Next Chapter: NCSU

This summer has been a time of adjustment and refocus. Not that that’s a bad thing, it just threw me for a loop. But now it’s time to head back to school and my focus and drive is returning.

NCSU! I always liked red and black.
NCSU! I always liked red and black.

The next chapter in my journey has started! This past weekend I traveled to the good ol’ state capital of Raleigh to attend orientation for my graduate program. The North Carolina State University Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management program is based online, but the faculty wanted to get everyone together to meet each other and faculty, become comfortable with the online platforms we’ll be using, and be exposed to all the resources available to us as NC State students (I’m so excited about the library!). I know that institutionalized education isn’t for everyone, but I love it and thrive in that environment. Perhaps it is because my education was so fluid as a child? As I walked around the NC State campus before heading back to Hendersonville, I was reveling in being surrounded by students, old and new buildings, libraries and high caliber professors. I wasn’t sure that I even wanted to leave! But I love my job and I wouldn’t trade the place I’m in now for anything. I’m really grateful that there is a program that fits my needs and is delivered in an online format that allows me to continue working in recreation.

I’m not sure when I decided that getting my master’s degree was what I wanted, the desire just grew naturally out of my work and experiences as an undergrad at Mars Hill. As I’ve jumped into the first couple of assignments, I’m impressed with how ready I am, the knowledge and instruction that I received from Mars Hill has prepared me very well to transition into higher education.

The next two years are going to be hard, this is going to require a lot of structure, balance and dedication. It means my social time will be limited, I won’t get to ride my bike as often as I want, and I’m going to learn a lot of things that I can turn around and apply directly to my job. I’ve already met some cool people and look forward to meeting more, And when all is said and done, I’ll have a graduate degree! That thought still blows my mind a bit! What’s next, a doctorate?

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Class of 2013!

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So, this happened. I graduated Summa Cum Laude with my Bachelor of Science in Recreation and Sports Management, minor in Business from Mars Hill College on May 11, 2013.

Five years of classes, commuting, balancing school, work, and life, experiencing new things, finding new passions, having old passions affirmed and stoked up, meeting people, gaining new friends…the list could go on and on! But it has all added up to a blinged out piece of paper that makes me smile every time I look at it

It’s quite surreal that I’ve finally done it and gotten my bachelor of science in recreation! It’s also surreal how attached and how ingrained being at Mars Hill became in just two years. I’m really going to miss being there, interacting with the amazing faculty, traveling with the cycling team and making friends. My experiences are more diverse and my understanding of the world has increased so much in the past two years. Not to mention the knowledge gained in my field of study and the ideas and philosophies that have been passed on to me.

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It was also a special day since my sister graduated from Mars Hill College too! It’s because of her that I even started to consider MHC, and then the rest is history!

A few thanks and shout outs:

  • To Kyle for being patient when my assignments took the place of us time, taking care of the house, encouraging me to ride and train even when I didn’t feel like it, putting up with traveling for cycling, and giving me back rubs when I’m stressed
  • To my family for being supportive and proud and never being dismissive of my choices
  • To my sister Becky who first mentioned Mars Hill College
  • To Hugh Moran for welcoming a newbie with open arms to the cycling team and hence starting something incredible in my life
  • To Dr. Andersen for understanding my Type A personality, my needs as a non-tradition traditional commuter working student, and for sharing his experiences and thoughts about recreation
  • To the cycling team kids for just being who you are and never making me feel inferior despite my lack of experience (also, for some of the funniest moments of my life!)
  • To Tim, my boss and inspiration, who has supported me while letting me find my own way to achieve my goals, as well as being so flexible with my work schedule
  • To my friends who have been understanding of my social absence due to cycling and schooling
  • To the faculty of Mars Hill College who have instructed me, praised me, and supported my as a part of the cycling team,  especially to the Registrar’s Office for keeping my records and transcripts error free!

