Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New Zealand Recap!

Ladies and Gents! Above is the US Women's National Cycling Team and winners of the yellow jersey in the Tour of New Zealand! From Left to Right is: Kristin Armstrong, Evelyn Stevens, Myself, Ally Stacher, Theresa Cliff-Ryan, and Carmen Small.
If you have not been following the tour, I will give you a small recap of all the stages. Stage 1 was a 7k time trial, Kristin Armstrong won, and only 14 seconds behind was Evelyn Stevens and Judith Arndt was finished in third. From day 1 we carried the pressure of keeping the yellow jersey.
Stage 2 was really hard, it was 150k with several climbs, the day started with rain and ended with beautiful sunshine but wind as strong as horses where 2 girls literally got blown off their bikes! It was quite the sight! Kristin got 2nd and held on to the yellow jersey.
By Stage 4, Evie went in a break and gained 6 minutes on the field. She ended up 3rd in the stage, therefore the yellow jersey was passed to Evie from Kristin Armstrong, but that's okay, because we are all buddies here on the US National team and our goal was to win the yellow jersey, which brings us to the final stage, Evie wins the yellow jersey by 1 second!!
I had such great learning experience in NZ. I got to learn new things from great athletes; you could tell they had a level of professionalism because they would pay attention to small details, that I might have missed.
The group had such great chemistry, we shared many laughs, funny stories, and even times of crisis. For example: getting stuck in the New Zealand airport over an apple :)
Even though there was not much time to explore and look around the city, I still had an awesome experience and just being in the area was very cool.
It is always an honor to race with USA across my jersey, and coming home with helping just a small part of Evie's win feels great! Below is a small glimpse of the views of where we were racing (Palmerston North, New Zealand)

Can you believe these shots?! They are only from the airplane that I took!
5 Cool things I learned about New Zealand:
-It is normal to see people walking in public stores without shoes
-Many hamburgers have beets on them! YUM!
-New Zealand imports their Kiwi fruit from Italy
-'Kia Ora' basically means 'Aloha' in the Maori Language
-It is summer time there.... which means, no white Christmas, and easily burned skin!
I leave Monday morning for Santa Barbra, where my team (NOW and Novartis for MS) will be having another team camp, and then we will race San Dimas and Redlands!
Stay Posted!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

One Bad Apple

This blog is the story of how I almost got thrown into a New Zealand jail over an apple.

Please enjoy my traumatic experience:
After flying all night on the plane, we finally landed in NZ. We (Carmen Small, Evie Stevens, and myself) went to go through customs and the baggage claim. When we got to baggage claim the other girls collected their bags and headed straight to customs. However, my bag took a long time to come through, and because of our tight layover, Carmen and Evie went ahead.
All the sudden, I feel little paws jumping on my backside; it was a little security/ search dog. The officer asked to go through my book bag, but she didn't find anything. I collected my bags and went on my way to go through security lines. As I put all of my luggage in to the X-Ray machine, an officer tells me to step aside. He talks to another officer, and then on his radio headpiece. He tells me to follow him and that he needs to ask me some questions and examine my bag. At this point, I realize I had an apple in my bag that I forgot to take out earlier and I knew that I was in big trouble now.
The officer took me in to this small room that smelled like a locker gym where I went to a different officer. My throat felt so tight and dry, if only I could have a sip of water, instead, I prepare myself for what the officer is going to tell me.
I am in such disbelief by what the officer says to me that the only word and I come up to respond with was "Huh?!". My stomach felt like it was going to fall out my butt. I started sweating bullets and my hands began to shake spontaneously. The temperature in the room escalates. I was determined to not pay any fine.
I told him that I do not have enough money to pay for the fine. He said "It's okay, you can pay $400 cash or credit," trying to make the situation better. He didn't quite understand when I told him that I didn't have enough money to pay, meant I didn't have enough cash nor did I have enough on my credit card! I tried to pull the excuse of I-am-just-a-minor.... but failed, even though I am 17 now, I am 18 at the end of the year. Great!
I asked him what happens if I do not have enough money. He replied that they will have to put me into a holding place until someone can bail me out. Jail?! I thought, there could be no way, this is not in my itinerary. How will I get in touch with anyone? I am going to miss my flight and Carmen and Evie will have no idea that I am going to end up in a jail in about 5 minutes. I'm really screwed now.
And then it hit me. The nervous sick feeling I had in my stomach, the shaky hands, the sweating bullets and tight throat all came out. I could no longer hold my feelings in. The emotions that I tried so hard to hold in during the interrogation and officer escort from the customs line came out. Tears started streaming down my face. I have no idea what is in store for me.
The short officer starts to talk on his headpiece. I can't understand what he is saying in his soft toned voice. Another officer comes into the scene. He tries to find a 'legal' way to let me go. Like an angel sent from God, he says that because the search dog from earlier did not find anything in my bag, than they would release me from the charges! "Great dog", I thought.
I am so overwhelmed, and relieved, that I get away with no charges. I try to pull myself together and put all the emotions of shock, embarrassment and fear away. I graciously thank both officers, and the short officer squeaks in "Lesson learned." I look at apples at a whole new way now, and my teammates keep offering me apples.
I got the heck out of there. Ran out side with my bike bag, a rolling suitcase, a small duffel bag and the backpack on my back. Probably one of the quickest transitions with all the luggage I had. I thought a miracle of making my next flight was going to come true! But sadly, I had to take a 10 minute shuttle bus to the domestic terminal, and of course, I just missed it.
When I got to the domestic terminal, the woman behind the counter sees me and says "We've been looking for you." Evie and Carmen had my name being announced over all the terminals, international and domestic. Not only that, but they had people come looking for me. For some reason, I didn't hear anything, nor did I hear the announcement on the flight that said if you brought on fruit in to the country than you charged four hundred dollars. "Lesson Learned". I had such great teammates and the race hasn't even started!
Needless to say, I got on the next flight to Palmerston North and had an hour to relax and ponder over the situation I was in. I made it to my final destination and, how beautiful it is!
The moral of the story is: do NOT bring fruit on a flight when flying internationally.
Racing begins Wednesday (New Zealand time) we are a day into the future!
Here is a picture of the lovely brochure the officer gave me... for future reference.

