I’ve always been a bit hesitant to talk openly about my goals, other than to Mary. Putting your personal goals out in the open makes you vulnerable to falling flat on your face in front of everyone and that's a scary thing. It's honestly been something I have been bothered by, which is exactly why I plan to change that. I want to learn to be content with the cycling goals Mary and I have, and focus on accomplishing what we've set out to do, rather than be afraid of falling short.
A lot of people ask me what I think about during a long event, like a 24. Well, wildly enough, during (and after) the 2018 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo, I was thinking about how bad I wanted to come back and give the race another go. We were seriously over the moon with how the race went, but it was far from perfect. In the months leading into the race, completing 20 laps was all I was focused on - I was almost obsessed with the number 20. I kept that goal pretty quiet, and while that was a comfortable thing to do, I know I was putting up a guard. It felt like nobody could really relate. A big goal of mine with these 24 hour solos is to make them inviting for everyone, and to encourage people to get out of their comfort zone and give it a go. Keeping goals and expectations quiet meant I missed the opportunity to really make myself vulnerable and to relate to others. I probably could have learned so much more from people had they known what I was obsessing over. All in all, 2018 24HOP was an overwhelming success both personally and professionally. But now that I reflect back, I am caught wondering what else could be done out in that desert as a solo racer...
A few months back in February, we went back to Old Pueblo - but this time for Mary. It was her turn to race and experience the magic of riding in the Tucson desert for 24 hours. She was on a corporate team made up of Pivot women, and it was something I wanted to see her get out and do. She rode her laps, with what may be the biggest smile out there, and she truly enjoyed every pedal stroke. I had the opportunity to volunteer in the timing tent during the graveyard shift, and saw her depart and return from one of her laps in the cold. Through her shivering, I think she really realized why I love this race so much. She got to experience the people, the volunteers, the course, the whiskey tree, the cold, the head wind, the smell of fires as you ride past solo alley, and most important of all, the challenge.
If you volunteer at the event you get the privilege of priority registration for the next year's race. On Tuesday, I was able to get signed up and am officially in. And I'll be honest, I’m a bit thankful that I don't have to stress about getting a spot on October 1st. A little word of advice for people who feel the same way - sign up and volunteer at this year's race. Not only will you get that priority registration, but it's really eye-opening to see this event from another angle. Being in the mix and seeing how hard the Epic Rides crew works and how much heart they put into their events is really incredible. I had a blast back in February in that big white tent, and I really hope that every rider gets to see this race from behind the tape.
Now on to the big goal. Just a few hours after finishing 20 laps last year, I knew I wanted to shoot for 21.
It's totally daunting and has a big risk of falling short - absolutely.
But the chance to totally empty the tank, and limp across the line after ticking off 21 laps with the help of my support crew - definitely possible.
We are optimistically hoping for the latter, but whatever the outcome is, we will be down in the desert in February ready to go. After doing some quick math, we need to shave off roughly 40 seconds a lap to get the opportunity for 21. Around midnight last year, I lost most of my vision for around an hour. It made one of the laps a bit slower but that was OK. Working with what you have in the moment is what these races are all about. Thankfully Mary and the pit crew were there to keep me calm during a pit and that’s what turned things around. Oddly enough, that equals out to be almost exactly what we need to shave off. Of course there is so much more that goes into it than just saving time on each lap - the weather needs to be damn good, the winds can’t be crazy. And of course my body and mind need to work in sync for 24-25 hours, along with a stellar performance from Mary and the pit team (I have no doubts there though😊). Setting a goal like this is what drives me. It’s what keeps me motivated. Don’t get me wrong, I love racing and competing against others but these ideas and challenges is what fuels the fire. I think it’s important to live your life chasing after your dreams. Even if you aren't sure they're 100% attainable. So what if the victories are small and other people can accomplish things like this. It’s about what challenges YOU and keeps you pressing forward.
“21 for 21”. I think that's got a ring to it... 😉 It’s fitting to try and go for 21 laps during the 21st year of the event. Between now and February, I hope to share a bit more about my journey. I'll keep you in the loop in terms of training on and off the bike, and how much planning goes into a 24 Solo. Like I said, I want my experiences at these races to be a relatable thing. My hope is to help at least one person to challenge the hell out of themselves. It doesn’t matter if your goal is 2 laps or 21 - set your mind to something and chase the shit out of it until it's yours. Once you've got it, no one can take that away.