What draws me to bike racing, or anything competitive, really, is that despite the flairing egos and tempers that we must sometimes contend with, I know that we are really there to support each other in our quest to become better people.
Like, at the last crit I tried, the one in Folsom. As we warmed up on our trainers, Laurie told me how her coach, Harvey Nitz, is pushing her to try new things.
“If you don’t like surges,” he told her, “then you need more surges.”
It’s like eating your vegetables, maybe.
None of this talk could abate the tears that come before nearly every criterium I try. I rarely worry about my performance; I worry about my limbs. But with every lap, I felt more secure. I saw Laurie go off the front a couple of times, and decided that if I try one thing today, I’ll try an attack, too. Just to see if I can do it.
I ended up attacking twice in this race, and each time got me in a break-away that lasted for a couple of laps. We used our plan of having no plan, which was something we had decided on early in the season. Let’s just learn this sport organically, and trust our intuition. While the results show just who are the best crit racers are, they don’t show what we learned. It was the best that I felt we’d ever worked together as a team.
It was a milestone for me, because it was a Women’s 1/2/3 race. The last time, I could only manage hanging on in the back. To try an attack, or even two, was monumental for me. I didn’t know I could do that.
So, then, I thought, I wonder if I could apply this to other aspects of my life?
“Jackie, can you help me clean my house? Really?” I asked the next day, after our post-ride lunch in Fairfax.
“Sure, Katie. Give me one hour, and you won’t believe it. I’ll call you at two-thirty tomorrow to let you know I’m coming.”
At 2:45, Jackie was there with a pile of brand-new rags. She brought them, just for me.
“Where’s the Windex,” she said. “Let’s get started.”
She started at my dresser. Within five minutes, I didn’t recognize it. I’d forgotten what framed pictures I had on top. Within twenty minutes, I saw my couch again. Within thirty, I found my cat!*
After an hour, she told me she had to go, but my living and bedroom of my studio (it’s just one big room) were all in order. I couldn’t believe it.
“Believe me, I could keep going and going. But I know you can do it,” she said, and then told me what else needed to be done.
Jackie led me out. I cleaned my apartment. Mopped the floors and everything.
Two weeks later, I’ve still got a nice gap.
*I exaggerate sometimes. Not everyone realizes this. Please don’t call PETA.