Once more unto the breach, dear friends

And just like that, my off season has ended and preparation for the 2016 season has begun. I had to take a moment when getting ready to ride today to remember the routine – hmm, heartrate strap, oh yeah, shoes – and the first 50 meters on the bike were wobbly and awkward. But an hour later, it was as if there hadn’t been a break at all. I rode too hard, bonked a little, flipped the bird a time or four (a pedestrian clapped one of the times), and made a whole lot of promises to myself that I don’t intend to keep. More kale! Less scotch! Strict adherence to base mile pacing!

October is the season for optimism. (Mid-December is the season for the trainer and soul-sucking misery.)

It’s going to be a great year. #fyb2016 #supermintracing

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In The Wild

It’s my off season from cycling and because rest is challenging, I’ve been running for fun. Other than the constant joint aches and slight limp, it’s great! Highly recommend.

I flew out to Colorado last night for a friend’s wedding and decided to start today with a nice brisk jog. It went really well for the first minute and then the shooting pains started in my back and I had to revert to an aggressive power walk. It was discouraging – who wants to walk for exercise?! – but then the road turned from pavement to gravel to dirt and my interest was piqued. When I hit a NO TRESPASSING – GOVERNMENT PROPERTY sign, I knew shit was about to get real. My best moments in life have involved prohibitive signage.

A little over an hour of hiking and climbing later, I was at the summit. It was incredible. So much beauty and solitude…so many sweeping vistas…so much poor planning. I had no food or water, had neglected to apply sunscreen to anywhere except my face, and had abandoned my sweatshirt somewhere around the base of the mountain. #someregrets

I was slightly concerned about the situation and figured the quickest way down the mountain was over the side. That sounds stupid here but it’s not like I did a tuck and roll over a vertical face; I just sort of bypassed all the switchbacks and implemented an efficient slithering technique. After only a few missteps and some spilled blood, I was off the mountain and headed home.

Finding the sweatshirt again required using the car.

In conclusion, it would appear that I am less Daniel Boone and more Cheryl Strayed, but it was a worthwhile and wonderful adventure. What was supposed to have been a 30-minute run turned into a 2.25-hour hike and, despite being hungry, cold, and sunburned by the time I made it home, my first thought was that I couldn’t wait to do it again tomorrow. With water.


These elk were sitting so casually that I couldn’t help but inch closer and closer for a better photo. By the time I was 15 feet away from the one with the huge antlers, something clicked and I finally understood how those “Tourist Gored By Bison At Yellowstone” headlines happen.


The wildlife is friendly around here!


Okay, um, HELLO. Typically I expect somebody to at least buy me a drink first.


Now he’s just being overly forward.


This tree doesn’t miss a thing.


Obligatory scenic vista. I climbed forever to get this shot and it’s not even that impressive in the photo.


More trees. Trying to pretend I’m the next Ansel Adams, only less gifted and with impractical footwear.


This moment – reaching the top of the mountain and standing amidst the clouds – was a worthwhile reward. Well, that and not getting eaten by a bear or collapsing from dehydration.

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This is how it feels to be last at Worlds.

When Richmond was announced as the location for the 2015 Road World Championships, I slapped a RICHMOND 2015 sticker on the wall in front of the trainer as a motivator. It seemed like a long shot, but the thought of competing at Worlds in my home state – I could drive there in less time than it would take to watch a movie – was incomprehensibly awesome. Unfortunately, my dreams were grander than my results in the following years and it looked like I’d be drinking on the sidelines in Richmond.

Then the idea of racing the team time trial (TTT) at Worlds came up last fall and my response was something along the lines of HERE TAKE MY ORGANS AND FIRSTBORN KID IN EXCHANGE. It seemed like an actual possibility and I spent many long rides last winter thinking that just maybe I was preparing to compete at Worlds.

Things didn’t go according to plan this year, though, and more and more it seemed like that dream wasn’t going to come true. My teammates and director wanted to go, but we lacked the necessary budget and as the weeks went by and Worlds drew nearer, it seemed unlikely that we’d be able to attend. It wasn’t until three weeks before the race that we received confirmation that yes, we were going.

So, okay. That was cool – HOORAY FOR WORLDS – but by that point, we didn’t have six riders available to race, we didn’t have TT bikes set up, and we’d never trained for or raced a TTT together. As much as I wanted to be part of Worlds, I didn’t want to just go for the sake of going, unless there would be free tee-shirts.

