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Life as a bike jockey: Hit it

  • By Judy Freeman
  • Published Feb. 2, 2012
  • Updated Oct. 11, 2012 at 4:44 PM EST

Elwood: It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas,
half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses.
Jake: Hit it.
-The Blues Brothers

January is coming to a close and the first 2012 ProXCT and World Cup races are just around the corner. It’s a perfect time to take stock of the situation before the season starts.

Sadly, my immediate inventory focuses on a head cold, the couch and a lot of reality TV about tattoo competitions and motorcycles. The winter training rides got the best of me this week, and basically, I’ve been reduced to a Grump-apotomus asking herself how broke you have to be to get tattooed by a total stranger on a time crunch. You know that game will end in tears for someone.

But zooming out…this year is looking to be a crazy ride.

For 2012, I’ll be racing for the Crankbrothers Race Club. Chloe Woodruff (formerly Forsman) and I will be teaming up to race Ibis Tranny hardtails, with SRAM 2×10 setups, X-Fusion suspension, Formula brakes and Crankbrothers components. The guiding aesthetic is classic race car, which rocks. (Race stripes aren’t just fast, they’re oh-so flattering.) While I’m stoked on the new gig, it’s with fond memories that I’ll be leaving Kenda/Felt. I made friends with some very cool people on that program and it was nice to be sent off with warm wishes from my sponsors and team.

Change in program

The Race Club emphasis isn’t just on racing. Crankbrothers has got a vision to create community as well as stellar product, so there will be a lot to see and do, fo’ sho’. I like stepping into the new and unknown so I’m looking forward to this. Additionally, the move will help me chase my biggest goal of the season — and possibly my life: The Olympics.

In December, I was announced to the 2012 Olympic long team. The long team is the group of nine women from which USA Cycling will choose the two female riders to represent the USA in London in August.

In quick summary, the riders will be decided based upon performances at the first four World Cup races, UCI points and/or podium potential in London.

See, it’s not that you’ve just got to knock it out of the park at these races, you’ve got to get to the races in the first place. I’ve charted out a spreadsheet on flights, lodging and the etceteras to travel to South Africa and Europe. Add those trips with a good amount of domestic races in between — and it tallies up to a metric monkey ton of money.

Even with the incredible support of my new team, the budget isn’t without limits. Additionally, I read Pua Mata’s story about racing in Europe to earn UCI points. She ran into enough unexpected expenses that they had to abort the mission early. What’s cool is Chloe is also on the long team so it’s good we get to join forces to share the adventure and expenses. Still, pocket books and training aren’t the only element to this venture — there’s the mental prep.

Reality vs fantasy

I’ll admit it, below this steely exterior and intimidating 5’2″ stature; there exists a nagging question or two. Am I crazy? I know what I’m up against. What if I fail? And, about how much of fool can I make of myself? (Just a rough estimate, please.) Keeping a positive focus is going to be key, but I’m not a total machine (maybe 50% dance machine). It’s a whole new ball game having this goal step out of fantasy and into the realm of possibly, no matter how remote that possibility may be. Fantasy is safe, “out there,” nice, sweet and off in “someday land.” Reality is now, in your face, pushy at times and asking you “What are you going to do about it?” It forces a new level of digging deep.

What to do, what to do

So what do you do when you’re told you’ve got a shot at a lifelong dream? (Yep, practically lifelong; I wrote stories about competing in the Olympics when I was 10.)

You go for it — one step at a time. Talking with other riders who have made efforts to race abroad, conversation on “pulling the plug” comes up matter of factly and often. It’s what you do when the money runs out or injuries stack up. But up till then, you go for it and don’t doubt it. Take a big step out, gooseneck around to assess the situation. And then take that next step. Because who wants to be on the other side of their dream and think that they didn’t even take a shot at it?

It’s crazy to think about the possibilities and adventure 2012 holds. My picture of what it’d be like to go to the Olympics was way different when I was little. But then again, when is anything like what you planned? I know I’m not the only person who looks back at where they’ve been on a bike and thinks ‘this contraption has taken me to some places I never imagined.’ So let’s just see where this goes.

Hit it.


Judy Freeman is a pro mountain biker out of Boulder, Colorado. She was nominated to the Olympic Long Team as a potential rider at the 2012 London Olympics. Freeman races for the Crankbrothers Race Club. Team sponsors for 2012 include Ibis Bicycles, X-Fusion suspension, Formula braking, SRAM shifting, Crankbrother components, Pactimo clothing, Fi’zi:k saddles, Continental tires, Rocky Mounts racks and Pearl Izumi footwear. Join her for her monthly column on Singletrack.com called “Life as a Bike Jockey.”

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