Put A Ring On It

Happy Mothers’ Day to Jessie Clark

I’m sure some of you were beginning to wonder what ever happened with the 4 C’s Dimond giveaway. Honestly, there were times when I wondered about it too, because giving a bike away gets harder every time I do it. It becomes even worse when I’m training a lot, and my judgement and overall mental capacity becomes severely limited. I am always terrified about making a bad decision, though really there were no bad decisions to be made with the group of people whose submissions I had the privilege of reading. I wish I had five bikes… no, make that 25 or even 125… to give away. To everyone who is not named Jessie Clark, please don’t feel like your submission or your story or anything about you was somehow not worthy. There were so many incredible stories I mostly feel like I’m not worthy to actually make this decision.
Because the whole process can be so overwhelming, I try to make some priorities that help me narrow the field down. I never want to post these in advance for a couple reasons. The first is that I never want anyone to feel like they don’t have a chance. One of the five finalists was someone who didn’t really meet any of the items on my mental checklist, but his story was so good I couldn’t not include him. No one’s story is ever any better or worse than anyone else’s. Everyone’s story is his or her own, and that’s awesome. But I want to share Jessie’s story with you and talk about the things that made me know that she was the right person for this bike. 
First off, she is a she. In the future, I may have to go back giving away my own bike again. I love doing that, but there’s some flexibility that comes with being able to give away a demo bike. Namely, it means I can fit anyone, instead of needing to give the bike to someone who runs closer to my size. In prior years, many of the best submissions were from people, most often women, who simply would not have fit on *my* bike. Jessie is such a case. Women tend to be, on average, shorter than men. That’s just biology. Or genetics. Or whatever. But it’s true. She is 5’7″. Were I giving away my frame, there’s no way that she’d fit on it. So I was definitely biased towards giving this bike to a woman, because this might be my only chance to do so. If the Dimond crew is able to let me give away a demo frame again next year, I’ll scrap gender as a factor. But for this year, it was important to me to give it to a woman.
Jessie is also a mother. Seeing what my own wife sacrifices, and how little she buys for herself, I realize that there is basically no way a mother of three would ever make this purchase for herself, even if she could. I gave weight overall more heavily to parents this time, because this is the first time I’m giving away a bike as a father of three kids with the sacrifice that entails, especially for the mother, staring me in the face every day. Jessie is a mother of three. That’s how she got into the sport. She was fighting to lose weight after the birth of her second child and turned to triathlon. 50lbs (and another baby later), she’s hooked.
I really love giving this bike to someone where the need – on the bike side – is really clear. A tribike that fits is not quite as dramatic a change as a tribike where all you had before a $500 cheapo road bike you bought off eBay. That’s what Jessie *was* riding. It’s pretty cool to say, “was.” If you go 13:07 in your first Ironman on a cheapo road bike, as Jessie did for her debut Ironman at Chattanooga in 2014, a tribike is going to be a huge upgrade. 
I also wanted someone that can – and will and has – raced. I liked that Jessie had done an Ironman. There were a couple stories from people who were becoming triathletes, but for those people, I think you should do what Jessie did – you buy a cheap road bike and fall in love with the sport first. If you live in Central Tennessee, Jessie has offered to let you borrow hers. She doesn’t need it anymore (well, not all the time).
And lastly I wanted to reward someone who asked for themselves. The past two years, I’ve given it to someone who wrote for their spouse. And that was awesome. But it takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there to a complete stranger. And I tried to respect that. It’s not an easy thing to open yourself up and know that it might not pay off at all. And that hurts. I realize that, to some extent, everyone who wrote in is hurt that I didn’t pick them. And all I can say is that I’m sorry. I feel truly honored that you all share what you do with me, and I wish that nothing I do or say is interpreted as a judgement on you. You are all awesome. But knowing that it hurts more when you know you put yourself out there, I gave extra weight to people who opened themselves up for this. Kudos to all of you.
Jessie does a lot of other great stuff that made her a great choice as well. We’ve had a bunch of back and forth, and she’s given me permission to share what she has written. I hope that gives further insight into Dimond’s newest rider.
This was her 250 word submission. From the 250 word group, I narrowed it down to a final group of five. One of those five opted-out by choice (which I found very honorable) because circumstances changed since they submitted. That really warmed my heart. So thank you. Here was Jessie’s 250 word submission:

I am a true underdog, the one nobody expected to be an athlete, the nice girl who always finished last. About six years ago after the birth of my second child, I decided to lose weight and started working out. Over the course of a year, I lost 50 pounds and discovered that I LOVE CYCLING! This soon led to an indoor triathlon at the gym and buying my first used bike for $500 bucks. Over the years, she has carried me through numerous training rides, triathlons of every distance, AND in September we completed my first Ironman in just over 13 hours. I’m finally living the life I’m meant to live! My pals and I created our own local tri club which now has over 70 members. I’ve become a cycling instructor and personal trainer, helping others to accomplish their dreams. I am an ambassador for this sport that we love and I get to encourage others every day.

