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After a few days in my hotel in Chattanooga, TN, I’ve thoroughly nested, made it a home-away-from-home and I’m nearly ready to race my sixth National Championships. Sixth? Wow. I hardly realized it’d been so many years since my first trip to Nationals in 2008.

Before landing in Chattanooga, I was home in San Diego for a week after having been on the road for a while and wrapping up a fabulous experience at The Women’s Tour in Great Britain. Side note: The Women’s Tour deserves a blog all of it’s own and I have the notes to write one but not the time yet. Back to the story: when I got home from England I was sick (I caught whatever was spreading through the peloton) and jetlagged but couldn’t have been happier to be home. Over the first few days I averaged two dates per day with my husband (coffee, bike rides, dinners, picnics, walks, you name it) and I was contentedly slipping into normal life.

Stop. Wait. What? Normal life? What’s that even like? Since turning professional in 2008 I have spent the majority of every year living out of a suitcase and spending my free time at airports. So I use the term ‘normal’ loosely. The general meaning I’m going for, though, is sleeping in a bed in the home that I own, spending time with the people I love, going to my favorite places in town, training on my home roads, cooking in my kitchen, using my coffee doodads to make a delicious cup every morning, and blending concoction after concoction in the Vita Mix just because I can! Oh the joy of even listing these things off! It usually takes a few days for the sense of normalcy to return, but once it sets in it is both beautiful and dangerous!

Yep, dangerous because as a professional bike racer we live on the road, we live for racing, and both of these things take us away from the ‘normal’ life that I describe.

While I was somewhat fearful of my departure day (like cringing at the thought of a Band-Aid being ripped off), as the time approached I realized there were other emotions creeping in that began to shoulder out the desire to stay home and be normal: excitement, anticipation, confidence. This trip is special. It’s Pro National Championships. The most talented women (and men) professional cyclists in the United States are gathering in one place for a chance to compete for the time trial and road race championship titles and the honor of wearing the Stars & Stripes for a full year in competition. I’ve competed in Nationals sick, injured, as a support rider, and (the best yet!) ecstatic teammate of the road race champion. I sat out a year with broken bones and one year even came close in the road race. But every experience was exciting and fills me with great memories.

So that normal life will have to wait. And for now my wonderful life-on-the-road consists of fabulous teammates & team staff who I adore spending time with, opportunities to see family who live far from San Diego, fly-in-visits from my husband, honing packing/unpacking skills, and a new water kettle to get my coffee just right in the morning. I cannot predict who will win the time trial title in Chattanooga or how the road race will play out. But I’m here, I’m thrilled to be here, and looking forward to every minute.