Have you ever had one of those friends that you don't even need to spend a lot of time with and you know you are on the same page? Vanessa Hauswald is one of those women for me. Before I ever met her, I knew her brother and her (now) husband through racing. During that time she was traveling the world leading bike tours, a job that I also held while establishing myself in Northern California. While I worked for a different tour company, the nature of the job attracts a certain personality. Vanessa embodies these charactistics for me in such a timeless way. She's the girl that refuses to grow up yet carries a deep understanding of wisdom that seems infinite as if it has always been with her.
As the Executive Director of the Norcal High School Mountain Bike League, Vanessa is a shining light for hundreds of kids, giving the uprising of girls a solid role model to aspire too. When I left my position as Head Coach of the Whole Athlete Girls Team, I was confident that these girls would thrive without me because I knew Vanessa was there to guide them.
Vanessa and I both worked from the ground up building teams at different High School's first. She was a teacher so had a relationship within the school to build the team from. This cultivated such a rich connection between the parents, students, and teachers that they were like the little engine that could. It wasn't one shining student that made this team, but a vast array of hard working people contributing to give these kids opportunity. Gives me goosebumps even talking about it. I was that poor kid that saved for my first $100 ten speed and then each bike there after from hard earned money from babysitting and working at the ball park. Giving kids a chance that can't afford the newest and greatest, has always been my goal as a coach.
I am excited to hear that Vanessa will be speaking in Santa Cruz on April 8th about how the Bike Community helped her "Fight like a girl" with her battle against cancer. I know for me she was a huge inspiration as we all rode for Vanessa as she rocked through chemo. The day I found out, we were up in Bonny Doon visiting friends. It was a rainy day and the adults decided to go on a hike. I offered to stay back with the kids, Dustin and the 2 sweet little Robinson girls. I had a torn tendon in my ankle that bothered me walking the most, so I was content dancing, through play and asana with these young spirits. During the day we made beads from fimo dough and I poored the pain into the creative process. The realizations that come when a young health conscious active happy friend is up against the C word, run deep. Somehow those girls knew I needed those beads and baked them and brought them to me at dinner. They injected their love into them. I mde a bracelet and as soon as I put it on I knew I should race my bike along side the girls that I was coaching that year. I don't know how to describe it except certainty. I hadn't raced since SSWC08 which was one year after I had a baby. Before that I had been pro. I was dedicated to coaching and my body hurt from the RA that had been triggered post pardom. But there was something in knowing that Vanessa was going to win over cancer that inspired me to step down to Cat 1 and race because I love to ride. I wore that bracelet the whole year and took the Cat 1 title for my age group, along side my girls, who killed it in their fields.
Thank you Vanessa for being a shining example, for all of us, of what it means to fight like a girl! I can't wait to hear your talk and feel your divine energy connect us all. Girl, you are awesome!