I cannot keep dumping any more money into my old bike, so this new bike will truly carry me to the next level in the sport. Your gift would inspire me to show up on race day and make you and Dimond proud, giving my best performance, worthy of the bike I’m riding. I have plans for my old road bike too – she’s going to be made available to anybody I meet who wants to try out cycling, growing the sport and changing more lives.

Of the final five, I simply said, “tell me what you would have told me if I hadn’t limited you to 250 words,” It was there that Jessie told me more about her story.

I am a regular person, a regular Mom, a Mom who has struggled with her weight and got into fitness so my fat butt could fit back into my pants.  In the process I found out that I am a decent cyclist and I have a high threshold for pain which makes me a natural for triathlon.  I’m an average swimmer and an OK runner too.  I went from taking indoor cycling classes at my local YMCA to doing a full Ironman (finished in 13:08) in roughly 5 years time.  I also got certified to instruct cycling and became a personal trainer all because I wanted to give back to others.  Through all of this I lost 50 pounds and fell in love with this sport.  I want to help others get into triathlon and show other regular people that ANYTHING is possible.  I have learned so much that I want to pass this knowledge along to others.    

I would EARN every cent of that bike you give me through serving as an ambassador for this sport and for YOU.  Dammit, I would make you proud.  I would step my game up and make sure I compete to best ability in every race I enter.  I would take my ol’ road bike and loan it out to anyone who was considering buying a bike and just wanted to make sure they wanted it.  I would ride in every charity ride and local group rides and tell everyone about the bike I’m riding!  I know it would be an amazing gift for me and I would totally embrace it.  Whatever you needed – pics, posts, blogs, articles, general awesomeness – count me in!!!!

I have a really big heart, I love to write, I love to talk to people, I was BORN FOR THIS opportunity!!  Pick me, you’ll be glad you did.  It will make the best story and will catapult ME into another stratosphere.  I will then, in turn inspire the thousands of other regular folks out there, showing them that anything is possible and they too can become an Ironman!!!!  

Thank you in advance for what you are doing AND for what you are accomplishing in this sport.  I’m a huge fan! I’ve attached a picture from my first triathlon 5+ years ago.  As you can see… the Dimond bike would be a HUGE upgrade for me – I need this, I really really need this!  

That’s a LOT of exclamation points! But I was drawn to the simple earnestness of her story. She downplays her story as “regular,” but I think it’s anything but. The great old adage is, “everyone has the will to win; few people have the will to prepare to win.” Lots of people want to lose weight, get in shape, etc. How many people do it? Well, a lot. But even more don’t. And well, the final email she sent about jumping around for joy with her kids at the park and making a scene, that was what let me know I made the right choice.
Jessie’s charity is the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, which is very special to me as one of my closest friend’s has a son who is Type-1. There are so many cheesy cliches about being a parent, but they are all true. And being a parent also makes you a kindred spirit with every other parent. I can’t explain it. If you are a parent, you understand. If you will be, you’ll understand then. If you won’t ever be, well, then I’m just crazy like the rest of us.
So, congratulations to Jessie Clark, age 39. She’s a triathlete, wife, and Mother to three kids.  She lives in Middle Tennessee just outside of Nashville and trains with local tri club MidTN Multisport. And she’s brilliant under pressure. She’s also going to be riding a Dimond.
Thanks again to everyone who submitted. Can’t wait to do this again next year. It’s hard. But it’s awesome.

One thought on “Put A Ring On It

  1. THANK YOU Jordan Rapp and Dimond for giving me the biggest gift anyone has ever given me! You believed in me and now I'm going to take this opportunity and step up my game – I've got my eye on Ironman Chattanooga 2016 and look forward to a sub 12 hour finish on my new wheels. BAM! My goal is out there, it's scary but now I have the tools and your faith in me. Big love to Jordan and Dimond! Sincerely, Jessie


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s