Boom Clap The Sound Of My Heart

When I went to registration at Chris Thater yesterday to pick up my race numbers, the man at the table looked down at his registration list and said,”Oh, your team name is blank. Do you want me to fill that in?”

I teared up immediately because, duh, I cry over everything.

“No,” I squeaked. “I’m unattached.”

He didn’t flinch, but I did for what was probably the hundredth time in the past few weeks, since everything went to shit and I bought my new unattached cycling license.

It’s hard to tell the story of how things unfolded this season without saying too much. Team Colavita has been my home for the past two seasons; my friends, my family on the road, my sole concern in races. I went from being a lone mercenary rider in 2012 hunting for results to being a part of a team plan and I loved the role. But I didn’t like some things I witnessed and experienced this season within the team. There came a point where I had to choose to keep my head down and accept a reality that felt wrong, or stand up and risk the consequences.

I stood up. Results matter, but people matter more. While I’m the first to acknowledge that professional cycling is a business, this sport is too wonderful and insufficiently lucrative to justify being an asshole. So I objected to the things that felt wrong and tried to stop them. On a few occasions, I acted rashly out of hurt or anger and I regret those times, but on the whole, I would not change a damn thing.

As the season progressed, it became clear that if I wanted to race my bike and disassociate from the negativity, I was going to have to go it alone. Okay. That was hard to swallow, but I figured I’d do it and then start fresh next year when the bad had been cut away like you’d expect one would do with any flesh-eating bacteria. Then I found out that the future was not going to be what I expected and that was the end. I was done with Team Colavita and Team Colavita was done with me.

Ain’t that some shit? Two years, and to show for it I have a lot of 48th place finishes and more olive oil than Italy.

But I also got a best friend out of the team that I’ll love no matter where life takes us, as well as several other dear friends. I learned how to race my bike, how to give everything so somebody else can win, how to live on the road with a bunch of people in tight quarters, and how to love this wild career. And I also got this badass Shimano hat that I’ll probably never take off (which may become complicated when it comes time to shower).

The Greatest Hat Ever

The best hat ever from the best teammate ever. Thanks, Mary!

Yesterday was the first time I raced unattached and against my former teammates. I started to freak out a little (and yes, cry) as Andrew and I drove up to New York. The moment when I acknowledged the situation out loud at registration stung, and it was a punch in the gut to see Team Colavita rolling around the course. I felt like a sad bird that had fallen out of the nest. But everybody else at the race stepped in to fill the void; the other women were so supportive and warm that I made it to the start with minimal histrionics and raced my damn bike. Ripped of that bandaid and went on with life.

The race went well enough. It was hard to figure out what to do with myself because I’m so used to having teamwork responsibilities. Sit in? Huh? I tried a few moves but realized quickly that I wasn’t getting away with that group. It came down to a bunch sprint and I managed 8th; not what I’d wanted, but not bad considering the newness of the experience.

The Pink Kit

Sported my new off-the-rack kit from Performance for today’s race. It’s aggressively pink. I was inspired to ride faster to try to get away from myself.

Today was even better. The weather was gorgeous – perfect for another 43 laps around the same course – and the racing was active but friendly. It felt like a high-stakes version of my favorite group ride. Around 20 laps to go, I got away with six other riders and we quickly put 20-30 seconds on the field. It was a strong group with too many good sprinters, so I knew my only shot at winning was to attack at the right moment and get away. I threw it down with 2 laps remaining and came through at 1 to go with a gap, but it wasn’t enough. I got caught with less than half a lap left and was too gassed to sprint with the break, ending up 7th. SHITBALLS. But I raced my bike, had such a good time doing it, and played my hand as best as possible. Sometimes the gamble doesn’t pay off, but it’s better than not gambling at all.

Lindsay Attacking the Break

In it to win it; attacking the break at two to go.

I also realized that when you’re racing amongst friends, it’s all good-natured and everybody is happy about everybody else’s success. That camaraderie and class make racing totally worth the effort, even if you don’t get the win.

Morgan and Me

Morgan and I learned today that it’s super cool to be in a break, but even better if that break doesn’t include all of the sprinters.

Now I’m in the car heading home and so excited to get back on the road this Thursday for the Gateway Cup races. (Andrew, the designated driver, is slightly less thrilled.) This weekend was a hard step forward, but in taking it, I found that there are so many wonderful people by my side. Despite what my license says, I am anything but unattached.

Timber Video 1

The best way to celebrate a good weekend is to make another “Timber” dance video on the drive home.

Posted on in Cycling, Friends, Sadness, Travel 6 Comments

Tour of Utah Bicycle Awesome Fun Time

When it was time to fly to Utah last Saturday, I didn’t want to go. Traveling this year hasn’t been the joyfest it was in the past. I sat with my bike bag and backpack in front of the check-in counter for nearly thirty minutes, stifling tears and unable to find the motivation to get up and go. “Check in,” came the blunt text from the friend I asked for advice. So I did.

He was right. Check in. Move forward. Give things a chance to happen. I am so glad I did. This trip was wonderful.

Team Colavita had a small squad for the Utah races consisting of Olivia Dillon, Whitney Schultz, myself, and a guest rider, Anna Grace Christensen. Everything about the trip was perfect – our group dynamic was great, we stayed with incredibly cool people, the racing was hard and fun, the scenery was beautiful, and we had so many good meals, glasses of wine, and strong coffees. This kind of experience is why I love this career. It was a short trip, but enough to remind me of how amazing this life can be when you’re with the right people focusing on the right things.

