Cycling is a tough endurance sport, but it’s more so when you do two different disciplines. Paralympian Samantha Bosco joins us today to discuss her story as a Paralympic track and road cyclist. Samantha won two bronze medals at the Rio Paralympics, in the C5 3km pursuit on the track and the C5 time trial on the road (C5 riders include those with movement affected at a low level in one arm, moderately affected in one leg, or the absence of all, or part of an arm).

Samantha had planned to compete in her second Paralympics at Tokyo 2020, but a month prior to the start of those Games, she crashed in a training ride, causing severe injuries including a skull fracture and brain contusion.

We talked with Samantha about her accident and her recovery–after a lot of work and therapy, Samantha returned to bike racing and has been a force to be reckoned with on the para cycling circuit, adding many wins to her resume, including three medals at the 2023 Parapan American Games. She is looking forward to competing at the Paralympics in Paris later this year.

We also talked with Samantha about the differences in road, road-time trial, and track cycling, as well as what to look forward to at Paris 2024.

Learn more about Samantha at her website, and follow her on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram.

The Paris 2024 megastore has opened on the Champs-Élysées, complete with a giant Phryge. It will be open Monday-Sunday from 10am to 10pm until September 10, 2024.

Spectators have purchased one million tickets to the Paralympics, but 1.8 million tickets are still available. They’re pretty cheap too!

In a nod to the Olympic Rings on the Eiffel Tower, Paris 2024 has installed the Paralympic Agitos on the Arc de Triomphe.

Team Australia also has a theme song for this year’s Games:


TKFLASTANIs were in action this past weekend, with many Olympic and Paralympic trials happening in the US. We hear from:

  • Soccer player Emily Sonnett
  • Table tennis player Millie Tapper
  • Sprinter Kenny Bednarek
  • Pole vaulter Katie Moon
  • Gymnasts Brody Malone and Yul Moldauer
  • Para swimmers Jessica Long, McKenzie Coan, Olivia Chambers, and Jamal Hill

We’re doing a giveaway of some great Olympic and Paralympic gear. Sign up for our newsletter here, and you’ll be entered to win!

Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!

 


TRANSCRIPT

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351-Para Cycling with Paralympic Medalist Samantha Bosco

Theme Music

Jill: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. If you love the games, we are the show for you. Each week we share stories from athletes and people behind the scenes to help you have more fun watching the games. I am your host, Jill Jaracz, joined as always by my lovely co host, Alison Brown.

Alison, hello. How are you?

Alison: I have seen more wild things at trials than a bailiff at the people’s court. I have been watching the, the athletic, you know, the track and field trials and the gymnastics trials. And it has been a wild ride. I can only imagine what’s gonna happen when the big game starts.

Jill: I know, and I couldn’t even pay much attention to trials as they were going on, but boy, it was a huge weekend here in the United States for, Naming people to the Olympic team and we’ll have more Shooklaston did well and had some trouble, had some tough days.

Alison: It was an up and down result, but we’ll talk about that when we get to our Shooklaston news.

Samantha Bosco Interview

Jill: all right. today we are talking with para cyclist, Samantha Bosco. Samantha competes in both road and track cycling, and she won two bronze medals at the Rio Paralympics in the C5 three kilometer pursuit and the C5 time trial. C5 riders include those with movement affected at a low level in one arm, moderately affected in one leg, or the absence of all or part of an arm.

Samantha’s disability is in her legs. and a month prior to the start of The Tokyo Paralympics, Samantha crashed in a training ride causing severe injuries, including a skull fracture and brain contusion. We talked with her about returning to competition after the accident, competing both in track and road cycling and the process of being reclassified.

Take a listen.

Alison: Samantha Bosco, thank you so much for coming back and, talking to us. We’ve met originally at the team media summit, but now we actually have a nice, quiet conversation.

Samantha Bosco: Yes. I am very excited to be back talking with you ladies today.

Alison: I want to start with classification because I was going through.

Uh, some of the notes about you and you were reclassified, which was a bit of a surprise to me. So start with the first process and, and how that came up with the second process.

Samantha Bosco: Yeah. So the first process was basically I wanted to see if I qualified for paracycling in the beginning. I had just learned about it.

And just did a little bit of research, thought, okay, this can be something. I think I qualify at least for a C5 category, which is the most functional of disabilities for upright bikes, which are the typical bikes you see people riding on the streets and sidewalks all over the place. and so found a race that there was classifiers at and went there with my mom and.

Got classified as a C five based on documentation from my limb lengthening surgery that went wrong. And this documentation was stuff that I had from when I was 11 to 14 because that was the range of time that I spent on crutches and had surgeries to fix what they could with my leg and the permanent damage that I had as a result.

