Riding Uphill with Jim in Colorado

Now that we’ve made it into 2014 – thank goodness! – the countdown of the Top 14 moments in my sport career continues with two adventures in Colorado that feature my coach, Saint Jim Lehman.

Seriously, I’ve glossed over the hell I put him through, and he deserves recognition. Isn’t this what any normal thankful person would do for the lone individual who answered the phone daily for a year and a half and listened patiently as the athlete talked herself out of and then back into training and racing?

If this doesn’t say thanks, then…..I’m not sure what does.

#6 Riding up Pikes Peak with Jim

After the London Games I flew to Colorado to thank Jim Lehman in person…so I made him ride more slowly than he otherwise would….to the top of Pike’s Peak (one of Colorado’s famous 14-ers). Once there, at the top of the world (or at least far above Colorado Springs and Kansas) I let him buy me a donut.*

And I smiled for a picture, even though it was the hardest ride I’ve ever done and I kind of wanted to puke.


“You’re buying me a donut, right?”

I’m going to do this ride again, maybe with Jim, maybe this summer, because, well, they also sell fudge up there.

*Oh, okay…..I maybe also presented Jim with a medal commemorating his induction into the elite, selective Order of I-Couldn’t-Have-Won-A-Paralympic-Medal-Without-You. Except that I didn’t carry the medal to the top, because, like a proper medal, it weighed a ton, and what am I, invincible?**

#5 Setting the women’s record up Cheyenne Cañon in CO

I’m one of those weird people who feels less pain riding uphill than riding on flat ground. It doesn’t make sense, but it does make me feel invincible sometimes. (**I said sometimes.)

So, of course, my favorite part of training in Colorado Springs were the days when I “had” to do Cheyenne Cañon repeats. I rode up that canyon dozens of times. And frequently, I would find myself on rest days unclipped at the bottom gate, staring wistfully up a road I really shouldn’t ride on a rest day.

At the top of Cheyenne Cañon on a fun ride day with my hubby.

At the top of Cheyenne Cañon on a fun ride day with my hubby.

By the time I was signed up for the annual time trial, I knew all the cracks in the pavement, the swoopy momentum-carrying path through the hairpin turn at Helen Hunt falls, and…well, you get the idea.

What I didn’t know the first four times that Jim told me I needed to do the race was that I had been tantalizingly close to the women’s record during training…on a bike loaded down with water bottles and pump and regular ol’ training wheels. Once I figured that out, he didn’t need to tell me a fifth time.

Anyway, long story short, on race day, I set the elite women’s record. (And yes, I felt invincible.)


Next time, I promise, the Paralympics finally make an appearance on the Top 14 list….

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