I came to America for education at college, but deep down in my heart, my dream was to always come here to pursue cycling at the top level – I wanted to know just how good I could be at this. I arrived alone and not knowing what to expect – it was a risk I had chosen to take, leaving behind friends and family to pursue my dreams and goals.
My first season was a disaster though. I found myself inexperienced and way out of my depth, getting dropped from almost all the races I started. I was riding for the LAPT Wilde Subaru Elite team, which later became the Project Echelon team that I still ride for. I can honestly say, that if it wasn't for my teammates, I would not be where I am today. The team was absolutely great to me, with more experienced riders taking me under their wing. They motivated me to keep trying, they trained with me and they gave me advice that ultimately led to my growth and development into the rider I am today. I still have work to do, but with the strength of the 2018 roster, I know I am going to be pushed and challenged to keep bettering my riding.
I spent my first year in America at a small school in Pennsylvania without collegiate racing – I had no idea what collegiate racing even was when I first arrived - before I made the transfer to Lindenwood University to compete in collegiate racing as well as riding for Project Echelon. Racing at a school level taught me the importance of teamwork and trust for each other, both on and off the bicycle, and the added racing to my 2017 calendar helped mould me into a stronger rider.
This winter was my first experience of indoor, winter training. I was used to being able to ride outside all year, and the sudden shock to my system was tough to deal with. I turned to teammates yet again, seeking advice and tips on how to go about staying motivated and build fitness indoors. I won't lie, I have been going slightly insane, but the weather has turned for the better in St. Louis, at least for now.
I often think about what lies in my future and where I want to be a few years from today. Will I be in the same place? Will I embark on another risky move for new experiences? I enjoy moving a lot, seeking out new challenges and experiences to help develop myself, both as a rider and a person. I enjoy the unknown, just packing up and starting somewhere new. For 2018 I am excited to be fortunate enough to have the opportunity to race my bike at the top level of American cycling and travel to some really awesome locations – one of my favourite things about cycling is the opportunity to travel and see the world that it gives us. I would love to eventually make the jump to Europe and try my hand at racing over there, once again taking a risk and leaving behind what I know and love.
The only thing certain for me is that without the risks I took 3 years ago, I would not be where I am today, I would not be the rider I am today and I would not have met the people in my life that have helped me along the way. Taking risks can be daunting and scary, but with inner motivation, the correct people surrounding you and a beacon or goal to work towards, the rewards are tenfold.
Afterward: Wesley's story is one that Project Echelon shares with many of the veterans we support. We ask them to step into a world of unknowns and take a risk and to invest in themselves and their well being through physical activity. We work with veterans to set goals, develop training plans, overcome adversity, and use physical activity as a tool for self reflection and self discovery as a means to achieve greater goals outside of athletics. In this way, we are all connected to one another and share similar experiences... which is why we all play an important role in the Echelon and serving one another and giving back to our community. Our combined experiences, knowledge, expertise and passion empowers us to overcome the insurmountable and make positive change the lives of those around us, especially our veterans.