The first race of the season, for me, it’s probably the most anxious time of the year.
By now I’m pretty sure everyone knows how I have a knack for bicycling. As much as I like wrenching on bikes and getting others on bikes, I also like to pedal, fast!
There is something really special about racing. Something that no amount of prize money, no amount of articles written about you, no amount of Facebook friends, or Instagram followers can give you.
All I want to do is get better, go faster, and have fun. This was my first time competing in the La Tierra Torture, but I have raced Mountain bikes before. It was a new venue for me and there were racers from all over the state, as well as some from Colorado. The course itself is mostly single-track with a lot of flowy sections and winding uphill and downhills. It also has some technical, rocky sections throughout.
I went into this season wanting to be the best, wanting to be better than I’ve ever been. I believe in myself that I can be, that I can and will do better than last year. But throughout this winter, I felt like I had forgotten why I race.
I didn’t start racing because I wanted to win. Obviously, winning is something special and no matter what it always feels good, but I started racing to be a part of something, to find a hobby, to have fun, and to challenge myself. I’m lucky my sponsors and family believe in me, they cheer for me and it brings joy to me to know someone cares about what I do.
I believe mental attitude is a large part of racing and can make or break your race.
I’ve found that in the past, I’ve been too caught up in worrying about results. How am I going to be better than last year? Did I train enough? Where am I going to finish? Too focused on results!
Just like SolCore Fitness, commitment to training and consistency with your exercises are more important than immediate results. It takes time and dedication to reach your goals, and sometimes things don’t always go as planned.
When I race, I concentrate on myself and tend to challenge myself against time, more than against other competitors. I focus on the upcoming obstacles on the course. I focus on my breathing. I focus my mindset to keep pedaling as hard as I can.
Some races everything goes well, but sometimes you encounter adversity from unexpected angles. During this race, I had two mechanical issues on the first (of two) lap.
While pedaling uphill, a rock wedged itself between my rear shifting mechanism and the wheel, causing me to come to a standstill. I had to stop because I could not pedal. This resulted in bad shifting and jumping between gears, especially going uphill. This was frustrating while going uphill, since I needed to shift to continue pedaling. I tried my best to not get into my head when this happened, to not be disappointed, and just go with the flow.
While I didn’t achieve the result I wanted, I achieved everything I wanted that day. I fought hard to chase back as many spots as I could. I dug where I knew I needed to dig, and sat in where I knew I should sit in. I remembered why racing my bike is fun. I remembered why I race my bike. And when I finished, I finished with a smile and a sense of accomplishment.
I don’t need to be out there racing and thinking about what place I’m racing for, I need to be out there to RACE my bike, to focus on each turn, each acceleration, and enjoy every moment. I’m racing to be a better person and a better racer. I’m racing for the challenges it brings on and off the course.
I want smiles and hugs and positive attitudes, and that is what I want to bring to the races, that is why I love to race my bike.
Jo Van Cutsem
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