Lots of people ask me where my motivation comes from to do what I do. I never have a good answer, but recently I started thinking about it. I've been an athlete since I was very young, and today I am a competitive cyclist. I think with every sport transition my motivation changed and that was actually why I changed sports. I started in Track and Field, likely as a baby, became a speed skater when I was 18 and at 24 became a cyclist. I don't remember much about Track because I was so young, but I was in the programme because I was good at it and I won a lot. I don't think I needed a lot of motivation. Eventually though I hit puberty and I couldn't run a race to save my life. I struggled through it and training was the only thing I knew how to do. It didn't help me get results though. It wasn't fun, I couldn't win and I hit a point where I realised, I'm never going to win an Olympic medal at this. So I quit.
Six months later I became a speed skater. I didn't do this because I loved skating or the idea of speed skating. I did this because it looked hard, not a lot of people do it, and with my work ethic, I knew I could be successful. In 2002, I figured, in 6 years I'd be a World Champion and maybe I could even go to the olympics in 2006. So I trained. I trained my butt off for 25-30h a week in a sport I had never even done, for 6 months. At that point I started looking for an ice club to go to, when I discovered there are no Long Track Ovals in Toronto! I figured I must be missing something and made a trip to the Toronto INLINE Speed Skating Club to ask them where the ice is. This is how I became an inline speed skater, because truly there was no ice outside of Calgary at the time.
I excelled quickly because I worked hard. My biggest problem was that I couldn't skate before 2002 and I had a lot to learn about technique. It was easy to have fun when you're getting better and winning. I made the World Team in 2005 and competed in my first Worlds. That's where I realised that I had been fueled by negative motivation. I wanted to beat everyone around me instead of meeting my goals. My goal was to be a world champion, but I didn't care what sport as long as I beat everyone. My club and training group were a fairly negative influence in that respect and the boys in the group always riled up the girls against each other. I wasn't well liked and the women especially resented that I was faster than them in such a short time. I was training more than them so it was going to happen no matter what. I started to realise the situation I was in was destructive but I just couldn't seem to change my attitude. I attended another World Championship the following year and was given a contract to a Professional World Inline Cup (WIC) Team. I moved to Switzerland in spring 2007 for what I thought would be my break through year. I was the first Canadian woman on a WIC Team that contested all the races in the world. I got to fly to Asia several times! It was the experience of a lifetime, but I had this large chip on my shoulder. I was there to prove that I was better and faster, that I was the Canadian who could make it and that by finally having a coach, I'd be a world champion. I was told if I come top 20 in a WIC race in my first WIC season, that's a big accomplishment. I placed 19th in the first race. In Seoul, Korea on April 2nd, 2007 was the last time I had raced without expectations.
Every start line I stood on after that felt worse than the last. I didn't do well in my 2nd race and in my 3rd race I thought, "I can't mess this up like the 2nd race". In the 4th race I thought, "ok two bad ones, shrug it off. You can do this!" and season continued on without another top 20, not even a top 40. I was demoralized and my coach was questioning why I wasn't performing, since I did so well in Seoul. What could possibly be the matter? I was embarrassed, scared of getting yelled at after the races and I just wanted so badly to prove to everyone that I was capable. That I would be a world champion in 2009. I set that date after arriving in Switzerland because everyone who goes to the WIC gets good and 2009 Worlds would be in Switzerland. That would be almost like a home event by then. I thought I'd get better just by association I guess.
I joined a cycling team, started climbing the ranks slowly and learning that cycling is the hardest sport I've ever done. Sometimes I regretted that I had been riding since the age of 5 and never raced until almost 20 years later, but I know that with my attitude, I wouldn't have been ready. I reminded myself that I love to ride and that it's a gift. My speed skating coach in Switzerland used to say, "in the WIC, you're on hidin' to nothin'. Everyone's watching." I couldn't fake it and I couldn't lie about why I placed badly, the way I was expected to in Canada like everyone else. Cycling is like that. You either have it or you don't, it's very simple. The thing is, you can't possibly perform every day of your life, and I learned that the hard way. Sometimes you just show up and give everything you have and it doesn't matter where you finish. As long as I give everything, I'm happy.