Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Women's TT Gold USA

Today, Kristin Armstong, from Boise, Id., won the gold medal in the Olympic time trial event. The time trial event is a timed event in which individual riders leave at timed intervals over a specific distance. The person with the fastest time wins. The time trial doesn't allow for the benefits of drafting or team tactics; you just go out and ride your heart out.

Having moved from Boise, I've had many opportunities to ride with Kristin. In fact, when she would race locally, she'd race in the mens category. So, I got to race with her as well. All I can say is, she was freakishly strong and fast. I couldn't hold her wheel when climbing--she always finished just behind the fastest men. On flat races, she loved to attack. I can recall once getting in a break with her and after a few rotations, I couldn't come around. If I kept pushing, I'd blow up and have to drop back eventually getting spit out the back of the chasing peloton. She knew I was tired and wouldn't pull through anymore, so she sat up and waited for the group to catch back up. Once we were safely back with the group, I took respite in the back out of the wind to recover; and she took off on another flyer with someone else. After a few minutes, she was back again. Minutes later, she was out again with another group. The third time was a charm; I never saw her again until after the finish.

Kristin was always nice. At the same time, she had a very surreal quality about her. For example, Boise has a Tuesday night ride the locals do. The first half of year, the group ride is south of town on a ~25mile flat wind-swept location. The second half of the year, the group-ride climbs half-way up the local mountain: Bogus Basin. I can recall one Tuesday night ride, Kristin shows up to ride. She just won the Tour of the Gila the weekend before. The Tour of the Gila is like a Masters of golf, or a playoff series in the NBA, NFL, of MLB. Iconic riders win the Tour of the Gila in the pro category. Just a few days prior, she's on the top step of the podium at the Tour of the Gila, now she was riding with this small group of locals like she was just one of the locals. I'll bet she'll do the local Tuesday night ride in Boise when she gets back from Beijing. It's like having a pick-up basketball game at the park, and Kobe Bryant shows up to play--and does so every week. It's really cool but also surreal.

I'm very happy for Kristin. I know she's made many sacrifices to be on that top step of the podium in Beijing. I know that she put off her career and worked part-time at Home Depot to have the success she has. Good on you!

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