Visual.

 

Thanks to my amazing friends and my bicycle…and cyclocross.  These things keep me inspired, daily.

I am not inspired to write at the moment.  My inspiration to take photos is back.  I am planning on breaking out the film camera soon, but for now I simply have a simple way of photographing the things that inspire me…

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There’s No Secrets This Year

After coming down pretty hard after a terrific race weekend, Monday brought on a wave of uncertainty.   Not only was my ‘cross high fading, but my bank account was running dry.  The hope I once held for finding a job had withered into dust.

But Tuesday was the game changer…

I had been out of my “working interview” for almost 3 hours when I got the call.  I wasn’t supposed to hear anything until Friday, but they liked me.  I said yes.  I cried.  I drank a bottle of wine, strolled down Haywood for an amazing dinner, and fell asleep with a smile on my face.  Tuesday was good.  And Wednesday was icing on the cake.

I took part in my first Crosstown Velo training race on Wednesday night.  A, B, and C categories, with men and women lumped together.  This course was completely FLAT with wide open straights and sharp corners.  Definitely a power course.  It’s been my experience that I do not perform well in this type of race, so I was mentally prepared for a solo 30 minutes of pity and suffering.

My legs had other plans.

I was never alone.  I waited to make my moves and I dug deep.  I fought for positions.  I drove my bike like a seasoned vet.  I powered through the open sections.  I never crashed.  Each lap felt better.  And the leaders didn’t touch me till the last lap.  It was more than I had hoped for.  I was second female in the B race…a complete shock.  I didn’t know who my legs belonged to anymore.

I woke up yesterday morning, well before the roosters, to volunteer my medical services to Pisgah Monster Cross.  Chico and I spent a little quality time cheering, heckling, and patching up a few riders.  I had the privilege of watching my friends in their own personal gut check moments.  Having participated in this race last year, I could almost feel each cyclist amidst their internal battles.  “Do I quit?”  “Why did I sign up for this?”  “Can I keep going, even though this next climb is going to crush my soul?”  I asked all the same questions and even had an emotional breakdown at mile 30.

But watching it from the outside inspired me in ways I never imagined.  You ALL are beautiful in your suffering.  Thank you, Eric, for allowing me to be part of that.

As I sit on the front porch and think about all the things I am grateful for, I can’t help but smile.  This is merely my moment of ascending on this rollercoaster ride, but I want to hang on to it for as long as I can.  THIS is what happiness is and THIS is worth every tear.  THIS is worth every sleepless night.  THIS is worth the sacrifice.

And THIS is why we keep trying.  Never give up.

 

Training Day

I was a few laps in when I realized how amazing I actually felt.  No pain, very little resistance in my lungs, and a happy heart.  Even though I crashed in the first lap, after a GREAT start, the empty feeling of disappointment fled my body.  I knew my shot at staying with the top ladies was a distant memory, but I had a chance to pick off a few chicks and ride my own race.  That’s all we’re really striving for anyway, right?  A constant improvement from our former self.

During warm-up, I got lost inside my own head.  The technical course definitely pointed out a few of my fears.  Wet roots, narrow bridges, and a downed tree.  All three areas really threw me off during pre-ride.  I had a serious case of the jitters, and I was simply ready for my race to be over.

I stepped up to the line with some fast ladies’.  I have to admit, I was a bit intimidated with some of the A’s in my group.  This was my first non-beginner race, and while our field wasn’t deep, it WAS talented.  There was also the addition of 10 minutes to my race time.  I was scared.

And it was time to go…

I thought if I could get up front in the beginning, I wouldn’t get dropped in the off-camber turns.  So I busted my ass to get second behind Deb Sweeney (a total beast on a bike, btw).  She looked great in the turns, and I followed suit.  I felt anxious.  It’s rare that I have anyone behind me, and going into the single track with the field behind me made me impatient.  And there it was…

I took the first turn too sharp and crashed.

I could feel everyone behind me pile up, and I felt bad, but shit happens.  I quickly stood up, picked up my bike and started running it through the woods.  I realized my chain had dropped, and my heart sank into my stomach.  Any chance I had at seeing what I was really made of had disappeared.  My race was over.

