One year ago Saturday I stepped up to the starting line of my first ever road race. I had no idea what I was doing. I pulled the group around, I wasted way too much energy, I was just learning to draft, I all but stopped when I heard the sound of carbon hitting pavement in the group behind me. 365 days doesn’t seem like very long, but in the young life of my cycling career, it feels like forever.
This Saturday I will not be racing.
It is still the winter. Cyclocross Nationals was only 8 weeks ago. My mind and body aren’t quite ready to focus and suffer the way I would expect them to if I jumped off the line at Cherry Pie.
Last year I did every race I could. I traveled to the west side 7 out of 8 weekends. I road in the rain, in the snow, and when the race was cancelled due to weather, I road the course anyway.
Last year, I didn’t consider myself a cyclist. I had to become a cyclist. I had to prove (if only to myself) I could ride.
I had to give up a 15-year relationship with my running shoes and instead, break-in a thin leather saddle. I learned the definition (and purpose) of Chamois Cream and embrocation.
I learned that the strongest member of the peleton doesn’t necessary (if ever) win the race.
I learned that aero-helmets actually serve a purpose (even if they do look a little funny).
I learned about watts and power and RECOVERY.
I road my bike a lot in 2009. I am not sure how many hours I spend in the saddle, on the asphalt, on the trails; but it was a lot. I kept a trailing log, religiously, for the first time in my life and downloaded workouts onto my computer.
I did 20-minute tests (aka suffer-fests) for the soul purposed of evaluating my own progress.
I fell in love with my bike (or should I say bikes). I also got engaged, to Ben (which is another fabulous story I will write in another blog entry – It deserves special attention).
2010 will be different. A friend sent me an email the other day, a wise friend who always has the right thing to say, at just the right time.
“Racing is special. You are good, you should race to win, not just because you are addicted to it. Those are strong words maybe too strong. You do not need to race or even think about racing so much. It is winter and it is ski season. What I am trying to say you are no beginner anymore, you are an accomplished racer who should choose the races with purpose and stick to that purpose.”
At 1pm on Saturday when the Women’s 1/2/3 field rolls off the line, I will not be among them. I will be skiing, gliding along the pure white snow on my super skinny skis. I will be smiling.
Racing is Special. And in 2010 I will race to win. I will race because I am ready, mentally and physically. And I will race because it makes me happy. I will race because I am strong and I am made strong by the support of my family, my friends, my team, and above all else, Benjamin.