There is a difference between having a talent and achieving a goal. You may have a goal but feel you do not have the talent to achieve it, or you may have a talent, but you feel that the goal is unrealistic. Lauren Rauck Komanski has a talent, and this is the story of how, time and again, she defied expectations on her path toward her seemingly unrealistic goal.
Lauren’s career as a professional cyclist began less than five years ago when her parents gave her a road bike. This was after graduating from college, where she had pursued Division I athletics intensely but had decided to step away to pursue a career as a veterinarian.
She was unconvinced about giving herself to cycling when her parents presented the gift, and she was prepared to sell the bike. Then she got an invitation to the Olympic Training Center. Intent on her prospective veterinary career, she decided to juggle the responsibilities. Her life was split between cycling, waking up at four in the morning to exercise, and school, with endless clinic duty and classes. Her love for the sport increased and she signed a pro contract, though, she was still hesitant to dedicate herself to cycling unreservedly.
Even in the midst of a grueling schedule, Lauren could always find rest and solace in cycling. “I loved getting to spend time solely focused on cycling,” she recalls. “It was a chance to disconnect and reset.” Finally, she was invited to one of the most prominent cycling teams in the US: TWENTY16. Lauren put her career on hold and accepted the offer to join TWENTY16 and also race for the US National team. Lauren participated in some of the most challenging races in the world, from Europe to New Zealand, and rode alongside Megan Guarnier, US Olympian and the number one cyclist in the world. Lauren jumped at the opportunity to arrive early to a team camp and train with three-time Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong, who began working with Lauren that year and would be her coach for the rest of the time she was racing. It was time to truly dedicate her time and energy to cycling. She was on the path to achieving an arguably unrealistic and potentially incredible goal.
A series of successes defined the next year of Lauren’s life. She raced the Tour of California, standing on the podium every day, and proudly pulled on the yellow jersey, marking her as the overall race leader going into the final day of racing. She notes that performing for a home crowd and standing on the podium at the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic was icing on the cake to her victories. She finished the year by racing for the USA at the World Championships in 2015 and helped the USA win their first medal in the road race in 20 years (women or men). At the beginning of 2016, Lauren signed with a new team and started the year at a race in South America in January.
Thirty minutes into a race in San Luis, Argentina, Lauren was involved in a serious bike crash. Incredibly, she finished the race and continued to compete for six days following the accident. Little did she know that she had severely broken her hand. She impatiently waited for her hand to heal and, two days after the cast was removed, she flew to Europe and raced again. Her first competition was on the gravel roads of northern Italy. Although she continued to race the cobblestone filled Spring Classics throughout Europe, needless to say, her hand did not take the jarring journey well. She experienced nerve damage and was forced to step away from competitive cycling.
Her veterinary dream still in her heart, Lauren made a smooth transition back to Winston-Salem to begin her long-awaited career at Village Way Veterinary Hospital near Tanglewood Park. Lauren can now look back on her enormous successes in cycling all over the world while honing another talent. She is enthusiastic about her career at Village Way and is thrilled at the initiation of downtown Winston-Salem’s National Cycling Center. She can now share the cycling experience with her family, who has pushed her to success through the tough times.
As it turns out, Lauren Rauck Komanski was capable of not only honing the talent and achieving the goal of becoming an incredible cyclist – she was also able to pursue and accomplish the goal of becoming a veterinarian. Lauren has shown incredible perseverance and presence of mind as she has followed both goals simultaneously and is an inspiration to the talented, yet possibly hesitant, in our state and around the world.