Ballard Grad Goes From Water Girl To Olympic Silver

Louisville native Dotsie Bausch won a silver medal at the Olympic Games in London in team pursuit cycling. The Ballard High School grad started cycling when she was 26 and is a seven-time U.S.A. Cycling National Champion and two-time Pan American Champion. The former New York City runway model was back home last month, and spoke to kids at Holy Spirit School.

KENT TAYLOR: Did you have any athletic interests at Ballard?

DOTSIE BAUSCH: Not specifically at Ballard, I loved watching sports and I would always go to the soccer games and I was the water girl for the Ballard soccer team.

TAYLOR: How did you get into cycling?

BAUSCH: I started riding a bike in 1996, I was healing from, I was very sick with an eating disorder, with anorexia. As I was coming to the end of my therapy process my therapist said that if I wanted to start exercising again, she wanted me to try something that I didn’t have any negative connotations with, or situations with, because with anorexia, part of it is extreme overexercise. I chose cycling because I had never done it. Really it was a healing vehicle for me, in the beginning. It wasn’t for any competition reason, but it turned into that.

TAYLOR: How rewarding was winning the silver medal?

BAUSCH: When you get to the Olympic stage, those three medals are so coveted, and so rare. There are only 900 medals for 10,500 athletes. You just feel so proud up there representing your country, but you also just feel this incredible sense of excitement and relief and intensity from all that you’ve worked for and getting there. It was a big. mixed bag of emotions. Part of it was very surreal, the podium was a very surreal experience for me because you’ve watched it so many times, and for two straight days I had dreams that they were going to come in and take our medal and tell us that the timing actually wasn’t working right that day, and that Australia had actually beaten us. It was the strangest, most surreal experience for probably about a week afterwards, and then it started sinking in.

TAYLOR: What is the message that you are trying to relay to kids?

BAUSCH: The kids are so impressionable and they’re so excited about sports and they just watched the Olympics because it was just in August, so it’s kind of fresh in their minds. When I come to schools and talk, I want to encourage them to try something that they might not otherwise try. For me, track cycling was not something that I initially wanted to try and it was something I was really scared of to try. I try to teach them that there may be an inner Olympian in them, in life, or real Olympics, sports wise, if they stretch and grow and try something that they maybe wouldn’t have tried before and reach outside of their comfort zone.

TAYLOR: Will you be in Rio in 2016?

BAUSCH: I don’t know that I’ll keep going all the way to 2016, I might. I really have told myself that I think I’ll decide about this time next year, and three years will be enough to get back into it. I’m still doing it some, but obviously not at that level and I needed some rest and my body needs to regenerate.

TAYLOR: What is next for you?

BAUSCH: I’ll stay in the cycling industry, I love it, it’s what I know. It’s what I’ve done and where I’ve built a business and a personality. I’ve done a lot of commentating, post-Olympics, and I would really love to dive into that deeper. It’s actually what I majored in, (in) college, was journalism.

TAYLOR: How much did the TV coverage in London help the sport?

BAUSCH: In Britain and Europe, you are dealing with countries that are mad for track cycling. I compare it all the time to how Europe feels about soccer, compared to the U.S. It was the hot ticket at the Olympics and if we had been in any other country, for example, at the Beijing Olympics, they had to pay people to be in the stands. The British are crazy mad for their track cycling. Will and Kate were at our event, Paul McCartney was at our event. It was like the hot place to be.

TAYLOR: How fast do you go?

BAUSCH: On the track our average speed for our event was about 57 kilometers an hour, or a little over 35 miles an hour.

TAYLOR: How much damage did Lance Armstrong do to the sport?

BAUSCH: Cycling is going through a tough spot with that right now, I think as a whole, and as a sport, I know that we’re bigger than a single person. He made some poor decisions, we all make poor decisions in our life, none of us is perfect. The sport is very resilient, people are resilient.

TAYLOR: What do you do when you are not riding your bike?

BAUSCH: I do a lot of volunteering at our local animal rights shelter, I am a massive animal rights advocate, a vegetarian and very passionate about what we are and are not, and how we are treating our animals. I also love to just ride my bike with my husband, it’s like our favorite thing to do together, and we love to go to the movies. We have threechihuahuas, two of them are blind. They’re our furry kids.