So I raced as a C five since 2013. In 2018, I was having such bad knee pain. that honestly I considered cutting off my leg because it was just hurting to walk. It was hurting to just sit still. We couldn’t quite figure out what it was. Found a really good physical therapist who we’ve been working with ever since who really helped me gain some strength in the leg.

But we also did some further testing, found out that I basically have at most on a good day, 30%. of the strength in my right leg compared to my left. then I had nerve conduction testing just to see if there was anything else going on. Somebody said there was potential that I had nerve pain, that I’ve always had nerve pain.

I just didn’t have documentation of it. And so I got a nerve conduction test done and found that I have severe nerve damage from my peroneal nerve. so essentially my lower right leg is not functional and whatever muscle I have there will atrophy. And that prompted a medical review for classification where I got reclassed to a C4 because of the additional nerve damage to my leg.

So basically I have the same Functionality as somebody who has a below the knee amputation, I guess. And if my ankle wasn’t fused bone on bone from the process of bringing my foot back up in surgery, I would have what they call drop foot. And that’s essentially, you can’t control picking your foot back up, so your foot, your toes just point to the ground kind of like a Barbie’s foot.

And that signifies the nerve damage from the knee down also, and so that’s why we didn’t know I had it originally.

Alison: Will you have to now go through multiple classifications since there, you were saying there’s going to be a degenerative aspect to this?

Samantha Bosco: I don’t think so, because when I had the nerve testing done, he basically was saying that I don’t have function of any of the muscle really, and that if I from on the outside, basically, of my tibia and my shin.

and that if there was any muscle left over, that would atrophy. So, I don’t think there is any muscle there. I mean, this is decades ago. I’m dating myself really hard right now. But decades ago, when I first got the nerve damage, we just didn’t know about it. So, it’s safe at least for me to assume Um, that there’s no muscle to atrophy because it’s already atrophied.

And classification, if they think that something is going to be degenerative enough that it’s going to reclassify you later, they keep you under review and I’m confirmed. So the only way that I would be potentially reclassed or seen again is if they change the system and it has to be Everybody gets reclassed or re seened, or I have additional damage or something further documented that would necessitate a medical review.

Jill: So with 30 percent strength in your one leg, how does that balance on the bike and, well, I know you’re clipped in, but like, how do you keep going without falling over? do you know what I mean and how do you compensate to keep going and at high speeds with one leg that is a lot less strong than the other?

Samantha Bosco: Yeah, I, it’s interesting cause I don’t ever really think of it that way. I credit my parents hugely on pushing me to not see myself as somebody that has a disability and just pushing myself to the best of my abilities and seeing what I can truly do. So when I get on the bike, I don’t think about any differences between my legs.

And, you can kind of see it sometimes because I have a power meter in the cranks on each side, so you can see like a pedal balance where if I’m riding really slow, I use my left leg for more of that pedaling than my right leg. So the difference will be like 60 40 or 65 35 But it doesn’t mean like at least for me, it doesn’t mean that I’m Doing less with my right leg.

I’m still pushing both legs as much as they can It’s just that My left can produce more power. But at the same time My left can also get lactic acid buildup and my right can’t So, they work out each other really well.

Jill: in tracking each leg’s power separately, then do you do like a lot of mental math to figure out, okay, this is what I need to do on, with this leg versus this leg to, to get the results you want?

Samantha Bosco: Oh, no.

Jill: No? Okay. I, I

Samantha Bosco: tried that before when I first got a dual sided power meter, I tried that and We got it specifically to try to see if I could build more power in my right leg to match my left leg and realized through the process that I was just dummying down my left leg to match my right. So I don’t look at any of that.

I think that if I look at it afterwards, if I’m doing an effort or error in a bike race, and they’re a little bit. more off than they typically are because it’s not the same when I’m riding fast as when I’m riding slow. So if they’re a little bit more off, I’ll just think I had a bad day as far as ability to activate the muscles in my legs.

Cause I do a lot of work to try to be ready on both sides of my body and lower body, upper body, all of it before I even get on the bike. And usually when I’m on it and going for it in a race, they’re a little bit, the power balance is a little bit more equal. So I don’t, I don’t really try to think anything of it other than trying to make sure that I’m bringing both of my legs to 100 percent of their capabilities.

Alison: So besides the dual power meter, what other modifications are part of the bicycle?

Samantha Bosco: So, I don’t, actually don’t have modifications on my bike itself. My modification is in my shoe because my right leg, some of the permanent damage is that it’s also an inch shorter than my left leg. But because of how my ankle is fused, it’s oddly enough at the perfect angle for cycling.

So, I shim up. the right shoe between my cleat and the shoe itself, so that when I’m clipped into the bike, both of my legs are functionally equal.

