My first win was dedicated to my buddy, Joe.
I saw him at Elephant Rock, after the 100 miles and before my first beer. We rehashed the route and how we felt about our performance. Joe and I talked about racing – how I was just starting and how he didn’t want to go back to it. I followed with, “I wish I got paid to ride my bike full time.” Beer spilled out the lip of his cup and his other dug in his sweaty jersey pocket. I watched as Joe eye the ceiling of the tent in complete concentration and determination to find whatever was hiding in the pocket.
Joe pulled out a $10 bill and handed it to me: “Now you’re sponsored.” I told him he couldn’t give me money, but he insisted. He said, “When you win, you hold that bill up.”
I put the bill safely in my wallet.
The next weekend was the Best on Hess Time Trial race. I warmed up on the trainer, drank water, and applied sunscreen. It seemed like the typical race day – frantic, stressed, hot, and easily-agitated, but greeted with my husband’s smile any time I looked his direction.
I packed up everything and before leaving the car, I folded Joe’s $10 bill and put it in my back-middle pocket. I figured that was the safest location for a floating $10 bill. I considered it a good luck charm as I tucked it away and rode off to the start line.
I was up against my typical nemesis. I stood in the line of women ready to climb the two-step stairs, balance on the ramp, and haul ass down the hilly 9-mile road.
I hauled. I pedaled. I gasped for air. My goal was to beat Cassidy. I didn’t care about the other racers. I wanted to catch up to her badly. I wanted to pass by her on the bike and stare. Not even smile. Just like, “Yeah. That’s right.”
I gave all my effort in the final sprint to the finish line. The man holding out the towels was shocked as I zoomed past him on the finish line. He even went so far to tell me to slow down as I approached the timing strip. Not today, asshole.
The cool towel was bliss around my neck. I asked if any of the other finishers wanted to throw up? No response.
I slowly biked back to the tents, cars, people, and the awards. I found my team and we chatted for a while until Chris came back to the tent, smiling away, telling me, “just look at the results for yourself.” He was smiling so obviously, it was a good sign. I didn’t have enough confidence to believe I was first nor did I believe I beat Cassidy.
I walked up to the white paper stapled against cardboard that lazily leaned against the light post. A woman was taking a selfie with her score and I was far enough away I still couldn’t see my results. I still had my bike and helmet in hand and I awkwardly side-stepped to see my results.
I was speechless. My first First. My first First after being told the weekend before to hold up the $10 bill when I won. You couldn’t write a better story.
As I walked up to the Big Step, I fished for the $10 bill. There it was: sweaty, crisp, and warm. I pulled it out, unfolded it, and with one of those shit-eatin’ grins, I held it over my head as my family cheered and clapped for me.
While I would absolutely love to be paid to race my bike, it’s an ineffable feeling to have the support of friends and family. For someone to believe in my abilities, when usually I don’t, makes the early mornings worth it. It makes the anti-social behavior worth it. When I stepped up on the top step, all the training and self-doubt evaporated like the sweat that enclosed the bill.
I dedicate my first First to my buddy, Joe. Last Sunday I told him I wish I got paid to ride my bike full time. Then he handed me a ten dollar bill and said, “now you’re sponsored.” He followed that with, “when you win, you hold that bill up.” So here I am, holding up ten bucks. Although it means much more than that. Having people like Joe and my family in my life supporting me while I push myself further is something money can’t buy. . . . . #likeagirl #ridelikeagirl #rideyourbike #womenscycling #cyclinglife #instagood #girlswhoride #womenwhoride #femmevelo #cyclofemme #timetrial #racing #whereiride #cyclistlife #cyclinglife #cycling #cyclist #womenwhoride #onmybike #instacyclist #instaathlete #athlete #resultsstarthere #nuunambassador #cyclelikeagirl #saturday #morningmotivation #racing