My first year racing I was encouraged to compete in Cap City Cross first and then head out to OVCX - Gun Club, which also happened to be my first W123 race. (Note: Pretty much every item I am wearing in this photo except for my helmet was loaned to me by other cyclists - the Columbus cycling family is one of the most generous groups of people I have ever met).

My first year racing I was encouraged to compete in Cap City Cross first and then head out to OVCX - Gun Club, which also happened to be my first W123 race. (Note: Pretty much every item I am wearing in this photo except for my helmet was loaned to me by other cyclists - the Columbus cycling family is one of the most generous groups of people I have ever met).

I found cycling (specifically cyclocross) at a very interesting point in my life. A majority of my friends had graduated and moved plus I was recently single and avoiding emotionally dealing with that crap by obsessively training for an Ironman during the day and partying at night. (Quite the combo eh? Ha). When I say training for an Ironman I should probably clarify that I was running and swimming and planning on winging the bike portion because, well, I wasn't very good at it and didn't really know how to get involved in the local cycling scene to get better. After being convinced by a few friends I tried a race (The Grandview Crit) and was completely blown off the back -- but I made a cycling friend who invited me on rides and pretty much started my journey to become a professional cyclist – who knew it would be as easy as signing up for a local crit? Only sort of kidding, but without this first experience I wouldn’t be where I am today. You have to start somewhere, right? Big thumbs up to Tour de Grandview.

The first time I got on a cyclocross bike was at the Lady Gnar Shredder Cyclocross clinic and I had no idea what I was doing but being the type A competitive person I am I was terrified to look like a clueless dork so I was determined to crush it. I had signed up to rent a bike and remember being directed to a white tent with a hyper enthusiastic bearded stranger (Mason Morgan – Westerville Bike Shop) who kept talking to me and asking questions all the while I'm pretty sure I looked like a deer in headlights. It turns out cyclocross was really fun and a really great way to make friends (it also came pretty naturally to me so that didn’t hurt). Being the socially awkward butterfly I am, I decided the best way to make friends was to dive in head first and do as much ‘cross as possible and here I am 3 years later about to go race some European UCI races in my 4th season but
most importantly I found an amazing group of friends.

So keep it weird you multicolored snuglet* wearing friends and remember cross is coming…
2017 CX Nationals in Hartford, CT was my 3rd CX Nationals for collegiate and (left to right - both race for Ohio State University) Lady Gnar Shredders - Emily Dryer and Team SixOneFour Mary-Kate Wintz first CX Nationals.

2017 CX Nationals in Hartford, CT was my 3rd CX Nationals for collegiate and (left to right - both race for Ohio State University) Lady Gnar Shredders - Emily Dryer and Team SixOneFour Mary-Kate Wintz first CX Nationals.

Since forever, I have always put an incredible amount of pressure on myself and cyclocross is definitely not an exception. I am pretty sure my head would have exploded by now without having such a solid group to come back to each week. I feel an incredibly strong attachment to the Cap City Cross series, Tour de Grandview and all the people that surround it. I always love returning home to rock the Tuesday CX practices at Big Run Park and hear about how all of my friends did in their races especially when it involves mastering a skill we had been practicing. This is the series that got me started and these are the people that supported me at the beginning from when I got buzzed to work up the courage to do the W123 race at Big Run to entering my first UCI race that same season.

Cyclocross could have easily become a hobby but instead it has become an integral part of who I am and the lifestyle I live which is freaking AMAZING. So keep it weird you multicolored snuglet* wearing friends and remember cross is coming… (*snuglet: what my family calls skinsuits)

cover photo - An Ha, thebigbreak.cc, @mistuuuha