Alison: And that’s true for both track and road?

Samantha Bosco: Yes. Yep, I use the same shoes for each bike. For all three bikes, I guess.

Alison: Okay, wait, three?

Samantha Bosco: Yes, so I have a time trial bike, the track bike, and then a road bike.

Yep.

Alison: Okay, so what’s the difference between the time trial and the road?

Samantha Bosco: The time trial road,

Alison: right?

Samantha Bosco: Yes, both are road. Okay. The time trial is, the bars in front are, the base bars are flat across the front and then there’s two arrow bars that extend forward from that base bar. So essentially you look like you’re laying down on the bike, which when I first got into cycling, uh, and saw that, not first into back into road cycling and racing again.

And saw somebody on the trail when I was riding with my dad on a TT bike in those bars. I was like, oh my gosh, that looks so nice. Like to just like lay down when you’re tired. Like, I want that bike. And my dad looked at me, he’s like, no, you don’t. And then I found Para, cause I didn’t do time trials until I found Para.

And then I found Para and got my first time trial bike. And I was like, oh, he was right. This is not a bike. This is not for resting and recovering. This is not easy, but I love the time trial way more than the road bike, road races and road bike now. And that’s, that’s saying a lot because I love all of them, but that’s the time trial bike.

And then the road bike is basically just your typical road bike with the drop bars that you race mass start races with.

Alison: What’s great about time trial for you.

Samantha Bosco: It’s all about me and what I can do. It’s. It’s the opportunity to show how strong I am, show how capable I am, show how much having a disability doesn’t matter.

And it allows me to just be within myself, be in and bring that out in the bike. Cause a road race, You can be the strongest one on the day and still lose the road race because there’s more to it. There’s strategy and there’s all, these are the things. And then you’re working around other people and working to be beating them at the line, not based off a time that you did.

And there’s strategy and time and stuff with the time trial too, but the time trial, it’s, purely about what you’ve put into the sport, what you put into the bike. and what you can execute on that day.

Alison: When we talked to the Corinne Lebecky about road cycling and she was talking a lot about team strategy.

How much is that true in para?

Samantha Bosco: there’s some, but then there’s not some. You have teammates in the race sometimes and then you don’t. If you can help your teammate get on the podium, if you both can get on the podium, there are opportunities to work together and be teammates in a road race. but then sometimes there’s not because then you’re , like domestically you’re competing against the same people for a spot on the team.

So there’s a little bit of, we’re not teammates. And then there’s a little bit of. Teammates, and so it’s tricky. And then for para, there’s different categories that race together. Like we as a C four, I race with the C fives now, and vice versa. When I was a five, I raced with the fours, so there’s potentially a teammate in a different category.

So it’s tricky because you’re racing your race, but also at the same time trying to help the other teammate if there’s an opportunity to present itself. And that gets tricky because you have two different races in one that you’re trying to be teammates and work together, but also get on the podium for the team as well.

So it’s, it’s a little trickier than being on a trade team team.

Alison: Let’s talk a little bit about the difference of skills between the velodrome and the road. So, okay. I love when people say that kind of thing. So , what makes it different besides the obvious?

Samantha Bosco: It’s hard. The track is hard. amplifies disability, or at least certain disabilities, mine included, so starting is harder for me.

And it’s, most of it is because it is one gear and you have to pick one gear and hope that you pick the right one for the race. But at the same time, how you pace the race causes lactic acid buildup more quickly than on the road. Starting from zero in a heavy gear is hard on your knees, on your legs, the torque of trying to get that gear turned over is different than on the road.

You can start an easier gear on the road and then shift down to a harder gear and not have that huge load on your legs. You also have to try to pace. so that you can keep on top of the gear throughout the whole effort, whether it’s an individual effort or a mass start event. And you’re on a track that is banked in some degree, in some cases, 45 degrees in the turns, and you’re only turning left and you have no brakes.

it’s difficult sometimes. Like, I’ll do the 3K, which is 12 laps, and eight laps in, you’re like, okay, where’s the bell lap? Why aren’t we done yet? Why is this taking so long? It’s literally 15%, 10 percent of a time trial effort in terms of time. And it feels so much worse.

But I think that’s just what it is. Mostly because it’s one gear that you have to pedal and you have to hope is yours and it’s mentally taxing also because You also think oh man, did I pick the right gear? Did I pick the right gear? Did I go and then you hear times for your laps. You think wow I went too fast on that one.

I’m really gonna fade at the end. Like you know that towards the end You’re gonna be hurting so badly to catch your breath, for your legs, mentally fried, so much quicker than in a time trial or a road race, and you have to hang on. Because if you start slowing down, you slow down so fast, where a tenth of a second matters.

