March 2020, you were a cruel joke. I had been studying for a CFA exam scheduled for June, it got postponed. My first target race for the bike season was scheduled for the first week of April, it is also postponed. And on top of that I am in the midst of transitioning my career down a different path in the financial sector…given the current economic state, I’ll let you guess how that’s going. It seemed that within a 48-hour window I had very little to work towards, and for the first time in about 19 years I had no goals. Not only that, but I could no longer get on a plane to spend time with my family in Germany. Unmotivated, trapped, and lost are only a few of the words that summarized my mental state.


It is now that I am more thankful than ever for all of the training journals I kept during my 16 years of world cup Laser racing. In fact, it was a page in my very first training journal that mentally turned things around for me a couple of weeks ago. In 2007 I set a goal of an Olympic medal and World Championship podium finish in 2016 in the Laser Radial Women’s Olympic One Person Dinghy. In all capital letters at the very top of the page with a giant box around it, the goal was set.


Let that timeline sink in for just a moment. In 2007 I set a goal that was 9 years away, for reference I was 16 at the time.


Underneath that big goal, arrows progressed down the page with steps along the way. Everything from racing at the 2012 Olympics to get experience, winning a senior world cup race prior to the 2012 Olympics, a podium finish at Youth Worlds, targets for how long I wanted to hold a plank for, graduating high school, specific academic things I wanted to accomplish so that I would get accepted into the university program I wanted to attend, and then from each of those sub goals more arrows went off, breaking things down into even smaller steps all the way down to 1 month blocks of time. At the bottom of the page I made a note, re-evaluate in a few months. Fast forward a few journals, injuries happened, some goals were missed. One thing never changed though, and that was the big goal at the top of the page…at this point still light years away. As life threw curve-balls my way the steps to reach the goal changed, but the goal stayed constant.


So as I sat there reading these journals I realized that this is no different. The big goals still exist, I just need to adjust the steps I need to take to reaching those big goals. This extra time to study for the CFA program means I can gain a more thorough understanding of the topics I was struggling with, and beyond that, I can apply the concepts to what is currently happening in the financial markets. My big bike goal is unchanged, in fact, still a couple of years away, so now rather than focusing on race specific skills I am working on other bike skills which will still help move me towards my goal. And in terms of my career shift, again, there are skills that I can work on right now which will help me get to where I want to go. In terms of long goals, the big career goal I have set is not unlike my big sailing goal, I still have 11 years to achieve it.


So why am I sharing this with you? To say that everything is going to be okay. Unlike an injury, everyone is in the same boat. In a way it is an equal playing field, and like in ‘normal’ life, the individuals that are able to adapt their goals, stay focused, and stay positive will come out ahead.


I have taken this time to draw out a new goal tree, and while my goals for this week, the next month, and the next six months look very different, I have taken comfort in seeing that the big goals at the top of the page – they’re still there, the timeline hasn’t changed, I’m just taking a different path to get there.



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When my colleague Anne asked me to write about my experience with the COVID19 pandemic as an athlete, including race cancellations and uncertainty that have accompanied them, I knew it may be difficult. If you ask me how I feel about training and racing tomorrow, you’ll get a different answer than if you ask me today. And that’s okay. Like everyone else, I’m slowly settling into the unknown, and developing an acceptance of our new normal.


But what does that mean, new normal? 2020 was slated to be my “last” season racing on the road. Now that my last season is likely completely cancelled, I’m also learning to be comfortable with the notion that the things I intended to do after my last season?...Well, those things may not be possible either! So what is “new normal”, and how the heck do I/we get there?



Firstly, I’m settling in to the notion that we might race this year, at some point, in the future. In the completely non-specific future. In the likely completely non-specific distant future. Like, fall. Or, we might not. Like many racers, it’s been difficult to balance my desire to train for what might be, and my sometimes urgent desire to move on and find new goals.


