Don’t Give Up!

Letter From a young Pro

By Laurel Rathbun
Professional CX Racer for Raleigh Clement

Being a competitive cyclist isn’t easy. There’s nothing fun about doing intervals that make you want to throw up or riding on the trainer when it’s cold out. There’s the old saying that I’ve heard a few times, “You’re only as good as your last race.” You are required to prove yourself time and time again – race after race. Anyone who races knows this isn’t entirely true; nobody has perfect races all the time. Still, it doesn’t change the thoughts and words of those on the outside looking in.

I remember being told that the highs in cycling are so high and the lows of cycling are so low. I’ve come to find this very true. When you win a race, it’s all smiles at the finish line; cameras taking your picture; people asking for interviews; teammates and competitors congratulating you; and standing on the podium gleaming with pride. A little while later, there is usually an ice cream celebration. It seems as though nothing can tear you down. That is, until you have a terrible race, which sometimes is the very next day. The reality of cycling is that for most cyclists, there are more good days than bad days. I’m going to quote Phil Gaimon’s “Pro Cycling on $10 a Day” and say “good days don’t mean a thing if you haven’t had a few bad ones.”

Those bad days can be incredibly discouraging. I’ve been told, “Don’t give up” many times after disappointing races; but I could never just “give up” cycling – especially not in a rough patch. Bad races motivate me to improve – however that may be – because I’m holding on. I’m holding on until that good day comes when everything goes right and the satisfaction is so so sweet. My advice to anyone that is struggling is to keep holding on and to keep fighting. Every pedal stroke, interval session, muscle cramp, missed social gathering, and sad post-race phone call, is worth it. I can guarantee it – Laurel Rathbun