Remember where you started, So you'll know how far you've come!

Me w/ my newly decked out and renamed bike "Bad and Boujee"

Me w/ my newly decked out and renamed bike "Bad and Boujee"

So, I have been incognegro for a bit, training my butt off. This year I decided to throw myself into pro level road races, and sink until I learn to swim. I am having the time of my life. Perspective is everything. 

Have I won anything in a while? Nope. Am I mad about that? Not even a little bit. I get to race with the pros, get my butt kicked by them, learn from them, follow their wheels, and sometimes say goodbye to them as they leave me in their dust. It's all a part of the come up, and I am thrilled to be at this stage of the process. 

THEN

This time 3 years ago, I had only completed one race. A CRCA clinic on April 14, 2014 where I couldn't even hear the rules of what was happening because a woodpecker decided to snack on a tree. I didn't even own a road bike. I'd borrowed one from Carol-lynn Mills, she gave me a quick run down on how to work the gears, and told me that Elisabeth and Iliana would look after me, they were mentors and I could ask them questions. Chloe Lasseron and I had a nice ride up to Central Park from Brooklyn, she'd borrowed her boyfriend Mark's Ride Brooklyn Kit to wear. I thought she looked really cool. 

Chloe in the middle. Photo by Randy Locklair

Chloe in the middle. Photo by Randy Locklair

 

Tara Parsons said some stuff on her megaphone (none of which I heard), and before I knew it, mentors were shuffling us to the starting line. In true Ayesha fashion, I went with it. Why not? I was there, and I have never been one to back down from a challenge. 

Carol-lynn was determined to get me on a road bike. Trying to pay it forward.   Photo by Randy Locklair

Carol-lynn was determined to get me on a road bike. Trying to pay it forward.   Photo by Randy Locklair

I lined up with the other women, they gave us some last minute instructions, and then we were off. It was a neutral start from 79th street in Central Park and the race would start once we hit the engineer's gate at 90th. This would also be the finish line that I would later miscalculate (whoops).

While we looped around the park I asked sooo many questions. I can't remember what they were, but I was told we could ask questions, so I did.

If you look over Rosael's right shoulder (Pink Rhino), you'll see me (purple jacket) dying after going way too early.. lol  Photo by Randy Locklair

If you look over Rosael's right shoulder (Pink Rhino), you'll see me (purple jacket) dying after going way too early.. lol  Photo by Randy Locklair

It was the final lap, we approached the bottom of the park and made our way towards Cat's hill. I pulled a Leroy Jenkins and surged up the hill starting the sprint waaaaaay to early. It was too late to back down, so I just kept going. I held on as long as I could, sprinting in my hoods like a doofus while four women passed me. I finished in fifth place. 

It would be another month and a half before I would race again. I'd acquire a road bike, and some confidence in that time. I was bitten by the bug. 

NOW 

Now I'm on this mission to create representation by being the first African-American woman Pro road cyclist. When I showed up at registration for the Sea Otter classic to check in. The lady found my name and said "she's a pro". I smiled. 3 years ago, I was doofus sprinting in the hoods on someone else's bike. Today, I race with the pro women, and I'm getting ever closer to achieving my goal. 

This is huge. HUGE. When I'm suffering in races, it sucks, but once that part is over. I am so damn proud that I was even in a position to be there in the first place. Every single race, I give it my all, and I will continue to do so until the day it becomes enough. 

I'm not racing on a borrowed bike anymore. I hopefully reached out to both Cannondale and SRAM with my concerns about representation in the sport, and I am proud to be an ambassador for both companies. My Cannondale Caad12 just got a facelift with brand new eTap and Zipp components. I've renamed this bike "Bad and Boujee", cuz that's how I feel when I ride it. Zero shame. 

I'm excited to have been invited to so many wonderful places to meet and inspire folks, and have amassed quite an amazing village along the way.

I am tired. I am blessed. I work hard. I am thankful. I am happy. 

Ayesha McGowanComment