How to Get Up Again
July 2, 2016 was one of the scariest days of my life.
Going down a descent on the opening stage of the Giro Rosa, I slid out in a corner and was wedged under a guardrail on the side of an Italian mountain top.
The peloton whirled by me, and I just laid there - not because I was hurt. I thankfully was no more than road-rashed and bruised, but I burst into tears regardless.
What ran through my head frantically were thoughts of my kids -- thoughts of what would happen to them if I crashed and got a long-term injury or even worse, died. Bike racing is risky business...but this wasn't news to me. I'd accepted that fact a long time ago.
As I laid there and thought about all the negative implications of my cycling career, Ernie (who was hired to be our team mechanic) jumped out of the team car and literally yanked me off the ground and shook my shoulders and said,
“Get back on your bike.”
Through tears I asked him, “Why am I doing this? I have two children who are depending on me.”
Even though I hated him for it at the time, he said words that I still hear echo today:
“Scotti, if you don't get back on your bike and finish this race, you will regret it for the rest of your life. The boys are cheering for you. Now get your ass back out there and GO.” He checked my bike over, ran through the gears and handed it to me.
All of this happened in less than 2 minutes, but it seemed like a lifetime.
Choking back my tears, I saddled up, clipped in, and rode (scared shitless) down the remainder of the climb.
I finished the race, minutes down from the leaders.
Looking back on this experience, what faltered in that moment was my clarity on WHY I do what I do, and my commitment to see it through.
If one of my kids had trained his butt off to be at a world tour race, then crashed, I would have given him the exact same advice: “Get up, my love. Crashes happen. Get up and see this through.”
If that’s how I would advise my own children who I love more than anything, why did I doubt myself so much in that moment?
In 2016, I was one of top 10 female cyclists in the country. I'd given everything up to train and race that year, because the top 4 made it into the Olympic team. I had my sights set on proving I could be one of those four, and earlier in the season I’d had some amazing victories that were pointing the way.
But the problem was I'd lost my love for the purity of cycling -- to love it no matter what it threw my way.
I wanted results!
I actually had begun to develop a hate towards it all: the structure, the discipline, the harsh reality that for every race you win, you lose 60…it had all gotten more bitter than sweet. Because I’d lost my WHY.
In 2018, many of you know I stepped off the pro circuit - off one of the best pro teams in the world - because I wasn’t happy with myself. It had nothing to do with my team and had EVERYTHING to do with me.
I was lost.
This past year, my one obsession has been figuring myself out. I had to define
No one else could do it for me. In this process, I peeled myself apart layer by layer like an onion.
The only thing holding me back from being my best self…was fear.
I had become so scared to fail that I’d pulled the plug on everything. Have you ever been there?
Before this last year, my WHY looked like this:
“I ride my bike to win races.”
Sounds lame, right? I agree with you!
Here’s what it looks like now, after a year of putting myself through what I call "onion therapy" (layer by layer, tears guaranteed):
I ride bikes to fortify my mind and body.
I ride bikes because everyday it teaches me more about myself.
I ride bikes to remind myself that suffering teaches how to enjoy life when things aren’t perfect.
I ride bikes to inspire others to explore the world, challenge their own limits and transform their lives.
Now, that’s something worth fighting for when you’re hanging off the side of a cliff.
When I look back on my cycling career this far, I definitely see where I went wrong, but I am so grateful for what I’ve learned. For every failure, I've had something beautiful and different show itself to me.
Now I want to share with you…and CHALLENGE you…to dig deep and figure out what your WHY is.
We talked yesterday about how much potential you have. And you do!
Do you believe me?
I don’t care if you type on a computer all day. Or bag groceries. Or sell telephones. You have potential to be and do what you dream — when it comes to health, lifestyle, fitness, and body. You CAN achieve what you want.
But sometimes you need a kick in the ass. Sometimes you need someone to say,
“Get back on your bike.”
Does your WHY have more to do with specific performance goals than it did self-development?
Does your WHY make you feel negative or pressured?
If you answered yes to either or both, then your homework is to reconstruct it a little bit. Ultimately your WHY has to be bigger than just an event or a pinnacle experience. Because you'll get to that and then wonder what's next.
Your WHY should get you back in the saddle when you’re cliff-hanging.
These moments define us.
Mine defined me. And what I learned from it has been so transformative that I've decided to race again this year -- with my new WHY at the forefront of my mind.