Hi everybody, my name is Greta Neimanas and I’ll be writing a weekly column for Cycling Illustrated. Some of you may already know me but most of you probably don’t. Maybe you know me as “that chick with one arm” or something along those lines. (Pssst! People say that because I have one arm. It’s a noticeable physical feature similar to having blond hair.) Please, as endearing as it is to be referred to that way, just call me Greta. Hopefully, through this column, we can all get to know each other a little better.
I race for Exergy TWENTY12 and the U.S. Paralympic national team. 2012 was my second season with Exergy TWENTY12 (Previously known as Peanut Butter & Co. Team TWENTY12) and seventh season with the Paralympic team. In that time, I’ve had the privilege of representing Team USA at two Paralympic Games, brought home the super neat crystal UCI World Cup series overall trophy, have stood on the podium at track and road World Championships and have a few of those red, white, and blue zip-up shirts they give out at Nationals.
Like the school kids I talk to, maybe you’re wondering why I have one arm. Well, hold on to your seats because here’s the story. I was born without it. That’s it. It’s not hiding up my sleeve or behind my back, I don’t have a twin that chewed it off before I was born, it just stopped growing, simple and mysterious as that. If you’d like a more dramatic story, ask and I’ll feed you a line about playing with the lawnmower, a drill press, a wild animal attack or something else. I’ll do my best to entertain.
Growing up had its ups and downs and, like any other kid, I had to figure out my way in life and overcome any obstacles that appeared in my path. My parents, family, teachers and friends treated me like anyone else so there was no special treatment given. Sometimes my fake arm would break or fall off. Play would stop for a moment to reassemble myself then we were back at it.
I stumbled upon cycling in 2004 as a sophomore in high school. As the grand prize for winning an essay contest sponsored by U.S. Paralympics, a branch of the U.S. Olympic Committee, my mom and I went to the Athens Paralympics. Track cycling was the first sport that we saw. It blew my mind. Standing at the top of the track, watching athletes rip around the banking of the velodrome on fixed gear bikes, without brakes on tires one centimeter wide looked like the craziest, ridiculous, most amazing thing ever! I had to try it. As soon as we returned home, I joined a local cycling team, started racing then fell in love with the sport. Life took off from there. It led to almost five years as a resident athlete at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, dozens of stamps in the passport, meeting the people who would become my best friends and experiences I’ll never forget.
In this column, I’ll be writing about anything and everything- off season adventures, traveling, training and race reports with some nitty-gritty details you all crave, ups and downs of life as an athlete and racing in the women’s peloton here and abroad and other things that may not fit into those categories.
Something I’m really looking forward to doing here is developing good conversation with all of you about topics that appear in this column and anything else you want to know about. I’m an open book! Nothing is off limits and I’ll do my best to answer any and all questions you may have. Give feedback! Please! Tell me if you like what you’re reading and if you don’t comment and say “Greta, that last column was garbage. What the heck were you thinking when you wrote it?” You be honest with me and I’ll be honest with all of you.
Thanks for reading!