Arielle Lane is our latest athlete spotlight. She went from learning to ride a bike, to suffering major injuries from a traumatic crash to becoming an accomplished racer and endurance rider all in the course of just a few short years. Her story is one of inspiration and shows the true power of cycling. We're proud to have Arielle as part of the TrainingPeaks community. Here is her story...
This year I am turning 31 years old and it will be my second consecutive year racing in Womens CAT 4 sanctioned under USA Cycling. I entered the racing circuit in 2010. It was my first time ever to experience pushing myself to those physical and mental limits. I walked away in 2010 with four 1st places. Three in the Frenchtown, NJ Time Trial series and one from the Race up Sunrise Mountain in Branchville, NJ. In October, I completed 3 cycling endurance events in consecutive weeks. The OCBC Fall Tour which was a metric century. The following weekend, I PR'ed at the Seagull Century in Maryland, completing all 100 miles in 5 hours and 11 minutes. The following week, I completed the Black Bear Century which is noted as being one of the toughest century rides in the U.S. with 10,000 ft of climbing.
This season would not have been as impressive if I did not tell you that in 2009 I could not walk, and I picked up a bicycle for the first time ever in 2007.
In 2005, I began taking spin class at a local gym in NY. I had never been on a bicycle outside before. My parents were overprotective of me as a child and never taught me how to ride a bike. During these spin classes I began to realize how much more I would enjoy this if it were outside, but was too embarrassed to admit I did not know how to ride a bike. I began to desire not only to learn how to ride a bike, but also to race one. In 2007, I moved to San Diego, California, a cyclists dream. With my tax return that year, I made the best investment ever and purchased my first bicycle, a Novara Carema Pro. Every night, I snuck out to a local park and taught myself how to ride (with clip in pedals no less!). Next, I graduated to a small lake nearby during the day where I could practice turns and small hills. After months and months of practice, I joined a local bike club and began riding on the road with groups.
I decided in 2009 to attempt my first century ride, the Shadowcoach, a challenging ride that took cyclists out to the unmerciful Anza Borrego Desert. I was about to discover the real challenge of cycling. Getting back on the bike. Around mile 87 of the century I had a traumatic crash at speeds exceeding 45mph. I slid across the entire road and hit the guardrail on my left hip. My first thought when I finally laid still was, 'will I ever ride my bicycle again?'. My second thought: 'how is my bicycle?'. The Novara was fine, I was not. I was airlifted to Palomar Hospital. In addition to having severe road rash across my entire left side and back, I also suffered a broken kneecap and torn quadricep tendon. After 5 weeks in a soft cast I lost over 80% of muscle in my left leg. Rehab was painful and depressing, but I was determined to ride again. My bike sat in the corner of my apartment and every day it was a reminder of how bad I wanted it. I attended intensive physical therapy three times a week where they shocked my left leg in order to stimulate some muscle response. Every day, I did my assigned exercises. Gym members gawked when they saw me entering the gym on crutches. I did not care. I was determined and not afraid. The accident happened April 4, 2009. My second surgery to repair additional cartilage tear was June 4, 2009. July was my first attempt to ride outside again. At first, it was painfully slow. I couldn't go faster than 10 mph and I was terrified of going downhill since that is where my crash happened. I continued the rehab, strength training and recovery rides. From what I recall, I began riding "normally" again before I began walking normally again. I knew I needed something to motivate me and keep me going, so I signed up for another century in October --- The Seagull Century in Maryland. But this one was different. I decided to ride in memory of my mom (who died from Leukemia) as a grassroots fundraiser for Livestrong. A few friends did not think I could do it. But on October 9, 2009, just seven months after my crash, I completed all 100 miles in the rain. I cried when I crossed the finish line.
The racing stars aligned for me that fall when I moved back to the east coast. A local Masters racer took me under his wing. He said he saw a lot of determination in me. I began training intensely under his guidance through the winter and emerged in the spring a whole new cyclist. Strong, fast, and more determined that ever. The amount of dedication it took to get there was immeasurable. The entire experience was one of the best things to ever happen to me. It forced me to ask the questions, through all the pain and sacrifice, "how dedicated are you to cycling?" and "will you get back on that bike?" I did. And I am stronger, both mentally and physically, than ever. I remember the doctor saying I will never run again. Earlier today, I completed a seven mile trail run in under an hour, my best time ever. The whole experience is a true testament to how strong the human mind really is. The power of believing. I believe in myself now and I believe in the power of the sport of cycling. I don't think there is enough time or space for me to really describe all the sacrifice and hard work it took for me. Not only do you have to give a lot to cycling, but what it gives back in return is truly priceless.
And I am ever so grateful for it all.
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