Day 21: Sam Scipio | Season One: A Cyclocross Story
Words by Samantha Scipio
this summer, i tried cyclocross for the first time.
ayesha was in town and held a clinic with major taylor cyclic club of chicago at blackstone bicycle works (a local and fantastic youth shop). her clinic happened to be on the same night as their cyclocross practice, so, we rolled over to the park to see what it was about.
immediately we were invited to hop into drills. riding close in circles, cornering, sprint starts - all new things, and all so weird. i was hooked.
i started mentioning to friends and family that i was interested in the sport and got mixed reactions. from "what the heck is that??" to "YASSSSSS GIRL!!!" to "you are going to get hurt" - most were supportive, but some were not at all.
check your network yall. your people should always be there for you. they can be concerned, they can be inquisitive, but they must be supportive.
this fall i raced cyclocross for the first time.
having never raced, i was incredibly nervous. having never even gone up a hill on the grass, i was setting myself up for a new experience every time.
they called name after name to line up before calling mine towards the end. i settled in at the back of the group, hands in the drops by my bar end shifters, and prepared to sprint. the gun went off and so did i. to my surprise, i passed a lot of women in that initial jump and was able to pick off places the rest of the race.
be comfortable with being uncomfortable. we all know bike racing freaking hurts. but, if you're comfortable with that, then you're setting yourself up to be stronger and calmer when dealing with lots of difficulties thrown your way.
this winter i fell in love with cyclocross for the first time.
about 3 races in, i was invited to join a team - comrade cycles racing. comrade is a great shop on the north side of chicago, filled with a bunch of knowledgeable and sweet guys. aside from being honored and stoked, i was amazed at how welcoming the group was. and not just comrade, but the broader cyclocross community. people were always down to give rides, answer questions, give gear.
to wake up every sunday and head to this goofy bike church was such a rewarding experience. physically, i pushed my body harder than i had in a long time - and saw positive results because of it. mentally, i am more focused and goal oriented. and, just happier in general (exercise yall!). emotionally, i am more confident and more self assured. the feeling of completing a race, knowing you left it all out there, is one of pure accomplishment. even if i fell or bled or raced poorly - i did something to better myself.
so, to you who is hesitating to race or to lead that project or to show your artwork - do it. you will learn, you will fall, but you will grow.
From Ayesha: When I was in Chicago racing Intelligentsia in July, our mutual friend Zahra (Queen of many things) suggested that Sam and I meet up. I knew this girl was special. In August, I was in the midwest again for the Ride Across Wisconsin. I had intentions of racing Gateway in St. Louis a week later, so Sam offered me a place to stay so I could save dollars on back and forth airfare (it takes a village y'all). I spent most of the week suffering from a face rash, and hiding in her apartment. I did make it out for one evening with Blackstone Bicycle Works, and the rest is HERstory. I'm so proud of this girl y'all.