This weekend was so many things to me. It was the World Championship. It was an opportunity. It was a chance to overcome. It was a chance to prove something to myself. It was a chance to prove something to others. And…at the end of the day, the World Championship is just another bike race.
At the beginning of the season, making the World Champs team seemed like a long shot, but as my fitness improved and the results escalated with it, it seemed like it became possible.
When I was named to the team I was elated which was quickly followed by being a little shook. I would be competing at the World Championship and representing TEAM USA. I would be racing against the best racers in the world. Would I be ready? Would I even hold my own? I had to try.
To be at the Mountain Bike World Championship flying my country’s colors was a pretty outstanding experience. As I practiced days before the event, I looked around and I saw a lot of similarities. I felt a connection with each rider taking to the start line, even those who come from countries and backgrounds that couldn’t be more different.
I saw my CLIF Teammates, my TEAM USA teammates, my North American friends, and a whole host of women who have dedicated their lives to the thing we all love: mountain biking. We all had something very much in common.
This course was the first World Cup I ever lined up for as a U23. I was so far in over my head it was ridiculous. I crashed constantly and I could barely make it around the course. Now, a few years later and with a few new obstacles on the course I still felt nervous arriving to one of the hardest courses on the World Cup circuit, but then something happened. I pre-rode the course and I wasn’t afraid. I wasn’t even thinking about the fear of the obstacle as I approached it and I am leaving the course without a single crash. My skills have been a huge focus and I have trained really hard to get to that point, but I also greatly attribute that to the fact that I asked 30 something people to pray for me for bravery.
Psalm 31:24 “Be Brave, Be Strong. Never Give Up. Expect God to get here soon.”
That was the verse that I woke up with on my heart as I dialed in the final preparations for the race. The word “expect” was leaping out at me. I think God was telling me, “Don’t hope that God comes today, know that HE will.”
Despite all doubt, all fear, all nervous, all odds, and all difficulty I warmed up for the racing knowing (as much as you can) that it would be a good day.
Due to my ranking, and not racing the other World Cup events, I was called up to the start line in 57th place. I was 8 rows of bikes behind the leader. It’s a huge disadvantage especially when starts can be plagued with crashes and mistakes that become more exaggerated the further back in the chain you are.
When we raced off of the line my eyes were way far ahead, trying to anticipate the mistakes long before I would get to them. I was fighting for every single position, knowing that the sooner I move up the smoother my race would be.
Over the course of the next 6 laps, I made some risky passes. I fought hard. Elbows were out, racers were leaning on each other (literally) and every second mattered. I kept moving forward. I continued to pass in singletrack, around corners, through rock gardens and of course up the climbs.
It was so stimulating, yet so quiet at the same time. The crowds were rows deep screaming, ringing bells, and at times so loud that it felt deafening. Yet, I was so in the moment, so in the zone that it’s only in reflection that I realize that. The race wasn’t 6 laps for me, it was constantly just a race to the next rider that I could pass. The crowds weren’t screaming, instead I was hearing select individuals whispering instructions and motivation into my ear.
As I came around on the last lap I was shaking from the effort and from realizing what was about to happen. Even with 100 meters to go I was still making a pass and I crossed the finish line in 26th place. That’s 26th place in the World. I am proud of that result period and even more proud when I take my starting position into consideration. My goals and dreams just keep growing and I am so thankful for all of the people that continue to KNOW I am capable of these things even when I question it myself.