The Sass considered long and hard for 3 days whether she would race her first dirt crit on Thursday.
Generally, she is at her dad’s on Thursdays and she knew that the fact she was with me this week combined with the fact that these races only happen one month per year was a special thing.
She rides the dirt crit course regularly with myself and various friends of ours, both youth and adult, so there was no fear of the unknown for her. While she is not the fastest, she is consistent and focused.
(Hmmm…is this what I would have looked like at 8 years old on a mtb?)
No. I was neither consistent nor focused at 8. My OCD didn’t kick in until much later.
She wasn’t completely sold on the dirt crits.
Not because she didn’t like the course, but because she said it would stress her out.
8 years old. Stressed out.
I said, “Sweetie, you don’t ever have to race if you don’t want to. We’ll be down there. Your friends will be there. You can decide when you get there. No stress.”
When I picked her up from camp to head to the races, she looked me in the eye and said, “Is it OK if I don’t race today? I know I don’t want to.”
“Yep. Racing when you don’t want to is never fun. Doing things that aren’t fun is called work and I’m not going to pay you to race.”
When we headed out on our bikes to ride to the race, she jibber-jabbered down the steep hill from the house and lead me to the park.
She called out her gears as she added and decided to attack one roller instead of taking any gears away.
She looked over her shoulder at me with a smile.
(God, I LOVE this kid!)
She held her line (mostly, because some parts of riding on the road are scary to little kids.)
Mama Duck (me) guided her back over and she rode into the park with confidence.
Once we found our friends and our “home base” for spectating, she hopped back on her bike and did circular intervals on and off for about an hour. All grass and dirt and a small incline.
(For the record, this was cx training to her. She hates riding in the grass.)
She came over and watched the last race for a bit and after a quick analysis, she declared that there were “a lot of running sections” on the course.
She seemed mildly bummed as if perhaps she should have raced it.
When Boogie cooled down from his 2 previous races, she asked him to take her on a longer ride to the “beach” and back. I knew this was because there were sections on which she could sprint.
She was exhausted when they got back and sucked down a ton of water from the Camelbak bottle.
We still had to ride home.
We turned on our lights and hit it.
She lead while I rode as protectively as possible.
I wanted to put myself in a position to get hit first if a motorist were to be “challenged” in the areas of tolerance and road sharing.
Our friends Justin and Heidi and their kiddos passed us in their Hummer and shouted cheers to Sass, which made her giggle. She was relaxed and not at all freaked out by the giant SUV. This is a huge improvement!
When we got to Boog’s street/hill, Sass started the climb.
Normally, she rides to a particular sign and dismounts.
However, tonight she didn’t have anything left.
“I don’t have it, Mama,” she said to me.
(She’s picking up the lingo. I dig.)
“It’s alright. Just walk it and I’ll ride next to you and go down and up the hill as we climb.”
Suddenly, we saw something running down the hill full speed at us. We saw the eyes.
It’s Raycer, The Ridiculous French Dog.
Boog and Raycer decided to come meet us.
Unfortunately, Raycer needs to be attached to me at all times he is in my presence, so riding a bike became problematic unless I wanted to risk running him over.
Boog took Sass’ bike and just like that, she ran all the way to the top, Raycer chasing.
Just like that.
Wicked grade and all.
My mouth dropped and she looked comfortable and relaxed at the top.
(This would never have been me at 8 or at 38.)
I looked at Boog and said, “Well, she told me she’s a runner.”
I talked to her later and told her she had done such an excellent job all night. I told her how impressed I was with her running.
She said, “That was hard.”
I said, well you don’t have to go all out. You have to learn to pace yourself so that you can just do your thing and finish.
She decided that she liked cx racing for just that reason. It didn’t stress her out.
She was acutely aware though, in her mind, that she is not fast.
It looks like Mama Bear/Duck will be spending some time helping her understanding endurance v. speed and building the confidence of my sweetest little athlete.
I never want her to beat herself up the way that I did.
I never want her to feel pressured into a sport.
I never want it to not be fun for her.
I hated road crits. I felt pressured into them and was constantly told how I needed to do them to stay competitive and fit. I sucked at them before I ever rolled to the line because I hated them so much and they stressed me out.
They still do.
I stopped doing them.
I have smiled at every non-road crit race I have ever done.
The Sass, unlike her mom, is a natural athlete.
…and I want her to always love that.
Lucky for her, her mom is a “natural” at loving her and will make sure I do everything in my power to make sure she stays a kid as long as possible.