As I began triathlon it never occurred to me that I would need a team. I simply found something I enjoyed, thought I could become better at, and I enjoyed that challenge. I simply then just decided I wanted to not only compete in para triathlon, but I wanted to aim high with it and set my long-term goal on Paralympics.
The problem is that for me to go beyond my driveway, I need physical help. I need someone, if not multiple people to carry a handcycle, a pushrim, two wheel cases and my luggage. Sure I can help some, but being perfectly honest. This is no area where I shine. But before I even book my trip, I need financial assistance. Sure, I was able to financially provide for a while. But that quickly came to an end, and I realized that para triathlon was more of a one way street financially. A lot more goes out than what comes in. I need businesses and people that financially support my goals. But before I seek financial help, I need the support of friends and family. People who watch over my home and children while me and my wife who I drag around travel constantly. I need people who encourage me, pray for us and give me a reason to encourage them back. Most of all, before all of that I need the push and validation of our Heavenly Father. The One who tells me I have a reason and a purpose, a gift.
Wherever you fall on this list, you are part of this team.
All spring we had mentioned to friends and family that we were planning a long trip to Europe in June. I had planned to race back to back weekends. The first race was in France and the second race was in Spain. Well June finally came and our two week trip to Switzerland, France and Spain was among us. Except my wife and daughter caught covid and we found out in our preflight testing. Just like that, two days before our flight, France was done for me. 48 hours before your flight, not knowing how or what to cancel sends a million tiny detailed thoughts into your head. It becomes one of those messes that is so messy you just freeze because your not sure where to begin. We slowly began to cancel flights, hotels, rental cars. Unknowing if we would still make the second of the two planned races, we kept our second hotel and return flights, just incase.
A few days after, we tested everyone and as my wife and daughter became negative and my other daughter and myself stayed negative we decided to book our trip to Spain only now as we would not have enough time to make it to the race in France and adjust to the time change and be race ready.
Our flight to Spain consisted of a layover in Brussels before our final destination in Bilbao, Spain. When we arrived in Spain, two of our 9 bags were missing. The small plane was unable to take two pieces of luggage and my handcycle and personal luggage were those two lucky pieces! They assured me that they were on the next flight from Brussels and would arrive 24 hours later and be delivered to my hotel when they arrive. There is a slight fear when you arrive somewhere to perform, and your performance depends on a piece of equipment you no longer have. You'll be happy to know that my luggage did in fact arrive 24 hours later to my hotel.
Later that day, we put my bike and pushrim into the van (something we typically do not do) and left it there for storage. The weather was beautiful and although the city was a bit tighter than we are used to, we found our way around and made the best of the day. I had an appointment that evening for a bike fitting in Bilbao at 5 pm. My wife who is no friend to parallel parking was happy that there were free parking and stalls to pull into there. We ended up spending three hours here and had an amazing and thorough meeting. The entire time we were there though, my wife kept saying she had a bad feeling about the car. I told her that is she was worried to go and check on it. She decided that she would stop worrying as most of the time she worries about something it is fine. By now you may have guessed it didn't end up being "fine". After our appointment we went outside to find our van was towed. The last time I felt the fear I felt in that moment was when I was blown up. Our transportation, my bike and pushrim were all gone. I had no idea where to begin. I went back to the garage we had just come from and luckily they knew who to call and walked with us to the tow storage facility (yup it was within walking distance praise God) and translated for us. But when we got there, they told us that since we were not from Spain, we needed to go to the police station and pay our fine first. Within walking distance again, praise God again!! We paid our fines and walked back to pay our second fine and get our van back. There always seems to be some sort of obstacle that tries to get us during these trips. It never ceases to amazing me how God has already gone and prepared the way though before we ever knew.
Needless to say, we were happy to leave Bilbao the next morning and head west to continue our journey to A Coruna, Spain and prepare for the triathlon.