I'm from Habana, Cuba. A lot of crazy stuff happened in my town when I was growing up, like people fighting for no reason or old guys making the kids fight. I tried 4 sports before I discovered cycling - Boxing, Karate, Wrestling, and Chess. Cycling for me was a big release, just to leave my town and to meet new people.
When I was around 16, I put the bike first, training 3 times a day. My grades in school started dropping and my mom cut my bike apart with a machete. When my grades got better, I got a new bike and ended up placing 2nd in the team pursuit and 3rd in the point race at Cuban Nationals.
1998 would prove to be the year that changed my life - I moved to the USA. I always wanted to come to the US, but I never wanted to leave my mom. She pushed my to come here as she knew I would have no future in Cuba. I have never been back to Cuba, something that was not in my plan, to never see my country or mom again.
Once in the US, I thought bike racing was over for me. I worked in construction with my dad and was the person in charge of the jack hammer. I also went to school to get my general contractors license. Even though I thought I could not race, I was happy to be able to send money back to my family still living in Cuba.
One of my sister's friends was a huge cycling fan and learned one day that I was a cyclist. He gave my one of his old bikes and took me to one of the night rides in Miami. Thanks to him, I started racing again with a little bit of a different style of training - 8 hours on the jack hammer, 1 hour of riding, and 2.5 hours at school. I guess this is why I love to be a professional cyclist!