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Last weekend, I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of nearly 200 women mountain bikers at the Girlz Gone Riding Rocktober event about something near and dear to my heart: racing. As "veteran" racers, Wendy Engelberg (Girlz Gone Riding founder) asked my friend Nancy Harris and I to talk to about why we love racing. After our little speech, I had several women tell me they were sufficiently inspired to give racing a try, so I figured it would be a good idea to jot my thoughts down in effort to get the message out to more people!
My first mountain bike race was in 1997; I started out racing in the cross country category. A year or so later, I also started racing downhill since it better suited my "adrenaline junkie" tendencies. I ended up racing downhill for about 10 years, with a little dual slalom, BMX, and cross country mixed in to keep it interesting. I took a little break from racing for about 4 years, but I have recently returned to my racing "family", competing in Super D and cross country. Once racing is in your blood, it's hard to walk away from it for very long.
Participating in race events over the years has contributed to my overall well-being in more ways than I can ever begin to tell you. My experience with racing isn't unique; if you talk to other women who have raced, they will likely tell you the same thing. In fact, if you talk to enough people about how racing has impacted their lives, you will start to see a pattern develop where many racers have had the same takeaways. You will, without a doubt, see a twinkle in their eyes as they gush about what they love about the sport and why you (yes YOU!) should give it a go.
Nothing would make me happier if you stopped reading right now and started Googling to find out when and where your local races are. But chances are, there could be some lingering doubts or excuses holding you back. That's OK...we've heard them all. And any racer will tell you they have OVERCOME them all...
So what are you waiting for? I'm personally challenging all of you to give racing a try. At very least, you'll make a new friend or two and have a great story to tell about racing your bike. I did my first race on whim and never thought it would take me the places I've been physically, emotionally, and spiritually. What do you have to lose?
See you at the races!
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