Team Colavita Lindsay Bayer

What I love most about this photo is that Olivia is in black socks. We’ve spent a season debating white socks (her preference) versus black socks (my preference). When I poked fun at her choice of black socks for the day, she looked at my dingy old white ones and said, “Well, it looks like you’re wearing black ones anyway.” LOVE HER.

Descending Small Mountain

Descending a small mountain with Whitney.

Utah Skies

Utah is gorgeous. Also, behold my new cell phone wallpaper.

The Great Slide

We got to the downtown Cedar City race venue and there was this monster slide. So of course I had to take a trip down. As I climbed up the ladder into the highest part, there were two kids sitting up there looking really surprised to see me. “Just need to go down the slide and then I can race my bike,” I explained, seeming not at all creepy and weird. Then they told me not to be nervous about the slide and to keep my feet up on the way down. It was awesome.

Team Colavita Podium

Then we raced hard and worked together to win the sprint jersey and a 5th place finish for Olivia. That was awesome too.

Wild Wild West

While driving from Cedar City back to Salt Lake City, we stopped to take pictures in what Olivia thought was the Wild Wild West. That was my cue to be ‘wild’.

The Time She Threw Food

Then Anna Grace (accidentally) threw a rice cake slathered in almond butter and bananas at Olivia.

Tour of Utah Women's Edition

Our circuit race was held at the Larry H. Miller Motorsports Park where the men did their finishing laps for the day’s stage. Each women’s team was assigned a spot in a garage bay to use pre- and post-race. It was a cool venue, but the wide-open, windy course made for a challenging day. I realized that when there are no corners, I miss them.

Velociraptor Attack!

Because every front yard needs a velociraptor.

Posted on in Cycling, Friends, Life, Travel 1 Comment

In Which My Father Parades

2014 Knights 1

My father was in a 4th of July parade as part of his senior role in the Knights of Columbus. Somewhere around fifteen THOUSAND people came out to the event. Things I never thought I’d say: “I’m here because my dad is in the parade.”

2014 Parade

Just because he had to be serious and sword-wielding (he’s the one behind my extremely white exposed shoulder) didn’t mean I couldn’t photo-bomb the moment.

2014 Parade Family

Fun for the whole family! We’re really proud of my father for his accomplishments with the Knights and also for not passing out after standing in the sun for hours in a tux, hat, and heavy cape.

2014 Mom with Float

I told my mother I’d give her $100 to run off with one of these star floats. She was thwarted by the fact that they were firmly tied down.

2014 Lindsay with Float

Then I stood in the path of the wildly blowing float and got whacked in the head repeatedly by an enormous white star.

2014 Knights 6

When I first walked up to the group this morning where they were gathered, I tried to get my father’s attention by yelling, “Hey Dad!” 95% of the Knights turned around.

Posted on in Family, Life 1 Comment

Hail Queen Julia

So I got an email this morning:

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 11.11.52 AM
I understood the TRL reference, but I did have to Google it to figure out how one does a TRL-style shout-out. Apparently this is what it means to be old. Next I will be confused about The Facebooks and then start asking people to chew my food for me.

I wanted to fulfill her request, but needed a picture to go along with the post, so I Googled her name. A Twitter handle popped up (@MsJuliaSteele…NSFW) along with an assortment of related results.

And WHOA. THAT IS NOT MY SISTER-IN-LAW. My sister-in-law would describe herself in many amusing ways, but it is likely that none of them include the description “ASS WORSHIP QUEEN OF ATLANTA!”

But because she is my favorite sister and because she joined me in laughing recently when our waiter described a steak preference as “warm and pink on the inside”, this may have to come up in a toast at her wedding.

Posted on in Family Comments Off

A Happy Anniversary

My cycling career began seven years ago today. It was the second race of the Wednesdays at Wakefield mountain bike race series, but my first race ever after only owning a mountain bike for a few weeks. Clipless pedals still freaked me out. I distinctly remember the race not being very fun; it felt like taking an activity I enjoyed and adding urgency to it. Why would I want to do that? Life is urgent enough; why do I have to ride fast too?

Lindsay at Wakefield 2007

Wakefield Park, circa 2007. This outfit and my posture are amazing.

But then the results were posted and it turned out that I’d finished 3rd in the beginner women field. WHOA. I placed, which meant I was actually decent (!), but also that two women had ridden faster than me. I collected my bronze medal and free water bottle and then went on to let cycling take over my entire life and now I ride professionally.

It’s been a wild seven years. I can barely remember life before cycling; if you told me eight years ago that I was going to walk away from law school, become a professional athlete, and purposely blend spinach into my drinks every day, I would have laughed in your face. But here I am. It both scares and thrills the crap out of me to wonder where I’ll be in another seven years.

2014 Air Force Classic 3

At least I’m no longer riding in 100% cotton garments.

I’m still the treasurer of Potomac Velo Club, the group that puts on the Wednesdays at Wakefield series, which means I drop by the races every summer to distribute prize checks and collect registration fees. While I was there tonight, I handed out medals and water bottles to the three women on the podium for the beginner women’s race. All I said to them was ‘congrats, nice job, good work,” but what I really wanted to say is, “This could be the beginning of the most wonderful thing you’ll ever do with your life.”

Posted on in Cycling, Life 3 Comments