And in a time trial, yeah, a tenth of a second matters, but you have more distance to be able to negate any errors. And you can’t mess up on the track.

Jill: When do you choose what gear you want to race in for the track?

Samantha Bosco: if you’re lucky a few days before the race, but sometimes it could even just be the morning of if you’re going back and forth between a gear.

because you have enough time to get used to the track, to feel how it feels versus the track that you’re used to training on. And you kind of have an idea of the gears that you like for the track that you train on and the gears that you know how it feels. So when you go to another track, you can kind of compare it and gauge it off that.

But Race day, the track could be hotter, there could be more people, there could be less people, it could be raining outside, where the air is colder. Like all of these things that factor in to a gear choice because they can cause you to feel lactic acid sooner, or they can cause you to really feel like you’re flying.

And then the gear that you picked was too easy. So sometimes you, you wait till morning up, because if you’re like Yeah, my legs feel really great today and your warmup is really good and it’s warm in the track and people are putting out times that are pretty fast. Then you have more confidence in picking that heavier gear in hopes that you run a faster time yourself.

Jill: how do crowds in the stands affect the track?

Samantha Bosco: Oh, I mean more people is warmer, always. The interesting thing for us is Para doesn’t really get a lot of fans. And so the only time that I’ve truly experienced a full velodrome was when I went to Rio and at Super Worlds in Glasgow last year.

And I tell you, having so many fans in the velodrome in Rio. To where it was standing room only, people were dancing, you could feel the boards shaking, people were dancing so much. Was Incredible, because it just gave you the extra mental push to go harder. They didn’t know who I was. They didn’t know who they were cheering for.

They, I think they were even cheering for both of us. Like, they didn’t know. And every time they cheered, it didn’t matter if they were cheering for me or against me. I heard them as cheering for me, so I’m going to go harder. And that, it was huge. I think that helped me win that bronze medal in Rio because I had people there that were excited about the race.

And it got me that extra excitement when The last 500 meters are just dreadful because they feel like it’s another 20 laps.

Alison: How are you managing events like the Paralympics where you’re switching back and forth between road, time trial, and, , track?

Samantha Bosco: That’s nice of you to assume that I’m managing it well.

Um, my baby is the time trial on the road. So that will always have my focus. That’ll always be the thing that I’m chasing the most. It’s the thing that makes me feel the most alive. And then it kind of carries over to the 3K on the track. Because the positions are the same, it’s an endurance event, granted it’s much shorter, it’s still an endurance event, still similar to the time trial.

So I do a lot of time trial work that kind of translates to the track. And so that’s kind of how I manage it. I feel like I don’t put as much pressure on the track or the road race as I do the time trial, if you will. So, I do some sort of interval work closer to when I’m gonna get on the track, but that’s also in correlation to the intervals that I’m already doing for the road time trial.

And then I just hope for the best. It’s probably not the best strategy, but We make it work for me. I think it would blow my mind if I had to do all of it all at once and like, trying to be perfect at all of it. I learned a long time ago that , trying to be perfect is so detrimental.

Jill: Yeah. So do you break down your, training blocks into these days are road bike days.

These days are time trial bike days. These days are track or. Segments? Yes.

Samantha Bosco: Kind of. we more so break it down on road season versus track season, because track requires more high volume max efforts and VO2 efforts, whereas road season is a little bit longer, more aerobic, and so intervals tend to be longer during road season.

And shorter and more intense during track season. And so when I get training plans for the road, all of my efforts, most of my efforts are on the TT bike. If there’s anything that is specific to sprinting, for example, that would be on the road bike. But. I do a lot of work on the TT bike. And sometimes if I have an endurance ride scheduled, there’s no specific, you have to be on a road bike, you have to be on a TT bike, so I’ll just pick which one I feel like using for the day.

Sometimes I ride my TT bike for three hours. Sometimes I ride my road bike for three hours. So it’s, it’s very much kind of a give and take on days where, no, you need to be on this bike versus. I feel like riding this bike. And then for the track, there’s days where it’s just added intensity in the intervals.

So I’ll have regular intervals and then I’ll have those track specific intervals at the same time. I can ride all three bikes in one week, any time of the year. And then that kind of gets closer when there is track specific races. Throughout the year, like at Super Worlds last year, when we had track first and then road, there was a lot of doing all of the intervals to meet, you know, being ready for the track and maintaining fitness and being ready for the road also.

Jill: Is it easier to transition from the TT bike back to the road bike instead of vice versa? If you did more training on the road bike, is it harder to be more comfortable on the TT bike?

Samantha Bosco: No. Okay. that kind of difference would be more going from the track to the road because Like you can’t stop pedaling on the track.

