Fear. Acceptance. Failure. Danger. Worth.
These are things that someone who competes deals with, at any level in cycling. There are many who try to prepare to take all the risk, fear and potential failure away before they even toe the start line of a race. These are the same who are likely to waist time getting started - and never actually enjoying the process of racing.
There was this build up and anxiety when I first started racing and I started putting conditions on every event. That if I did good in my first race, then maybe I’d sign up for a second, and so on. How unrealistic is it to expect results the first time you do a cycling race? - but we do it all the time. Common sense can be lost in the midst of not wanting to look weak, silly or out of place.
See, racing or not, we all love riding the bike. And it’s easy to gauge our value or worth in the sport by our fitness or strength. How many times have you said, or had someone say, they had more bike “then they deserved?” Like carbon fiber only really creates a benefit if you can turn out so many watts? In racing (at all levels) there is a consistent balancing act of trusting your training and progress in times of good results and the times where you are off the back. You also have to hold onto your self worth - irrelevant of results - because you my friend are a work in progress, unfinished.
My first year of racing I experienced the fun of early results. My second year, as a still new racer but now in Category 3 events, the experience was very different. Just finishing a race with the pack felt impossible whether road races or criteriums. As I headed into year three of racing, still in Category 3, it was easy to let doubts of “am I getting any stronger?”, “is this worth it?”, “is this worth the risk?” enter my head.
These are the SAME thoughts that enter the head of someone who is just beginning in racing and is something all levels war with.
This past weekend, 18 months since my last good racing results, I was able to finish and enter a couple top tens in a weekend of Texas racing. The effect on my mood and motivation was immediate, but it also made me more resolute for the in-between times in results. A realization that patience is the #1 skill, just ahead of racing in races, that helps you effectively develop as cyclist. That the repetitions mount up and build you towards tipping points that you can’t achieve through enough information or preparation.
Whatever goals you having in cycling - especially if you want to get into racing bikes - excuses that create delays, comparing yourself to others, and not having the patience for your body to develop are your biggest enemies. Riding every day, racing as much as you can, and holding onto the dreams of the big payoffs - that is what keeps you moving forward!