We live in a world where the biggest, brightest, longest and flashiest is what goals are set against. We are taught from an early age that if we are not the strongest at x sport then we are not the “winners”. For me…these lessons carried over into my cycling life.
I know when I go to an event I am not entered in the longest distance, and if I am, I will not be in the front of the pack. I also know that I will not win the shortest distance. By the public’s standards I am not a racer. All noted in my mind…and all wrestled with.
It was not until I started talking on womens forums and doing pod casts that I started to process what that above statement meant. I was at the event working HARD to finish. The statement business in the front and party in the back was not applicable here. I was business also, just at a different pace.
I was not there to win but I was there to win against myself. And for me that was a revelation! I then started to dig deeper into what that statement meant.
Have you ever listened to riders at an event? Really listened to them when they describe their chosen distance for the day? I HATE hearing I’m only riding x amount of miles.
IT’S NOT JUST 25,50 or 100 miles!
There we have said it…we have ripped the bandaid off. For all of you at home working hard to get ready for the event…this is YOUR event.
This is YOUR distance and YOUR adventure. Please don’t say I’m just riding x distance. You have put in the training at home, the sweat equity and gotten out of your comfort zone to do this. Don’t let anyone take that away from you, and for sure, do not take that away from yourself.
Last year I stood on the start line at Rebecca’s Private Idaho next to my friend Bri. I was watching my husband wave goodbye to me. I was entered in the 56 mile distance and he was entered in the 20 mile.
The smoke was thick that day and I knew that Timber Creek stood between I and the finish line. I had tears running down my cheeks as I stood there. Nick had had a massive heart attack in July (this was September) and I was a little afraid of how the smoke and stress, and how his body would react. Leaving Sun Valley that morning I was determined to do what was right for my sponsors …without doing what was right for myself and those that mattered. I got to the turnoff for the 20 mile event and stopped.
All of a sudden it became clear to me that this day was not about anyone but Nick. That day turned into one of the most fun days I’ve ever had on my bike. Nick and I rode together, finished together and then waited for Bri to crush her distance.
Never once did I think that I had only rode x amount of miles. Never once did I wish that I had completed the longer distance or that I was not riding what I was entered in. I walked over and told the timing agent to adjust my course and walked away with a smile. That was 1000% the right decision..and was supported equally by every sponsor and coach.
The morale of the story…sometimes the best things come unexpectedly and without warning. Embrace them! This day was a win and the miles on the bike were just the icing on the cake.
As event season approaches please enter events that interest you. You will find that the gravel scene is extremely friendly to all skill levels, distances and to those out there trying. Find the distance that makes you comfortable and go for it. Embrace your choice, meet friends on the course and most of all smile! You are DOING IT!
My wish for this year is that I do not once hear I’m just riding x miles…I want you to smile (even if it is a nervous smile) and say I’m stepping outside my comfort zone and today I’m riding my race! And when the going gets tough (and it will) tell yourself out loud, with your own name, I’m DOING IT! Shout it if you want!
I can’t wait to see you out there!