So it almost feels like you’re pedaling in squares when you get back on a road bike. Because you can coast and you forget that you can coast. So it’s different coming from track to road if you’re spending so much time on the track. But we bring our road bikes too and we ride the rollers in between efforts to keep our legs loose.

So there’s, there’s not really that much of a difference moving from one bike to the next. As far as like time trial versus road bike, I think the differences that we would see would be more upper body fatigue because of how you’re putting your arms and your hands into an aero position and craning your neck and doing all of the things to try to be as aero as possible and then getting on a road bike where you can look up at the sun.

Alison: Where is the Paralympics falling within the road and track cycling schedule?

Samantha Bosco: Oh, we just finished our Road World Cups. So, with the exception of Road World Championships, we’re basically done with track season and road season. And, we didn’t really have a Road World Championships during a games year. it’s not always super pressing to go to world championships the year of the games because the games takes precedence. But our world championships is two weeks after the finish of the games in Switzerland, and I want to go because I want to go to everything. So I guess it’s falling into the perfect spot for the racing that mattered because we got all of the points for allocations for start rights.

That’s all done because that race season is done. And then World Championships is kind of just like, icing on a cake. If you get to go to the Games and you get to go to Worlds, like, the Games is the cake, Championships is the icing. Whatever happens, happens.

Alison: And location, being Paris and Switzerland, makes this very convenient.

Samantha Bosco: Yes. Just makes a long trip, but Yes. Yes.

Jill: There’s a worst places to go for a long trip.

Samantha Bosco: Oh, I know. I know. I’m, I am so complaining hard on this one.

Yeah. We just got to go to Paris to check out the courses in between our World Cups because we had a week, basically a weekend between races and we got to go. And. Check out the course and also kind of go into Paris and explore and it’s already set up there. Got all the mascots and the banners and all of the vibes and constructing these venues for some of the sports and it just, so exciting.

I can’t even, I feel like I’ve had a long season already with how much I traveled in April and May and being gone for three weeks and then coming home. And I can’t even wait for the opportunity to go back to Paris and Switzerland after, because I hear Switzerland is amazing. And I want to go to everything.

Alison: How was the course?

Samantha Bosco: It’s fun. It’s challenging. It’s more fun practicing it than it probably will be to race it because it’s a different mindset, but. There’s something for everybody. There’s, there’s technicality, there’s climbs, there’s crazy descents where you really hope your brakes are working. There’s beautiful views.

It’s going to be a lot of fun. And I really hope I get to race on it because it’s a challenging course. And, I love being able to put myself through challenge and seeing what I’m capable of.

Alison: And now we’ve been so happy and now we’re going to talk about the accident.

Samantha Bosco: Oh, I figured it was coming at some point. Surprise you took you this long.

Alison: Well, because that’s actually, it’s not the most interesting thing about you, Samantha. So I definitely didn’t want to start there, but we, I feel like we have to talk about it.

So you had a really serious crash right before Tokyo. When we talked briefly at the media summit, you don’t remember it. Right? No.

Samantha Bosco: Yeah.

Alison: Which, which is probably a good thing.

Samantha Bosco: I don’t, yeah, I don’t think I’d be on my bike if I did remember it, honestly.

Alison: Which is kind of the, the thing I wanted to talk to you about in terms of you had to come back from this incredibly serious injury.

Why did you want to get back on the bike?

Samantha Bosco: Because the bike has always been my first love. It’s it’s home. It’s, it’s the epitome of me. It’s gritty, it’s challenging, it’s strong, it’s independent, and freedom, and speed, and all these amazing things that you can do on a bike. You see the world, make so many cool friends, challenge yourself, see what you’re truly capable of.

it’ll always be something I enjoy doing.

Alison: And how did your family feel about you getting back on the bike?

Samantha Bosco: Oh man, my mom wanted me to take up pottery. Yep. My actual first question to my mom, actually it wasn’t a question, it was a statement, in the hospital when I started remembering, or at least being able to retain what was going on and then learning what happened was, I don’t think I want to get on bike again.

didn’t know that, at the time, that’s what she wanted to hear because she was telling my mother in law, like, we need to talk to these two, they can’t ride bikes anymore. But then, three hours later, I’m asking Andrew, does this mean I don’t get to go to Tokyo? So, on some level, consciously and subconsciously, I’ll always want to ride my bike.

Alison: So what was the recovery process like once you were able to actually walk around and be physical?

Samantha Bosco: Yeah, that part was hard. It was a long time. and I think for me, the long part of it was that it was more emotional than physical. Yeah. Because I passed concussion protocol pretty quickly and pretty easily.

