An amazing thing happened on the way home last week from Madison… you, all of you, turned one of the worst days of my life into one of the best days of my life.
Though the story starts off personal – something that I shy away from on podiuminsight – it quickly became much bigger than myself. It became about the cycling community and how they reached out to help someone, that someone was me.
After five days of racing that culminated into an amazing finale at the USA Cyclocross National Championships in Madison, I, like many at the race, adjourned to The Great Dane Brew Pub for an end of the season celebration. Laughs, hugs and a few drinks were had until it was time to leave and then I noticed that my bag was stolen. A bag that contained my money, credit cards, drivers license, press IDs, my rental car keys and a lot more. There I was at 1am with no way to get home and I became a basket case.
You see, it was all too much. The theft pushed me to a breaking point. After a string of bad luck in the past six months which included a heavily damaged camera body and lens after being hit by a racer, a car accident, work financial commitments not upheld and more, I was ready to throw in the towel. I was asking myself if the hard work and time on the road was worth it.
That night, Kelly Minx Riordan and Adam Myerson helped out, either searching the bar for my bag, driving me back to my host house 20 minutes away or loaning me money. Both trying to calm me down.
The next morning it was time to figure out how to get home. Cab ride back to pub, mechanic to unlock the car, two car to dealer, new car keys cut and then drive to airport – all out of pocket expenses which took hours and my flight was missed. I was then rebooked for a flight leaving early the next day and the Continental desk agent charged a fee $150 after shrugging when I explained that it would tap me out. She just shrugged.
There I was, feeling sorry for myself, crying, while sitting at O’Hare airport and figuring out which bench to park myself on for the night.
Then it all turned around. Unbeknownst to me, the cycling community was coming to my rescue. First, a text message from a friend Nikki Cyp who arranged to come pick me up at the airport to return me at 4am the next morning. Then, she calmly tells me that she, Mike Heenan of My Wife Inc and Paolo Urizar of The BoneBell reached out to the Midwest community (and more) to collect money to help me out. At the same time from New Mexico, friend and photographer Mitch Clinton put out a call on facebook, explaining the situation and the response was quite amazing.
Help came from old friends – from road and cross – and from folks that I have never met. All I could think was ‘you like me, you really like me’. And a hellish day became one of the best days of my life.
Words cannot express my gratitude. I am overwhelmed by your generosity and I wish I could hug each and everyone of you to show you how I feel. Love. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
So was the hard work and time on the road worth it? Absolutely. I felt the love and I hope to return it in spades.