It was hard to get motivated in the face of what felt like overwhelming obstacles and I briefly considered calling in sick, but couldn’t bail on Jono (our team director), the sponsors supporting our adventure, or the other four riders. Instead, I packed the car and drove to Richmond the Wednesday before the Sunday race filled with a mix of excitement and skepticism. Maybe it would be incredible. Maybe we would crash out spectacularly. The only way to find out would be to go.

BMW Happy Tooth Coffee Stop

Team bonding over coffee after a training session.

We practiced as a team on Thursday and Friday. There were moments of fear and frustration as we learned to ride together but also times where excitement prevailed and it felt like we might just pull it all off. On the Saturday before the race, we did a full dress rehearsal of the event, complete with an official start and police escort on a closed course. There were crowds lining the course cheering as we went by, and suddenly my last doubt disappeared. We were competing at Worlds. WORLDS!

BMW Happy Tooth In The News

The local newspaper featured our team during the dress rehearsal.

The night before the race, I drove to the finish line and wandered around the empty VIP tents soaking up the atmosphere. In the choice between resting my legs for an extra 30 minutes or basking in the insanity of being an athlete at Worlds, there was no contest.

Lindsay Bayer and Jamie Smith

Trespassing in the VIP tents with the famous Jamie Smith.

Evening at TTT Worlds Finish Line

Enjoying the finish line before the chaotic moment of actually crossing it.

And then it was race day. Worlds. The last race of my season. A morning like any other and also uniquely overwhelming. We got to the start and warmed up on trainers surrounded by spectators and photographers, which only added to the excitement and intensity of the day. By the time we rolled to the start house, I was so nervous I couldn’t pee enough times but there was barely a moment to think before it was time to go on stage. The announcers called our names and the starters got us settled on the bikes as cameras filmed our final preparations. Then it was time to roll.

2015 TTT Worlds Start

It was so incredibly cool to be with my teammates in this moment. I may have taken that opportunity to recite the chant from Cool Runnings.

Hell Yeah Worlds


The race itself was a blur punctuated with moments I will never forget. Screaming crowds. The sound of our disc wheels. Flying at 50kph down a smooth, flat road. Looking at my teammates around me and thinking, “Holy shit, we are doing this.” I’ve never felt more like part of a team.

Sure, there were things we could have done better. From a technical perspective, we needed more practice to iron out kinks that would have saved time and energy. It would have been nice to have a sixth rider like almost every other team. But when we crossed the finish line upright, still friends, and with our dignity intact, it felt like a victory. We had raced the World Championships and given it our best.

It didn’t matter that we were last; there was so much to celebrate anyway. Jono had worked incredibly hard to help us be the best team we could and to give us the opportunity to race Worlds together. We rode our hearts out and did everything possible to make the best of what we had been given. It was wonderful and unforgettable and I’m so grateful for the experience and memories.

BMW Happy Tooth After TTT Worlds

Our trip to Worlds would not have been possible without Dr. Larry Moray of The Happy Tooth.

Lindsay Bayer Worlds Team Car

Driving to the start (in a skinsuit, so I get there faster).

Worlds Team Cars

A team sponsored by BMW rolls in style.

TTT Worlds Group

We’d spent four days staring at each other’s butts, so why not end with a rearview photo?

BMW Happy Tooth Team at Worlds

This amazing experience would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of Jono and the team staff.

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Apparently this is life

In looking at this site the other day, I noticed that the page about the dogs has yet to be updated. How do I write Scout out of the plot here? It’s one thing to add a paragraph about Tanner and how he is so wonderful except for the part where I can now touch concrete through over a dozen holes in the bedroom carpet. It’s an entirely different matter to turn everything about Scout into the past tense and then cap his bio off with “…and now he’s dead.”

I like to say it that way for the shock value; not for you, but for me. Something about putting it so bluntly makes it feel like bludgeoning myself over the head with a watermelon in a pillowcase. In the days right after he died, I’d say it over and over in different ways like some weird chant. “He’s dead. HE’s dead. He’s DEAD. Dead. DEAD.” It still didn’t make it any more real.

Having Tanner around has made everything better, though, partly because he’s so sweet and partly because he’s incredibly distracting. He didn’t know anything when he first came home – for example, walking on a leash was a complete shock – and everything was a teaching moment. No, we don’t pee on the walls. Yes, that is your food. No, we are not out to get you. Yes, Kobe probably is.

