Saturday, September 29, 2012


by Dawn Brooks

Yesterday I competed in my second olympic-distance triathlon. It was an amazing experience. I didn't have my normal entourage of friends with me yelling and cheering me on, but I had my coach Lorie Tucker and a few other friends giving me positive energy and encouragement. But what made the experience completely awe inspiring is right as I was stepping in the water, I saw the first of the parapalegics swim in and get lifted onto the platform. WOW! I had to remove my goggles and wipe a few tears at the sight of these amazing athletes. People ask me why I put myself through all the training to do these types of races and this is exactly why…I get to be in the presence of truly amazing people. I am surrounded by people with such drive and focus. They set a goal and do everything in their power to achieve that goal. I am honored to be in their presence.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tashina Said It Best

I took these words straight from Tashina's instagram this morning.  I couldn't have said it better myself! Congratulations to all the finishers, but especially to my own athletes, Dawn Brooks,  Simon Beltran, Jeff Louden and Dallas Louden.  

This morning we started the day off early down at Tempe Town Lake to watch my dad, my brother, sister-in-law, and close friend compete in the Nathan's Olympic Triathlon. These types of events are so inspiring and the people are one of a kind. They come in all shapes and sizes, wear all different styles of clothing, and prefer different brands of shoes....but one thing that they share is the love/drive to compete and finish this race that they set out to do for their very own personal reasons. 

I had the chance to witness bike wrecks, cramped up legs, tired bodies, tears of doubt, family members screaming trying to bring out that last ounce of strength for someone they love struggling through the last hour, and others just simply walking off the course and quitting before they even had a chance to finish.

For those that finished, whether fast or slow... they finished. I saw a dad that appeared out-of-shape grab his little boy's hand as he hobbled the last 100 meters, obviously hurting and drained of any energy, look over at his son and said with tears in his eyes, "Dad made it, I finished." He not only won in his son's eyes but conquered the inner battle that fought back everyday, the one that told him to quit. 

I also saw a women run in with four kids cheering her on who were proud to call her mom and welcomed her victorious smile with open arms.  When others give the excuse of kids as a reason not to stay healthy, she made it her reason. She became an example to her children far greater than she and we could ever dissect. She is strong and proved to them that you can accomplish anything that you set your mind to. 

Experiencing these little lessons in life renewed my commitment to strive harder everyday for the goals that I put in place for myself. It doesn't matter how strong, in shape, out of shape, 10 kids, no kids, 20 years old, or 100 years old....set a goal and don't stop until its done. I, for one am grateful for the father that I have.  When I was young, he never let me quit anything and proves day in and day out that he holds himself to the same standard.  I'm a proud daughter that will forever stand at the finish line cheering him on.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The S.C.A.R. Swim Challenge

S.C.A.R. is an open water swim adventure through Saguaro, Canyon, Apache and Roosevelt (S.C.A.R.) lakes in the beautiful desert canyons on the lower Salt River, spanning more than 40 miles.  The first three lakes went dam to dam.  The last swim at Roosevelt Lake was a 10k under the stars and finishing beneath the iconic Roosevelt Bridge.  This open water staged swim was cold, windy, dark and rough at times.  But in the end, an unforgettable experience.  Stay tuned for plans for 2013's S.C.A.R. adventure.  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What Do YOU Choose?

Heavy hearts came together this week over the passing of Rob Verhaaren.  Between his death on September eighth and his funeral on September 15th, friends and family paid tribute to this gentle man, friend, father, husband, son and cyclist.

There were intimate gatherings of those involved in the LOTOJA race, who met to mourn in a smaller setting.  There were Rob Verhaaren memorial rides.  And there were quiet reminders of Rob's 43th birthday on September 13th with celebratory candles placed in front of his home.   
And the funeral, well, that, my friends is one for the record books.  Bridget, (not Bridgette), gave the most amazing tribute of her husband and best friend. Bridget is STRONG.  And I know Rob is proud of how she is handling all of this.

Perspective hit home for me this week, with the recognition of another tragic event:  9/11.  Each year the City of Tempe, AZ displays almost 3,000 flags in their beach park to honor each of the victims who died in the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania.  The HEALING FIELDS is quite a breathtaking site.

