A Smooth Riding Companion: Dehnis B DelaCruz

{My feature series on those who have inspired me on my journey continues and stays strong.  Today I introduce you to an amazing rider who supported me and helped my confidence to grow.  If you are curious, be sure to check out this Slowburn post.}

The alarm starting beeping way too early, but out of bed I leaped.  I was pumped.  I had been waiting all week for this.  This morning, I would be joining my beloved Slowburn group once again after many years.

The feat would not be easy.  We would be doing the famous Great Western Loop – A.K.A. GWL.  This ride would see us climb almost 1200 metres and cover nearly 70 km.  The climbing starts almost immediately, and most of it is accomplished in the first 2/3 of the ride.  So,  you literally feel like you are climbing, climbing, climbing…

As the group began to gather, a felt a twinge of excitement edged with a bit of nervousness.  No matter how many rides I completed, I just never knew exactly how I would feel until I started pedaling.  So many things can happen in cycling, so you just never really know what a ride is going to be like.  It seemed like it wasn’t that long ago that I couldn’t even fathom riding a road bike, never mind take on the ride that I was about to embark on.

SlowBurn
Me, Matt Tabaya to my right, Dennis Caco and James Hiner up front.  Dehnis was behind us, and took this beautiful photo.

 

Off we went, and I quickly fell of the back.  The Slowburn group is a full of fit, fast racers.  Yet, they ride with such consideration and professionalism.  They know the true meaning of supporting a fellow rider through good times and bad.  Dehnis DelaCruz is the epitomy of this, and one of the strongest and most courteous riders that I have had the sincere pleasure to tag along with.  He eased up and came back to check on me.  When he asked if I was OK, I replied that I felt great but I wasn’t as strong as these guys.  ‘No problem’, he replied, ‘I can pace you out’.  I easily fell into a great flow on his wheel.  There was a time when I couldn’t have imagined drafting off of someone like Dehnis.  In my mind I had come a long way.  He made me feel like it was something that I done all my life.

Any anxiety or nervousness I felt quickly vanished thanks to Dehnis’ ease, and the positive energy that surrounded him.  He was simply happy to be out riding his bike with a bunch of riders that shared his passion.  He could have left me and chased down the pack, but he made it clear that he was more than happy to help me out.  Dehnis really set the tone for me on this ride.  Any doubts I had no longer existed, and by the time we started to climb, my whole being was into the flow.  I mean, here I was, surrounded by super fit, fast racers, yet, Dehnis simply made me feel like part of the group.

Once we started to climb, I encouraged Dehnis to go ahead.  I knew that we would all be re-grouping throughout the ride, and I truly believe that long climbs must be taken on at a pace that works for each body.  Although he listened to me, and went ahead to stretch his legs, he kept a watchful eye.

This amazing and supportive start infused the entire ride.  The positive foundation upon which the ride had now been framed allowed my mind to be free, and I was soon completely lost in the climbing.  Everytime the pack regrouped, I was greeted with positive vibes and encouragement.  Dehnis continued to be a leader of such an outlook.  The ride was one of my favorite rides of all time.  I ended up beating my overall time, and achieving several PRs.  Most importantly, I had such a positive and incredible experience.

racing
First Win!!! Front left to right: Ben Arena, Anthony Navarra, Jeremy Schafer, Dehnis DelaCruz.  Dehnis says he could not have done it without them!

The first time I met Dehnis was no different.  It was just a simple coastal ride.  Although Dehnis could have plowed along at incredible speeds, he spent good portions of the ride alongside me, chatting, encouraging, supporting.  He makes his fellow riders feel at ease, like they can simply do the ride no matter how challenging it is.  Dehnis is an extremely accomplished racer.  Thus, it is absolutely incredible that he can make someone like me, a total non athlete who somehow learned road bike, feel like one of the pack.

coolio

Dehnis is a quiet, strong presence and he exudes an energy that simply believes in you.  When you have this riding alongside you, it is impossible not to surpass the limits you once knew.

Dehnis’ influence on the cycling community continues to grow.  Stay tuned for the next post in which I will share some of the great work that Dehnis is doing 🙂

{For those of you on Strava, or for those of you who are curious about Strava, or if you simply want to see the ride details:  https://www.strava.com/activities/482154313}

{If you enjoyed reading this, you can read more posts or follow me at Just a Girl and a Bike}

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