Anything Is Possible!
Some people are jumpers. I’m definitely a wader. My whole life, I’ve never been one to jump into anything. I’ll test the water first; scope out the destination. I’ll gradually wade out. Sometimes, if it feels right and I’ve considered other options, then I’ll jump. And the thrill, the adrenaline rush, the ‘high’ of achieving my goal will make me think…hmmm, maybe I can go just a little bit deeper.
Throughout the past few years of racing bikes, I’ve done the races I can, gradually picking ones that are more and more competitive. Each year I’ve swum out a little deeper; trained a little harder (and smarter!), taken a few more risks, made a few more sacrifices. And, happily, each year I’ve gotten faster…and I’ve waded myself out into the deep pool of International competition; regularly racing World Cups, Pan American, and even World, Championships. It was just a few years ago that I scoffed at the idea of ever even qualifying to compete at this level. Yet, here I am.
While I can’t say that I’ve let go of the proverbial rope swing and flung myself willy-nilly into the depths of being a bike racer-no, in more typical Erin style, I’ve gradually left the safety of the shore and have swum deep enough that my feet can’t touch. Until recently, I’ve been able to balance being an Elite XC racer while also being a full time Engineering Project Manager for a Medical Device company-a job I love and find extremely rewarding. But, I recognized that in order to be the best I can be at either of these things, I would have to put the other on a slightly lower step. So, with the gentle nudging and encouragement of my support network and through negotiations with my employer, I’ve decided that my career will take a temporary back seat. I’m still working the same job, but at reduced hours and an increased flexibility. In this I am lucky. It is still a balancing act to juggle time and priorities which can be stressful. But, ultimately I think the balancing helps to, well, keep things in balance.
I’ve also been fortunate to sign my first contract with a professional team, Scott-3Rox. There are many reasons why I am looking forward to this opportunity. So now I can officially call myself a professional bike racer. Look at me, just splashing around in the big kid pool! And even though I didn’t jump per-se, it’s still pretty thrilling to just be here- to be committed, to believe in myself enough to give this bike racing thing a real chance. The questions still remain-can I swim? How far can I swim? Are there sharks? But at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. Taking the risk to devote yourself to something that scares you and challenges you, that’s what it’s about. Because when I decide it’s time to get out of the water, I know I will emerge as a shimmery mermaid…no wait, that’s a dream…I will emerge as a stronger, more confident, more complete person, grateful for my experiences and those around me who patiently love me and are hopefully waiting with a warm towel.
Sink or swim. I’ve committed myself to becoming the best mountain bike athlete I can become and I’m determined to swim.