I don’t like hearing the word “no”. It’s a characteristic I’ve possessed since I was in diapers. If mom said no, I’d ask dad. If my teacher told me to stop talking, I’d talk more. When my parents didn’t have the money to send me to college, I took out loans. When guys told me they weren’t interested, I said fuck ’em, and did my own thing. Don’t tell me I can’t do something. I’ll turn myself inside out trying to prove you wrong.
I recently decided to put crit racing on hold to focus on getting to the bottom of my cycling “injury”. Injury? I don’t feel injured. I feel silly calling it that, but my leg IS injured, so I guess it’s an actual INJURY. I finally realized the quad wasn’t getting any better, and I started seeing damage in other parts of my leg. With the most important ‘cross season ever coming up, I figured it was time to suck it up and stop trying to play through the pain.
I DNF’d Dilworth, and DNS at Belmont. A lot of time and money wasted. A lot of sads.
I’ve started seeing a chiropractor and a physical therapist. I recently started dry needling sessions, and I’m getting more pain relief than I ever have. There’s so much injury after a year of ignoring the symptoms, and I have a gazillion muscle imbalances, so there’s lots to do. I’m basically relearning how to pedal a bike, replacing my 53/39 road crank for something smaller (holla if you know where I can find a cheap one), and trying to build back a fully-functional lower body. I am equally disappointed and motivated.
It’s a funky time of year, as I’m coming up on the 5th year since my mom died, and Wednesday is her birthday. She went in for her first chemo treatment on her birthday in 2010, and we spoke on the phone for the final time that day. I’ve healed a lot since then, but my cover is always blown in the Spring. Small bumps in the road can have a huge impact on my day, and I spend most of April and May in a bizarre head space.
And just when I needed it most, a door cracked open, and gave me a way out.
Oddly, my mountain bike doesn’t cause me much pain. I can ride it for hours, and even raced it in a 6 hour duo two weekends ago. The mechanics of my mountain bike are so much different than my road bike, and the extra gears enable me to pedal more efficiently. I got the green light to race mountain bikes, and put all my fears aside to run through the door before someone slammed it in my face.
So, as most of you know, I’m racing XC and endurance this summer. I’ve always loved mountain biking, but never really had confidence in my ability. A couple tough crashes made me timid, and there were people who told me I couldn’t or shouldn’t ride stuff. That hurt me. Actually, it really pissed me off. It’s been my goal to race mountain for a while, but I never jumped. My injury gave me a chance.
I don’t have control over much in my life. I can’t make an employer hire me. I can’t make a man love me. I can’t make my dog younger, so he can run like he used to. I can’t bring my mom back. It took me a long time to let go of the things I cannot change, but I think I’m growing into that person. I can’t make my quad do what I want (yet), but…
I can make it do something else.
I can step outside of my comfort zone.
I can improve my technical skills.
I can continue to make physical gains in fitness.
I can ride with my friends.
I can finally get to know Pisgah, even though it scares the ever-loving shit out of me.
I can prove myself wrong.
I can be happy.
I can still race.
I’m fortunate to have the physical ability to pedal, and I know so many folks who would give anything for that freedom–I’m respectful and sensitive of that. I’m embracing my own personal struggles, and using them for positive motivation. I’m dedicated to making my life the best it can be, for me, and you can’t tell me no. I’ve heard “no” my entire life, and I’ve always found a way to make it YES.
“Anything worth having is worth working for.”- Carolyn Archer