My name is Anthony Zahn. I have been racing bikes since 1990 and owned a bike shop from 1997 until 2011. I have been racing internationally with the U.S. Paralympic Team since 2007.
I have a condition called Charcot Marrie Tooth disease. It is a genetic, degenerative, peripheral neuropathy. My hands don’t work so well and my aerodynamic ankles are pretty unstable so I trip a lot. As the classifiers put it, since I have no discernible strength in my feet, ankles, calves or hands, I’m a quadriplegic – a high functioning quad, but still a quadriplegic.
So, I race bikes. It’s what I do and have been doing for a while now. I live at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, which is a pretty darned good place to be as an athlete.
Nevertheless, it’s been a long year with several major life changes, starting with moving half way across the country. Then six weeks ago as my fitness was coming along wonderfully I was in a race and a car got on course ending my weekend in a hurry. Four weeks ago I got tonsillitis. Two weeks ago I crashed in training. Obviously, my prep for the 2012 Paralympics in London could have been better.
The Time Trial at the Paralympics was held at Brands Hatch Raceway. Unfortunately, it didn’t go quite the way I would have liked. I had no idea what would happen or how I would ride. I tried to play it cool but for the first time in a few years I was nervous.
I went through my usual warm-up routine and still couldn’t tell what was going to happen. The course here at Brands Hatch is pretty tough. I am a rhythm rider. I get up to speed and try to hold it. At Brands Hatch, there is absolutely no place to settle into any sort of a rhythm. A 40 mph descent leads into an off camber hard right straight into an 8 percent climb and so on. A course like this definitely doesn’t suit me but I’m not really sure it suits anybody very well. In the end we all have to race the same course on the same day.
I couldn’t tell how I was feeling going into today, but 3k into the race I knew. That’s when my minute man caught me. Not good. Well, for him it was, not for me. I broke the course into small parts in my mind and tried to ride each part as fast as I could. I took every corner as fast as I could. There was nowhere I could have gotten any time back today so in that regard I’m satisfied.
A medal would have been a lot more satisfying. Speaking of medals, huge congratulations go out to my teammates on their performances. Great job by everyone!