Jeremy Papasso
Heather Fischer, of Boulder, rides her bicycle past FasCat Coaching owner Frank Overton, right, while departing on a moto-pacing training ride on April 4, on Broadway Street in North Boulder. Jeremy Papasso/ Camera

As my friend and massage therapist Sherry wailed away on my quads last week, I thought about how lucky I was to have her, how she’s been helping me keep doing sports I love for a few years now, and how —

YEOW that hurt!

OK, truth: I couldn’t think about anything while she was working into my iliotibial band, which felt like a taut slackline. The pain was firing into my head and burning up everything else.

Sherry’s really good.

But when the pain simmered down and relaxation took over, I did think about how it takes a crew of people to help you with your goals — whether your goals are big or small. And whether the help is physical, financial, emotional or just plain inspirational, it can be hard to express just how grateful we are for these people.

Last week, I met with Cory Richards, who just returned to Boulder after being evacuated from Mount Everest for a mystery medical condition.

Richards asked me to help him out with something.

“I don’t have a way to thank people for being so supportive,” he told me. “It was incredible. People I don’t know, people I have no connection with, they were following the expedition on National Geographic or The North Face…it was this outpouring of the kindest, warmest…”

He was visibly overwhelmed by the support; he couldn’t finish his sentences.

“Some of the things people were writing, they did actually make me cry,” he said.

Beyond the people following the expedition online (at and, Richards was also grateful for the vast crew of people who worked hard to try to get a few climbers to the summit.

“The people that were there as the safety net, the fallout support group, were the very people I was the most afraid of letting down — people at The North Face, people at National Geographic,” he said. “I felt like I had let everyone down, and they were there. They’re amazing.”

“How do you thank everyone? You can’t. It’s too much, there’s too many people.”

Earlier in the week, I talked to another grateful athlete. Cyclist Heather Fischer just graduated from the University of Colorado, and the weekend before graduation, she won the road race at the USA Cycling collegiate road championships in Ogden, Utah.

I’d heard from coaches and teammates that Fischer was oozing cycling talent, but that in the past, she was so busy working to put herself through school that she barely had time to get on her bike.

“I’ve worked a lot,” she said. “I’ve put myself through through school the last five years.”

This season, though, she had help. For starters, her mom organized some financial support from her extended family so that for the first time, she didn’t have to work full time to pay for school.

“It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough so I could live and not have to work and just go to school and train,” she told me.

“And I had a lot of support from people in the cycling industry, too,” she said. “A lot of things were donated to the Heather cause, like time, training, instruction…FasCat (Coaching) has helped me out, so has Margell (Abel)…”

And once again, I found myself talking to a grateful athlete running out of words.

“I was very thankful, very humbled by how passionate and helpful other people have been about my cycling career.”

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