Fast forward 5 years to one first of my cycling teams. Having achieved descent success at an individual sport- ski racing-, I had no idea what “team” meant. I took care of myself, I trained by myself, I raced by myself, I ate what I needed to, and I went to sleep when I needed to. I lead by example and I showed no weaknesses.
This self sufficiently lasted until my results came to a stand still. I was no longer getting better, faster, or stronger. Riders who, in my mind, were on better teams, who had better equipment and who being provided better opportunities, were beating me. After years of pushing back weakness, I had no idea I was the one holding myself back. Relying on myself was causing me to not grow as an athlete or as a teammate- and thus, as a person.
In 2013, a man named Mike called me and offered me a spot on his new women’s cycling team. Instead of blowing sunshine and rainbows my way- as most team owners did-, he told me I was a head case and come big events, I couldn’t perform. I asked why, if I’m a head case, would he want me on his team? He thought he could fix me. Fix my self confidence and help me perform. I could be his little project. I told him to F-off, and hung up the phone. Then I cried on every bike ride after for a week. Did I really have a mental weakness? After 15 years of toughening myself up, was I a head case?
It took a while, but once I let my own personal toughness guard down, I realized I was a head case. The weeks leading up to big events, I would start to fall apart and come race day, I couldn’t put the pieces back together.
I called Mike back and asked; if I’m a head case, which I now think I am, how can you fix me? He said with teamwork. He thought he could help me achieve results that had eluded me over the years. But I would have to work with him and the team. We would have to be a team who communicates and is honest with each other. I had to trust him, the other staff, and my teammates and in return they would trust me and provide me with the things I needed. I would have to allow the team to help me.