Willow Koerber (Photo by Gary Perkin)
In 2010, all eyes were on Trek World Racing pro Willow Koerber. She finished second overall in the World Cup, won bronze at the World Championships, and made a sexy splash in Cyclepassion.
In early 2011 she got engaged.
Willow was in South Africa ready to line up for a shot at another World Cup title but she never made it to the starting line. One day before the race, she discovered she was pregnant. We caught up with her a few days ago to talk about the news.
When you saw the results describe the first three thoughts that came to your mind.
Shock, amazement, numbness.
How did your team react?
Pretty much the same way! It was so unexpected and so out of context I think everyone was just trying to be positive for me. I was going through a lot far from home, and everyone was just trying to be as kind as possible.
Were you expected to race even though your sponsors knew you were pregnant?
It was up to me. I think my sponsors would have liked it if I did, but there was NO WAY I could. If I had started I would have been riding in the top 30 instead of in the top five. It was just too much to digest less than 24 hours before the start of the race. You have to have nothing else on your mind to race a World Cup and be safe. Distractions and worry will lead to a crash. Believe me. I also had no energy at all that week, and once there was a reason for it, I could admit that I really did not feel good. Everyone is different, but this was my experience.
When are you due and how soon do you expect to be racing again?
I am due the 16th of December, but my midwife says firstborns are usually a couple weeks late. Either way, I expect to be racing again next spring with an entirely new perspective.
What in your eyes has been the industry reaction?
Surprise. No one expected this, most of all me. People have been supportive, but there are also many questions directed at me about my plans, and my comeback and my next move. I am trying to field them all, but it is hard to have a whole new plan about your life when you are still trying to integrate such huge life changes.
What do you want to share the most about your pregnancy?
My perspective on life has already changed enormously. To be a great racer, you have to be selfish. I have had to really look at myself in the mirror and be honest about what my life has been so far. I found that I had been using racing as a substitute for love. I was hanging on desperately to the illusion that being the best was going to make all the difference in my life. My world revolved around it. There is nothing wrong with racing, but the way I had identified with it was unhealthy. There was a reason I was always 2nd or 3rd. Now that I have the opportunity to give and receive unconditional love, I can return to racing and see it for what it is. It will not be something I have to do to win approval and love, it will be something I want to do, because heck, I am great at it.