It’s been a whirlwind summer. I didn’t expect to be racing, not with moving across the country and after opening my new business, but by now, I should expect to be surprised at what can be accomplished.
Opening night at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center symbolizes the start of the track cycling season on the east coast. International competitors come from Europe, Asia, the Oceania countries for some of the best racing in the world, week after week. Even prior to moving across the country, summers were spent in Pennsylvania for the mere fact that the talent and experience cannot be found anywhere else.
And so it came as no surprise, when opening night came around, and athletes from around the world continued to ask, “Are you racing?”, that I would have a number 31 pinned on my back, and I’d be lining up for a women’s UCI Class 1 scratch race. I lined up that night, expecting nothing, and I came home with a bouquet of flowers, and the win.
Taking it one day at a time, I’ve come to love my sport again. Not only have I enjoyed racing, but I’ve been involved in the community cycling programs: BRL, PeeWee-Pedalers, and Gear Up Academy. From day one, I’ve always said, it doesn’t matter how far I go, as long as I show that track sprinting is possible within the united states, and I show young girls they can make their dreams come true. Working with young kids, helping them conquer their fears, and watching their faces light up for those first few laps they ride around the velodrome is why I started doing this. Finding those roots has helped my connection with track cycling form again.
Every Friday night I’ve been lining up, no matter what the races are, to support women’s cycling, and to relight the fire. I’ve come away with a few wins, a few losses, and a few tired legs. Then every Saturday morning I wake up to the bright faces of 5 year old kids, and keep it going. What a drastic change from where I was a few months ago!
In just a week, the US Elite Track National Championships will begin. I’ve signed myself up for one event, the Scratch Race. Traditionally, I’ve been considered a sprinter, but what few know is my numbers actually define me as a pursuiter. Competing is what I love to do, and now I’m branching past my usual team sprint, 500m, keirin, and match sprint, to an endurance event I’ve been doing well in. This nationals, it isn’t about winning. It’s about continuing on, being strong, and giving those little kids someone to cheer for.
Ttown is slowly becoming my new home, and with the amazing support of my sponsors and 5 year old Saturday morning buddies, it’s slowly building a fire under me again.
- Miss Erickson