Little did Marlene know that our plan all along with the club team is to convert each one to bike racers:) Great post on the journey from self-declared newbie to a fierce bike racer! Cover image by Dejan Smaic of sportifimages.com
This feels like a confession. Hello, my name is Marlene and I am a club member of the Naked Women’s Racing team. I’m a newbie cyclist, meaning I’ve been riding about a year now. Sometimes when I ride with these superfast women, I think I’ll always consider myself a newbie.
When I joined Naked Women last fall, I had no plans to race. Let’s face it, I’m a slow rider. I was more interested in their club rides, mentoring and skills clinic. I have lots of room for improvement in my cycling skills. But then the hints started. The first came from Sharon, “Why don’t you try a time trial. It’s a great way for a beginner to learn and improve.” And then more suggestions from teammates about which races are good for beginners. Of course, I wasn’t the one asking for this information but I was paying attention. My interest had been sparked.
I think the clincher was the skills clinic held by Joan and Susan A. on how to prepare for and what to expect in your first race. They were loaded with advice and tips for a beginner racer. “You’ll want take your trainer to warm up before the race.” “Your bike will be held, while you’re clipped in, at the start of the time trial.” Ok, what? I’ll be starting fully clipped in? Oh, this will be fun. (Remember that I am a newbie.)
So I bit the bullet and signed up for the KHMTT. And the Denver Federal Center Classic. And I had to include the Wheels of Thunder Crit, because it is a mentor race. And then the nerves kicked in. What am I doing?
But the village kicked in too. From Cathy, “Take an extra shirt to warm up in and then change into your dry team jersey. Create small goals before each race.” And Amanda 2.0, “Don’t kill yourself on the downhills in the TT, kill yourself on the uphills.” Well that’s encouraging. There goes my TT strategy. Brittany advised me to watch out for the road hazard on the second turn of the DFCC. Jamie talked about staying upright during the race. Emily W. pointed out the inside line I should take on a corner. Lanier tells me I’ll have fun. Really? Amanda 1.0 assures me I’ll do just fine. And Megan and Kat ask if I learned from the experience.
And now, two of the races are behind me, my first time trail and my first circuit race. I survived. I didn’t crash out. I didn’t throw up. I’m proud of myself and yes, I even had fun. And what did I learn? I learned that I’m a racer and I’m going back for more. Because it didn’t take me long to realize that racing isn’t always about winning or even being in the top ten. For me, racing is about being part of this amazing team, this wonderful group of talented riders, this inclusive village. And maybe someday, I’ll be the one passing along tidbits of advice to the newbie.