Nearly 45 riders toed the start of Red Kite Crit in Livermore on April 13th. It being my second race of the season, I was both excited and nervous to test my legs and mix it up with the other riders…But before I tell you how I (spoiler alert!) clinched the thing, I should probably offer up a little insight into the lead-up to the race.
This past January, I decided to take the leap and hire a coach- I was ready to take it to the next level! Shortly after signing up with Coach Dana Williams and Achieve Performance Training & Coaching, I crashed on a wet descent. It was my first crash on the road and I turned to my coach for my first lesson on the importance of keeping things in perspective.
A few days later, I completed my first power test. While Dana was by my side, cheering me on and reminding me that this test didn’t have to “mean” anything, internally I was self-destructing. The test results, I realized, were reflective of my inner mindset.
A week later, I strained my hamstring.
Needless to say, my season was not off to the perfect start I had envisioned. I began to question my future in the sport. I soon realized that, more than physical training, I needed mental training. Dana again stepped in and, with gentle patience, began to teach me the qualities of a champion. Success would be impossible without shifting to a positive mindset.
In the weeks that followed, I began to train my brain: positive self-talk became a daily practice and I came to realize that setbacks were only temporary. During training rides, I embraced suffering and was shocked at my body’s ability to complete tough intervals even when my mind doubted my ability to continue.
A few days before Red Kite, I completed another power test. This time, I was prepared with an arsenal of positive cues. To my delight, I saw a 30 percent improvement in my numbers. The power of a positive mindset was now reflected in concrete data!
When I rolled up to the start line of Red Kite #3, I felt a calm confidence wash over me. The whistle blew and we were off. I was happy to see a high pace from the start. Three laps in, I followed a hard counter attack by a seasoned former pro rider – a good wheel to follow. As soon as I bridged up, I came around and said “Let’s go!” We had a large gap on the field.
Because I had the confidence and trust in my hard training workouts, I wasn’t afraid to give it 100 percent. Although we were caught within a few laps, it was a wonderful opportunity to feel my strength and wear out some of the top competitors.
In contrast to previous races, I never doubted my ability to stay strong throughout. There was never a point where I wondered if I had burned too many matches. I spent the remainder of the race following moves and figuring out how to best position myself for an ideal finish.
When race officials rang the bell for a lap prime, I decided to test my last lap strategy. The race is notorious for slow final laps and swarming into the final corner, so I decided to take fate into my own hands. Instead of relying so heavily on my sprint, I trusted my longer efforts. Well before the final corner, I jumped to take the inside line, came around a string of riders, and had enough of a gap to take the prime.
For the final, I figured if my strategy worked the first time, it would probably work the second time too. And it did. I took the risk and opened up my sprint painfully early. This time, I came around a leadout of about 8 riders and held on, taking the W on the day in the women’s P/1/2 race.
Hard work eventually pays off, but having the guidance and support of a dedicated coach is truly invaluable.