If I Can, So Can You

If I can do it, so can you.

We’ve all heard it. Hundreds of times? Thousands of times?

It’s true.

I was probably the heaviest I had ever been. Between my two boys, my career and life in general, I had taken a step away from athletics, despite the fact that they had been an important part of my youth. Then, my husband and I discovered biking. We discovered the joy of exploring new places and the quiet family time. And we found a way to get much needed exercise.

During that first summer, three years ago, I couldn’t ride far. My home was at the top of a hill, and I didn’t have the skills or strength to ride up it. So I stuck around my neighborhood, determined to someday ride farther; determined that someday I would be able to ride up the hill.

I won’t say it was easy. But I did fall in love with riding (especially single track!), which made it fun. I wanted to pursue races, which for me are more like tours. In my first race season, I completed the Lutsen19er and Maah Daah Hey 25. MDH took me six hours. I wanted to quit. It was the hardest physical thing I had done as an adult. And I had the time of my life. I had ridden the raddest race in the baddest place and wanted more of it!

The following year I went back for more. The Maah Daah Hey 150 mile stage race, which ranged in temperature from 47 degrees to 113 degrees, made every ounce of my body hurt. Walking hurt. Sleeping hurt. But I finished. And I realized I needed more fitness.

I was 270 pounds, had two years of biking under my belt, and was full of enthusiasm. My bucket list of races was growing:

  • Land Run 50
  • Dirty Roubaix
  • Dirty Kanza 100
  • Tour the Divide

Those races are tough. Photos showed muddy, exhausted riders. But silently I thought “I want to do that.” I reached out to my current coach, Wendy Davis, with a simple goal: to finish. I rode diligently all winter, training 5 days a week. The winter was icy, and many of my rides were on a trainer. It was a challenge, but I was excited. And I was seeing results!

As winter came to an end, I headed out west, listening to Bobby Wintle’s Country Roads Lead Me Home and fearing what lay ahead. The weather gods were on our side, and I finished Land Run 50, my first 50 mile ride, with a smile on my face despite the pains throughout my body.

Racing didn’t get easier. I was constantly reminded of how far I had to go, but so proud of how far I’d come. I stayed on course, knocking out Dirty Roubaix in my home state of Wisconsin alongside my son.

And then it happened: I quit. It still stings when I think about it. Dirty Kanza 100 is not for the faint of heart. And that day, I just didn’t have it. But I also knew that I never wanted it to happen again.

I immediately made the choice to take the next step toward improving my health and fitness, reaching out to a nutritionist. I weighed in at 254 pounds, and we set big goals. With his help, both my husband and I made significant lifestyle changes. We no longer eat pork, beef, milk products, eggs or grains. With persistence and good choices, I’m making progress. I’m writing on September 18, and today I weigh 199.8 pounds.

Velorosa Ambassador Crystal Riding bikes literally changed my life. I now exercise five times a week. So far this year, I have more than 3,000 miles in the books. I’m proud of myself. I am accomplishing things I never thought possible. My health is improving daily. And my future is there for me to grab!

Next year, I’ll be racing Land Run 100, Dirty Kanza 100, Coast to Coast 200 and Hamr with my sons. I want to ride across the finish line with them. I want my choices to make their lives better, and my determination will make it happen. If I can do this, so can you.

- Crystal, Velorosa Brand Ambassador

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