As the summer racing season is coming to an end, I often find myself reflecting on the happenings of this season. 2016, you were pretty great, and so many situations inspired me, made me laugh, and made me excited for next year. I only have time to share just a couple funny stories with you, and I hope you enjoy this light-hearted blog.
After my first race of the season, The Bat City Classic down near Austin, Texas, I knew it was going to be a season with some eye-opening races. I had never raced with category 1 women before, but with the assurance of my coach, who has yet to steer me wrong, I toed the line trying to hide the fact that I was a big ball of nerves and not so confident in myself. My goosebumps, white fingers, and probably the deer in headlights look might have given it away though … I’m not sure. Those girls’ leg muscles looked like they could crush small children between them!
Halfway through the race, when the breakaway group formed that I managed to situate myself in, our group organized and our paceline was hauling. BYE, peloton… they never caught us. Being the new girl in the breakaway of seasoned riders, someone decided to try and mentally shake me as she yelled, what I thought to be, the most hilariously obscene things at me right in my face. I laughed, and it took some yelling from my annoyed self to make her leave me alone. Next, I remember thinking I might actually die as we kept the speed high through the gravel section as if we were riding on smooth road… After spending the next 15 minutes significantly above my FTP, I was in a world of hurt, but I was determined not to be another victim popped off the back with 5 miles to go.
Then came the final sprint. Someone announced that this pain was nothing compared to childbirth, as she sprinted past me like I was standing still. So that happened. As I collapsed in the grass after taking a commendable 6th place, I thought to myself, “I’m never having kids.”
Fast forward a couple of months, and now my new teammate and I are mid-race at the Joe Martin Stage Race. First of all, this was my worst race this year as I was dropped from the breakaway group on a significant climb and my legs felt pretty awful after all of the previous months of racing. As I watched the 5’4, lightweight girls ride away from me and my dead legs on some climbs, I wished for a second that I was not as tall as an awkward giraffe and weighed about 30lbs less.
The chase group that formed was significantly large, and my teammate Elise was in it with me. She followed me to the front of the group, and as I was taking a hard pull to try and redeem myself, I hear this: “Your team is going to break before we can get to the finish line!” Excuse me? Thank you for stoking my burning fire. So I signaled to Elise who has a diesel motor in her legs and told her to let it rip and ride the yellow line in the cross wind. She strung out the whole field of 25 or so girls, riders began popping off the group, and I heard a couple “WTFs” and groans that she couldn’t hear in the wind. With 3 miles to go, she turned her head and asked me how she’s doing. I just laughed, told her she’s doing amazing for her second road race as I knew girls were so angry behind us, and she just kept on motoring with no problem. You rock, Elise, and she set me up perfectly to at least win the field sprint.
Life is great when you have good teammates to ride and race with. Our small, but mighty team of DNA Ladies is expanding next year, and I am pretty pumped for 2017. Also, I can’t write this article and not mention our Saturday team Early Risers Ride. Every Saturday, our team of men and women come together, crack jokes the whole ride, enjoy the outdoors, and ride hard so that I am constantly reminded that I have improvements to make. I feel at peace after those sometimes hilariously hard rides that make you wish your legs were numb as we all sip coffee and eat pastries at Elemental Coffee. I legitimately look forward to every Saturday early morning and riding with a great group of guys.
This year, I was constantly inspired by the everyday racer who races with heart and manages to balance their hectic life. Racing isn’t all about winning, and I caught myself feeling so happy as I saw mothers and fathers who would cross the finish line and embrace their kids. The men and women who race their heart out and leave quickly afterwards because they have work to do demonstrates that you never have to give up on your athletic goals at times when society may say otherwise.
Lastly, to every female cyclist in the state of Oklahoma who got out there with a great attitude this year and raced to show support for women in cycling: I see you, I respect you, and I hope we can keep the momentum rolling for next year’s races.
And, no, I am not gearing up for cyclocross … I’ll leave that to the coordinated people, but I will be there to cheer you on and give you all beer hand-ups instead. This awkward giraffe does not belong on a cross bike. #RideOn
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