It’s 108 degrees on this strip of road in south of Boise. Cyclist Kristin Armstrong takes handfuls of ice and shoves them down her skin tight jersey. She laughs saying “I’m just trying to keep as cool as I can till the start.”
She’s come out here nearly every Thursday night for the past eight years to compete in a local time trial outside of Boise. It’s nothing official. No medals get handed out but for this Olympian, “Ten Mile Creek Road” is a proving ground.
“The Time Trial is what we call the race of truth,” she explains. This is Armstrong’s specialty. She’s a two time world champion. And four years ago she won the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.
“The fastest time at the end of the day wins,” she says. “It’s a race of truth because it’s just you against the clock.”
There’s definitely a science to this. There’s the super light and aerodynamic bicycle with its special disc wheels. And there’s the fitness. Armstrong can average 30 miles an hour on her bike.
Scott Hoover counts Armstrong down as she gets ready to leave the start line. He holds a stopwatch in his hand as he watches her disappear into the heat and sagebrush. Hoover comes out here most Thursdays to time racers including Armstrong. It’s not unusual he says for Armstrong to have the fastest time on the course.
“She’s the whole package,” he says. “I mean she’s got the genetic ability and the drive and the mental toughness.”
Armstrong finishes this ten mile time trial in just 19 minutes and 43 seconds. It’s the fastest time of the night. “It went really well,” she says. “I mean I was within a ten second range of where I normally am on my fast days.”
That sounds impressive and it is when you consider that just two months ago, Armstrong crashed, hard and broke her collarbone. It was during the prologue of the inaugural Exergy Tour in downtown Boise.
Armstrong says that injury is healed now and she’s feeling good, even about London’s potentially rainy weather.
“If I go in with a mindset that it’s going to be a wet rain day it’s ok,” she explains. “I’m from Boise, Idaho. I train here. I have weather but it always helps me to be strong in my mind and to know what I’m up against and then I just move forward.”
Armstrong says she’s enjoyed her journey to London. Since Beijing, she took time off to have her first child – Lucas – who’s nearly two. Now Armstrong says winning in London would be that much sweeter.
“I think well it can happen again because I look at all of these other Olympians who’ve had back to back medals so it is possible,” Armstrong says. “And if I could be on the top step of the podium again knowing that I’m a mom that would be cool.”
Kristin Armstrong says she plans to retire from professional cycling this year. She’s not sure what she’ll do next but Armstrong says whatever it is, she wants to wake up in the morning with the same passion she has now for riding her bike.
Copyright 2012 Boise State Public Radio