The life of an athlete is always go-go-go! Rolling with the punches, and bobbing and weaving with what comes. But when life gives you lemons, the best thing you can do is make lemonade.
After my last post in November, I continued to take time off the bike. I needed to let my body heal. At this point I knew I wouldn’t be competing in the world cup season, and I knew I wasn’t going to be racing the world championships, and I knew that because of those things, qualifying for Rio 2016 was going to be nearly impossible. In December, I decided to have the metals taken out of my collarbone. I’ve been incredibly blessed to have the support of the United States Olympic Committee throughout this process, and it went by flawlessly.
The recovery period was going to be a little longer, while I waited for the 14 holes in my bone to fill in, but during that time, I filled it with love, family, and holidays back home in Minnesota. Gunning full gas for the Olympic for 3.5 years has made the time I’ve been able to spend with my family very brief. Going home was refreshing, filled with snow, delicious food, and great memories. Eva (my 3 yr. old husky) and I loaded up the car and drove the 28 hours there and back, and for anyone who has ever traveled with a husky, she was an angel! We often underestimate the importance of going home when we are so driven towards a huge goal, but I actually feel blessed to have been given this opportunity to have down time, go home, and make memories I’ll always cherish.
Once back in LA, it was really time to start focusing on making something out of this challenging time. While working on my mind, I put my energy into recovering, and continuing my work. I was starting to get the itch to ride again, and even though I knew it was going to be challenging to get ready for, I applied to be part of the World Cycling League, taking place at the Velo Sports Center in March. And little did I know, I was selected as a rider on the California Wave team! This was the little motivation I needed to drag me out of my slump, and get back in the gym.
Over 5 months, I had lost about 15 pounds, and got a little squishy. As an athlete trying to get back into shape again, I knew I was going to have a challenge ahead of myself. But, what’s the fun if there is no challenge? It’s been encouraging watching my weight come back up, my muscles showing again, and the form come back on the track. Last week I joined in on some local track racing, which I haven’t done on a Friday night since 2012. It was a blast! Mixing it up with so many women, in a low pressure atmosphere, and just trying to survive a 60 lap points race on two weeks of sprinter training was my main goal! But I did it. I wasn’t nervous about racing, and I had so much fun. Now, getting ready for the World Cycling League, I’m so happy to be part of a team with so many great athletes and characters. I can’t wait to put on a great show for everyone who is attending, and helping the sport of track cycling grow in the United States.
This time off the bike, and newfound direction in life has given me a career, financial stability, and a different love for my sport. I know I won’t be a Rio 2016 Olympian, but I am so proud of everything I have done on the journey to that goal. Operation 2016 is to be happy, healthy, and enjoy life. I have the freedom now to live where I want, be surrounded by who I want, be there person I want, and to do as I please. I’m excited to be moving closer to the Recovery Pump headquarters and becoming a PA local within the next few months, and to make the Valley Preferred Cycling center my home track. I couldn’t be more thankful for the people who have surrounded me with their support and their love and made all of this possible. I truly have turned my lemons into lemonade. And I’m looking forward to what’s coming next.
While the race schedule is very TBD for this next year, I’m already stronger and better than I was in 2015. Watch out world!
- Missy Erickson, 2016 Olympic Long Team & UCI Keirin World Cup Medalist