The O-cup season finally arrived and the first one was held at Mansfield Outdoor Centre. My husband and I arrived early so I could have a good warm up. I was sick the day before and wasn’t 100 percent. Some good spin time was needed. Then there was the much needed socializing with all the people I haven’t seen since last season. I am a social butterfly and love to hear what friends have been up to.
I felt giddy as I caught up with so many great racers. Lori Kofman, Linda Shin, Jenny Grass Brown, Andrea Tong, Robyn Duke and Claudia Van Vliet are but a few of the incredible racers I was so excited to see. It felt like a race reunion and everyone was excited to be there. It was also very heart-warming to be approached by racers who read my story, “Stay on Target” currently in Canadian Cycling Magazine. I didn’t know some of them but they sought me out to share their thoughts. It made me so happy to know that my story was helping others.
Hanging out in the corral was incredible. I couldn’t stop laughing and feeling so happy. It was another awesome day and I would get to ride my bike. Living in the moment is important to me and I soaked up every moment. My greatest training partner and an elite racer, Mandy Dreyer, surprised me and gave me a big hug and a smile. It meant a lot that she was there early to cheer me on.
We eventually got to the start line and my enthusiasm was overflowing. I had to bust out a few dance moves to the rocking tunes that are always playing at Chico Racing events.
Then the horn sounded and we were off. A field of incredible women pushed through the sandy start and up the relentless hill that was guaranteed to explode a few lungs and hearts.
I stayed with my goal of ensuring my heart rate didn’t sky rocket. As I watched some of the women pass me, I reminded myself, it’s not over until you cross the finish line. Closely watching my heart rate, I felt stronger as the minutes passed. My Opus Fhast responded to everything I wanted it to do.
One lap down and I was feeling incredible. Passing some of the women who left me in their dust earlier, I knew I was making up time. My internal dialogue kicked in and I kept repeating, “Strong! Strong! Never surrender! Never give in!”
I felt so inspired watching Linda Shin racing on her single speed. Her power was incredible and she was doing what us geared people were doing. It made me push harder.
Finishing my second lap I passed through the feed station. My husband gave me a huge smile and my next bottle and I felt absolutely amazing. I saw Peter Kofman of Erace Cancer Cycling Team holding up his camera. He shouted out, “Let’s see a big smile!” so I did. Then in true Peter Kofman style he then said, “Now try hard!” I looked back and said “OK!”
I had no idea what racers in my category were ahead of me. I took Peter’s words and started to put the hammer down. I felt super charged and weightless. Every turn flowed, every uphill felt flat and I let the bike fly downhill….which it does! Riders moved off to the side as I approached. They heard me coming! I was saying out loud, “Never surrender Jany, never surrender!” I heard many words of encouragement as I passed them…..”Ya girl. Go! Go!” came from some of the awesome gentlemen that let me pass. The most outstanding statement came from a guy that heard me talking to myself. As he allowed me to pass and I began to hammer up a hill he said, “Never surrender Jany, never surrender!” I yelled back, “Thanks man, have a great race. Never surrender!”
Then I saw Leigh Hobson, another racer extraordinaire, who is in my category. I came behind her on a technical hill and she shifted over. She was incredibly supportive and I heard her say, “Nice Jany, go!” I kept climbing and didn’t look back.
As the trails melted beneath my bike and felt buttery smooth, I was coming into the home stretch. It is a very fast undulating downhill. Using my hardest gear, I pedalled as hard as I could. I came upon the crest of one of the uphill sections and realized I was in the air. My acceleration made me levitate! At that moment, when one realizes dire consequences could result, time slows down into nano-seconds. I suddenly became super aware of the terrain. I saw the deeper sand straight ahead. My brain said “Shit! Aim straight!” I threw my body back and didn’t touch the brakes. The bike landed and fish-tailed through the sand. I didn’t crash! My heart jumped for a second and then my brain said, “Hammer!” so I did and I was back on track.
I blasted through the last section as hard as I could. I remember reading that a person can do anything for a minute. I figured I had that much time and it was getting everything I had. I sprinted as hard as I could through to the finish. I crossed the finish line, ditched my bike and had to lay on the ground. I thought I was going to vomit. I took in the blue sky and sunshine as a man stood above me and asked if I was OK. My answer was “Awesome!”
My husband gave me a huge hug and said I think you’re first. Leigh Hobson then rolled in and we hugged. I have met her twice and it is twice that she has expressed such kindness and incredible sportsmanship.
Well, the results were in and I did it. I came in 1st and I was ecstatic. This certainly wasn’t the Olympics but this was a big deal to me. Hugs came from everywhere as the news spread that I had won.
As I watched the other incredible women I raced with stand on the podium, the true realization that I had succeeded in my vision of having my hands up in 1st place was clear. As Adam Ruppel announced my name (mispronounced as “Yanee” and it’s the way I like him to say it after all these years) I received my medal and a big hug from Sean Ruppel (both are the Chico Racing organizers).
I stood on the podium with two incredible women, Leigh Hobson and Noelle Wansbrough. The pain from my medical condition crept in as I stood there. It was back but I didn’t care. My eyes began to well up with tears as I embraced such an incredible moment. I let out a loud “Yeh!!!!! This is so awesome!” and the crowd cheered back!
The pain that fills my body on a daily basis is now the monster that tries to tell me I can’t and I won’t. In the same fashion as when I found out I had cancer, I said, “You picked the wrong bitch!” I can, I will and I did.
Thanks for reading!