I’m sitting on the sidewalk and a peleton of men are flying by me, and I notice them, I do. I admire them. I kind of like them, but I’m starring up at my teammate who is marshalling and I’m thinking, “I am so lucky that this woman is on my team.” She is the strongest member of my team, I think everyone would agree, and she could be in a higher category but she’s not, she’s sticking around in cat four so she can be on a team; she’s sticking around so she can be on our team.
The men fly around the corner. It is the cat 1,2,3 race and to be quite honest, it is a good looking group of men. They are speed; they are balance; they are cool. Perfectly timed, fireworks literally explode in the background behind them. They are some kind of celebrities out there. They are wild and rugged and masculine. It’s appealing. I’m not going to say it’s not.
However, I still find this conversation more interesting because my teammate is a kind of mentor. She’s older than me and I’m fascinated how she can be so balanced. I try to find women in my community who I can look up to. I love my mom more than the night loves its stars, but I need women who are not my mom to help guide me too. I look for mentors and I ask them a million questions. This is what I do.
So, I’m sitting there, literally and figuratively looking up to her. I’m asking her “What do you think about when you’re on a ride? What do you eat when you’re not riding?” She tells me. She’s generous of spirit. She’s happy to share what she used to think as a beginning cyclist and now as a more experienced cyclist.
In my own training, I am having a hard time figuring out why sometimes I do well and sometimes I don’t. I think it’s related to food. I think it’s related to intimidation, to how many days I’ve trained beforehand, whether or not I feel nervous or sick or scared. I’m working it out though.
This past week I went to criterion practice and it was fantastic. It was hard and good and fun. I got dropped. My other teammate dropped back to lend me her wheel and another couple of cycling friends did the same. It feels good to be in this learning community. I learned how to turn. I learned to ride close to other riders, not just pacelining but actually going around a corner with them: close, side by side. I was scared but I was trying not to break. I was scared, but I was going with the flow. I was scared, but I was working, working, working around those corners.
Something in my mind has changed. I’m happier than I have been: in my biking life and in my regular life. The pressure is off. I know that in some secret corner of my heart, this is all going to be okay. Everything. It’s going to be okay. When I was flying around the corner, the leader, my original biking mentor, told us we had to pick our line. I realized that’s all it is. It’s just picking a line going into the turn, over and over again for each turn. That’s what life is. You just gotta pick your line.