“Decide carefully, exactly what you want in life, then work like mad to make sure you get it.” –Hector Crawford
So, I know it’s cliché to write a New Years Resolution column. But if there was ever a sport that was perfect for having a solid list of resolutions at this time of year, it’s cycling. A lot of the people I know, live with, ride with, socialize with, et cetera, are, for the most part, cyclocross racers who also race another discipline. So for them – and myself – January 1 is a great time for us to start focusing on the next season as our ‘cross season comes to an end. (OK, January 9 in this year’s case, since Nationals are on the 8th.) Since most of us are looking at calendars and already planning out key races and big training blocks anyway, why not add a list of resolutions to the queue?
To be a cyclist is to be granted a great opportunity. It sounds silly, but bear with me on this one. To race bikes means a few things, first and foremost being that you’ve got the ability to ride a bike. Think about how many people are never afforded that opportunity, either because they never learned as kids, or because for physical reasons, it’s not a possibility for them. Whenever I deal with leg cramps or hurting knees, I try to remember that at least I can pedal my bike, even if some days are harder than others. The second is a little more blurry and I know that there are exceptions to the rule, but to race bikes is certainly to live a privileged existence. I’ve heard plenty of amazing stories of people growing up with little money, even less opportunity, and every barrier in the world, but still managing to get bikes and start racing. For a lot of us though, while we may not have grown up in the “lap of luxury,” the mere fact that we can afford bikes (however high or low end they may be) and the time to train on them speaks volumes about our situations. A lot of cyclists have fallen into the habit of using the Internet meme “first world problems” when complaining about bike racing, and rightly so. We are a lucky group.
And I’ll be the first to admit that I’m one of the exceptionally lucky ones: I have a family who’s incredibly supportive; I have a boss who encouraged me to turn down his full time job offer in order to spend time working on my writing and racing this year; I have amazing people to train with; I have an incredible coach in Cycle-Smart’s Al Donahue, the bulk of my jobs at the moment include writing about riding, and I have a killer team lined up for 2012. Lucky? Heck yeah.
But because I’m given this many opportunities, that means I have a lot more to live up to. This is a challenge I’m happy about, since one of my favorite quotes speaks to that exact concept. Seth Godin wrote, “How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable?”
So, this year, I have a few resolutions. And since most of them are fairly generic to cyclists on the whole, I’m going to share them. Admittedly, maybe the act of putting them out here for everyone to read will also help me to keep them, or will at least serve as a reminder that I have amazing opportunities laid out in front of me, and to ignore them is practically sacrilege.
I admit it: I am the worst person in the world when it comes to this. When the season is over, my bikes usually get tucked into the garage, not to be pulled out again for another six months, still covered in the grime from the last race. Things like regular chain cleaning (or, truth be told, bike cleaning in general) are not part of my weekly routine. If I check the tire pressure before heading out on a ride, I consider that a “win.” So this year, my resolution is to keep all of my bikes in good working order. I figure with true wheels, a clean chain, and a derailleur that actually shifts properly, my watts will go up in no time. And since I live with people who ride bikes for a living (bike messengers), I’m hoping they can be persuaded to give me a crash course in the care and keeping of bikes.
Much like Resolution Number 1, I admit to some serious failings in this arena. Sure, the gear doesn’t make the cyclist, but beat up sunglasses with scratched lenses, a PowerTap computer that’s never charged, a watch I can never find and kit that takes 15 minutes to get together certainly are not helping my case. Maybe if I could get out of the house 15 minutes faster, with a saddlebag, frame pump and water bottle all on my person, I could actually spend more time on the bike, rather than prepping to ride it. Time for some serious shelf reorganization!
Listening to my coach. Always.
I’m generally pretty good at listening to what my coach has to say about my training, and following training plans … that is, assuming I have the time for it. This season, I have no such excuse, since I’ve purposely carved enough time out of my workday and came up with a schedule that allows for no whining, only riding. This also goes for when my coach yells at me for my nutrition (or lack thereof). He’s trying to help make me faster, so who am I to ignore or suppress his advice? So when my coach says “jump,” I will say “how high?” though not without some confusion, because why is my coach asking me to jump as training for road season?
The cycling community has given so much to me, and I want to take the time this year to give back to it. In particular, the women in cycling have really been amazing, and the more I learn about the ladies in the sport, from the beginners to the pros, the more I want to help promote women’s cycling in any way that I can. To that end, I’m working with some rad ladies on a few new projects. This is one resolution that I have to encourage anyone reading this to think about: help to promote cycling and give back to this community this year, whether through working with a group like Bikes Not Bombs, giving a kid in your neighborhood his or her first bike, showing some juniors how to take barriers better, or even just taking some time to help with course setup for a local race. The community has definitely embraced me this past year, and I’d love to be able to do something in return.
This one sounds really obvious, but admit it: there have been races that you’ve done at some point where you finished and realized that you could have gone much harder. This year, every race, I want to leave it all on the line, give every race everything that I have. If I’m not tasting blood from burst capillaries in my lungs at the end of every time trial, crit, road race or ‘cross race I do, I didn’t do it right. Because what’s the point of racing if you’re not going to push as hard as you can, and then just a teensy bit harder?
All the 80s hardcore kids will laugh at this last one (“Stay posi” being the motto of the times), but it’s one of my hardest and most important resolutions for the year. It’s easy to get defeated (see one of my first columns on The Art of Losing ), and some days it’s hard to want to get out and ride. Maybe I had a bad race, or just a crappy start to a training ride. Whatever the obstacle that I have in front of me, I want to always remember that I’m doing something that I love doing, and I’m the luckiest girl in the world because I’m able to do it.
Happy New Year, everyone. For some of you, I’ll see you in Madison for Cyclocross Nationals. For the rest of you, talk to you in 2012!