Have you believed one thing about yourself and proved yourself wrong?
That’s what happened to me last Saturday at the Lookout Mountain Hill Climb. As my teammates arrived to the parking lot, toting trainers and safety pins in their trunks, I joked with them that I was paying to do an FTP Test. The race wouldn’t count towards upgrade points – which I found out that morning. It’s too short of a race.
I made the mistake of looking at the sign-up list the night before. I was familiar with most of the names I saw. I even clicked the “race predictor” button, out of some sick interest to see where the system “predicted” I’d place. I was somewhere in the middle.
Sounds about right, I thought to myself as I texted a teammate about focusing on other goals instead of her placement. I’m much better at helping others than I am myself.
I used to think I was a strong climber as I’d pass recreational riders up mountain passes with ease. I remember riding the Triple Bypass, riders gasping for air as I spun my legs, cheeks pointing to the sky. I was a confident climber back in the day of organized rides and weekend warriors.
That was until I raced hill climbs. I was proven wrong faster than you could say “granny gear.”
I learned that when you sign up for a hill climb, you’re racing against people who also believe they’re strong hill climbers. I lost most of my confidence the more I raced up hills and mountain passes. Last year, I came in last on Pike’s Peak Hill Climb and an unimpressive mid-pack finish on Guanella Hill Climb and Sunshine Hill Climb.
With Lookout Mountain Hill Climb as the first uphill race this season, I assumed the same results. Especially after seeing the registrants. Attempting to practice what I preach, I made it a goal to work on my FTP, instead of focusing on my placement.
We lined up at the pillars. I concentrated on who was standing where and took a couple of deep breaths. As the whistle blew, racers took off. I stayed on their wheel. Somehow I was still in the front group with the strong riders I assumed would drop me.
Halfway up Lookout, we lost a couple racers, some that I thought would wipe my face on the asphalt. I was shocked when I was still in this group. My goal shifted from an FTP Test to making the podium.
Just when I thought it was all gravy, the CU racer attacked. I was too busy ducking from the wind that I wasn’t close to her wheel to react fast enough. Andie was on it though. I managed to shout, “Go Andie!” There was an ALP racer between me and the two women. I couldn’t muster the power to catch up to the two in the front so I fought for third.
I didn’t think I’d catch up the ALP racer. Until she recovered on the flat section. I don’t know if she realized I was close. I powered down and caught up to her, keeping my pedals moving so she couldn’t hear my loud hubs.
I saw the 200 meter sign.
She started sprinting. I stayed behind her wheel until 50 meters left. I sprinted around her, securing a third place finish.
Sometimes it’s easier to believe one thing because believing otherwise challenges the status quo. We like normalcies, status quo’s, and isms. But the status quo isn’t necessarily the best thing to believe in either. I quote Ferris Bueller who quotes John Lennon:
“It’s not that I support facsism or any ism for that matter. Isms in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an ism, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon, ’I don’t believe in Beatles, I just believe in me.’”
Surprise yourself. Believe in yourself for a change.