Lex Albrecht, Annie Ewart, Jasmin Glaesser, and Leah Kirchmann have amassed an impressive collection of national championships, Olympic medals, and podium performances at some of the world’s biggest races. They are four of the fastest Canadian women on two wheels, and we are proud to have them represent the Orange & Black. Their achievements on the bike inspire those of us who simply love riding (at a much slower pace), and have never considered pinning on a number. This talented quartet is also an important inspiration to the next generation of female athletes. We received this letter from Greg, a longtime friend of the team and a big supporter of British Columbia’s Tour de Delta race series. A few short days before the single biggest road race of the year at La Course by Le Tour de France, Greg’s letter is a reminder that who are athletes are off the bike is equally important as the top of the podium.
Lex posed for a photo with my 8-year-old daughter Molly two years ago at the Tour de Delta. The kid was thrilled. She kept asking me if Lex was coming back to the race. I relayed her request to Lex last year while she was recovering from an injury. She took the time to send an awesome and inspiring letter to my daughter about perseverance and looking forward to coming back to race, and included a trading card from her old team. Once again my daughter was thrilled. Getting a personalized letter from a star rider was so cool to her.
She cheered wildly for Leah when she won the Brenco Criterium. Leah gave her an Optum bottle, which my daughter still treasures and won’t share with her little brother. A few days later, Leah posed with Molly and chatted with her backstage after winning the Gastown Grand Prix.
The news of Jasmin Glaesser and Lex joining Optum in 2015 was big news at our house. Her three favorite riders were now all on the same team. At the Tour de Delta this year, I could still hear my daughter’s high pitched voice screaming at Leah and Lex as they raced by. There was a major prime up for grabs near the end of the race, and the announcer was frantically calling the battle between Lex and Shelly Olds. My kid went bananas when Lex won it. Following the race, Lex came over and posed for another photo.
At the road race the next day, completely by surprise, Annie Ewart, Lex and Leah came up to me and insisted on giving me Leah’s Delta winner’s jersey for Molly. I took shots of them signing it and when I got home, I showed some photos I took of the Optum gals racing, the podium ceremony and of Annie, Lex and Leah signing a jersey for a girl. Molly thought that was pretty cool. I called her downstairs a minute or two later and, to her total surprise, pulled out the jersey. She was speechless to see that jersey in my hands.
Leah’s incscription on the jersey said “Dream Big”. Lex’s was “Keep being awesome, keep being you. Coeur. Jambes. Esprit.” I explained what exactly that meant (ed. note: spirit, legs, heart) and, other than her little brother crying for half an hour because he didn’t get a jersey, it was an awesome moment. I can’t tell you what it means for her to have such positive female role models.