Going to let you in on a little secret. Life as a professional cyclist lacks a little of the glitter some people think it has. I know. Hard to believe, but really some days it’s just a crazy series of misadventures colored by Fate. And someone just told Fate you said her ass looked big in her favorite dress.
Or maybe that’s the painkillers talking. Lemme explain.
Peeing in the the pool
Recently I received a letter saying, “congratulations. You’ve been selected for the national testing pool.” This means I am now subject to out-of-competition testing. So the upside is, I’ve gotten fast enough that someone has noticed. The downside is that USADA wants to know where I’m at 24/7 so they can show up at my house unannounced for a urine sample. High fives, Champ.
Don’t get me wrong; I’ll do my duty to keep my sport clean. Besides, drinking enough water to stay hydrated … shoooot … I’ve got plenty of samples for USADA. But here’s where Madame Fate stepped in.
For whatever reason, USADA hasn’t been getting all the updates I’ve texted stating I’m in staying Boulder. So when they showed up at my home address in Brighton, Colorado, on Sunday night for a drug test, the only participant willing to fill a cup for an audience was a golden retriever named Lady. (It seems Irony and Fate are tight.)
So I get a message from my mom saying, “Judy, there are some people here for you.” My mom is also just getting a grasp of this testing thing and her 77-year-old graces make for a funny, if not cryptic, translation.
But then I remembered USADA and that you have 60 minutes from when they show up to meet them or it’s considered a missed test. Three missed tests in an 18-month stretch and you’re in trouble. I called back and got Phil on the phone. After a bit of deliberation on how to make the time cut, I told Phil of a King Soopers in between Boulder and Brighton where we could meet.
Plan made. I headed east and Phil got in his car to headed west. Problem Solved. Hey Fate, what else you got?
Don’t tempt Fate. Just don’t
Just minutes into my drive, traffic came to a quick halt for a person fixing to cross at the crosswalk. With my keen Spidey senses, I stopped in time to avoid ramming the car in front of me. The Subaru behind me, not-so-Spidey; rumping my Subaru at speed with a good solid thud. No airbags deployed, just bumper cars — and not the amusing kind.
Still focused on the task at hand, I got out to survey the damage, hoping for the best. No luck. The hatch wouldn’t open. Awesomeness.
I called my mom back so she could chase Phil, who was just pulling out of the driveway, to hand him the phone. I could hear her yelling “Yoohoo” and practically saw her waving her arms to signal down an airship. I told Phil about the incident and that I’d be a little more than the initial 20-minute estimate but we were still good on the time limit. Before we hung up he said not to worry and to “take a big breath.”
I exchanged information with the other driver and then carried on eastwardly — if not resolutely — on what was becoming a grail quest of sorts. I arrived at the destination, but Phil didn’t. His GPS landed him at a nearby Safeway. Nice touch, Fate. But it’s a minute away, and I hopped in the Suby and cruised (cautiously) down the road.
I met up with Phil and cohort Sarah. After a pantomime of the accident, condolences and a cell phone demonstration of my information-received texts, we headed into Safeway for “the exchange.” We tabled the whereabouts conversation for different experts. Phil’s department just rhymes with I.T. We’d met the time limit, and it was time to get down to business.
Pick up, Aisle 9
But first we had a seat at an in-store Starbucks table. For a process that gets pretty personal, there was a load of formality. I got the official introductions and statements, signed papers, chose my cup (checking for cracks to avoid catastrophe) and then it was a skip to the loo.
Sarah was my chaperone. You have to be witnessed providing the sample naturally. Which I suppose if you’re desperate enough to cheat, you may not have qualms about toting around 90ml of clean urine. Cheating is just dirty.
So we made small talk, as you would in a public stall with a total stranger watching you in all your glory tend to nature aero-tucked like the Herminator. Turns out, Sarah’s day job as an esthetician made the USADA gig pretty tame. They may be all smiles in lab-coats, but don’t be fooled, Rippers have to have nerves of steel and a disposition like Marky Mark in The Italian Job to do the full Brazilian robbery.
Then, to spare any shoppers confusion on what kind of samples we had, Phil came into the ladies’ room for the official distribution into the safety sealed bottles. Sarah stood guard outside. I did hear her direct one poor gal away who ended up just using the men’s. A bonus evening with the thrill of the unknown and lure of cakes, I’m sure.
Dirty work to keep it clean
Anyhow … we finished up the transfer and the final paper work. Noticeably we didn’t end with handshakes, but I’m OK with that. Joking aside, Phil and Sarah were very cool and doing the dirty work to keep cycling clean.
Today I’m waiting to hear from the insurance company. Seems Geckos are cute on TV, just slower on phones. I also saw the chiropractor to get reset after what turned out to be a brutal trip to the bathroom. Anyhow … it gave me something to write about.
Until next time … Hey Fate, you’re a vision in lycra.
Added note: By the time of this post, the Gecko had called back. The Subaru heads to the shop (again…sigh) later this week. Rock on.
Judy Freeman is a pro mountain biker out of Boulder, Colorado. In 2009 she represented the U.S. at the World Championships in Canberra, Australia. For 2011, she’ll be racing for Kenda/Felt Mountain Bike Team. Other sponsors for 2011 include Kenda, Felt, TrailMaster Coaching, Hayes, Manitou, Sun Ringle, Pearl Izumi, Voler, WickWerks, KMC, FSA, Crank Bros, Fi’zi:k, Pika Packworks, Smith Optics, TriFlow, 2XU, Action Wipes, Louis Garneau and Mighty Good Coffee.