When Jennie Reed retired from track cycling after the Beijing 2008 Olympics, it was without an Olympic medal. But with a number of national championships under her belt, as well as a few world-cup titles and a world-championship title, she felt she’d accomplished all she could in the sport.
So when her friend and fellow track cyclist Sarah Hammer contacted her in 2010 about a new team event being added for the London 2012 Olympics and asked her to be part of the team, the Eastside native wasn’t sure what to do.
“I was pacing around my condo thinking, ‘I thought I was done,’” Reed said about her thoughts on making a comeback.
In the end, she decided to return to track cycling after only about two years of retirement. It was the right decision as Reed, Hammer and their teammates Dotsie Bausch and Lauren Tomayo won the silver medal in the inaugural Women’s Team Pursuit event in London last month.
Tonight, the Marymoor Velodrome Association (MVA) and LifeWise Health Plan of Washington will welcome Reed home and celebrate her silver-medal win with a special event at the Velodrome at Marymoor Park at 6046 W. Lake Sammamish Pkwy N.E. near Redmond. Reed, who is 34 and has lived in Issaquah and Kirkland, got her start in track cycling at the Velodrome at 16. Tonight, she will sign autographs, take photos, answer questions and have her silver medal on hand for fans to get an up-close look. Reed’s appearance on Friday will also be part of the MVA’s final Friday Night Track Racing series event of the year.
Reed’s event, the Women’s Team Pursuit, is a three-woman cycling event and Reed and the rest of the U.S. team placed second after Great Britain, the favorites to win in the event.
“The Brits were definitely a step ahead of the world,” Reed said.
She said while she and her teammates are very competitive, they knew something drastic would need to happen in order for them to win gold — especially since they were competing against countries such as Great Britain, Canada (who won bronze) and Australia, where the cycling programs are a lot stronger.
“Everyone was just so excited that we (made it to the finals). I mean, that was our gold medal right there,” Reed said. “We won in our minds.”
Left to right, Sarah Hammer, Jennie Reed, Dotsie Bausch and Lauren Tamayo display their silver medals. Courtesy of Casey B. Gibson
In addition to honoring Reed, tonight’s event will also raise money for the MVA Youth Cycling Program. Doors open at 6 p.m. and entry is $5. Children younger than 12 are free. Additional donations will be collected to meet Reed and for autographs. All proceeds will go to the MVA Youth Cycling Program.
“When I started, there was actually not a juniors program,” Reed said.
When Reed started her cycling career, she was one of three juniors racing with the team at Gregg’s Cycle, which has three locations in the greater Seattle area including Bellevue.
“Jennie is a great role model for all aspiring to someday go to the Olympics,” said MVA Vice President Annette Williams. “She has given up a lot to be where she is and there have been many ups and downs in her racing career, but she has no regrets and still loves the sport. Jennie shows how with dedication, clear goals, many training hours and sacrifices, you can become an Olympic medalist.”
Williams, who met Reed in 1998, said her hope is that the silver medalist’s Olympic success will raise awareness of track cycling and the Velodrome at Marymoor.
“An increase in community awareness will help the future success of the MVA education and racing programs,” Williams said. “I also hope that Jennie’s success will spark the desire of one of our current young racers to become the future Olympian from Marymoor.”
Reed, a three-time Olympian who competed in Athens in 2004 in addition to Beijing and London, has the same hopes.
She said she would like to inspire more people to try track cycling, especially young girls. Reed would also like to use the experience and knowledge she’s gained in the last 15 years to inspire people to live a healthy and active lifestyle.
“I have partnered with LifeWise Health Care of Washington and through social media have shared health tips and inspirational messages through my video blog,” Reed said.