I was an analyst in the investment banking program at Lehman Brothers in New York City and then another firm. I DID THE 100-HOUR WORKWEEK. I wore a suit and I looked like a pale, puffy zombie.
In November 2007, I went to visit my sister in San Francisco for Thanksgiving. She signed me up for this cyclocross race, which is a hybrid between mountain biking and road cycling. And I just loved it. I came back to New York and DECIDED TO BUY A BICYCLE. That was probably the biggest one-item purchase I’ve ever made — a $1,000 entry-level bike. In the beginning, it just sat in my living room. Finally, I got the courage to start riding it in the city. I STARTED COMPETING at the amateur level in the summer of 2008. I got a coach in 2009.
I fell in love with HOW FREE IT MADE ME FEEL. Instead of going to business school, I decided I was going to take a year off and see how good I could get on the bike.
Moving out of my apartment was when the reality hit me. I gave everything away on Craigslist — my desk, my dresser, my bed. I’m sitting in this empty apartment in New York City with a bag and my bike and crying hysterically. I was like, “Oh, my goodness, what kind of adventure am I on?” The adventure continues to unfold. HERE I AM GOING TO THE OLYMPICS.
When it comes to physical suffering, I can push my body to pretty extreme limits. I’m a strong climber. I’m a strong time trialist. The one thing I can guarantee you is I WILL RACE MY HEART OUT at the Olympics. Hopefully, by racing as hard as I can and as smart as I can, it gets a medal for me or for my teammates.
— As told to Shira Springer
Interview has been edited and condensed.