First off, I must thank all my fans and supporters, especially my girlfriend, Sarah, for believing in me and watching me come to fruition at the 2013 Deaflympics! This year has been a very fruitful and focused training season. I was very conservative and saved my fire for this big event.
Trip on the way there: What a chaotic trip on the way to Sofia, Bulgaria! Everything was going well until we got to Washington DC and found out the plane had been delayed due to some sort of electrical problem. A long wait turned into a nightmare… I would not get there until right before the opening ceremony. This leaves me very little time to get my bike ready and really take in the wonderful ceremonies. We were put into a hotel in Washington DC over night and then we returned the next day to try get on a plane, coming to find out they wanted to charge for my bike bags AGAIN – I refused blatantly, I could have just accepted it and gotten on the plane… I was stubborn for some reason – I think I was just super tired and worn out from trying to get to Bulgaria. I even broke down and asked to go home – I was that exhausted. Luckily I had 2 people sticking by my side – Sarah and a flight scheduler from United that believed I should be in Bulgaria! I am so grateful everything turned around from there and we finally got a plane that sounded promising with the right terms. We got there right before the opening ceremony, but I chose to forego attending it to focus on getting my bike ready. I was glad I did that because I ended up working on the bike until 1am with all the distractions going on!
1000M Sprints; Bronze – This event was the longest of any other one! We were there for 6 hours, this included warmup, sprints, and keeping my legs warm on the trainer in between heats! What an experience! They chose to use a one-way 3 lane highway for this event (closed it just for us); It was a 250m long stretch each way with 180 degree turn. Then a 200m sprint line was placed about 50m from the last turn. The preliminary heats had 1 chance win-all rule, then the quarterfinals (top 4) had to race for the best of 3. I made it all the way to the top 4 without losing, then I lost my first one to the eventual 2nd place Russian. I contested my 2nd one against him by attacking with 500m to go instead of waiting for the 200m and I won by a huge margin. However, I lost the next one. Then when I raced for 3rd place (semifinals), I lost the 1st round again; I tried to place myself behind the German for the 200m sprint and won the 2nd round. As for the 3rd round, I decided to do the same attack I did with Russian because it was a total surprise and I’m really good with a hard attack then holding at a high pace they can’t hold (see clip of this in this video starting at 2:03: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CASONB9DPXg). This worked again as I crossed the line with a huge margin again. BRONZE sealed! (final results: http://dvelo.com/2088/deaflympics-sofia-2013-1000m-sprint/)
38km Time Trial; 4th place – My chain came off at the start so I had to stop and place it back on, which cost me about 15 seconds (you can see the mishap in the video at 3:20 here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WoLtOzgIBM). This course was 19km out and back along another closed one-way highway. This was very scenic and hilly! This played into my favor as I really enjoy long climbs at 4-5% (ended up with about 3 miles long climb). The top 3 finishers had a full aero set up while I only had my road bike paired up with aero bars and standard gearing setup. I think I might have done better with a 55T for the long descents and a more aero back and front wheel setup. My coach tells me aerodynamics plays 80% into the equation of racing! Anyway, I ended up being only 7 seconds away from 3rd… if it wasn’t for the start mishap, I would have sealed another medal! (final results: http://dvelo.com/2079/deaflympic-sofia-2013-time-trial/)
100km Road Race; 5th place – This race consisted of 2 laps of 50km roads skirting the outsides of Sofia, Bulgaria, in their beautiful countryside. Many thanks for Bulgaria to set up such a fun race course and coordinating the closures… I got 5th in a breakaway we formed beginning of 2nd lap and I had nothing left for the final sprint to match a UK rider that illegally caught up to us and then slingshot off of us. He was dropped coming up the final hill about 8 miles from the finish and the 4 of us worked hard to 1km. Then out of nowhere UK rider sprung on us. We were not aware there was a 5th rider among us. We came to find out through a spectator and UCI official (even had a video of him doing this) that he was drafting off of cars to catch up to us on the way down. I personally think he should have been disqualified. He was given SILVER instead. All I can do at this point is to reflect on the hard work I put in to push everyone to their limits in this race. I raced with all of my heart and lots of grace as well! (final results: http://dvelo.com/2108/deaflympics-sofia-2013-road-race/)
