As racers and cyclists we hold on tight to many things, both literally and figuratively. We hold tight to our handlebars so as not to lose control. We hold tight to our training plans and goals for probably the same reason.
I’ve spent many seasons racing my bike and hoping it would look a certain way: train hard, eat well and pound out the races. I would go to the same races year after year expecting the results to always improve. I would ride when I didn’t feel up to it because I wanted to stick to the plan or was afraid of letting go and losing fitness. Afraid to let go of the goal, just grinding away and holding on tight.
A funny thing happens though, when something isn’t working how it should you eventually learn from it or nature intervenes and teaches you. I eventually started overtraining and not allowing my body to recover, I started getting slower. Stuck in my stubborn way I kept at it though, trying to ride and race my way back into shape. Showing up to the same races as usual, with a beat up body because I didn’t want to let go of the vision in my head of how it should go.
That is until one day out of the blue a friend text me and said they needed a replacement for a teammate in the Mojave Death Race. It just so happened the race was on the same day as a race I was already scheduled to do (also a race I had done many times) but I decided to give the Mojave Death Race a go. The Mojave Death Race is a relay event consisting of road cycling, running and mountain biking. Our team of 8 loaded up and headed out on an adventure spanning over 250 miles and 22 hours of racing. It was hot (being in the Mojave Desert in June), it was completely insane and it was the most fun I’d had racing my bike in a very long time.
It turns out that changing up the routine and entering a new race reignited my passion for racing. It reminded my why I started mountain biking in the first place, for the adventure of it all. I left that race feeling alive and with the excitement for racing that I hadn’t felt in a while. From that race on I let go of what racing for me should look like and decided that if it doesn’t excite you, don’t do it.
Although the original plan has changed, the main goal of becoming the fastest I possibly can on a bike hasn’t. Sometimes we start out on a journey expecting it to look a certain way but we must always remember to keep an open mind and be willing to let go and maybe find something greater.