My daughter is 7 years old and loves to ride (not race) the kids race. She is usually one of the last finishers in the 6-8 year old group. She is timid, nervous, and extremely cautious when she rides.; needing tons of encouragement and cheering to get her to the finish line. However, when I am out there I want to cheer for my daughter’s first name…not her last name. In other words, my reputation (i.e. last name) has nothing to do with how she finishes, how many kids she passes, or how hard she rides. She just enjoys riding her bike and I want to encourage, inspire, and support her in her riding.
Too often as parents we can get caught up in the lie somehow our reputation is on the line based on our child’s performance. Here is a wonderful life truth—it isn’t. If you’re a parent of a racer or rider put all your energy in cheering for your child, not your reputation.
I savor being competitive, I really do. There is something therapeutic about going out and releasing all those competitive juices in an arena of cycling. Your heart exploding through your chest, breathing through your ears, sweat running down the inside of your glasses—you feel like you are going to die and yet you are fully alive. Some weeks you get demolished—cycling is humbling that way, other times you finish on top, or set a PR or beat the guy who has finished in front of you all season.
Above and beyond all the competitive battles between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. make sure when you finish you remember to smile. Seriously, try it. When you cross the line next week throw a big smile, wry grin, smirk or chuckle on your face. What we get to participate in is a gift that should be enjoyed the way a 7 year old opens birthday presents.
I have a friend who does quite a bit of traveling which makes her spend many, many hours in an airport. Just thinking of being in an airport makes most of us roll our eyes in lament. We know the painstaking drill of making it curbside to security to jet way to plane…agonizing. But my friend has found a new way through the airport. She looks around for people she can help. It has completely revolutionized the way she travels. It takes her mind off herself, and she opens her eyes to those around her. I have tried it too, and I will say it genuinely alleviates the stress of airports.
Back to Over the Hump—Keep your eyes open for someone you can help each week. Last week there was a crash right in front of me as a rider lost his wheel on a turn, he was scrambling to get back up and get in the race. Now the competitive trait in me wanted to ride right by him picking up one more spot. However, I slowed a bit as he jumped on his bike, I put my hand on his back giving him a little push as he clipped in and pedaled. We raced the remainder of the night side by side until the last lap when he pulled away and went on to beat me by about 30 seconds. If I had to go back again, I would do exactly the same thing. It just makes the race a better place when underneath the competiveness, a deeper value of support and humility thrives between riders.
I’m sure you are already thinking about next week, I know I am. This simple question really gets us down to the nuts and bolts about racing, and in fact life. Perfection is an illusion, but improvement is possible! So how will that happen for you?
Imagine if each week you took one step to progress? Think about how much farther along you would be by the end of the season. Good and bad choices both increase (or decrease) like compound interest; this is why the little steps we take are of such importance.
I would imagine the vast majority of folks who attend Over the Hump are there because someone shared their racing event experience with them, and subsequently invited them to join the party.
“Hey come check out this rad midweek mountain bike race”
“I had no idea what I was doing, but still had a blast!!”
“Seriously, I was riding up this hill and passed like 10 racers!!”
Recounting the night, the race, the festivities, the memories is what it is all about. The beautiful thing is when we share those stories with others. Maybe it is a social media post, maybe it is a text message to a friend, or a conversation over lunch. In whatever way you can, share a highlight, something you have overcome, an accomplishment, a scar story with a friend and tell them to come check out the party.