Like I didn’t have any of those symptoms. I had eye tracking problems and crystals loose in my ear on my right side. And so that took a long time and it took a lot of physical therapy. But I also had an amazing physical therapist working with me who, Pushed me. She , she basically told me during the sessions, I don’t want you to be an everyday person who we get back to being able to go about daily life and have that sense of normalcy.

You’re an elite level athlete. I want you to be here. not just being able to get off the couch and go to the bathroom and make dinner and do all the things that you would be doing anyways. I want you to be able to turn your head side to side at a certain cadence and be able to tell me letters off an eye chart as you’re doing so while riding your bike.

So that process took a long time because once I was able to do something she’d challenge me again. And we got to a point where I was laying in a side plank with a laser on my head and post it notes at various levels and patterns on the wall in front of me. And I had to turn my head side to side and hit the post it notes with the laser that was on my head and read them as I was turning side to side.

And then she would add on to that. So It was challenging, but she got me better than I was before I even started. The physical part was hard too, but it wasn’t as hard. Like I had days that felt longer than they were. I needed more time to recover between things. If I had a lot of people come over to see how I was doing and hang out with me.

The next day I could have nothing. Like I needed to be in my room, no lights on, no noise, and just recharging that way. Walking past the driveway was difficult. I, the first time I went with my husband and my brother and we got past the driveway and we took like 10 steps. I had to sit down and I cried cause it was just, I couldn’t go further.

And then we came back into the house and like, It’s one thing to not be able to do it on your own, but when you have people you love who are like trying to help and you can’t do it, at least for me it’s way worse because I don’t want them to feel that way too and I don’t want to let them down. And then there was like a whole process of like feeling like I let everybody down because I didn’t get to go to the games and all these things even though I could ride my bike.

I got on my TT bike on a trainer actually. Like, two days after I got home because I wanted to ride my bike and I cried. I’m a happy crier. Don’t know that I like being a happy crier, but I am. So I got on my TT bike and I rode for like five minutes and I cried because I was just so happy that I was back on my bike.

I started physical therapy right away. Like we were, we were a family that definitely pushes ourselves. We’re a family that doesn’t want to. Be down. And me, especially, like, I can’t, I don’t, like feeling that way. Like, I want to be better. I always want to be better than I was before.

So to have that, such a severe injury, almost felt like I, there was part of me that didn’t want to believe it, but also part of me that was like, no, like, I can’t have this happen. I have to go to the games. Like, I have to show, I that I’m ready and that this head injury and this bone that’s fractured will have nothing to do with how I perform at the games because I’m riding my bike and I’m doing this.

And I went for bike rides outside. And I think a week after I got home, I went for a bike ride with my husband, Andrew, and we got five minutes away and I had to sit on the curb and cry cause it was just so overwhelming. That was not a happy cry time. But I was on my bike and I was riding.

Come to find out I shouldn’t have been riding outside that soon. So we afterwards stopped riding outside for at least four months. And even then it was like, I just want to ride with people I know, people I trust, one person at a time. And it took a long time. to get to that point of getting back to a group ride and back around other people.

But at the same time, if I walked out to the garage and I looked at my bikes and I wanted to cry because I was hurting, I didn’t get on my bike because I didn’t want to associate my bike with something negative. I wanted my bike to continue to bring me joy, to help me feel all of the positive feelings I feel when I’m on my bike.

And I think that process also extended the recovery, but also helped the recovery because it helped me keep what I love, something I love.

Alison: What kind of mental training are you doing now for road cycling that you weren’t doing before?

Samantha Bosco: Oh, gosh. Oh, gosh. Oh, gosh. Oh, gosh. So many things. I was working with a sports psychologist since 2016 and she really helped me get through the hard parts of the injury in 21.

And I got to a place where I felt like I was really, really good mentally and physically. Like 2022, when I came back to racing. It was really after a conversation with Andrew about whether or not I wanted to keep racing or if I wanted to walk away and just ride my bike and him telling me, like, I should just do one just to make sure that if I want to walk away, I’m going to walk away and not have any what if moments.

And I did that first race and knew instantly how much I loved it. The first race was a time trial. So clearly I have some bias. And then the second one was a road race and that was a little bit more nerve wracking, but at the same time, like the second the race started, I didn’t feel like anything had happened.

I felt different, but I didn’t feel different in the sense of. I couldn’t do it. I felt different in the, I’m doing this for me and I’m doing it because I love it and I’m going to show myself that this is what I’ve put my heart into. And I just took that feeling into every race and every race became its own race, its own reason for something.

And so that’s kind of been the mental work, just making sure that I continue to do the sport for my reasons and that they are still in line with who I am. And then I started working with a new sports psychologist last year because I had a feeling like there might be some things that creep up this year based off the last go around.

