Amanda Bye remembers that bike racing is all about the fun (and maybe some bacon too).
Every year after the Bannock Crit I start to get the tingle of excitement as I know that cross is coming. The mornings start to get cooler and training starts to be shorter, high intensity rides and adult libations. However, this year was different. Life had got in the way of training- I had raced much less during the road/MTB season, I started a new position at work that was both challenging and rewarding, there was building a home and family stuff, my sister got sick, family was far more important than racing or training. So, as the leaves began to fall excitement was not what I was feeling…fear for the first time started to set in. I did not want to race as I had not been training and I knew that I had little endurance, I was scared to not remember how to dismount or remount, to not be able to finish a race. Coming in last was not my concern, I have absolutely no problem with my placing as long as I know that I tried my hardest but I was ill prepared and even worse yet was that I was psychologically a mess. When I would ride and get passed, I would immediately start thinking about how I was not fit and how I would not do well in cross. Then one day as I was being passed riding up Flagstaff road and starting to have the relentless negative self talk, I realized that I started racing to have fun and to be around other people who enjoyed the sport, not to be self deprecating.
So what did I do? I started cross season. I raced as hard as I could, I felt like vomiting from overexertion. My muscles remembered what it was like to race and I did not miss a beat. Yes, I was slower but this allowed me to dial in the skills I had been developing for years. Within a few weeks, I was no longer nervous and once again having fun, laughing with other ladies and wanting to be on my bike. I was proud that I overcame my fear and also that those pesky negative thoughts went back into the deep recesses of my mind. I did not care how strong I was or if people were passing me, I was having fun. We also had weekly practices that involved such things as water gun/water balloon fights, sparklers, cupcakes, costumes, Le Mans starts, challenging each other to try new things and most important laughing. I raced every weekend for the whole season and then went to Nationals. And I remembered that this journey in life is all about challenging fears, growing and having fun (with libations and bacon of course).