come along for the ride
Racing, like any sport, is a constant mental challenge. The mental challenges within racing can range from finding the best game plan against your opponent to fighting your own mental weaknesses on the track. This weekend I found myself going against the wind both literally and figuratively. All through Saturday night I heard the wind howling outside the trailer. Gusts of up to 60mph caused the trailer to sway back in forth. When the first light of day entered the trailer the wind outside still roared as loudly as it did several hours of ago. All I could think was “I have to ride in this?” Everyone kept their garages tightly closed to prevent everything from flying away and being scattered.
Practice came quickly that morning and the wind still had not died down, but off I went into the windstorm anyway. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect as I rode on to the track since I have never experienced this kind of condition before. Slowly making it around the track I could feel the wind pushing my small bike around all over the place or at least that is how it felt. The straightaway was the worst part of the track since I was riding into the wind and the bike did not want to go over 11,000 rpm. As I watched other bikes go around the track I realized how little the bikes were actually moving beneath their riders. The 125’s with their small jockeys weren’t being blown away, so maybe I wouldn’t be. When the race finally came I decided just to go for it and ignore the wind. I improved greatly from I was riding in the wind morning, but I still wasn’t where I wanted to be. I ended up going about five seconds slower than the day before. I was mentally going against the wind.
Against the Wind Mentally
During the first race I decided just to go for it, but it backfired on me when I went into the first turn too fast and went too wide. The three riders behind me pass me because of the mistake. Fortunately I quickly caught up to them, but felt that the riders ahead were almost too far out of reach. My negative thinking quickly took over and my lap times slowed because I felt like I was alone on the track. I couldn’t find my own mental carrot to chase, and I had been spooked by earlier mistake. When I pulled off the track Tim had all sorts of suggestions for me to make me do better on the track, but all I wanted to was reset and start over again. Unfortunately Tim was only trying to help, but I got frustrated and closed myself off. I went into the next race in a bad place and repeated many of the same mistakes that I did before.
I learned that communication between Tim and I is very important and to my racing in general. Being able to communicate to the person who is your right hand is the most important thing whether this person is your spouse or crew chief. Expressing how I feel on the bike and what I am doing is something that I am learning because I often find it hard to put into words what it going on. I have always just gone out there and done it without really quantifying things specifically. There is also expressing how to get oneself into the right mindset before a race and how your right hand can best do that for you. This might mean they have to leave you alone to let you regroup. Mental setup is just as important as your bike setup and as an adult who is learning to race I must learn both. I am learning to take each weekend as a learning experience and trying not to attach too much emotion to it. Taking both the good and the bad from each experience to make the future better.
Thank you to Tim for being my support tem.
Eric Kondo, Kurk Kerenko, Peter Diaz, and Dani Diaz for all the advice.
The Feel Like a Pro Team
WERA for putting on the race
The Rich Oliver Mystery School, Woodcraft, Suomy, Sunstar, ASV Invention, Go Pro, Twin Air, Black Heart MX, Spy Optics, Vortex, and O’neil Motocross.