The 8-foot high flags are tied with name placards which tell where the victims were working at the time of the deadly attacks.  And as the flags flapped in the breeze as I walked through the ailes and rows of these visible displays of life, I had an epiphany:  you can die in a building, at work, at a desk, or you can die riding a bike through the spectacular scenery of southern Wyoming.
There will always be reason to fear.  There can always be excuses to NOT do something.  But I'm choosing to live.  And to ride.  And to make the most of my short visit here on earth.   There is something in the blood of every cyclist, runner, swimmer, mountain climber -- that CRAVING for the wind at your back and fresh air in your face.  We WANT to tackle something bigger than us.  We NEED to crest the mountain peak.  We DESIRE to cross the finish line.  We want to LIVE.

And so, with new perspective we carry on.  And take with us the traits that Rob has so vividly reminded us:  keep things in balance, spend time with those you love,  serve others,  prioritize the important stuff, and most of all -- follow your heart. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Rob Verhaaren

I've been staring at an empty screen for awhile now, trying to put into words how I feel.

Yesterday afternoon, around 4:30 p.m., my husband I and received a mass text from a cousin:  "Pray for Rob.  He's been in a terrible accident.  May not survive."  Rob is a dear friend and fellow cyclist who was racing LOTOJA (stands for LOgon TO JAckson)-- a 206-mile cycling event that winds from Logan, Utah to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

We had several friends competing in the event.  All of them had to put in mass miles on their bikes, a tricky situation here in Phoenix where summer temperatures rise to more than 100 degrees often before nine in the morning.  Many LOTOJA cyclists would start their long Saturday training rides at 10p.m. and finish at dawn, just to avoid the brutal heat.

The texts quickly turned south:  "He did not survive."

It is believed that Rob had swerved to avoid a pot hole near Hoback Junction, just 18 miles outside of Jackson Hole.  The swerve caused Rob to hit and fall over the guard rail of a bridge that was +-100 feet above the Snake River, where the water depths are only six inches deep.

When you get this news, suddenly time stops, sounds mute and you deflate into a whisper of numbness.  Rob is gone, leaving his beautiful wife Bridget and their three kids, Ansel, Helena and Karl.

Here is where I'm going to tell you my beliefs, you can tune out now if you'd like.  I believe Rob was greeted by family and friends on the other side.  I believe my father, who also died in a cycling accident, may have been there to welcome Rob, as well.  I believe that God has a plan for both Rob and his family.  For Bridget, it may be a difficult and emotional road ahead.  But it will be worth it.  And she will have God, her family and her friends by her side to bring peace into her life.

And what about cycling for me?  Am I done for?  Is this sport just too dangerous?

Rob and I each bought beautiful new Cervelo S5s on the same day, at the same bike shop just three months ago.  We were excited for each other, and compared bar tape choices and color of pedals -- just to see which looked better.

That bike has renewed my joy of cycling.  I get excited and happy to head out for a long ride with friends.  I have started commuting into work on it, just to spend more time in the saddle.  Five a.m. is never too early to start a morning workout when you have such a beautiful piece of equipment waiting for you in the garage.

I guess I just have to say TBD.  The roads are getting more dangerous.  Distracted drivers with cell phones are a huge issue for bikes on the road.  And, quite frankly, I am sick of friends and family losing their lives on a bike.  I just don't know.

Today, though, we will remember Rob.  The amazing friend, father and husband he was.  He took the time to take his family around the world where they discovered together the culture, beauty, cities, and landscapes of other continents.  He taught them to believe in a higher power and to remember the values of home, family and faith.  He taught them about heaven, and instilled in them the knowledge that he will see them again someday.

Thank you for being such a special person in our lives, Rob.  We are better off for knowing you.  And give my dad a hug when you can.   

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Do You Need A Bike?

Sacha is selling her carbon fiber Argon bike.  It's a 54cm frame with Dura-Ace components and she will include Speedplay pedals. The bike is a 2004 model and has been meticulously maintained and always stored indoors.   Contact if you are interested.  She is asking $1200.

Que lindo es sonar despierto.
How lovely it is to dream while you are awake.

Dreams That Have Come True