Kristin Armstrong's Olympic career followed a path all its own.
From retirement and motherhood to un-retirement.
And from gold to gold.
In London Wednesday, the Boisean and University of Idaho graduate capped her cycling career with one fast flourish, one more championship ride. She dominated the 18-mile Olympic time trial course, defeated 23 challengers, and defended the gold medal she had captured four years earlier at the Beijing Olympics.
By the numbers, and by competitive cycling standards, it was an "easy" victory. Armstrong led virtually from start to finish. Her time, 37 minutes, 34.82 seconds, and outpaced her nearest competitor by more than 15 seconds.
But "easy," a relative term, does not reflect Armstrong's determined path back to the top.
A year after the Beijing victory, Armstrong retired. In September 2010, she gave birth to her son, Lucas. She returned to cycling in 2011, but not without some setbacks: a fractured left clavicle suffered during May's Exergy Tour, and another crash at the Olympics road race on Sunday.
But on Wednesday, in a sport where time is measured in the smallest fractions of sections, Armstrong defied time. Ten days shy of her 39th birthday, she became the oldest road cycling champion in history.
Afterwards, Armstrong told NBC, "I'm officially retired."
She's earned it. And she's earned all the applause and accolades that await her when she returns to Boise.
(Here's a link to our story on Armstrong's victory.)