By Cheri Felix
I love racing. When I line up I feel like I’m going to throw up. I wonder why I signed up. I question my sanity. I ponder possible mechanicals and broken collar bones. All this before the starter says “go!” I’ve been racing for eight years. It started with short track. That fit well between breast feedings. Then moved to cross country races up in the mountains and with the annual Beti Bike Bash. At some point, I threw myself (in a completely intentional and crazy way) for two days down a mountain in an Enduro. I grieved my dead father by buying a cyclocross bike and raced for the next two seasons. And now I can add racing in the dark and cold snow on fat bikes. See? I told you. I really love racing. And now, I’m doing running races. But sometimes the whole thing feels sticky. Like the schedule starts to feel like an overburdened car at a drive-in when you could pay one price regardless of how many people were in the car. Racing starts to become a “I hope so” versus a “Hell to the yah!” Racing. Who has time for it?
This year I feel it more than ever. I guess all that telling my kids to go outside and play rubbed off and so now they’re athletes in their own right. All three play soccer and one of them doubles down with climbing competitions on some of the same days. What’s that you say? Kids are too busy these days? Maybe. But maybe so are we. A lot of people have kids who race and that’s AWESOME but like a cobbler and her kids, bikes although one of my passions, is way down the list for my kids. But I’m thinking I’m not alone. Surely there are others out there who see their racing lives ebb and flow like a boyfriend’s love in junior high. Is this a “woman thing” or is this just a “human thing?” It’s sticky. But sometimes we realize that something has to give.
Some years racing works so well in my schedule it’s like butter and popcorn; amazing. And some years, you have to remind yourself that you are not your result. You are more than your call-up. Your life is bigger than the race at Valmont. Your life is richer for all the things and the people in it. There’s always next year. But yet, it’s hard isn’t it. You see the invites for that clinic and this event. You feel the pull. You almost send the email that says “deal me in” and sometimes you back away from the laptop. You tell yourself you can pop into some races, you don’t have to be all-in. And even when these words leave your mouth (because yes, I talk to myself all the time) you know how full of shit you sound.
Racing. It’s magical. It’s hard and it often shows me my good sides and my underbelly all at the same time. Let’s face it, if we’re even having this conversation, we enjoy privilege in our lives. One thing I will say about kids is that it all goes by fast. They are the best part of my life and own the biggest real estate in my heart. My mom had a stroke at 49 and never walked again. That sometimes screws with me since I’m 48. But I have this feeling my life will be long and full of rides, runs and racing. But for now, it’s a balance and every step is an opportunity to re-calibrate.
As we roll into racing season for ‘cross, may we all find balance both on and off the bike. Especially on the remount.