Kathryn Bertine's letter to Santa

Bart Hazen/ESPN

While visions of Olympic qualification points dance in her head, Kathryn writes a letter to Santa.

Dear Santa,

Despite the fact I am roughly 30 years too old to be writing you, thought I'd get in touch. Santa, I'm pretty lucky not to be in need of anything tangible. I've got health, happiness and love, so I'm all set in the universal sense. Unless you happen to be buddies with the head of the IOC and the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale), and can put in a good word for me during my Olympic qualification attempt this year in road cycling. Still, I'm pretty sure that's a whole different kind of gift, and one I'm likely responsible for on my own.

Instead of presents under the tree, I thought I'd ask you for some mental and emotional gifts this year. See, 2012 is coming up and it is gonna be a toughie -- in the worthwhile sense -- as I shoot for a spot at the Games. I'm not sure if you have any magic sprinkle dust that takes care of minor mental woes, but if you do, my Christmas wish is that you pepper some of it into my oatmeal, or make it into some new-fangled fancy peanut butter. Any medium is acceptable, though a syringe might raise eyebrows. Here's my wish list:

1. Watts. I could use more watts. The ones I have are pretty good, but if you have some extras lying around the workshop, I'll most happily take them.

2. New pants. One of my former competitors, 2008 U.S. criterium and road race national champion Brooke Miller, once gave me some really good advice about bike racing. She said that before I get to the start line of a race, I need to put on my "Forget You" Pants. Apparently these help an athlete focus on her goals, and do a lot to intimidate the competition. I think these pants are metaphorical, but if you have any in stock, I'll take a medium. Seven pairs of them.

3. The UCI has a rule that the majority of the riders on a professional women's team must have a racing age of less than 28 years old. In a sport like cycling, where many women peak -- and win world and Olympic titles -- in their mid-30s, well, this backdated rule isn't helping women sustain careers in the sport. Wondering if you can sprinkle a dose of reality to the UCI.

4. TV time for female athletes. Santa, this one is not specific to cycling, but to all women athletes and teams in the majority of sports. For the love of Rudolph, can you please rewire the minds of our TV execs with an "If you build it, they will come" mentality? If they take a leap of faith and broadcast women's sports in a manner that educates and excites, they will be rewarded with a larger audience and higher ratings. If they don't know how do to this, please have them call me. I have a black belt in Getting Things Done.

5. Stupidity. Likely something not often requested as a gift, I'm looking for a little extra stupidity this year. Not that I don't have plenty of my own; the problem is, I tend to think too much in races. I wonder what others are doing, worry about the ifs and whens of attacks and counterattacks, and question whether or not I can do this or that. I'd really like to see what my body can do without my head getting in the way. Do you have something that could turn my brain off for a few hours a day? Perhaps a pocket-size wooden club?

6. Have your elves invented a bicycle that doesn't revert a cyclist's posture to that of Paleolithic knuckle- draggers? I used to get compliments on my posture. After five years on the bike, I'm about one genome away from Igor.

7. If possible, could you sprinkle some magic dust on athletes who take performance-enhancing drugs so that they spontaneously combust mid-race? That would be cool, Santa.

8. I'm trying really hard to enjoy yoga. I suppose I am asking you to bring me patience, or reduce my competitive urge to knock over the 80-year-old who can touch his toes. What a show-off.

9. In my attempt to race for Olympic points, it is nearly impossible to get to all of the qualifiers. If you're not using your sled for 364 days of the year, could I borrow it to reach some of my races? Or, if you're more comfortable doing the driving, I'll reimburse you for the ... reindeer hay. Either way, it would be cheaper than flying Delta. Thanks, Santa.

10. Finally, I I'd like to ask you for one last thing, Big Red. I should probably ask you for superhuman strength or the ability to win races or multiple trips to the UCI podiums next year. You'd probably tell me all that potential stuff is already inside me. In that case, I'd like to ask you for a map. I know my potential is in there, too, and will try to find it with the pocket-sized club, but if you have a map of my head, heart and future, that would be most handy. If not, that's OK. I'll figure it out with my newfound stupidity. But man, I could really use the pants, watts and sled.

Thanks for reading, and Merry Christmas, Santa. Hope you, the wife and abundant family of tiny people and odd pets are doing great.

Your fan,


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