My warning ticket I got:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Haiti- Mission of Hope

I have talked to some of you (blog readers) about my upcoming schedule. If you read my last blog, you learned that I am going to Haiti. This trip has nothing to do with bike racing, in fact, it is completely about my faith in Jesus Christ.

Last year, my youth pastor, Matt Barcalow went to Haiti. The week before, we made T-Shirts and bracelets for the orphan children. When he returned from Haiti he showed us videos and photos of his experience. Among the the videos, he was giving a T-Shirt to an orphan baby, who had no clothes; it was the t-shirt I made the previous week! I was shocked; at first I didn't think much of it, but when I got home, I lost it. I was so angry at God to let an innocent baby live in such poor conditions. After prayer and more thought, I realized that going to Haiti was something that I was called to do, not only to serve the poor, but to advance the kingdom and my faith.
The following describes a little bit more of what I am doing in Haiti and why:

My generation can be described as "impatient". For example, you only
have 140 characters or less to tell your friends how you are feeling or what
you are doing; if it’s 141 characters, it’s much to read. If a stop light is
longer than 30 seconds long, it is suddenly classified as the "longest
stoplight ever". Reading two chapters in a book for homework suddenly
becomes too much to comprehend.

I myself have these impatient
tendencies; if my mom is just one minute late to picking me up from somewhere,
it seems like I can't hold my tongue to let her know she is late, and I before
I know it, we arguing.

I have the opportunity to go on
a mission trip to Haiti to serve the people there and most importantly, to
serve the Lord. Twenty members of my church will gather together on March 31st
to travel to Haiti and prepare for our lives to be changed; we will return from
Haiti on April 7th. We are going to serve for the Mission of Hope Ministry by
assisting local Haitians with building houses and playing with the orphan
children within the Mission of Hope campus. It is important to let the Haitians
build the homes rather than us, because when they work, they are not only
developing skills bit they are getting paid to have a job, which will
eventually put money back into their community and improve the country and the
living habits of Haitians.

One of the ways you can help is to pray for
this trip as well as the Mission of Hope ministry. As well pray for me personally as it will be
life changing and it will be a struggle to come back to America as our society
is so wealthy. I will only be able to succeed in this task God has put in front
of me with you prayer. There are also financial needs for this trip. The cost
of the trip is $1800 per person; each member is responsible for raising their
money through support.

Gifts to the church, with an expression
to my church, are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. If you feel my
message has reached out to you, and if you are able to assist me with the
expenses of this trip, please make your checks payable to Forest Hill Church.
Indicate the name of my trip, "Haiti- Mission of Hope" and not my
name on the memo line. If for any reason I am unable to participate on my trip,
your gift will be used for helping other members of the trip with their
financial goals or it will go to the Mission of Hope ministry.

Going to Haiti will not only change my life but it will help me understand the importance
of finding patience in my life. When I
go to college in the fall, and the bike races I enter, I will be able to
reflect God’s word and love to people from the things I have learned on this
trip. Thank you for your support, go in
peace, and serve the Lord.
Addy Albershardt
***You can also donate online at If you go to the top left hand corner, click the Pay Pal account, and finish the transaction***

***For more information about Mission of Hope please visit

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Back to Racing!

The reason why I have not updated my blog since last year, is because I wanted to take a break from all social media posting. No, I did not fall off the face of the Earth, I just needed a little break from cycling (my off season) and media! But now I'm back, and I have a lot to blog about!
First off, we had team camp last week. We were all together as a team for 2 weeks!! The first week we were in Bermuda together... the island parallel to NC... not the Bermuda Triangle! We had an awesome time together. There was no Internet and no phone; it was a chance to get away from reality and going to a true paradise! We rode the entire island everyday, which was 26miles long and at most 2 miles wide. The riding was EPIC! The weather went from 75 degrees and plenty of sunshine to downpour and 50 degrees. There was one ride where we rode through puddles/ lakes that were probably 1.5 feet deep. All I was thinking about while riding through it was "Who is going to be the first one that says... 'this is too much water to ride through.'"
One night in Bermuda, we went to a very fancy fundraising event for MS with the MS Society of Bermuda. We got to meet the premier (who is a female prime minister) of Bermuda and the Minister of Tourism of Bermuda (who is very important to their economy). The event included a traditional Bermudan dance of the Gombey's and Drummers.
You can view a video of Phil Keoghan dancing with the Gombey Dancers by clicking here:
After our camp in Bermuda, we went to Landrum, SC for more training. It was great to be with the team and learning a lot from all of the girls. We have 4 new team mates: Alsion Powers, Beth Newell, Olivia Dillon, and Ashley James. I feel pretty lucky to learn from the experienced riders on our team.
After team camp, I visited my dad in Black Mountain, NC. It is a great little town outside of Asheville; I love the area, it's very hilly and 'Bermuda-ful'
Lastly, I leave for New Zealand next week! I will be racing the Women's Tour of New Zealand. It will be my first trip with the Women's US National Team. I can't wait to learn and develop from the stacked team that is going.
Now that I am back to racing, you will see more blog posts! Follow me on Twitter @BPAlbershardt or Facebook for more updates!