Beat Before I Ever Step to the Line
A Cat 3 Racer’s Musings on the Tour of Somerville
"If you are afraid of failure…you don’t deserve to be successful" - Charles Barkley
I recently saw one of my friends post this and it really got me thinking about a recent race that I did, and my mentality towards racing in general.
After each race I try to write down my thoughts about what happened, how I felt, etc. It’s a practice that our coaches have instilled in us, and I actually think it’s a pretty great idea. It’s nice to break things down after and try and learn from EVERY experience that you have on the bike…from the simplest workout to the longest stage race.
Here is what I wrote about the Tour of Somerville race, a P/1/2 race that made an except for a few Cat 3 women to participate:
I think for me, I came to that race not feeling like I ‘belonged’ there — if that makes any sense…I relegated myself to the back of the pack because that is where I thought I belonged, not up with the ‘racers.’
I went into that race scared to death…scared of getting dropped (especially on the first lap), scared of rolling around the course by myself while people stared at me, scared of getting lapped/pulled, scared of being yelled at for bad handling…just scared. I looked around at the start line at all these amazingly strong women lined up, and I felt like I didn’t belong there…that I didn’t deserve to be sharing the line with them. There is a lot to be said about being humble, but by stepping to the line with that mentality, I was beat already. I never stood a chance. Looking back on the HR/Power data from that race I never even came close ‘redlining’ or even being off the back, and when I rolled across the line at the end in like 36th place, I was kicking myself for not trying to do something more, and for not believing in myself more.
What I realized after that race was that ‘fear’ was a useless and paralyzing emotion. Why should I be afraid?! Who cares if I get dropped? Who cares if I get lapped and pulled? The only person that seemed to care was me!! I lined up for that race with fear and doubt in my mind, and then BOOM the race starts and all the fears disappeared as the field FLEW around that course at 25-30 mph. I was concentrating so hard on racing/riding that I didn’t even have time to be afraid about any of those other things…I was just in the moment. I think maybe that’s what I love so much about bike racing and crit racing in particular. Every sense, every muscle, every fiber is focused towards that race…you have to be!
I realized that at this point, the greatest barrier from getting better as a rider and a racer is myself. I struggle with self-doubt whether it’s about my body image, my wattage that day, or comparing myself to others, and I’m sure there are some of you out there that struggle with the same thing. It’s only when I start that race do all those feelings fall away and I remember why it is I get on my bike and race. It’s just so much damn fun! Hah…I think I need to remember that more sometimes.
Above are some amazing pictures that the talented Marcos Quezada nabbed of me and my teammate, Danielle Kosecki, during the race. I’m so glad that I pushed that fear aside and lined up for this race…I learned a lot and had a hell of a lot of fun, and let’s be honest…that @specializedwmn Amira looks GOOD in those photos. Hah. I ALMOST look like a real bike racer!