I’m reminded of a mountaineering proverb that I once read, “It doesn’t have to be fun, to be fun.” This statement definitely sums up today’s race. Slick mud, rocks and roots were the companions of the day as myself and about five hundred mountain bikers fought hard to finish the first of the six day Breck Epic.
I came into this race with few expectations. I am more fit, more experienced and, over these past two years, I have gained a sense of community and belonging. I love seeing other cyclists out there, giving it their best. I love riding beside, and in most cases, behind some seriously strong athletes. It’s one of the reasons why I race. This sense of community was one of the only expectations I had.
I started today lined up with some of the best in the business. As soon as the gun went off, the best in the business left me in their dust as we pedaled up our first climb. I felt like my legs and lungs were still asleep as more people passed me. I did not get upset. I just kept spinning, happy to be out there trying, confidant that I would get better as the day continued.
With a steady rain falling from the sky, my body temperature remained lower than I’d like. And once again, I just kept spinning. Two hours into the race, I still felt a little off. The negative voices in my head started screaming louder; the inevitable, stupid thoughts reminding me that I just might not be good enough, that I’ll never be good enough.
Then, I remembered why I race. I race because I love it. I race because it is a blessing. Not everyone can get outside and do what we, as cyclists, do. I race because I love that feeling of kinship. Gratitude won the day, and by about hour three, my legs finally showed up. Despite freezing, despite my fear of wet, slick roots, I was stronger.
I finished with a smile. Tomorrow is another day, and I hope I’ll feel better at the start. I expect that, after today’s efforts, I will. This body of mine is a slow rolling steam engine; I trust that it will do just fine. And if not, I’ll remember to be grateful because, it doesn’t have to be fun, to be fun; right?
Super thanks to the Amy D Foundation for all their ongoing support! Especially for sending Jon Husk, the awesome Foundation’s mechanic! Thanks