Shedding the Layers

This phrase came to me today during my ride. Not sure where it came from: shedding the layers. It just sounded appropriate for this time of the year. I suppose really it can mean whatever you want. Shedding the layers can represent the warm weather and getting out and enjoying it with bare legs and arms. It can go a bit deeper and represent your headspace for this upcoming season and getting rid of negative mental baggage that you take with you on your training rides and races. Really, it can mean whatever you want.

Ah, but what does it mean to me? I guess both of the above. I’m loving being able to ride in my leg warmers, light booties, cycling cap, and lightweight jerseys. I didn’t realize how encumbered I felt with all the layers required for comfortable winter riding. I’m also working hard to stay in a positive mental space. I’m focusing on me and what my legs and brain are doing. I’ve realized that if I want to get ahead in this bike racing game, I’ve got to look inward and really ask myself the all-important question: Vicki, what are you doing right now to get better?

One of my prime tasks to answer this question honestly is to stay confident. I’m not concerning myself with what others may or may not be saying, thinking, whispering, or writing. Really, this doesn’t affect me as a bike racer or a person. I’m responsible for my own success. So this is the person I need to be worried about. If I can continue to do this, I’ll be a much more relaxed and confident bike racer. I can line up knowing I’ve done the work and that I’m ready to cross the finish line first.

Yes, this is a big shift for me. But I’ve learned that power and technical skills really don’t mean much if you haven’t got the confidence to really let loose out there. So I’m working hard to remind myself of all that I’ve done, that I’ve done it, and that it doesn’t matter what others think or don’t think. As a wise friend told me “really, most people are concerned with themselves and aren’t paying any attention to you.” This at first might sound a bit brutal. But when I thought about it, I began to feel taller, more relaxed, and most importantly – happier.

This is why I race my bike after all – because it makes me happy.

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