SPOKE: Becky Furuta on Bikes, and Life – From 30,000-feet

A ride down memory lane.

By Becky Furuta

You should judge your success by what you had to give up to achieve it.” Guy in seat 24C, flight from Alicante, Spain to Madrid.

I was eating a rhubarb croissant, and thinking about how tired my body felt. I had a separated right shoulder, road rash over half my body, and more bruises than I could count. I was sleep deprived and cranky, and not in the mood to talk. I was trying hard to explain all of that to the Spaniard next to me, who insisted on chatting. When he said those words, I pulled out my phone, and made note.

The truth is that I am not a patient person. I like life at 100 miles an hour. Cycling, however, has taught me patience. It’s taught me that the gains come in bits and pieces. You earn a few extra watts here, drop a little weight there, get seconds faster over the course of days and weeks and months of consistent training. You have setbacks and failures. Nothing happens all at once – there is no instant path to success. Instead, you have a long series of opportunity costs that come in pursuit of your goals. How you spend every second of this life is a trade-off. I’ve sacrificed so much to get where I am today, which makes being here even better.

Becky Furuta is an elite cyclist who has spent the last seven years racing for some of the most recognizable teams in cycling. She has worked to advocate for greater equality in the sport of women’s cycling, and volunteers for programs aimed at teaching kids with disabilities to ride bicycles. In her spare time, she works as a sports vision specialist at an optometric practice in Golden. She makes her home in Longmont with her husband, two children and her hound.

“SPOKE” Series background:
My life could be as easily measured in the passing of minutes as in the strokes of pedals. Much of my 39 years on the planet has been spent riding, from the moment my dad bought me my first black and white BMX bicycle to the afternoon when a large cardboard box arrived on my front doorstep containing a sponsor provided road bike that looked more like art than a machine. For more than seven years spread over a decade, I have raced a bike all over the world. I was given the kind of opportunities most bike racers can only dream of having, and I knew it could all be gone in an instant.

Elite cycling can be exhausting and relentless, physically and psychologically stressful and entirely unforgiving. It can also be absolute magic. I made it work because, for the most part, I was able to remain present in the moment. I never looked too far ahead or worried about what would come next because, just like riding itself, there were way too many variables. Instead, I drank up every thirsty moment and was grateful for the chance to just be a part of the show.

Cycling has a spectacular way of creating human connections, breaking down barriers and cultural differences, and creating unity. For all the solitary hours I spend inside the space of my thoughts, training and traveling by myself, I am rarely alone. And for the last five years of sponsorship, I have kept safe in the pocket of my pants the best of the people I have met and the lessons I have learned. I wish, in retrospect, that I were the kind of person who could keep a journal, but I rarely had time to write much of anything on the road. Instead, I kept the bits and pieces of wisdom and advice in a series of memos and texts stored in my phone. As you can imagine, there are hundreds of these little snippets, cast over Girona and Copenhagen and Lisbon, Dickinson, North Dakota and Tulsa, Oklahoma. They have become the patchwork of my experiences that will last long after I cross the final finish line of my racing career.

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