After I took care of my chain, I hopped on my bike and continued through the woods.  I could feel the disappointment creeping up my body, but something made me pedal harder.  I refused to go down in a blaze of my own self-pity.  The race continued.

I managed to pick off a couple of girls hanging off the back, and could feel myself getting stronger with each lap.  I was standing up out of every turn, taking smart lines in the single track, and I amazed myself by bunny hopping the downed tree.  Who knew I could do that?  My bike felt amazing and my leg didn’t hurt for once.  I took the stairs like a pro, and realized how all my hard work the last few weeks had left an impression on me.  I was actually starting to look like a ‘cross racer, and felt like one, too.

I looked back and realized I had dropped the others, so it was just a matter of being smooth and solid.  I was racing myself at this point, and simply wanted to feel good about my performance.  With one lap remaining, I gave it everything I had, and it felt good.

I managed to ride every section, nail the turns, and include a few max efforts in the longer sections.  I felt laser.  I didn’t let my mind wander.  I felt something I’ve never felt in a race…not sure what it was…but I want to feel it again.  I didn’t cry.  And when the race was over, I couldn’t do anything but smile.  It was probably the biggest smile I’ve had on my face in a long time.  Nothing can beat that.

I may not have been in the top 5, but I surpassed any plan I could have made for myself.  My friends were even surprised to see how happy I was post race.  I mean, you can’t cry ALL THE TIME, can you?  What I thought would be the worst and most painful course ever, actually made me giggle like a little girl.

Thanks for all the support, guys.  Thanks for all the cheers from both my old and my new ‘cross families.  Thanks to those who’ve made opportunities for me.  Thanks to my super awesome mechanic, Kyle Style.  Thanks to my brother for sparking the fire to ride a bike in the first place.  You are all very much appreciated and loved.

 

 

 

 

I don’t even know what that is…

I may not be very religious, don’t believe in ghosts, think magic is stupid…but I do believe things happen for a reason.  Recently, my past has crept up into my present.  The thoughts, the doubts, all the pain I once experienced is burning inside me again.  I have been reliving a lot of things I’d rather not, but know in my soul that it may be the only way to properly heal.  I have been having nightmares, night sweats, no appetite.  I haven’t been feeling my best, in spite of staying true to my cycling workouts and healthy eating (when I actually feel like eating).  Add the stress of being unemployed, and I’m finding it hard to keep a smile on my face.  But I do.

My mother gave me so many things to be grateful for.  And nothing has taught me more about myself than her passing.  I find it difficult to navigate through life’s rough patches, though, because she was my North Star.  I looked to her when I got lost.  She was the only person on this earth who truly understood me, and didn’t judge me for the things I believed to be true.  When there was no one else, she was my rock.  Even when we had a blowout and our relationship was rocky, she found a way to have compassion for her little girl when the world wasn’t so nice.

And now…  well, I guess I keep a lot of it inside.  But maybe I can use it as fuel.

I came across a few photos of someone this morning.  He is apparently getting married.  Could have been me.  OOF.  He was responsible for crushing my entire world in a matter of seconds.  A relationship built on lies, fear, and dependency.  For a moment, we called it “love”.  We talked about marriage, houses, and the rest of our lives together.  All that blah girlie bullshit we’re made to dream about.  I think he was more of a rebound, though.  He was something tangible, although I adamantly rejected his attempts at wooing me in the beginning.

So I gave in…”fell in love”…gave up everything I cherished…and lost myself in this shell of a human being.  The rest is history.  Funny how that stuff changes us.

And one day I realized that crazy feeling wasn’t love.  It wasn’t even close.  And I was going to be ok.

I love a lot of things.  But really, I don’t even know what that means.  My mom wasn’t able to explain this one…

Aside.

Sometimes we are happily surprised with what we’re given. These moments are precious. Don’t forget how amazing it feels, just for that moment, you are right where you deserve to be. Life is a very delicate thing…and we should treat it as such. Wrap your whole heart around the things you adore. Fight for them. Expect nothing but desire everything. Be true. Realize these moments may be short, but live in the delight that these moments are here…now.