I split my growing up years between my dad’s family farm in rural western Canada and my mom’s family in the Chicago suburbs. I feel like I had the best mix of farm and city life. Time on the farm gave me a perspective that some folks might not get until they’re older, if ever. For instance, I’ve always known where my food comes from and how much work goes into that. Farm life sounds simple and peaceful but is in fact incredibly hard and unforgiving. My Canadian family demonstrated humble strength that I can only hope to emulate. Life in the city shared its lessons, too. Chicagoland exposed me to more traditional organized sports, provided a great education and taught me how to navigate heavy rush hour traffic. Now, living in one of Montana’s biggest cities seems to strike a nice balance.
PS: I always joke that I speak fluent Canadian and deep dish pizza!
WHAT IS THE CYCLING ACCOMPLISHMENT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
I am most proud of my gold medal ride in the London 2012 Paralympic Games. The Games marked the ten year anniversary of the accident that stole the life of my best friend, put me in a coma, and resulted in the loss of my left leg. It was a humble privilege and a dream come true to stand on the top step representing my family, friends, country, and the countless people who saved my life.
WHAT KIND OF A CYCLIST ARE YOU?
I’m super good at café rides for lattes and tasty treats! Since retiring from Team USA, where I specialized in the road time trial, I now focus my energies on gravel events. I love all kinds of cycling; road, track, mountain, fat-tire, touring—it’s always a good time on two wheels.
HOW LONG HAS CYCLING BEEN A PART OF YOUR LIFE? WHEN DID IT BECOME MORE THAN JUST “RIDING A BIKE”?
I remember learning to ride when I was five years old. I may have been a bit late to the party. I started riding a horse when I was three years old up on my family’s farm in Canada. Me and my pony, Flicka, made quite the pair. A kid doesn’t need a bike if they have a horse!
My relationship with bikes developed when I was 20 years old. You see, when I was nineteen a horrible car accident changed the course of my life. Prior to the accident I had been a collegiate tennis player with two strong and nimble feet.
When I woke up from my coma and saw that I no longer had two feet, I didn’t know how I would ever return to the tennis court. Would I ever be an athlete again? In time, I got back on the court, but never to the same level.
The story of how I discovered bikes also includes the story of my service dog, Betsy the Wonder Dog. In 2006, a doctor told me that I would never walk again. Betsy joined me and made everything better. She opened doors (literally and figuratively), picked up things, and pulled my wheelchair. Eventually I regained the ability to walk. At first, I wasn’t able to walk far enough to help Betsy burn off her extra energy. I saw people around mountain biking with their dogs, and I thought she and I needed to give that a try. What began as a way to exercise my dog led me to a new community and restored my identity as an athlete. Bikes have permeated nearly every nook and cranny of my life. They have carried me farther than I could have ever imagined and enabled me to meet so many good people. I am so thankful for bikes but even more grateful for Betsy the Wonder Dog. She passed in 2019 and this 2020 season is dedicated to her memory.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PLACE YOU’VE BEEN ON A BIKE SO FAR?
Switzerland! I love the climbing, quaint roads, castles, and the little cafés. The Suisse also have open terrain parks with whoopties and rollers to play on.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO DAYDREAM ABOUT WHERE YOU HAVEN’T YET RIDDEN?
I am so good at daydreaming! I daydream about riding through Africa. It’s a massive country with so much variety. I wouldn’t even know where to start.
HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE WHAT THE BICYCLE MEANS TO YOU?
Bikes symbolize freedom to me. When I can’t walk because of pain, I can usually ride. My wheels become my feet. When I’m on a bike, my body feels more normal—like I don’t have to compensate for my prosthetic leg. My bike enables me to challenge physical and psychological boundaries.
HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR FUTURE AS A CYCLIST UNFOLDING?
I know that I will always ride my bike for the aforementioned reasons. Bikes enable physical freedom that I can’t achieve any other way. In the short term, I look forward to pushing my limits with gravel and mountain bike events. I want to try bike-packing and more self-supported tours.
WHO INSPIRES YOU AND YOUR RIDING?
This is a tricky question. In the beginning it was my service dog, Betsy the Wonder Dog. Now, the inspiration is a bit more intrinsic and personal. Certainly, I gain strength and motivation from the people in my life and those I meet at events. Sharing the stoke and reigniting the spark with others is important.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SALSA BIKE MODEL AND WHY?
I’m new to the Salsa Family and haven’t yet developed a deep relationship with any one frame. That said, I intend to spend a lot time with the Warbird. I expect to share smiles, laughter, dirt, tears, bumps, scratches, sun, rain, wind, and many memories that will make great stories.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PRE, DURING, AND POST RIDE/RACE FOOD AND BEVERAGES?
During: GU Roctane, Stroopwafles, and Duke’s Smoked Shorty Sausages or Epic Bars
Post: Chocolate milk
WHAT ARE YOU DOING WHEN YOU AREN’T CYCLING?
I work as a physical therapist in Missoula and I love my job. It’s a privilege to help others move past their challenges. I also pursue public speaking opportunities as another way help people discover that they are capable of more than they know.
WHAT DON’T YOU LEAVE HOME WITHOUT ON A RIDE?
SNACKS!!!! If I ever have another dog, I’m going to name them “Snacks.” Everybody loves snacks! Early on when I started riding, I didn’t understand the importance of consuming calories during exercise. I didn’t even know what “bonking” was! Looking back, I realize I bonked all the time. Eating revolutionized my training and racing and enables my body to endure long-distance events like Dirty Kanza 200.