This past weekend was the TD Bank Mayor’s Cup in Boston and the official end of my racing season. Normally at this point I’d do a recap of the year, but I’m not interested in looking backwards. The first half of the season was a disaster; I struggled badly on and off the bike and considered quitting racing entirely. I never want to feel that way again.
After the Intelligentsia Cup races, I asked for permission from Colavita to race independently for the remainder of the season. It was a sad moment but also a huge relief, like taking a 300-pound crap. I raced the Chris Thater Crits on my own and was overwhelmed by the warmth and support from the rest of the women’s peloton. Fearless Femme’s director Arounkone Sananikone asked me to guest ride for their team the next weekend at Gateway Cup, and after Gateway they asked me to stay on for the remainder of the season’s races.
It was the best thing that could have happened. These last four weeks of road trips and races have been some of the best I’ve ever had. This team races because they love it and it makes them happy, not just because it’s their job or they don’t know what the hell else to do. Arounkone wants his team to win, of course, but it’s more important to ride boldly, give 110%, and enjoy the wild ride. That attitude brings out the best in the riders. It brought out the best in me. I wanted to be fearless for the team, to take chances and fight for the win, to be happy with excellent performance even if it wasn’t a 1st place, and to graciously celebrate our competitors’ successes.
Saturday’s race was perfect. Tina and I worked together so well and I loved telling her to get the hell out of the wind and rest while I did my job of covering things. I even got some time off the front collecting primes before pulling the plug to play more defense. It was a blast; I couldn’t stop smiling even when it hurt. At the end, Tina launched an awesome sprint to finish 2nd. Sure, we didn’t win, but I can still feel the joy of that moment because 2nd was damn good against a lot of excellent sprinters. As we stood at the finish line after the race, Arounkone leaned over the barriers to hug me and say with absolute sincerity, “Thank you.” I’ve never felt happier to be part of a team. Fearless Femme isn’t just a name, it’s a philosophy that I don’t want to ever forget. Don’t be afraid to seize the moment, to go big, to walk away from something that doesn’t feel right with confidence that everything will be okay.
I learned so much this year. How to race my bike and how not to race my bike. Who to keep in my life and who to keep out. What’s worth it and what isn’t. I learned how to be fearless and how to kick ass, lose gracefully, and always finish happy and wanting more. To the people who helped me along the way – my husband and tireless mechanic, my endlessly supportive parents, my coach Sue Hefler for saving me during my mid-season downward spiral, Arounkone for urging me to light it up and enjoy the fireworks, my forever teammates Whitney Schultz and Olivia Dillon for their strength and support, Tom Steinbacher from Stradalli for making certain I was still equipped to ride, and to my dear friends in the cycling community – thank you. I have never been so grateful for this support system and never felt so excited to come back and race again in 2015. Let’s tear some shit up!