And so we’ve been doing a lot of things to. disassociate things that could have negative connotations and be mentally prepared for anything that could come up, not knowing what those things would manifest as.

Alison: Are you a different writer in any technical sense? Things that you changed because of, either just as you’re getting older as a writer or because of the accident?

Samantha Bosco: maybe? I think for me, I haven’t changed as far as technical things like cornering and things that require that precision, because I’ve basically have had that ingrained from mountain biking and from crit racing before I found Para. I think what’s changed for me is the heart that goes into it.

And I think that that potentially allows me to take a little bit more risk through some of the turns or not risk through other ones because it’s not that important. Things like that. So I think that for me, I’m a different racer and cyclist because I’m approaching the race differently. Not from a technicality standpoint, but just from a pure performance and love standpoint.

Jill: how’s your mom with you getting back on the bike? It sounds like she’s not sending flowers to your PT anytime soon.

Samantha Bosco: You know, it’s funny. I’ve asked her before and she said, you know what, Samantha, you and your brother picked the two most dangerous sports.

At some point, I just had to get over it. And I was like, okay. So, I think, I think she’s good. It doesn’t help that Andrew broke his femur last summer racing BMX bikes. And pottery got brought up again. Which Andrew and I did go do pottery.

Alison: Did anyone get hurt at pottery? Because there is a kiln involved,

Samantha Bosco: right?

No, nobody got hurt. Thankfully nobody got hurt, but she also said we should take up knitting. So I knitted her some gloves. That’s the only project that I’ve ever done. They weren’t, they were okay, but I definitely need to stick to bikes. Not knitting. Pottery is fun. I’ll do that anytime. But. Yeah. She, she’s, if she’s not okay with it, she’s lying to me.

Alison: What does life between now and the end of August look like?

Samantha Bosco: Oh, so much time on my bike.

Probably more time on my bike than with any of my family and friends.

But. It, it looks like all the stuff that I love to do. and like my mom, she and my family, like, they want to see me race. They want to see me do well because they know how much I love it. So it’s never really been something that’s like they get annoyed if I can’t go do something with them. So there’s going to be a lot of help and encouragement.

There’s going to be a lot of excitement. across the board, I think, because it feels different this time around. It feels truly like it’s been a huge team effort. it’s not just me doing it. Yes, I’m pedaling the bike, and yes, everybody’s like, Oh, you’re the one riding. You could not follow the training plans.

You could not do this, this, or this. But They helped me get back on a bike. They sat with me in the darkness. They’ve been on this journey with me. So for me, now to August feels like a lot of time on the bike, but also celebrating that I get to spend that time on a bike. Celebrating that I got through that hard time with the people that love me and that matter to me, and a lot of celebrating on the possibilities of getting to live life to the fullest and getting to chase dreams simply because I got another chance to.

Jill: Thank you so much. We’re looking forward to seeing you in Paris and, welcome to Choclistan.

Samantha Bosco: Thank you so much. I enjoyed my time with you ladies immensely, and I hope to do this again. And hopefully get to recap Paris with you guys.

 

Jill: Thank you so much, Samantha. You can find out more about Sam at sambosco. com and she is Sammy Cranks on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram. That’s S A M M I E C R A N K S. We will have links to all of that in the show notes.

Paris 2024 News

 

Jill: the Paris 2024 Mega Store, the Re Grand Mega Magazine, has opened on the Champs Élysées between the Grand Palais and the Concord Urban Park. It is open until September 10th from 10 a. m. to 10 p. m., Monday through Sunday. It has 1, 000 square meters of retail space with 1, 000 official products available, including a giant frige for 800 euros.

Bring a suitcase just for that. Right, I’m down to 999 products I’m looking at now.

Alison: It’s a lot of fun if you’re looking through the pictures that they posted on the press release. It is just friege everywhere. And the color, you know, all the pinks and the light blues and the purples. I think that may be our first or second stop when we arrive.

Jill: Yeah, we talked about what do we do when we get there and it was like, okay, go check in at the main press center, then go to the mega store because I’m, I don’t want to deal with the, the mega lines that could happen, even though there’s going to be a lot of stores around.

And I think every venue will have something, but we’ll also be working during that time. So standing in line is not really ideal to do while the games are on. So it’ll be interesting.

Alison: We will at least take a picture with the giant Friege.

Jill: Yeah, oh, definitely. Definitely. We have reached the 1 million ticket milestone for the Paralympics. 1 million have been sold with two months to go. There are still 1. 8 million tickets available, including those at the lowest price point of 15 euros.

