• Deirdre Maloney

TWO WHEELS

There is nothing in the world like riding a bicycle. There is so much sheer enjoyment in just cruising alongside the ocean, the breeze blowing over you and keeping you cool on the hottest day. Even on the most treacherous training days where I’ve climbed some of the biggest mountains in the world taking me 4+ hours to get to the top, there is a satisfaction like no other in conquering mother nature's obstacles and reaching destinations one would think were impossible. Cycling took over my life in 2015. I was transitioning from triathlon into competitive road racing as I was consistently getting injured running.


My first year was one of many highs and lows. I was great at time trialing from my triathlon background but was clueless when it came to being in a group, using the draft and all of the surges that would ensure a great chase that left me gasping for breath. It was a new physical challenge that I was ready to conquer. Jon had already made the transition and now we were training full time on the bike together. I raced at an entry-level for 2 years and then moved up to the Elite field in 2017, deciding to start my own women’s team to boot. I got a couple of my friends together and in year 1 I believe there were 11 of us. Starting HighGate Racing is one

of the best things I’ve ever done. It taught me about real teamwork, especially when I needed to step away from the team in late 2018, early 2019 to work on myself after a mental breakdown. I thought the team would collapse but it seems the walls and foundation I built it on are strong and have meaning to more people than just myself. I have made some special friendships and connections through this team.



One of my mentors, Paolina Allan, who is my BBF (best bike friend), started the team with me and held me up when I thought it was all going to fall apart. She is another one of my teachers that have pushed me along in my fitness journey. Starting as my coach for my final year in triathlon, and inspiring me on the bike, she is one of the most talented athletes I’ve ever met. If someone told me back in 2015 that she would become my teammate and one of my best friends, I would never have believed it. If you read the story behind the name of The Unfolding Project, she is the friend with the inspiring speech that helped me create the idea behind the blog.


My husband has been my biggest supporter by far: always encouraging me to stretch and grow as a person and an athlete. Walking away from my cycling dreams when we became accidentally pregnant after an IUD failure in 2017, was extremely challenging for me. Watching my husband continue with all of the plans we had made together crushed me. Watching all of my friends go away on training camps in preparation for the upcoming season made me feel like I was getting ripped off. Having Kayden was ripping me away from something that I put all of my time and energy into and I felt completely worthless without it. Completely worthless

because I can’t ride my bike? It seems a little extreme, doesn’t it? I believe so. I believe Kayden came here to rip me away from the one thing that I had built my self worth on. I am not just a cyclist. I am not just my wins or losses. Yet, I was living my life as though I was. I would torment myself when I didn’t perform well, yet be on cloud 9 when I did. I let my results and my training control how I felt and how I viewed my worthiness. Being ripped away from the sport forced me to look at why I was so empty and that I was filling up on this artificial fill. Why can’t I still be amazing when I lose? I realized that I was using the sport in an unhealthy way and what was driving my need to be on top was my low self-esteem. Wow, groundbreaking. This little baby shook my world so hard, it dropped me to the bottom of a pit that I thought I may not crawl out of … but I did. Once I did the work and was on the road to recovery, I thought I may never ride my bike again. My training had always been to prove something: I was stronger, harder, more focused and determined than my competitors. Without these insecurities to push me to train, the bike felt useless to me. I couldn’t believe that something I had loved so much could just dissolve beneath me.



We are now 15 months postpartum and I’ve started riding again. Once per week turned into twice, and now I’m up to 8.5 hours per week and thinking of racing again. This time with a totally new mindset: I want to have fun, spend time with friends, and hopefully mentor new women in the sport. A huge thank you to Paolina Allan, Nancy Schmeler, Tracey Sullivan, and Aubrie DeSylva. You ladies helped keep the light on when everything was completely dark in my world. HGR survived my breakdown because of you beautiful, strong women. My husband is my biggest cheerleader and one of my greatest teachers. Thank you, Jon, for letting me lean on you for months on end. I think I will always be on two wheels, whether it’s oceanside or mountain climbs, races, or connecting with others, cycling will always hold a place in my heart.


Has sport ever held you up or broke you down? I would love to hear from you in the

comments.


Be Well Friends.

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