I never dreamed I’d be an Olympian or Paralympian. In high school, I swam and rode my bike for fun. My chosen career path took me to U.S. Naval Academy and Naval Postgraduate School. I had a great life of going to sea and the freedom it created. I was a damn fine Naval Officer and I loved every bit of it. That all changed when a stroke took away the use of my right side and much of my speech. My life was changed forever. I had a decision. I could sit at home forever or do something different about it. I chose the latter in the shape of a recumbent.
After three years of working my way through recumbents, I made the jump to trikes (not well known in the U.S.). Trikes are quite different and definitely not for everyone. But since I started riding them, I’ve exposed other people to them (those who have suffered a stroke, balance problems, and cerebral palsy) and have quadrupled the number in the States. Combine that with three years National Championships and various World Cups and World Championships, it brings us to now… could I be a Paralympian? Second place in the National Time Trial proved I could.
I now find myself taking the London 2012 Paralympics in full force. The lights, the sounds, the cultures, the food… everything is unbelievable. Great Britain is putting on a wonderful show. Then comes the triking. I think that the course at Brands Hatch is definitely not my cup of tea. Off camber roads and sharp corners make for a slightly tougher time trial. All of that means nothing on race day. All I can do is cross my fingers and hope things go right and the bike stays upright.
The time trial did go well, just not as fast as I had hoped. I didn’t get quite the warm-up I wanted and then had too much cool down time waiting for my start. The first corner was steep and off camber. That takes me to the first sharp corner, which I was successful in making. Completed that test and left the inner part of Brands Hatch. Built up speed on those wide turns and straight-aways made it over those hills (including the 26% one). All that was left was the final stretch. Unfortunately, it’s very off camber. Might be straight but it slopes from side-to-side… not great for stroke survivors. When you add in the factors for category T1/T2 male/female, you find me finishing in ninth. Not bad, not good. I was hoping for fifth or sixth. Maybe my road race will be better. I just have to remember; it’s my first Paralympics and I’ve only been racing three years. Does anybody here Rio calling?