Most of you are aware that I spent most of the last year on the sidelines after I crashed out of an early season race. That day started like every other race I'd ever ridden. I arrived early, checked in at registration, got help from my teammates with pinning on a number (37 it turned out), took an Instagram photo of it to share and then went about warming up. Fast forward to a few weeks post surgery and my season was as shattered as my collarbone.
While waiting for my fractures to heal and my strength to return, I wondered how I would go about getting back in the pack. I spent the rest of the year training solo to regain the fitness and form I had lost during recovery. I jumped into numerous group rides in hopes of shaking my daemons. In reality, I was hoping to be pinning on a number again soon.
I admittedly had a very hard time with those first group rides after getting back on the bike. I got dropped on group rides with my teammates that I used to dominate. My fitness was fine, I just wasn't holding the wheels I needed to be. I wasn't comfortable getting in tight with a peloton, even if it was made of my own teammates.
I had lost my mojo. And I wasn't sure how to get it back.
I had always found it easy to move through a pack of riders. Find an empty spot and claim it. Use your elbows to assert your claim to your little space in the group. Don't be afraid to put your hand on someone else's hip and let them know you're there. These are the things I not only taught fledgling racers, but the things I did every weekend after pinning on a number.
Now I was afraid to do them all.
As the winter wore on, I sat on my trainer and wondered how I was going to get back to racing a bike, an activity which I loved dearly but was now terrified of.
Then I hatched a plan…