If there is anything worse than hearing that as a cyclist I don’t know what it is. I was out walking my dogs when I saw the news of Amy Dombroski on Twitter, I cried right then and there. I did not know Amy personally but she was my sister and we were connected. We all are connected. Through the blood we spill, the sweat, the sacrifice we all make to the bike. We feel it when we lose one. We all understand the risk when we buckle the helmet and head out the door. That is the buy in. For that buy in we chase our dreams, exorcise our demons, live with purpose. The buy in is steep but the rewards, oh man the rewards.
I started riding in 1989. I remember my first race and thinking to myself, “Damn this was awesome, I will do this for a few years until I find something better”. Well as I enter my 26th season nothing better has come along. For me cyclocross is the purest form of racing. You don’t need a team, you don’t need a fancy bike, you don’t need to be a 130lb climber, or an 1800 watt sprinter. You need to be balanced. Good power, good skills, and maybe an above average willingness to go deep in the pain cave. When you win it is because you were the strongest. When you don’t it is because someone was stringer. No excuses. You can’t sit in and have your team tow you around. You have to do be a charger. While I didn’t know Amy personally I did get to see her race a lot. She was a charger. No matter how she was doing I was always struck by how aggressively she raced. She braked late, she was fast over the barriers, and she always sprinted out of corners. You could tell she was in her element doing what she was born to do. You could also see that in how she managed her career. She gave up the comfort and familiarity of home to race in Europe. She sought out the hardest races, the hardest conditions and the best riders. She bought in at the highest level. It is rare to see people who are willing to do whatever it takes to be authentic. People like Amy raise the bar for us all.