Garneau set out to work with me to design a custom cycling kit that reflected me as a person. The journey was one of the most interesting projects I’ve done to date with one of my sponsors. We started out by brainstorming what things I liked and what defined me. My theory is happiness is fast and this cycling kit design includes all of the things that make me happy. There are bikes, skis, maple creemees, doughnuts, and surfboards. There are also some secret gems in the kit. One is hidden in the back jersey pocket, and it’s a little detail about me. Let’s just say that I can really relate with what’s hidden back there. It loves to eat anything, climb up mountains, and stand in high places. I literally keep this in my back pocket as a fun reminder while training and climbing, in particular. If you know me well or have been paying really close attention, you can give it a good guess. Or you’ll just have to design your own cycling kit and have a look in the back pocket.
Since we were having fun with this custom cycling kit design, Beyoncé was one of the overarching elements of the kit. The truth of the matter is; Beyoncé makes me happy. If I were not a bike racer, I would love to be a Beyoncé back up dancer. Literally, I’ve dreamt of it. One may think that she is the only the queen of music, pumping empowering anthems into the ears of females all around the world. Her music is good for getting amped before a race or for bringing down the resting heart rate from 150 bpm before a world cup (true story). Her music is good for anytime, and I love it so much we hid a couple of Beyoncé lyrics on the jersey. But, what a lot of people don’t realize is that her music can teach you a lot about bike racing.
“I dream it, I work hard, I grind ‘til I own it…
Sometimes I go off, I go hard, take what’s mine, I’m a star,
Cause I slay, I slay, I slay,”
You can’t be what you can’t see. When I was first introduced to mountain biking, a whole new world and potential future opened before me. In 2000, I stared wide-eyed at the pro women’s short track at the Mount Snow NORBA (a top level U.S national mountain bike race). I had no idea before that moment that women could mountain bike race for a living. I had no idea that it was an Olympic sport and that there was a mountain bike World Championships. It was then that a dream was born. I was determined to race my mountain bike for a living. The only thing that I could control was that I was going to work harder than all of my competitors until that dream came true. Then and now, I continue to ‘grind ‘til I own it’. With hard work, anyone can achieve what one sets her mind to. But, it takes a pour your soul into the dream amount of hard work.
“I put my foot down yeah my hands up
my hands up, my hands up
Flexin’ while my hands up”
At first look, this lyric is literally posting up at the finish line winning a race. Flexing while my hands up for a victory salute. But, it also takes a bike racer to ‘put their foot down’ in order to get to the point where she can put her hands up for a victory salute. Being a professional bike racer is a lifestyle. Bike racing is definitely my and many other’s dream job, but sometimes it’s not as glamorous as it looks on the outside. It’s not only riding my bike when I want. It’s three-hour training rides in the cold rain. It’s pure exhaustion. It’s sacrifice. I never get to clock in at 8 am and then clock out at 5 pm. All of my decisions are based around the question, ‘will this make me faster?’ Will this help or prevent recovery for tomorrow’s training, next weekend’s world cup, this year’s world championships and so on? So yea, it’s a constant game of putting my foot down to do what I need to reach my full potential. It’s making tough decisions and setting boundaries. It’s missing that friend’s summer BBQ and staying home and recovering instead. Sometimes putting my foot down is the hardest part of my job, but it’s so worth it especially when I get to flex with my hands up.
“I woke up like this, I woke up like this
We flawless, ladies, tell ‘em”
In this day and age, women are getting so many negative messages from popular culture. We are too big. We should be cute and sexy. We can be ambitious but not too ambitious. Females should be strong, but, if we are too strong, we are considered ‘bitchy’. We should acquiesce. The list goes on. Females have a narrow space to exist in this world, and Beyoncé is here to tell us that ladies are fine the way we woke up this morning. In fact, we are flawless. Bike racing serves to blow the doors off that narrow space. Bike racing shows ridiculously strong and fit ladies with some of the biggest thighs in the world. If anyone observes the finish line of a World Cup, one will find girls that are caked in mud who have pushed themselves past their limits. We are exhausted. We are raw and real. Mountain biking reveals aggressive women descending down dangerous rock gardens and flying off jumps through the air, the same obstacles that men are navigating. We are not perfect. We carry scars that are stories of crashes, blood, and pain. And, we did, in fact, wake up like this…flawless.