I took 14 kids mountain biking today. I arrived at Missoula Parks and Recreation at 7:15am and
went home at 6pm. It’s 91 degrees out. The youngest kid was 8, and the oldest was 13. After
spending all day at work, pedaling slowly, answering kids’ crazy questions and getting
sunburned, the last thing I want to do was bike some more.
In the middle of the season, my mind starts to drift away from training and racing. It’s been
about 3 months since my first race of the season and much longer since I started training. Plus
lately, I’ve been working on my van in all my free time to set it up as a camper, and right now,
that massive project feels a whole lot more compelling than my long-term racing goals. It’s easy
to lose focus.
But as hard as training seems right now, not training is worse. I’ve learned that I’m happiest
when I give racing everything I have. All I need to do is try.
When I start to fumble in my life, bike-related or otherwise, I tell myself the same things I tell
myself in race stages. Look ahead. Breathe. Stay consistent.
The things I learn from racing carry me through my day-to-day life. Racing has given me reliable
mental tools and a whole lot of grit. It goes the other way, too: When my riding progression
helps me in my life, it inspires me to keep riding. The feeling of moving forward makes me
motivated, and I believe that capturing that feeling is the key to beating the mid-season
After each race, I write what I learned and anything else that’s memorable on the back of my
number plate. I don’t keep all the plates, but I keep the ones that feel significant. I believe that
this reflection ritual, even if I just scribble a few notes, helps me track my growth as a rider and
keeps me motivated to improve at the next race. Also, flipping through them occasionally is both
fun and entertaining for someone as nostalgic as I am.
Photo: Alex Taylor Kim
Thinking back, most of my favorite memories have been with my bike. Riding has been my
lifeline on bad days and a way of celebrating the good days. It’s a huge part of who I am. As I
progress in my riding, I progress as a person.
Even on the days when I don’t really want to ride, I know it’ll be worthwhile. Each ride makes
me stronger, physically and mentally, and a lot happier. Through years of riding and racing, I’ve
never regretted a ride, and I don’t think that’ll change anytime soon.
So although I don’t feel like riding today, I’ll put on my shoes and start moving. I’ll likely catch
a good sunset, and I’ll definitely find some rocks to hop over and some trees to dodge. I know
I’ll finish the ride happier than when I started, and it will make me want to get up tomorrow and
do it again.