So if the Olympics is out of reach for you, or you get an extra case of Olympic fever and want that to continue once that cauldron goes out Paralympics right afterwards. Just as exciting, if not more so. And cheaper. Speaking of the Paralympics, the Paralympic symbol, the agitos, has been installed on the Arc de Triomphe.

Alison: When I saw this going up, because they didn’t make as much of a big deal leading up to this as they did with the rings going on the Eiffel Tower. Like, we knew the rings were going on the Eiffel Tower for a very long time before it actually happened. And this, they kind of sprung on us.

Jill: Yeah. Yeah. And. especially when the rings on the Eiffel Tower, they said, Oh, it’s going to be up through the end of the Paralympics.

And I was like, Oh, well, are we not getting an agitos? And lo and behold, there they are, voila, voila.

Alison: And it’s really beautiful and just as dramatic. And the photos have been wonderful. And the point that I made, in one of the social media posts where it’s like the, the IPC said, hold my wine and came up with their own fantastic idea of.

Slapping these on the Arctitrium. So this will be great. Every shot going and now they’re up. So every shot during the Olympics. Of road racing, we’ll have that in the background. Perfect.

Jill: Team Australia is going to have an official song for Paris 2024. I know how you love the official songs, right? I

Alison: do love the official songs.

Jill: Well, I’m not sure many, well, wait, I take that back because I think Team USA had like a Katy Perry song for Rio. Do you, do you remember that?

Alison: If it was Katy Perry, I blocked it out. I don’t remember. I do not remember. I do not remember. I remember when it’s the song that they play on the NBC broadcast over and over and over again.

Jill: Okay, well, Team Australia has its own song. It is called Higher. It is by Jessica Mauboy. Scheduled for release on July 11th, but they did a preview at the Prime Minister’s Olympic and Paralympic dinner over the weekend. So we will have a link to that video in the show notes. Also, if you are going to Paris for the games, this is good news because they have extended the curfew for outdoor dining was 10 PM now outdoor dining until midnight, every night until the end of the Paralympics.

Alison: So, wait, the 10 p. m. curfew is just life, like that’s what it normally is in regular circumstances?

Jill: Yes. So, so all of the outdoor terraces and cafes, once it hit 10 o’clock, they had to close down.

Alison: Oh, this is good. So we may be able to get something to eat on our way back. At least

Jill: if we want to sit outdoors.

Yes.

Alison: We can look at all the things hanging off the walls and show off every, all our purchases to our, our new friends. Yes.

TKFLASTAN Update

Alison: Welcome to Shookfluston.

Jill: It is the time of the show where we check in with our team, Keep the Flame Alive. These are past guests and listeners of the show who make up our citizenship of our very own country, Shookfluston.

Alison: Soccer player Emily Sonnet was officially named to the United States women’s team for the Olympics and is one of the team’s defenders.

Jill: Millie Tapper has been named to Australia’s Olympic table tennis team. This is her third Olympics.

Alison: At the U. S. Track and Field Trials, Kenny Bednarek finished second in the 200 meters. So he will be running both the 100 and the 200 in Paris.

 

Jill: Also at Track and Field Trials, Katie Moon finished second. Her height tied for first with Bridget Williams, but it took her one extra jump over the night to get there.

So that is how she landed in second place. She is going back to the Olympics to defend her gold medal.

Alison: Brody Malone finished second overall at the U. S. Gymnastics Olympic Trials and is heading to Paris. Yul Moldauer sadly finished ninth, and he did not make the team but was named as a non traveling replacement athlete.

Jill: And at the U. S. Para swimming trials, Jessica Long, Mackenzie Cohen, Olivia Chambers and Jamal Hill all made the Paralympic team.

Alison: Yay!

Jill: I’m doing a little happy dance for all of our people. It is exciting and it’s just like we are officially in July. We are officially in games month and it’s it’s getting closer and closer.

Alison: Just shut up. Okay

Jill: well that is going to do it for this episode let us know what you think of paracycling

Alison: You can find us on X YouTube and Instagram at flame alive pod Send us an email at flame alive pod at gmail. com Call or text us at two zero eight 3 5 2 6 3 4 8. That’s 2 0 8. Flame It. Chat with us and other fans on our Facebook group.

Keep The Flame Alive Podcast and sign up for our weekly newsletter with even more Olympic and Paralympic info for you at our website, flame alive pod.com.

Jill: And I hope you’ve been tuning into our social media because we have a short run series called Jill Jaracz on Paris, where I have a fun fact about the games for every day leading up to the Olympics and hopefully for the Paralympics as well.

So next time, join us on Thursday when we will showcase BMX cycling with Elise Willoughby, Hannah Roberts, and Cam Wood. Thank you so much for listening. And until next time, keep the flame alive.

e from the transcript; use the audio as the record of note.