As a Cyclist, If It's Not About the Bike, Then What???

Mom and Cass

In February of this year, i came to understand why Lance Armstrong coined the phrase "it's  not about the bike."
February of this year was not about the bike.
In fact, in many respects, it was *not* about a lot of things I had come to believe were an indispensable part of my daily routine. I'd drafted   a plan in  late December of 2008, and THAT plan was ALL about the bike; the Universe, however, thought otherwise.

In  February of this year, it was all about mom.
It was all about dad.
It was all about my identity as a daughter.

My dad and I came very close to losing my mom to a massive brain attack, a stroke. By late-february
her team of medical experts was not optimistic about her prognosis for a full, or even partial, recovery. Physiologically, this was a  major neurological blow  to my mom which involved nearly 50% of her brain.

In late March, dad also landed in the hospital: exhaustion and worry had forced him off his feet.
I will purposefully not share the grim details of endless hospitla hours, days, weeks sitting bedside, almost holding my breath hoping mom would recover....

I will say this: today, almost 6 months after that fateful february day, and  I find myself at the tail end of a truly
personally fulfilling personal season. I've coined it a 'personal' season and not a 'cycling' season, because I think I have matured somewhat as a human being and my success on the bike I've  come to accept    as a possible byproduct, perhaps.

I have to be honest: much of what has served as a great inspiration and a personal drive  for me these past few months has been fueled by witnessing  my moms' miraculous recovery and her strength of spirit. However, I have also found inspiration in people around me as well.

MY INSPIRATIONS THIS YEAR
MY MOM
Those days in February and March in that cold, gray, dilapidated hospital room seem far, far away; especially when I see her standing at the kitchen sink doing the dishes, sitting at the table eating dinner with her and Dad,watching her primp her hair and apply her own makeup, chatting with her on the phone and hearing her say 'I Love You'. While, she still has some challenges ahead, I can believe this: I have my mom. Mom, I adore you.

MY DAD
 Without my dad's strength,  perseverance and strong love, I'm not sure what I would have done during those dark days in february. We found strength in one another. Dad I love you.

MY FRIEND AND TEAMMATE MARIA COLLAZO
I've  witnessed my friend go through some   traumatic personal challenges that began last October. Not once, not a single time,  did iI ever hear Maria complain or use this personal turmoil as an excuse to be absent, to Not do, to Not show up. Maria: as an only child, I love you like the sister I don't have; you inspire me.

MY HUSBAND
Kenny, my husband has been working on a personal project now for over 4 years, and despite many frustrations and mini-disasters, he' still at it. Kenny, I'm the luckiest girl in the world,  that I have you to share all of this with.

PEOPLE WHO HAVE MADE THIS YEAR SPECIAL
RON RUGGIERO
My team's  president and my friend who so patiently believed in me  at the beginning of the year "Take your time, Cass.", he said to me.

LAURA VAN GILDER
I've known Laura for so many years, she, like Maria, 'feels' like a sister to me. We recently saw each other after almost a year's absence , an emotional and happy meeting, and I was reminded of what makes a true champion: humility, honesty, earnestness, an ethic of hard, hard work and perseverance. Meeting Laura you would never , ever guess she is one of the winningest North  American cyclists of this past decade. Laura, how I missed you.

RUTH DICKINSON
Ruth  probably has no idea how much I've come to admire her as a person. Having only known Ruth a short amount of time, she is one of those special people you want to have in your arsenal of human beings. She has an inspiring personal story, one which you whom you would never know about unless you spent the time chatting with her. Having  overcome tremendous physical adversity last year, and now on the cusp of upgrading to a cat 2 from a cat 4 (in one season, i might add) makes me happy to know her.

JAIME 'CHAGO' COLLAZO
I've know Chago only a  short time, and he has already helped me achieve some very important personal goals. He has worked so very hard and is now beginning to reap the rewards of a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Chago, thanks for reaching out to me this summer.

JAIME PUJOLS
Never have I come to trust and like someone so quickly   as I have Jaime Pujols. Like the brothers I never had,  I hope to have both Jaimes in my life for a long, long time