I still can’t figure out how to convince him that inanimate objects aren’t scary. He’s terrified of trash cans, plastic bags, dumpsters, jackets, shopping carts, strollers, tents, boxes, etc. and when confronted with any of these, he drops to the ground or tries to bolt. Tanner panicked so badly in front of the neighborhood dumpster the other day that he shot out of his harness and sprinted into the woods. It was breathtakingly awful; my heart dropped out of my butt and I had a crying meltdown while trying to catch him. When I finally grabbed him, I never wanted to let go.

He’s a handful and a full-time project, but that’s what I needed to stop crying over Scout at inappropriate times (at the grocery store, during races, at a pop-up taco party). Now it’s hard to leave home for trips because (a) Tanner increases his destruction tenfold and (b) I’m reminded of every moment I missed with Scout because my own plans mattered more. Kobe seems a hundred years older than he did a year ago and it feels like every second with him should be savored, even when he is shrieking like an indignant parrot because Tanner is annoying him by breathing. He’ll be 13 soon; I thought he and Scout would both live forever and since I was clearly wrong about that, now it feels like every day is going to be it.

That’s morbid. But frankly, living each day like it might be the last isn’t a terrible philosophy. If I don’t have that cake because calories and don’t call my parents because busy and don’t take the dogs to the park because lazy, at some point I’m going to wish I had. Tanner is destroying my condo one bite at a time, but I don’t really give a shit because he’s also proof that life goes on and that sometimes epic disaster can be followed by boundless joy. All that said, I’m not quite ready to put Scout into the past tense yet. He can live on here for just a little longer.

2015 Destructosaur2015 Tanner

Posted on in Family, Life, Sadness, The Pets 3 Comments

LinkedIn: Strava for Female Pros

Yesterday was exhausting; a 3:15am alarm woke me in Logan, UT so I could get a 6am flight home out of Salt Lake City. By the time 10pm rolled around, I was cranky, borderline incoherent, and overly emotional about things like the dog wanting to pee on too many shrubs. It was an ideal night for an early bedtime, except that as 11pm came and went, I was on my LinkedIn page updating my profile to more accurately reflect my non-bicycle accomplishments. Or, summarized more honestly: to make it clear that I’M A BAWSS, YO.

Frankly, I don’t give two shits about LinkedIn. It’s like Facebook but even less interesting because people don’t overshare or rant inappropriately. I would rather watch my nails grow than review my LinkedIn newsfeed and fewer things elicit less excitement than finding out that a colleague wants to connect online. I hardly even want to connect with my colleagues in real life and I’m getting paid to do that. But suddenly LinkedIn seemed crucial, because it was the only way to validate publicly that I’m, like, smart and skilled and stuff.

It seems pathetic to admit this, but oversharing is pretty much the reigning style guide here. Somebody said something recently that made it feel like I needed to point out that I do more than just ride a bike. There is a mentality in this sport that women are a second act to the main show of the men, but it generally brings me some comfort to know that most professional men are just cyclists while most professional women are cyclists and something (coaches, dietitians, scientists, doctors, lawyers, so on). It’s no surprise that this is the most popular 140-character sentiment I’ve ever shared:

While I don’t have a PhD, I do have a career off the bike that I’ve worked to establish and grow over the last decade. I am proud to be a professional cyclist, but that’s not my only job and I’m discontent to let somebody think all I can do with authority is pedal. Thanks to the nature of women’s cycling, it’s rare to find a professional female racer who is not also well-educated, already enmeshed in a separate career, or both. It’s basically a necessity to survive in a sport that offers minimal pay and no long-term security.

So I took my frustration to my LinkedIn page last night and spent too much time tweaking the content to prove something that I’m irritated about needing to prove in the first place. The irony is that the audience I’m trying to educate is the least likely to even notice or care; as long as I’m pedaling with boobs, that’s going to be what they recognize.

Okay. You can’t win them all. That’s the story of racing, right? You keep entering races and fighting knowing that more often than not, you’re not going to win. Instead of an extra hour of sleep, I fought the good fight on LinkedIn. (Dumber words were never spoken.) At least the next time I feel marginalized by some idiot or I get crushed on a climb, I can totally be like, “OMG WHATEVER, have you seen my LinkedIn?!”

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