Taylor Spivey is ranked third among American women competing in the Olympic distance triathlon. She is traveling the world for the International Triathlon Union (ITU) series and training with the Triathlon Squad, a high-performance group coached by Paulo Sousa. Taylor’s goal is to make the United States Olympic Team for the 2020 games in Tokyo but four years ago she experienced a crash that made her question her future as an athlete, let alone as an Olympic contender.
On August 2, 2014, Taylor set out with her father Marc Spivey on the Donut Ride, an institution in the South Bay of Los Angeles’ cycling culture and a course that she was familiar with. Three months out of college and fresh off a win in the women’s draft-legal race at the 2014 USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championships, Taylor was working full-time as a JuniorLifeguard instructor but excited for the triathlon competitions ahead. The Donut ride dates back to 1973, draws many of the region’s fastest riders, and is accepted as a “hammerfest.” The consistently hilly course features good road surfaces, except in the area of Portuguese Bend. On this particular Saturday morning the group was also celebrating Marc’s birthday, and although the ride is memorable for all the wrong reasons, Taylor is very grateful that her father was there with her.
The group of over 60 cyclists wound their way into Portuguese Bend on the Palos Verdes Peninsula and began to encounter above-ground pipes across the road. Taylor hit one of these bumps on a fast downhill and was sent into a life-changing crash. Her elbow and knee took the brunt of the impact and when Taylor looked down at her knee immediately after the crash she thought there was no way she would ever compete in triathlons again. As fate would have it, the pack of riders included a doctor and a paramedic who were quickly at her side. The group ushered her to the Providence hospital in Torrance, the same one where Marc was born 54 years ago to the day.
It’s easy to see how Taylor’s family has played a role in her path to the sport. Marc is an accomplished all-around athlete and her mother Bonnie Spivey was an All-American in collegiate swimming before going on to compete as a professional triathlete for ten years. Taylor followed closely in those footsteps as she also competed in collegiate swimming and her dream is a triathlon where the time of competition in each event is nearly even. (The swim time is currently a fraction of the biking and running times across all triathlon distances.)