I originally joined pedal’s club because I did not want to race, I just wanted people to ride with on the weekends. Still, it was intimidating as hell to meet with all the women the first time. I felt like a total n00b, even with all the rides I did the previous year, like Elephant Rock, Double Triple Bypass, Copper Triangle, Ride The Rockies, Pedal The Plains and Venus de Miles, to name a few.
The women shared races they were considering and I sat there in silence, questioning my abilities for a club. I quickly realized everyone had different goals, whether that was racing or participating in an organized ride. After hearing about the races I was intrigued, but also scared to take on an endeavor like that. I didn’t think I had the time to train or that I’d be any good if I tried. I assumed you had to be a professional with loads of time and loads of money to race your bike.
I know how the women who participate in Women Bike Colorado feel. I was worried I wouldn’t like cycling as much if I pinned on a number and pedaled the hardest I’ve ever pedaled in my life, but soon enough I started racing.
In my first race I was scared to death as I steered up to the start line, and that’s still the case, even after all the races I’ve competed in. I’m lucky if I get my cleat on to the pedal on the first try at the blow of the whistle. There were plenty of times that I had to choose between registering for a race and doing something else because money was tight. I never felt like I trained enough or had enough time to train.
None of those turned out to be true. I do have the time to train—because I’ve made it. I volunteer at races to afford it. I choose safety over first place and therefore, have never crashed in a race. I race, but I also spend time with my family and friends.
Racing my bike has changed my life. I’m more confident. I’m in the best shape of my life. I fear less and strive for more. I respect all women who race and I equally respect all women who do not, but I’m here to say that racing IS fun, and it’s good for the competitive spirit.
And to this day, I get nervous and worry about my performance before the whistle is blown, at every race. If that’s your reason not to ride, you’re not alone: we all feel the fear, but we do it anyway. I’d encourage you to face those fears and strive for more.
But whether you’re lining up for your first organized century, commuting to work alongside towering and dirty trucks, bikepacking along the Colorado Trail, or racing the sun before it sets behind the mountains, bike riding—no matter how you do it—is awesome. I tip my helmet to anyone on two wheels.