Year 2012 is history, it is the past. The past year was full of emotions, satisfactions, success and memories. The memories remains with you your entire life. 2012 will be a year where so many moments and memories will remain with me as the journey of life continues.
When we turn back the time exactly one year I was training hard to reach my goal for 2012, the Olympic Games in London. A cold winter in Europe forced me to get on the plane and train for two weeks on one of the Canary islands, Fuerteventura. My parents joined me for the time and supported me by having lunch and dinner ready every time I came back from my training sessions. It was exactly how it used to be when I was a junior. Having the support of your parents is the most fantastic support you can have. They supported me when I was a junior and even 23 years later they supported me to reach my last big goal, London 2012.
From Fuerteventura my journey continued to El Salvador. I took part in 2 one-day races and a stage race. I was riding in a mixed team and visiting this part of the world once again gave me memories for life. Later in the season a time trial in Belfast Ireland made my dream come true. Due to the success in the races I had qualified for the Olympics. After 12 years I was part of the Finnish Olympic team again. But before that there was more to come.
In mtn biking the season was also pretty good, even if there were some disappointments I had to deal with. Trans Germany was not as it was planned to be. I felt sick and was struggling from the first day on. On the second day I listened to my body and stopped the race. It was not easy for me to accept that I was not competitive, but London was in my mind and I did not want to risk anything. I packed my stuff and took the first train from Garmisch Partenkirchen back to Freiburg. A couple of days resting and I was back on track. One week later I won the European Championships for the third time in XCM. Winning a race in a sprint finish feels even better than winning a race with several minutes. The journey towards London could continue.
Trans Alp road was the next on my program. I teamed up with my team mate Carsten Bresser. My friend Tobias Stumpf joined us for the week to support us. We had one of the best weeks I have ever had on my road bike. The weather was fantastic, the panorama breathtaking and the atmosphere before, during and after the stages was exactly the way you want it to be. Riding over the mountains made me feel stronger and stronger for every day. Everything went as planed.
A high altitude training was on the program after Trans Alp. I spent three weeks on Plose, close to Brixen. I love this place. Plose is the place to be for high altitude training. Stefan, Dana and Milos takes care of you as your own mother. You feel like being part of the family. The training is also good. My big brother joined me for 2 weeks and we got a scooter from our good friend Giancarlo. The last month before the big day in London was the hardest one. I trained very hard and being mentally present in every training was sometimes challenging. Especially as I knew this is the last hard day before my rest day. Having my brother, my coach and my husband as support made it easier for me to go out there and push myself towards my limit.
One day I will never forget is the day I got the news, that Finland has received a ITT spot for London. I had just finished my training down in the valley of Brixen. This was only about 3 weeks before the games would start. I was crying, so happy I was. I could participate in my last Olympics in both RR and TT.
London came and I did my best performance ever. I felt very strong and I had managed to peak my form. 20th place in the RR and 11th place in the TT was more than I had expected. Also to be part of the Olympic family once again was amazing. This is the biggest, greatest and most beautiful event you can be part of as an athlete.
The highlight of the Olympics and the year 2012 was as I got married to my Olaf. We met in Sydney during the Olympics, we got married on London during the Olympics.
A short summer holiday was what I needed after an intense two months, but I had set up new goals already. I wanted to be in the shape of my life for the XCM World Championships in October. A nasty flue stopped me and I had to accept that I was not competitive for a World Championship race. I stayed home.
Rossi Uphill, a farewell race, was organized in October. Most of my friends, my training partners, came to Freiburg to “race” with me for the last time. It was a great way to say “goodbye” to over 20 years of racing.
Our journey continues now in Doha, Qatar. Today is my first day as I am not officially a professional athlete anymore. Life will bring us a lot more challenges, but we are ready for them and are ready to face all the challenges with open arms.
Thank you to everyone making 2012 a memorable year!