females are in Panama City, just as we did.

We can’t fully begin to appreciate what we were a part of and what RideOn will mean to us going forward. I do know one thing is certain; you better bet that I will be wearing my RideOn jacket to many more Little 500s. I am sure I will cry with joy like I did on race day when I watch Claire Bliss ride (no pressure) and hopefully many years from now when I see my own daughter take the track. One thing I know for sure is that I will be a Little 500 alum and a founding member of RideOn forever and there are few things I will ever be more proud of.