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VQ & You: Priscilla Swenson

I joined Vision Quest Coaching in September 2009, shortly after my first century ride. I am very thankful to have discovered this one-of-a-kind training center! The training has improved my cycling, inspired me to push my limits, led to feelings of accomplishment and produced epic moments.

I have always enjoyed sports and exercise and managed to be active, although since childhood, I’ve been faced with the challenges of asthma. As a mom, it wasn’t until my children were older that I was able to volunteer and work out more regularly. In 2009, Team in Training invited me to participate in a charity century ride around Lake Tahoe. Even though I wasn’t a serious cyclist, I decided: why not? It was a memorable ride that took me about 8.5 hours to complete. I stopped and grazed my way through all of the many rest stops. My favorite stop was at the beach at mile 72. I ate several sandwiches, rested on the beach and did some stretching. Needless to say, finishing those last 28 miles was not an easy task!

After that ride, I decided I wanted to spend more time on my bike and become a stronger cyclist. I joined Taste of VQ at the suggestion of one of the Team in Training coaches. About 18 months later, I joined the On Your Left program to ride with a group and meet new friends.

In August 2011, while out for a run, I was hit by a car. My hand was broken in three places and both my MCLs were torn. I had hand surgery and physical therapy and was not able to work out for several months. I missed my workouts at VQ and returned as soon as I had healed. Also, shortly after my accident, I sadly closed my women’s clothing boutique, ‘scilla, which freed up more time for me. I’m a real believer in the statement, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and it was at this point I knew I wanted to become a more serious cyclist.

I’ve been to three VQ Camps: Santa Rosa, Solvang and Tucson. The camps are amazing and full of great coaching advice and encouragement. In addition to the adventurous and challenging rides, there are massages, fun-filled evenings, delicious meals and lots of camaraderie. The camps helped me to become a stronger and more confident cyclist.

At camp last year, we rode Mt. Fig, which was 10,000 feet in elevation. I knew the climb would require hard work, but it was the steep descent that made me anxious. I made sure to communicate this to Robbie. When I got to the top of the climb, Robbie was there. I followed him down (not at his usual pace, I’m sure!). With his help, I felt more in control and confident on the descent. Looking back, I am thankful that before Robbie disappeared down the mountain in a cloud of dust, he pointed out the amazing beauty around us.

In November, I rode in my first timed century. It was an intoxicating experience! Robbie prepared us to ensure a safe and efficient ride and exuded lots of his usual enthusiasm. At the start line, I was both excited and nervous as evidenced by my chattering knees. Would I be run over by the peloton of cyclists? Would I be able to hang on with my fellow VQ cyclists, finish safely and in a decent time? I finished safely, met some great cyclists and even had a few laughs. I missed platinum by 7 minutes, finishing in 5:37. It was an epic day! This, of course, means a return trip back to Tucson to settle the score!

I enjoy long endurance rides and have completed numerous century rides since that first one in Tahoe. I’m now a full VQ member and recently began training with Carlos, who is an enthusiastic and inspiring VQ coach! Now swimming lessons have been added to my weekly workout regimen. Most importantly, I’ve learned that persevering through the uncertain and difficult moments have helped me overcome my fears, meet new milestones and lead to a wonderful sense of accomplishment. I’m eagerly anticipating the new adventures and goals that will evolve in my future!

Thank you all: Robbie, Dave, Carlos, Pam, Janet and all my VQ friends. Your gifts of wisdom and support continue to sustain me!