There really aren’t enough words to express the impact Mars Hill has had on me. All I know is that I was were I was supposed to be for the last two years, and that they were amazing!

Here’s to 2013, looking back at what I’ve achieved and looking forward to the next adventure!

Phoenix, Day One

After a long and arduous journey, which I won’t bore you with the details, we arrived in Phoenix, AZ last night for our first ever collegiate BMX Nationals! This trip is really exciting for two reasons: it’s the first BMX collegiate nationals Mars Hill Cycling has traveled to, and it’s somewhere new! I’ve loved getting to race at mountain bike and cyclocross nationals in the last two years, but they were in the same location each time.

Most race trips involve traveling, getting to the race location, sleeping, eating, racing and going home. This time though we had a little extra time and spent Friday morning exploring Phoenix. Coach Hugh lived here for a while while he was a pro racer, so he was able to tell us all about the area!

We discovered an amazing coffee shop in Tempe called Cartel Coffee Lab. The espresso was phenomenal and was served with sparkling water to cleanse the palate before drinking the coffee! The espresso was so good that I followed it up with an iced latte to go that also exceeded my expectations.

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Cartel

Cartel even had a bike wheel art installation hanging from their ceiling, making us feel at home as soon as we walked in!

Next we headed to Papago Park, where we walked up to the “Hole-in-the-Rock.” Everything is so different here–it’s dry and randy/rocky, it’s super warm, and it’s sunny! It’s such a nice break from the cold winter weather in NC!

Popago Park
Papago Park

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Hole-in-the-Rock
Hole-in-the-Rock

After our jaunt in the desert, it was time for lunch! We went to a vegan cafe called Green Restaurant: New American Vegetarian.” I love it when I can get fresh healthy food, meat included or not, but eating “mock-chicken” was a new experience for some of the tour group.

Veggies!!
Veggies!!

On our way to Black Mountain BMX, the venue for nationals, we stooped in Scottsdale at the Bicycle Haus, a classy bike shop owned by some of Hugh’s racing friends. While we didn’t stay very long, downtown Scottsdale seems pretty chill!

Finally we arrived at the BMX track! We quickly built up our bikes and hit the course for our practice runs. The course it great! It’s longer than the other courses I’ve raced on, but it super smooth and fast. I almost wrecked hardcore on my first run out of the gate since the first roller sent me flying into the air! However, I stayed upright and kept riding. I must have impressed everyone with how bad I looked, since several people gave me pointers afterwards! I’m grateful for the advice and the rest of my practice runs were smooth. Not fast, but smooth.

Now we’re back at the hotel, fed and resting. Tomorrow will see us do our thing! Nothing to prove, just racing to learn, have fun and represent Mars Hill College!

Happy St. Paddy’s Day Crit

Come to Asheville for a morning of fast and fun crit racing!

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Register online and check out the Facebook page! It’s going to be awesome!

Collegiate BMX

One of the best thing about collegiate cycling is the opportunities to try many different disciplines. Some I’ve loved, others I’ve been less than excited about. But throughout them all was the opportunity to try! So try I did!

Ready to BMX!
Ready to BMX!

The most recent new thing is BMX! USA Cycling added the discipline to the collegiate schedule and this year the results will count towards the overall team rankings. At Mars Hill, we currently have one BMX pro rider, Alan Hudson. The rest of us who were interested have simply jumped on borrowed bikes and peddled like crazy out of the gate!

The SECCC has hosted two races at BMX courses in SC. Each time we took down a team and all tried something new! I’ve really enjoyed it! BMX is totally different from any other type of racing! It’s fast, short, your center of gravity it weird due to the 20in bike and wearing a full face helmet. Runs are called motos and you use a starting gate. At the first race, hosted by the University of SC at Lexington BMX, track standing in the gate to get the best start was an issue. Alan gave me some tips and by the end of the day, I was able to maintain my standing at the gate!