Mountain Bike; Bronze – 4 laps of 5.5km with 10% average grade for half of the course to the top paired with loose and technical switchbacks at the top, then steep and loose descent back down to the bottom. I decided to rent a mountain bike in Bulgaria to minimize the hassle of transporting 2 bikes and disassembling/re-assembling 2 bikes. Patrick Sluyter (was supposed to come, but had to forego this year due to family issues) located a high quality mountain bike manufacturer right in Sofia! RAM Bikes was the perfect solution so I rented their high end racing machine for this event. (Thanks RAM bikes for letting me use your awesome setup for this event!) I was 4th place for most of the race as I couldn’t find my legs for a while until the last lap. At the bottom of 4th lap, I was about 1minute and 30 seconds behind the leader. I finally was able to use one gear larger on the climb up and keep the 3rd place Russian in my sight the entire way up to the top. Then I passed him right at the top and cruised down the loose and sketchy downhill to my 2nd medal, closing up on the leader at 55 seconds behind! 2nd BRONZE sealed! (final results: http://dvelo.com/2122/deaflympics-sofia-2013-cross-country-xco/)
50km Points Race; GOLD – The course was perfect for me! They used the same area as the sprints for this event, with exception of a longer stretch at 500m each way. This played into my advantage as it turned out to be like Cyclocross… Executing a sharp turn then sprint to keep my gap, then apply a strong steady effort for 400m to next turn again. I broke away about 40 laps to go because there were too much crashing was going on. I decided to see if I could stay away from the mess and it worked! I also used the advantage of how a pack usually works in a race, especially a points race. We were awarded points in every other lap (every 2km); 5 points for 1st rider to cross the line, 3 for 2nd, 2 for 3rd, and 4th. Because I broke away and kept winning 5 points lap after lap; I accumulated 105 (which is the new record in any Deaf Cycling Points Race event in the world!) points and 2nd place came in at 28. I was thrilled I was able to put in such a strong performance after 4 days of racing! I really wanted to go home with a Gold, and my dream came true! (final results: http://dvelo.com/2125/deaflympics-sofia-2013-point-race/)
Results summary: 5th place, 4th place, 2 Bronze, and 1 Gold! I was very close to bringing home 5 medals, but I am very happy with how I put everything on the plate and did very well. Top 5 in all events and being the only rider to have competed in all events with 3 medals! My coach is right, I’m an all-arounder! I immensely enjoy every biking event so it was rewarding to see that I can compete among the strongest in the world while maintaining performance in each group of specialty!
Trip back home: This time around it was smooth sailing all the way home! Whew! 🙂 I even had a wonderful surprise of a welcome home crowd! My mom drove from Denver to be there as well!!! What a honor and thank you!
Final Note: I plan on returning to the next Deaflympics which will be taking place in Turkey in the year of 2017! I also plan to help USA Deaf Cycling raise some money so we can take more athletes to represent for us!
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to my great supporters, fans, family, and friends for sticking by me. I know it has been a long journey for some of them to watch me go through the hard phases of cycling/training and continue to cheer me on to strive on for the greatest of the greatest! 🙂 Big devotion of acknowledgement also go to my sponsors and supporters: Julbo Eyewear (they’ve been with me for 3 years now and they continue to provide me high quality sunglasses!); Feedback Sports (I’ve been with them for 3 years as well and will be participating among the team in the upcoming cyclocross season… they make and provide amazing bike repair stands that are easy to setup for use and breakdown for transportation!); LTR Sports (I’ve been with them for 1 year and they’ve been really GREAT with providing high quality service for my bikes. They helped me select my new racing machine, Giant TCR Advanced 1, then Adam S. provided me the amazing fit setup – my back has hurt a lot less this year and have been able to enjoy my riding immensely more this year. LTR Sports is located in Grand Junction and they provide amazingly fast turnaround service – same day service so you can stay on track with your training!); Ergotron (I received a workstation from them last summer and it’s been great to be able to stand up or sit down while keeping my office work ergonomics optimized. It’s so important to work in a healthy environment so your body can last! There IS such a thing as sitting disease – look it up!); Roll Recovery (my college classmate invented an amazing massage tool and allowed me to showcase his brilliance around the world. Amazing stuff – they’ve helped my muscles stay supple for all these top notch events!) XTERRA (They’ve stuck by my side the last 5 years, investing in my dream to grow my non-profit organization DEAFlete. They’ve been my #1 supporter since then – thank you for believing in me and being my family!); My wonderful girlfriend, Sarah, for supporting me during my long training season and cooking me numerous nutritious dinners for after the hard rides; My genius coach, Greg Mueller (we’ve been working together for the past 3.5 years and he knows me real well. He knows how to really hold me back and let the fire go when it’s time! He taught me how crucial it is to have quality workouts paired with rest in order to achieve high level of performance!) AND finally, thanks to USA Deaf Cycling for getting me fired up for this competition! We, as a team, struggled in the beginning, but then we GREW into a team at the end of this trip. We really came together to inspire each other more… that’s what I love about participating in such events with teams so we can fuel each other up!