From Newbie to Cat 3; or, what a difference a year makes

365 days ago I entered my first bike race. I picked the last day of the Mt. Tabor Series as a birthday challenge to myself, just as the previous year I decided to complete Seattle to Portland as a challenge.

In some ways, racing Tabor was harder than riding 200 miles in two days. The 7 laps of my first race were intense. I wasn’t skilled enough to take a drink of water while racing, the climbs were hard and fast, the descents offered no rest, it was hot and dry and I could practically taste my lungs and I struggled to get enough air. I finished 8th out of 14.

3,000+ miles and over 140,000 ft of climbing ago I entered my first bike race. Since then I’ve learned to ride my bike hard up hills, through gravel, in a group, on my own, in the wind, in the rain, in a race. I’ve become a cyclist, and more than that, I’m a committed racer. 370 days ago I would never have seen that coming.

25 races ago I entered my first bike race. I’ve come in 1st 8 times. In five months I’ve upgraded from Cat 5 to Cat 3.

Last night I raced with the Senior Women on Mt. Tabor for the first time. I came in 6th out of 10. I know that I’m done with winning for awhile, that I’ll have to learn how to race for real, be smart, stay strong when I think I have nothing left. What is competition without a challenge? Boring, that’s what. Either way, I hung with the pack, didn’t get lapped, and beat Sue Butler so I’ll hang on to that story for awhile.

Today I’m 37 years old, and if I’ve learned anything in the last year it’s that it isn’t how old you are, it’s how old you want to be. I’ve raced with women 20 years younger than me, and with women 20 years older. Both have kicked my ass. Your bike doesn’t care how old you are, just how hard you’re going to work and how fast you want to go. It’ll give back what you put into it.

I can’t wait to see what the next 365 days brings.

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