BMX at Lexington Photo by MHC.
BMX at Lexington Photo by MHC.

A larger group went to the BMX race in Greenville SC, hosted by ETSU, our friendly neighbors from Tennessee! The Greenville course seemed a bit harder to me than the one in Lexington, but it was a good experience to ride on something different. Especially since my experience is extremely limited!

ETSU BMX II
Women’s Team — Photo by MHC
ETSU MK III
Track Standing Practice Paying Off — Photo by Mikey Keith

   The weather had been sunny on and off during the day, when right before the 3rd and final moto, it started snowing! It snowed harder and faster than I’ve seen all winter in NC!

Sarah and I Were Very Confused -- Photo by Mikey Keith
Sarah and I Were Very Confused — Photo by MHC

Racing in the Snow! -- Photo by Mikey Keith
Racing in the Snow! — Photo by Mikey Keith
ETSU MK V
Snowy Course — Photo by Mikey Keith

We did our final run in the snow, before hurrying to pack up and hit the road for home! Sadly, once we got to the NC/SC state line, the snow disappeared!

The next stop for the Mars Hill Cycling BMX team will be Nationals in Phoenix, AZ next weekend. Catherine Harnden and I will represent the women, with Alan and Logan making up our men’s team. I’m very excited to visit a new location and race some BMX!

Thanks to everyone who has worked hard to put on the first BMX races ever in the SECCC and to those who have loaned us their BMX bikes!

Spring-a-ding-dong

Whew! What a year it has been! I always feel like the year begins and ends with the school schedule. Perhaps that’s merely an artifact of being in school for 17 out of my 23 years. So, now that the stress of finals is over and I’ve had time to expand, unwind, and be a lazy-face for a bit, I’m giving you the highlights of my junior year!

August

  • Started junior year at Mars Hill College! Getting to that point in my education had been a goal for a long time, and I was super excited to be there!

September

  • First mountain bike race EVER in my life in GA for Mars Hill Cycling. I was so excited and ready for it (which proved I was doing the right thing) and podiumed in my first short track and cross country races.

October

  • First Cat A mountain bike races at our home races.
  • Collegiate MTB Nationals in Angel Fire New Mexico! We got 5th as a team and had an amazing time despite the freak snowstorm and rough conditions. It was some of the hardest, yet most personally rewarding racing that I’d done during the mountain bike season.

 

  • First Cyclocross Race! Thanks to the Magnificent Frank from the always raved about Spin-Tech, I got to finally race the discipline that long ago inspired me to one day be awesome and ride bikes!

November

  • North Carolina Cyclocross Grand Prix. This is where it started years ago, so getting to race in my hometown in the races that started it all was incredible. I can’t wait for next year!

December

  • End of my first semester at Mars Hill with a 4.0 gpa and Dean’s List award!

January

  • USAC Cyclocross Nationals in Madison WI! I think this is the highlight of my year! It was amazing being surrounded by so many riders of all levels, as well as sharing the goal for first place with the team. I rode to my best finish of the season in 7th, in a nationals race! It was really exciting helping the team get one the podium as national champions!
  • Start of the spring semester at Mars Hill College. I was really excited since I was taking recreation classes at last! Not really excited about the 19 credit hours and 7 classes, but ready to tackle it!

February-March were full of schooling, taking a break from riding, and trying to start training for road in a very crowded schedule.

April

May

  • End of the semester and my junior year with 3.8 gpa and Dean’s List again! Officially a senior!
  • Celebrated 4 years of marriage with Kyle! I’m so grateful for him and happy that he’s my man.

 

And that’s about it! I’m enjoying readjusting to a regular work schedule and relaxing after full and busy school year. I’m excited to start focusing on mountain biking again, racing a couple of times this summer and then heading into collegiate mountain bike season strong and ready to dominate. It’s nice getting to ride with Kyle again and spend time together. He’s awesome. I’m looking forward to all this summer brings!