Seconds, minutes… hell, even weeks tick by so quickly in most cases that it’s easy to forget; forget the places we’ve been, maybe the person we were, the things we’ve seen, the difficult times, and the aspirations we’ve feverishly dreamt about for years. When life is busy, I get so caught up in what I’m doing and what I have to do next, or am so focused on the next big dream that I have to stop myself.
When I do finally stop, I feel an overwhelming sense of appreciation for the path that life has offered to me so far. Or to be ironic, the singletrack that life has offered to me. I love Vincent Van Gogh’s quote: “I dream of painting, and then I paint my dream.” Somehow, I have been able to live my dream.
People ask me, “Do you regret going to grad school and getting your master’s even though you’re not using it? Do you wish you never went through the pain and suffering(and student loans) of two engineering degrees?” Sure, it was a pain in the ass, but I am stubborn. Everything is interwoven. Even though I’ve renounced a future in the engineering industry, I do not condemn myself for the choices I have made because they have led me to where I am now. Internships allowed me to make a manageable living and giving the flexibility I needed while I was in school enabling me to race my bike and be successful academically, so no sweat there. I otherwise would have been working a job that probably would have paid less and been less conducive to training and minor travel. It also taught me a great deal about problem solving, time management, work ethic, confidence, being in a “man’s world”, and seeing something through to the finish. Accomplishment.
If you would have asked me 5 years ago if I thought I’d be doing what I am now, it was not something I had planned. I moved to Boulder because I really wanted to move to Boulder, and grad school was a great excuse. With social networking, this blog that I’ve been writing since 2005, collegiate cycling, and all the great, inspiring people I’ve met along the way, one thing has led to another and gradually I have somehow gotten to where I am now. I am sooo lucky to be on Topeak Ergon (and also on all the teams I have been on leading up to this), we have great sponsors and unbelievable support, great people to work with, I get to travel the country and parts of the world, moral support from family and friends, and riding my bike is part of my job. Wait, what? I remember using the same tires until they were bald, scraping from the bottom of the barrel whatever I could find for parts, nutrition, and clothing, having to buy my team kits, etc. Every spare penny (and credit card limits, haha) I had went to bike racing. This is very common for sponsorships and I have not forgotten where I came from, nor do I take for granted what I have. It’s so easy to suddenly expect things for free and take for granted what you have.
I used to rack my brain for ways I could travel and ride my bike more. I had considered selling some of lady eggs(which I immediately put the kibosh on after seeing what you actually had to do) , considered living in a tent during the summer to save money so I could go to more races and would be racking my brain trying to figure out what job I could work so I could travel and ride. After applying for multiple years in a row, I finally got on the Sobe Cannondale team (which sadly does not exist anymore). I remember the moment I talked to Matt Jewett and found out. I was at work and I was soooo excited. Ergon was a sponsor of the Sobe Cannondale team and I started doing more with Ergon simply by writing a review of the backpack on my blog. Ergon USA pursued me for Topeak Ergon based on my outreach and quirkiness, and the rest is history.
One morning I wake up and suddenly I am living the dream. …but the dream keeps getting better. Last August I found myself lining up at a World Championship race wearing a USA jersey in Germany, and a few months after that lining up for a race in Brazil. What? This really happened? I still can’t believe any of it. It has all happened slowly over the last 7 or 8 years when I discovered this cool thing called mountain biking.
My parents used to always tell me “You’re so lucky. You always fall into so many great opportunities.” To some extent, it is luck. I have been very lucky in my life with the things I have chosen to give my focus. I truly believe that if you are passionate about something, and you are not afraid to actually DO what you really want to do, good things happen. It’s weird, but they do. It’s even sweeter if I can take a step back and see where I came from because it makes me appreciate what I have even more.
I like to read books to satiate the curious side of my brain and lately I’ve concluded that happiness = appreciation and feeling appreciated – of others, of oneself, of little things.
Some days I have to pinch myself. This is real. And the great thing is that I have so many other dreams that don’t involve my bike(but involve other feats in the great outdoors, and different career moves) for the years to come.
I don’t mean to get too emo or rhetorical but I just wanted to say thanks.
Sure, we all have good days and bad days, but even on my bad days, I am still living out my dreams. How about you?