View from the sidelines: Part 1
Over the next two weeks I will be at races, but not racing. This weekend, I attended the Wausau 24 as a sponsor. I’ve now experienced this race through many lenses: volunteer, crew, racer, and now sponsor. Coming back each time has brought new experiences as well as people to experience it with.
Here’s the progression:
In high school I volunteered with friends at the event as backup timing a couple of times. We went on the course after our shift had ended to cheer racers on. By this time it was dark and we stumbled around(giggling like teenage girls) wondering how racers could bike period, much less fast, in the dark with all the rocks and roots!
A decade ago, my boyfriend (now husband) decided to compete for the first time in any race as part of the 24 hour relay. This whetted his palate and he competed in the solo 12 hour event the following year. My first time crewing was for him that year and I found it almost as taxing as racing. I tried to meet him 3 times per lap to be “johnny-on-the-spot” with hydration, nutrition, general support, and race intel for him. This lens allows me to appreciate a crew in a deeper way. I’ll never forget his face when I got him to start another lap and then him realizing he had to do another lap (rule was if you start a lap you must finish the lap) which he later thanked me for as it moved him up to 4th overall.
Last year I raced as a breastfeeding mother of three, my second time racing the solo 24 hour race, which happened to be my last individual race in six years. A lot had happened since this last race, I’d gotten married and had three children. So rather than putting in 150 hours of riding in the months leading up to the race like I had done previously, I put more time in on the trails during the race than leading up to the race. Heck, when I signed up a few weeks before the event, I wasn’t even supposed to be exercising…period! And even at the start line, I was now a mom first and a racer second. With my son only 13 weeks old, rather than tinkering with my bike at the race start, I was trying to find a place to pump (and this wasn’t my bike tires). I wasn’t able to find my husband before the start of the race, so as I was running in the Le Mans start, I was instructing him to wash the breast pump and get the milk on ice as I hadn’t stored much in the freezer yet (which was all caught on video!) Not something I ever imagined to be my #1 priority at the start line, but that’s what being a mom is – something you can never turn “off”. Then even at the finish, I opted to not do an extra lap so I could go home and nurse my son before awards (I have to admit a shower was enticing too).
Wausau 24 is the only bike race I’ve ever and probably will compete in. Since I was on the racecourse racing last year, I didn’t get to partake in any of the event outside of the racecourse. This year, I didn’t step foot on the racecourse and took it all in – the music, atmosphere, and camaraderie. I met several people that didn’t race, but just came to the race to be a part of the event. That says it all.
Next week I'll be at the 40th Woodson YMCA triathlon and I'll share my experiences there with you afterwards; although I prefer to share with you in person at the event! So if you’re not racing, come take part in one of the several lenses you can experience a race. Have you experienced a race through multiple lenses too? If so, share your experience below!