Last Friday as I rolled up the street on my hour recovery spin, head full of thoughts about rest weekends and racing and all that good stuff I ran into my favorite bike race announcer Dave Towle. Dave announced all the collegiate nationals races I participated in, including the year I was on the podium for the road race and the year we won the TTT and the team overall national champs titles. Dave says things like ‘the pack is strung out like a runway model’ when announcing crits, and he is just an all round awesome, inspiring, positive guy.
I was stoked to get to do my spin with Dave, and the conversation we had over the next hour of cruising the Mineral Belt trail was a fill-my-heart with joy kind of conversation. I rolled back to the house feeling deeply happy with my life and bike racing career, and full of gratitude for the past 5 years of people I have met, places I have gone and experiences I have had.
I’ve felt this joy a lot this summer in little bursts here and there, just so stinking grateful to be where I am kind of joy, but I’ve never really thought hard about what to DO with it. And I realized as I coasted down the hill on Friday that no matter what happens for the rest of the summer, I am so satisfied with my career, so deeply happy with my life that winning Leadville isn’t NECESSARY. It would be so freaking rad to win again, of course, but just to go out there and give it my all, to finish the summer with a solid effort, no matter what happens on august 11, I will be stoked out of my mind.
Stopping and recognizing that I am in such a good place, that there is so much to be grateful for and proud of is exactly what I needed to take the weight of the pressure off my shoulders. Coming back to such an important race and thinking all this time that I NEEDED to defend my title has put some un-necessary stress on my rides. My pre-ride of Columbine, where I didn’t drink for 2 hours because I was so stressed about trying to best my time from last year is a great example. Being an ultra competitive person means feeling the pressure to repeat that performance big time. But that stress/pressure can be really unhealthy I think, if you don’t balance it with joy and gratitude.
So I’m happy to be in a mental place now where of course I’ll do everything I can to try and win again, but also feeling satisfied with my career means it’s not all or nothing. I’m wrapping up this season for the joy of riding bikes, pushing myself, doing a little suffering, and sharing that joy with others.
Thanks Dave Towle, for sparking the flame of joy on that ride, with that conversation leading me to this place of peace and gratitude.