There have been a lot of things that have gone wrong this season. I’ve struggled, cried, freaked out, and lost my head a few times, but in the end, I have come to this: I love to race my bike. It is easy to love racing when it is fun, when things are going well, when your results and your physical health are glowing. It is another thing entirely to come to the brink of quitting, to fail repeatedly and be totally broken down, and then claw your way back and decide you still love racing.
I still love racing. Love training. Love riding. I am still here.
Some people will probably remember me as the fragile person that imploded for several months this year. The rider with the eating issues who cried at race starts and backed away from challenges. I can’t change everybody’s minds. You can’t win ‘em all.
But hopefully more people will see that to fall apart and then willingly rebuild is an awesome thing. To nearly walk away and then decide to come back and embrace the sport fully feels to me like a deeper, stronger love than what I felt when everything came easy. I know now that I can love bike racing even when I suck, when I am afraid and weak and publicly humiliated by my failures.
Each race start since Philly has helped to reconstruct the foundation of the racer I used to be. I suffered, swore, gritted my teeth, even cried a little from pure exhaustion, but I wanted it again. To be part of the action, to work hard and support my team and be in the race. When I came home at the end of last weekend, it was with genuine excitement that I found and registered for a race for this upcoming weekend. There was a time a few months ago when I didn’t know if I’d ever feel that way again.
To my teammate Olivia, I want to say this: Admittedly, you can be kind of a bicycle dictator. I wasn’t kidding when I told Tayler that you scare me a little. But you have also been such an inspiration recently, because no matter what, you always show up and race your heart out. The fire and passion you bring to every race start has made me realize that we are so lucky to have these opportunities and we should make the most of them all. We joke that every race is your favorite, but I honestly feel like there’s some truth in that. You find a way to love each one and fight through it 100%. I want to be like that. While you have your scary moments, I am learning to appreciate them as you pushing me to be the best I can. Please don’t stop. It’s finally working and I’m so grateful.