This past weekend, I traveled up to Clemson, SC with my wonderful boyfriend, Kevin, and some friends for a couple bike races. My legs going into the weekend were very heavy and tired as my training has not been very structured recently, and I’m sure also due to my efforts on our local Wednesday night Bicycle Link group ride, and Thursday night Nestor Cup race, a fantastic crit training series put on in Savannah by the Savannah Wheelmen.
I went into the weekend wanting to race, but didn’t exactly have solid goals or expectations. The competitive part of me, of course wanted to race hard and had visions of winning, but the rational side of me was taking into consideration my recent training and life distractions.
Saturday: Women’s 1-4 Criterium. 45 min. There were about 10 of us, maybe, including one girl who was teeny tiny and very young (later I found out that she is 12). That was so awesome to see. She was dropped pretty quickly, and half-way through the race I seemed to have lost my drive to race, and considered dropping out, but then we passed the 12 year old girl, again. I looked over at her, smiled and said “Good for you! Keep it goin’!” I couldn’t drop out, after seeing her riding solo being lapped a couple times, and why? Because I was tired? I finished my race with a WHOOPSIE in placement (at the front for pretty much the whole last lap), and sprinted hard for the finish. I placed 3rd.
Sunday: Women’s 1-4 combined with 4/5 men Road Race. 39 miles: It was a hot day and I had already ridden the course backwards so I kind of knew what to expect. I had a great vision in my head, but I knew it wouldn’t be easy. Then we were combined with the men. Ehh, not too upset about that, but I knew it would change the results of what I envisioned v. what I knew would potentially happen. At the start line, there she was again. The little 12 year old. I told her that it was awesome to see her out here and to keep on pushing through and to finish no matter what; that it was so cool she was there. About 3 miles in, a pretty decent and long hill came. I got popped. I am not a climber nor do I get a lot of hill training, living in Savannah. It’s cool, though… I was pushing as hard as I smartly could, and I just couldn’t catch the 2 guys in my line of distance. The peloton was gone, and my best competition was far ahead of me. I sat up. Thought, well, there goes my race. No catching them now, and even if I do, who knows if I’ll be able to keep their pace up these hills again. I think I’ll just pull out at lap 1… My legs are burning, it’s hot and what’s the point? Then I remembered the 12 year old. I couldn’t tell her to keep going and then drop out, myself. What if my encouragement meant something to her, even though I’m sure she got kudos by everyone at the race? Aside from that, I would like to think that as a female racer, it is my duty to encourage her, and to set a good example, which means finishing my race (and not being a hypocrite). Plus, there was still a chance of a podium, why would I give that up so easy? So, I put my head down and through my pouts of my weak, fatigued, and jello-y legs I passed the start/finish two more times until the actual finish, where I still pushed to bring it in strong, despite being solo for 90% of the race.
It was a very challenging race for me, and it was an important race for me as well. It made me a better rider, and it will stand as an excellent race to look back on for learning. As funny as it is, I think it was actually the 12 year old girl who set the good example, not me. I finished 4th overall of the women; 3rd of the category 3 women; 19th of 29 of the women+4/5 men.
In the end, it was a fantastic weekend. I got to be with great people, who work hard, and put a lot of effort into a passion that doesn’t exactly pay the bills. But that is why they are so great, we do it because we love it. I have made some wonderful friends with cyclists, and I want to give a shout-out to my friends (and competition) from this weekend for working so hard and keeping others motivated by just doing what they do and loving that they do it. Thank you to everyone! Looking forward to a couple solid weeks of training before my next race in Athens, GA for the Athens Twilight Crit!
Moral of this Monday Motivation is that even though things get tough, just keep pushing. You may not get the results you are looking for, but something good will always come of it.