By Rodrigo Olivares
This may be a strange way to start my story and journey with Vision Quest, but it all started after I got hit by a car at the end of a 40-mile solo ride, about a half-mile from my house, on November 8, 2016. The key word there is: solo.
On the day my left leg developed an intimate relationship with the front of a Mercedes C-Class, I had been cycling on and off for about ten years. At the time, my primary focus was running and I competed mostly in 5K and 10K races, sprinkled with some duathlons and one miserable Olympic-distance triathlon. I learned two things from that time: that I am a miserable swimmer and that I love cycling. Slowly but surely, more of my personal time was being dedicated to cycling.
That said, I had no idea what I was doing in terms of training. I ramped up my volume--mostly solo with some group rides peppered in--then got a cadence meter and a crappy little bike computer. I saw some improvements, but after a while I hit a plateau. I didn’t pay much attention to it as I just enjoyed being out on my bike. I love the speed that I can get on this machine, as well as the technical aspects (like cornering and descending) that come with bike riding. Mostly I love the sounds and scenery while on the bike: the wind passing by, the whoosh of the wheels as they speed up and the various sights one gets to see while on the bike.
Fast-forward to November 8th when I was broadsided by the Mercedes. I was traveling north on Green Bay Road, the car was traveling south and at the last second the driver made a left turn onto Melody Lane. The front of the car hit my left side with my left leg taking most of the trauma. Upon impact, I was thrown into the air and my first thought in that moment was, “Oh no! That was bad! And when you land, make sure everything works.” Fortunately, I was conscious when I landed and quickly checked that everything was working, but my legs really hurt!!! Now this may sound crazy, but immediately after that I started imagining myself back on my bike, riding through Sheridan Road. I didn’t want fear to dictate how I would feel about cycling and, for some strange reason, my competitiveness was rekindled. I already knew I didn’t want just to return to cycling--I wanted to be better than I had ever been before!
One month after the accident, I met Robbie Ventura over the phone. He invited me to come in with my bike for a fitness evaluation. Well, I no longer had a bike and could barely walk, but we scheduled a fitness evaluation for the end of December, borrowing Robbie’s bike for the test. Leading up to test day, I returned to strength-training to get myself into some level of shape beforehand. Finally, on December 30th, I did my fitness evaluation and Robbie shared his training philosophy: intervals, VO2 max all structured around your FTP and power-to-weight. It made complete sense to me and I was instantly hooked. I joined Vision Quest that day. To ensure my success, Dave Harrison was set up as my coach and he provided awesome guidance on training and equipment (seeing as I had to build a new bike).
In the nine months that followed, I logged over 5,000 miles (personal best!). My FTP jumped by 60 watts, my PTW ratio went over 4 and my bike-handling skills improved significantly since riding with VQ groups two to three times each week. In August, I completed Ride Across Wisconsin and I was signed up for another event or two for the year. More importantly, I have created friendships and lasting memories with the fantastic people who are part of Vision Quest. From an “epic” bike ride through a cold, rainy, miserable day in Lake Geneva capped off with tequila shots to the group rides with their mini races and espresso at the local coffee shop afterwards.
Through it all, not only has my bike riding improved, but my love for cycling has grown tremendously and the sights and sounds are even more enjoyable now. Thank you!