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Life as a bike jockey: Going, going, went for it

  • By Judy Freeman
  • Published May. 31, 2012
  • Updated Oct. 11, 2012 at 4:42 PM EDT

Rough day at the office

Sometimes you just have bad days, and the race in La Bresse was just this sort of day — the kind where your legs are donkeys and your technical skills have just gone AWOL (but you won’t realize this fact till the descents).

The course was a technical one and, in terms of the number of spots that could trip riders up, I’d argue it was the most technical World Cup course of the season so far. The steep and technical climbs were especially taxing and unforgiving should you miss your line. And the muddied and rocky descents were twisty, pitted and demanded the strength that the climbs had already taken. Aside from the hillside traverses, opportunity to wreck was, quite literally, at every turn.

Technically speaking, I had shown up with a knife to a gunfight. Granted I wasn’t the only one dismounting, but my lack of bike handling skills that day had me off the bike and running more often than I’d care to admit. Lugging my bike over rocks and jumping down muddy chutes, my race was half pedaling, half parkour.

And if that weren’t enough, I crashed twice near the end of lap four just to keep it awesome. I’m lucky Lazer makes bomber helmets. Really, their next campaign should mention their melon buckets are ‘Judy-proof’.

It was bloodied and with mud-packed helmet vents that I started lap five in La Bresse. I finished up the final lap with the sweep moto just behind me. Crikey, it was a hard race and a rough finish to my bid for an Olympic spot.

Back home

It’s taken me a while to write. I’m generally an upbeat gal, but I got off the plane in Denver feeling battle-worn, defeated and like a big failure. I didn’t just fall short of my goals, I got slapped around by a stretch of land in France that sent me and my new fake tooth packing back to the States. I didn’t want to tell anyone about that.

But with a little distance, the perspective on things has broadened – and softened – a bit.

Strings attached

I didn’t think I’d win a World Cup, but my goals were to ride much better than I did. Even if I was a long shot for the Olympic team, I had set my goals to get there. And the trouble began when I became attached to the outcome of those goals.

Goals are tricky. They require laser-like focus and optimism, but at the same time, a detachment to the outcome. If you don’t let go, the ego can get overly involved and a whole slew of trouble can arise — like self-worth that fluctuates with results or a serious case of jerky-itis when things don’t go your way. The list is endless.

I think it’s a hard balance for a lot of riders. And it’s one I’m obviously still working on. I didn’t let it go and came home in a fog. I was lost in what didn’t work out instead of being focused on what I’ve gained in living my dream.

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