Racing Season 2004 – My Own Special Village
By Margaret Thompson

“It Takes a Village” is a term that has come into use the past couple of years, and during this bicycle racing season I have often thought how lucky I am to have an entire village of great professionals to look after me while I am training and racing.  The highlights of my 2004 season are many, including medals in my three events at both Master Road Nationals and Empire State Games.  Winning the silver medal at the UCI Master Mountain Bike World Championships was icing on the cake.

My past few racing seasons were quite different from this one, filled with mixed results.  I was so frustrated, as I felt that I could be doing better.   Injuries were starting to creep up more frequently than ever, and I was so busy racing that I was starting to neglect proper training in order to recover from all the racing.  I was tired much of the time and often in pain.   In 2003 a friend of mine won the bronze medal in her race at the Master Mountain Bike World’s and I was so excited for her.  The thought that I might be able to win a medal at this competition crept into my mind and took up residence in a way that forced me to really look at the way I was living my athletic life.  Some big changes were needed.  I became a licensed cycling coach, and during that educational process I realized that premium results could come only with the help of several other trained professionals.

As a coach I realized that I could not be objective when it came to following my own programs or motivating myself into a race-ready state of mind, so this spring I hired Mark Fasczewski, a licensed Elite coach, to oversee this training.  He was one of the presenters at a three day USA Cycling coaching seminar that I attended, and I was drawn to his approach. From his home base in Chattanooga, TN, he pushes me into the intensity I need, and then enforces the periods of rest and recovery that are also required.  Mark has directed me through a smart combination of racing and training throughout the season.  He also prepares me for my big races with in-depth strategy sessions before these events.  Ah, the wonders of email and cell phones. 

Good nutrition is much talked about and often ignored.  I researched optimum nutrition for myself and elected to lose weight in the off-season so that I would be more competitive on the climbs.  My key mentor here is Jim LaFountain, from All American Fitness Center, who keeps tabs on my body fat calculation and gives me his own sage advice on nutrition and training.  Jim has a master’s degree in exercise science.

Keeping tabs on overall health can seem easier for an athlete if the doctor he or she is dealing with is also an athlete.  My concerns regarding various race-related health issues are addressed so effectively by Geoffrey Moore, MD, of Healthy Living and Exercise Medicine Associates in Rome.  Dr. Moore has competed in the Olympic Trials in the marathon, and he is more than willing to share the knowledge he has gained through both his competitive experiences and the wealth of research in endurance sports that he has completed.

Physical balance is a key requirement.  The position on the bike is obviously alien to the more upright position that humans evolved with, so good chiropractic care is a must for me.  Dr. Tom LaFountain, who has practiced at three Olympics, has been “straightening me out” for 15 years now, identifying muscle imbalances that I can work on in the gym.

All of this care has been overseen by my acupuncturist and life-coach Mackay Rippey, who holds a master’s degree in acupuncture and is assistant coach for Women’s Lacrosse at Hamilton College.   Acupuncture has enabled me to heal from injuries and recover from training stresses, and Mackay’s combination of philosophy and psychology has enabled me to implement race tactics while pushing through the pain. He has encouraged me to explore the reasons why I race, and in examining these reasons I have found the motivation to race harder than I have ever done before. 

All the training time and effort was summed up into a few key events this season.   My “village,” which also includes training partners, friends and family, has helped make all that time and effort pay off.  These folks have all helped me to achieve my goals through their expertise in their own special areas and in the huge doses of encouragement they continually give me at every turn.  I recommend that every athlete develop his or her own “village” to reap the benefits of the guidance of the many experts available in our area.