Although my priorities have been quickly redesigned with respect to COVID19, I do feel the loss of racing. I spent a week at team camp with InstaFund LaPrima just before large numbers of COVID cases struck the west coast. Then, instead of training for the Joe Martin Stage Race, I worked two weeks straight helping redesign our clinic patient care model and navigate the unknown in our little corner of healthcare (I’m a PA in a small vascular medicine clinic).When I sit with the notion of missing my last season, and time with my team, I sometimes feel guilty. Although my husband and I have experienced difficulties during the early stages of COVID19, we are by and large, extremely lucky. Still, as a friend told me, we all deserve time to sit with our losses. It’s okay to give this gift to ourselves. It’s okay to feel disappointed, and it’s okay to miss bike racing.


Instead of looking away, I’m trying to process my disappointment, and feelings of loss. Those emotions extend far beyond bike racing. This is not a normal time in our lives, and there is no normal reaction. There is no handbook for “How to be and Feel During a Pandemic”. Maybe we can write that later. But for now, all we can be is here. For ourselves, and for each other. Bike racing, or no bike racing.



My motivation to train waxes and wanes day to day. It’s difficult to train for a moving target. So for now, I’m just riding to feel good. For myself, and for most athletes, I think the biggest danger comes in over training during this time. It’s easy to charge ahead and use extra time to train harder than ever before (Zwift harder than ever before!), but it’s important to listen to our bodies, listen to external stressors, and use our energy wisely. The best fitness comes from exercising patience, and this time is no different. I’m doing my best to remember that.


Rearrangement of priorities is okay. The unknown is okay. Although cycling and bike racing are high on the list of things that bring me joy, my priorities have been swiftly rearranged during the past six weeks. I can sit with that. I can let go of my race calendar, and I can move on to new goals, maybe even an entirely new life phase. Reluctantly at first, and then with happiness. My experience won’t be the same as other athletes. Disappointment exists on a scale, and we will all embody this time in our lives differently.


So what is my new normal as an athlete? I’m not sure yet. I have a training calendar, because it makes me feel good. Sometimes I do the workouts, sometimes I don’t. I’m spending lots of time at home. I’m still working, and that brings me satisfaction. I’m improving the garden and spending time with people I love.. I’m finding new goals (Any ideas?...I have a couple on the backburner.). In a strange way, this time is deeply satisfying. When I step back, and see life prospectively, I know we can remember this time with some joy. There will be sorrow, and uncertainty, but there will also be joy, and bikes will play a large role in finding it.


For now, my new normal is learning to embrace the unknown. So here’s to us all, stepping through the unknown together. Let’s do it with grace, and acceptance, and a new capacity for empathy. Bikes will be there, and racing will be there, when we’re done wading through this together.


- BAO



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What type of trainer do you use?  I use a Kinetic trainer or rollers. 

How do you keep the room cool? My trainer setupis either outdoors on the deck or inside, depending on the weather outside. When I’m inside i'll usually use one big fan and usually have a window open. But when I am outside it’s dependent on outdoor temperature. I always have a towel for face sweat too. 

Do you use a virtual training software solution? I don’t use any virtual training software but wouldn’t be opposed to trying it. I mostly only use trainer workouts to do very specific, quick interval sessions. I live on the west coast of Canada so training outside year-round is very possible. But sometimes you just want a little break from 4 degrees and rain! I also find trainer workouts to be useful during the school year. I can get a lot high quality work done when I am pressed for time. But I would almost always prefer to ride outside! 

Do you eat during indoor rides? If yes, what do you use most often to fuel trainer rides? I don’t eat during trainer rides. For me they aren’t long enough, nor would I be able to keep the food down. 

One tip to help make the time go by faster: Music! And Netflix! Right now, I am really into the Netflix docuseries “Hillary” which is about Hillary Clinton and her life inside and outside of US politics. My music taste varies a lot with what kind of workout I am doing and what mood I am in. But some of my favorite songs right now are: “King’s Rant” by Masego, “Come Down” by Anderson .Paak, “Small Talk” by Niall Horan, “Down Below” by Roddy Rich, and “False God” by Taylor Swift. 

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