So as many of you know, I ride for Cru Cycling for the Women’s Little 500 race. Well we have a team testimony night coming up and that has had me thinking about why I ride and what has kept me going, so the following is my testimony. I do not intend to preach, nor do I wish to offend. This is just my story, and I thought it was time that I share it, all of it, including my faith.
Growing up I went to church, got confirmed through the Catholic Church and kind of wandered through faith. My senior year of high school I started riding for fun and then got into racing, joining Wing It Cycling my freshman year of college. It was amazing, for the first time I felt like I was a part of this group that had the ability to accomplish whatever we wanted. We qualified 9th and I was lucky enough to join the race as a freshman, competing in my first Little 500. During this time I also became involved in a Cru Bible Study, attending when I could around Little 500 training. The end of the year came around and I went into the summer so excited about racing. It was finally my chance to be great at something, to show the world what I could do. I ramped up my riding, and did a few road races over the summer.
It is crazy how God works, because just when you think you are at the top, that nothing could bring you down, he has a way of stepping in and showing you how little control you really have. Going into my sophomore year I was so excited about Little 500, shifting my priorities to training and no longer being as actively involved in Cru or my local church. We had an amazing team and all signs pointed towards a top five finish. I was riding more and more, and getting stronger every day. It was around September that I began to notice a nagging pain in my right knee, including large amounts of swelling around the joint. I tried to work through it, again thinking I did not need any help, but following the Hilly Hundred my knee gave out.
We went to see a specialist who gave a general, vague diagnosis of muscle overuse. I was told to take it easy and only do light riding until after the Fall Cycling Series races were over. I did this, and yet the clicking, swelling and general joint pain only got worse. We went back to see a different orthopedic surgeon and that was when Chondromalacia was diagnosed. It’s a huge problem with female cyclists, involving severe muscle imbalances. I had it badly enough the orthopedic surgeon at one point told me I should be prepared for the worst outcome: not being able to train as a competitive cyclist.
I was devastated. I distinctly remember getting home that night and just sitting on the floor, staring at the mirror on my dorm room door. Everything that I had spent months working towards, that I had put my identity into was crashing down around me. I ended up attending Cru that night and one of the staff, the coach for the Cru Men’s Cycling team, ended up listening to me as I sobbed through my situation. I was a wreck. He prayed for me and that I would find some sort of peace in this problem, and at the time I shrugged it off. I continued to ask the question: What kind of God would do this to me?
That night was the turning point though, I began to regularly attend Cru again, to get back involved with my church and found a new Bible Study. I threw myself into rehabilitation, working with a physical therapist four times a week. Still I was not making the connection, I thought if I worked hard enough I would get my dreams back on track. Unfortunately, that was not the case. In December I made the hard decision to leave my Little 500 team to focus on physical therapy, even though I was making little progress. At this point it felt like I had nothing left. One night during Bible Study we were working through James, and I came across the following passage in James 1:2-3. “Consider it all joy my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance”. This was the final piece for me, and it was in that moment that I realized if I continued to make my own plans, if I continued to rely solely on myself I was going to get nowhere.
I began praying, just asking God to show me a way. If that meant giving up cycling, then so be it but at this point I knew He was showing me that I couldn’t accomplish what He wanted on my own, that I had to trust him. I continued to work through physical therapy, and started to see results. I began to ride with the Cru Women’s team, helping them since it was their first year on the track and I had some skills to offer their student coach Jaclyn. But most of all I prayed for God to show me a way out of this mess I had created.
I got better. It hit the point that the physical therapist told me that it was one of the fastest turn arounds he had ever seen. Not only was I better, but I was stronger than I had been prior to being injured. Still, I was hesitant to throw myself back into training. If I was going to race again it was going to be because that was where God wanted me. I slowly stepped into the field again, racing on the road for the IU Club Team, and Team Scholars Inn Bakehouse. The thing was, it was no longer about winning just for the glory. It was about going out there, supporting teammates and most important of all, showing Christ’s love through racing. That summer was the best season yet. I did over twenty races, winning my first race and achieving a Category 3 upgrade.
Coming into my Junior year I decided to join Cru Women’s Cycling team for the Little 500 race. Surrounding myself with a team who was racing for the love of sport, and so that they could pour their hearts into those around them was an amazing experience. I learned how much of a platform sports provided, and how the relationships you build on the track and on the road can be used to show God’s love. It was no longer just about winning or personal glory, it was about doing the best you can with the gifts you were given, and using them in a manner that glorified God. The following summer was a whirlwind, with attending a USA Cycling regional development camp, as well as competing in local races and realizing just how strong I could be if I let God control the outcome.
So, here I am now in the last semester of my Senior year. I am training as a member of the Cru Women’s team still, but I have realized a greater role that I play in God’s plan. Cycling is at a turning point; it is a sport that is struggling to find a place amongst scandal and growth. As a cyclist I can impact and reach people who may have previously never thought about how their faith affects them, and how they can use cycling to reach out to others. I’m training with the IU Club Cycling team and a local road team, with the end goal of racing at Collegiate Nationals, and then hopefully going on to race as a professional (though I realize that is years down the road). The difference is that I am doing this because I have seen that racing at that level provides a platform, an automatic understanding and bond with a group that in some ways needs Christ’s love the most right now.
I’m not perfect and I realize that. I have days where I think it is all about me, and I have days where my faith is the furthest thing from my mind, when I just want to be the best. Every time this happens, when I get to wrapped up in training and beating everyone else, God brings me back and I remember James 1: 2-3. My injuries produced a faith that is strong and enduring, and one that can hopefully be stronger than my pride.
“Consider it all joy my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance”