By now I'm pretty sure everyone knows how I got into Cyclocross. I've mentioned it a few times here and there (ok everywhere). You all know that I fell in love with Cyclocross INSTANTLY, it was like I had this personal connection with the sport, it came to me naturally. When I wasn't racing, I was thinking about racing, all I wanted to do was race Cyclocross, all I wanted to do was get better, go faster, and have fun. I smiled through every turn and every pedal stroke. When the season was over all I thought about was, when can I race again, when will it start again? I rode so I could be better, I bought a mountain bike so I could be a better cyclocross racer. My life, even at the grassroots level, was all cyclocross, live and breathe, train for cyclocross. All I wanted was cyclocross all the time.
Racing brought so much joy to my life, the weekends with amazing people, even the drive from Bellingham to Seattle warmed my heart. Driving in the pouring rain, knowing I was going to sit outside all day and watch races and get to race my bike in the mud, the grass, and with my friends. Even the late night drive home from Seattle brings back warm and fuzzy feelings. Chris and I playing the guessing game of how long the border wait was for the Canadians. There was something really special about racing back then. Something that no amount of prize money, no amount of articles written about you, no amount of Facebook friends, or Instagram followers can give you.
I went into this season wanting to be the best, wanting to be better than I've ever been. I believe in myself that I can be, that I can and will do better than last year, but in the past 2 weeks while on the East Coast racing, I've forgotten why I race. I didn't start racing because I wanted to win. Winning is something special, and no matter what, it always feels good, but I started racing to be a part of something, to find a hobby, to have fun, and to smile. The fact that I'm now racing at the top of the sport Nationally is something that I didn't ever dream of when I started racing. It just happened, and I feel so lucky to be where I am today. I'm so lucky my sponsors and fans believe in me, they cheer for me near and far, it brings tears to my eyes to know someone cares THAT much about me.
I struggled big time the first day of Gloucester, but Gloucester always does that to me. I believe mental attitude is a large part of racing and can really make or brake a race. How bad can you suffer? How much can you tell yourself YES, as a matter of fact, you CAN go harder. A positive mental attitude can take you a long way, and I've witnessed it multiple times in my racing career (with myself). I raced the first day at Gloucester, but my brain wasn't sending the right connections to my legs to work hard. My brain was saying "this is hard, I don't want your legs to hurt that bad, lets stay here". I didn't push when I needed to push, I didn't smile when I should have, and I didn't have fun. I walked away from the race disappointed in myself, not because of my result, but because I didn't race like I should have. I improved my attitude and outlook on Sunday and felt much better about my racing and my result.
I've found I've been too caught up in worrying about results, how am I going to be better than last year, did I train enough, and where am I going to finish, too focused on results and pleasing people, that I haven't smiled, I haven't had fun. I haven't been me. I've received multiple texts from friends "remember to have fun, and remember why you do it". My favorite text was "you don't get paid enough to worry about it". My job is obviously to be the best I can be, but to represent my sponsors, because they support me because of me and who I am. I smile because I love smiling, it's the best, I have a positive attitude and outlook and I go with the flow. That's who I am. I talk to those that will talk to me, I race hard because I love racing, I love riding my bike.
The second day of Providence brought me SO MUCH JOY. That day left me elated, results don't show it, but I raced so hard, with so much heart and I had SO MUCH FUN. I took the hole shot this day, knowing I wanted a good start, by the 2nd turn I was passed and was comfortably sitting 2nd wheel. I sat in the main group for 2.5 laps, until my chain dropped when I took a curb a little too rough. I was pretty bummed when it happened, I pulled over on the course, jumped off my bike, and watched as the group rode away from me. It's funny when you're racing you don't focus on whats going on behind you, ever. So I never know how far back people are, or if theres a gap. When I jumped off my bike to put the chain back on it took a bit before I even saw another racer, and then it was racer after racer after racer, and I watched as all these ladies passed me. I tried my best to not get into my head when this happened, to not be disappointed, and just go with the flow. In a way I'm happy my chain dropped, because it allowed me to relax, to have fun, and to remember why cyclocross is so awesome. While I didn't achieve the result I wanted, I achieved everything I wanted that day. I fought hard to chase back as many spots as I could. I smiled every time I rode past the beer garden and over the fly overs were people were SCREAMING my name. I dug where I knew I needed to dig, and sat in where I knew I should sit in. I remembered why racing my bike is fun, I remembered why I race my bike, and when I finished, I finished with a smile and a sense of accomplishment.
The week post Providence brought a lot of frustrations and emotions for me. I began to question what I'm doing, and why I'm doing it. I went through some serious stages of denial, acceptance, and tears, ready to give up, throw in the towel. I turned a new circle when I realized what I wanted to race for and why I want to race. I thought back to the beginnings of my cyclocross adventures, to my first couple of races, to the joy racing brought me, and I realized I need to find that joy, and the satisfaction of racing will come. I don't need to be out there racing and thinking about what place I'm racing for, I need to be out there to RACE my bike, to focus on each turn, each acceleration, and enjoying every moment. I'm racing to be a better person and a better racer, I'm racing for the challenges it brings on and off the course. I want to bring joy to the races, I want rainbows, and hearts, and unicorns at the races. I want smiles and hugs and positive attitudes, and that is what I want to bring to the races, that is why I love to race my bike.