Faith Puts Bausch's Life Back on Track
This former runway model was floundering until she turned to cycling and prayer.
Dotsie Bausch is the picture of power, her muscular legs like pistons propelling her bicycle around the indoor velodrome track at world-record-setting speeds. At 39, she still has the looks that once made her a runway model.
It’s hard to imagine that in her twenties she barely had the strength to walk across a room, her 5’ 9” frame literally skin and bones, her hair falling out in clumps, all due to severe eating disorders.
Some recent graduates thrive on the uncertainty of post-college life. Not Dotsie. She’d earned a communications degree, but an internship as an entertainment reporter showed her the field was all wrong for her. She tried modeling and found it no more fulfilling.
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Stricken with anxiety, she binged and purged and strictly limited her diet, convinced that the punishing regimen would give her some control over a life that seemed to have no direction or purpose.
What am I living for? she half wondered and half prayed. Yet when she thought about ending it all, she couldn’t do it. Her family would be devastated.
She got help and went into treatment for eating disorders. Slowly her body began to recover. One day her counselor said, “You’re ready to get moving again. But I want you to do something new, something with no connection to what you’ve been through.”
What about bike riding? She hadn’t done that since she was a little girl.
Dotsie bought a mountain bike with thick knobby tires and found an empty stretch of road. It was exhilarating, the wind blowing through her hair, her legs pumping faster and faster. She felt so alive! She rode every day, getting stronger each time out.
One afternoon she was tooling around Griffith Park in Los Angeles. A group of guys on road bikes flew past. Dotsie gave chase. In seconds she’d caught up.
Her heart was pounding, her legs burning. But she stayed right on their heels for one mile, then two, close enough to notice their matching skintight jerseys. These guys were competitive cyclists, yet here she was keeping up with them, on a clunky mountain bike, no less.
“This cycling thing, I’m actually pretty decent at it,” she told a friend that night. “Who knows, maybe I’ll enter a race.”
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Two years later, in 2000, she won the California state championship open division. By then she had been transformed. She was strong and confident. She’d found her passion, her purpose. And she knew it wasn’t by chance.
As part of her recovery, she started going to church and studying the Bible. She was reading Philippians when verse 4:6 jumped out at her: “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything… let your requests be made known to God.”
Yes! Hadn’t he answered her most desperate prayer, the one she had uttered back when she didn’t even know who she was praying to?
In 2002, Dotsie joined the U.S. national team. She has won six national titles in 10 years. Now she hopes to race for Olympic gold as part of the team pursuit squad.
She wants to win not only for herself. The better she does, the more she can tell her story and help people looking to find their way, like the more than 70 women she mentors in their healing from eating disorders.
Read more inspiring Olympic profiles.