This week we welcome Sarah Grove to the La Velocita team! Sarah shares with us her story of overcoming her fear and getting into her first crit race.
Photography - Kirsty Baxter & Ernesto Arriagada
'Race my first criterium race' was written on my goals list for 3 years.
As each year went by, I'd cross off my goals as I achieved them, but each year 'race my first criterium race' sat there looking lonely as it was the only goal that wasn't crossed off, let alone even attempted.
So at the end of each year I'd re-write it again 'race my first critirium race'. It finally took me until this season - 3 years later that I plucked up the courage to actually tick it off!
What was stopping me you wonder? Why didn't I just do it you ask?
I didn't out of fear; fear of the unknown and fear of crashing. In my 7 years of cycling, I've only come off once. And touch wood, it will be another 7 years until my next! But people had always said to me - 'Ohhh don't race crits they are too dangerous.' Or 'Be careful as you are guaranteed to crash.' So I started to believe this was the norm and that crit racing was way too dangerous for me.
So I kept putting it off, as much as I really wanted to race, I couldn't bring myself to break that fear. It wasn't until I decided to have a break from long course triathlons in 2014 that I reviewed my goals list again and decided to put 'race my first criterium race' at the top of my list. On that same list was 'win a crit race', 'race my first cyclo-cross' and 'win a cyclo-cross race' (Not ambitious at all am I!).
I decided that this year was going to be the year to break that fear and take a leap of faith into the unknown. So I set out to learn what I could about crit racing, I asked questions, watched YouTube tutorials and I went and watched races. To my amazement, the fear I had instilled in myself was irrational. Yes, crashes do happen, but they also happen in training. And my drive to race far outweighed that risk.
In the end, my first race was relatively uneventful, finishing mid field, but I crossed that finish line like I'd won. Because in my own head I had. I'd let go of the fear I had and stepped out of my comfort zone. I couldn't believe I had waited so long to race my first race!
So it was after that race I decided that never again would I let fear of the unknown stop me from doing what I really wanted to do.
Since then, I've had half a dozen races, secured a win and a second, have had the pleasure to race a teams race with Team Fondo Cycling - and best of all I've loved every minute of it! Never once have I feared for my safety and every crit race I learn something new, whether it is cycling skills, how to push myself harder or race tactics.
Crit racing has given me so much more confidence and skills riding and these translate across into my training and have allowed me to become a stronger, more confident cyclist, which in return means my risk of crashing has probably actually lowered!
I highly recommend anyone to give crit racing a go. There are varying grades for different levels of riders, and plenty of racing at this time of the year. Start by finding a Cycling Club near you and ask them for advice on how to get started and what they recommend. I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed, and like me, wish you didn’t wait so long to get started!
So don't let anything stand in your way when accomplishing your goals, especially when that obstacle is fear. Feel the fear, but do it anyway!