The word confidence is interesting. On the surface, you think brazen, cocky, self-assured. But the root word is “confide” from the Latin confidere which literally translates to “with trust” or “to place full trust within.” It’s the same root word as fidelity. To confide in someone is to bring them into your trust. It’s intimate, not brazen, internal not outwardly focused. Confidence is simply trust in yourself. And just like you can lose someone’s trust with one mistake, you can lose your confidence just as easily.
I’ve been struggling to write a blog post for the past few weeks because I feel a desperate need to explain why I’ve been racing so terribly. I feel like I owe my fans, my readers, my sponsors an explanation. I feel like I owe myself an explanation.
But I don’t have one.
I mean, I have tons of excuses. I crashed. I got scared. I crashed again, because I was scared. Repeat. My shock blew up. I cracked a headset bearing. I got a 3-inch nail in my rear tire that not only punctured the tire but went straight through the rim tape as well. I crashed again.
And that’s just the second half of my season. My entire year has been one hilarious train wreck after another, only I can’t seem to see the humor. Don’t get me wrong — I know I’m phenomenally lucky to have taken the crashes I did without any sort of lasting injury. In some ways, that’s kind of the problem. When Macky tried to get me to cheer by making me list things that did go well this year, all I could come up with was “I’m not dead” and “I don’t have a permanent brain injury.”
Which is crap, because I learned a ton, got some excellent media exposure, met a lot of amazing people and worked with an incredible and inspiring group of sponsors. This year was rough, but it wasn’t a waste. Yet my first reaction is “I’m glad I’m not dead,” and, while it’s great to not be dead and all, this outlook is kind of indicative of how far my confidence has eroded over the course of this season.
Because my confidence in my ability to ride a bike right now is pretty much nil, and it basically has been since my concussion in Sun Valley. I hate to admit that because that was JUNE and I’ve done six races since then and put up about a bajillion social media posts and had a thousand conversations with people where I’ve said I was fine. But I’m not fine. While I gave myself the time to recover physically from the concussion, mentally I’m still not where I was three months ago. And with head injuries, the line between mental and physical gets blurry.
Because I was riding without confidence, I kept crashing again and again. Sun Valley was my first real wreck of the season and after that I crashed hard in nearly every race, up until my fiasco at Steamboat at which point I detected the pattern and just started going really really slow. In some ways this plan was successful, as I’ve now arrived at the end of my season without an injury, which is pretty amazing, all things considered. But it was discouraging, because I know where I’m capable of racing and I was so far off that it was easy to start doubting if I’ll ever get there. That that really sucks. I honestly don’t know how to condense how much that sucks into one measly (and already far too dramatic) blog post.
I don’t know how long it will take for me to regain the confidence I lost this year. I really don’t. But I have time now that my race season is over, and I hope that with enough patience and love for this sport I will get there.
And in the meantime, I want to thank everyone who reads this blog for giving me this space, and this opportunity to confide in you — and this incredible feeling of support. You guys really are the best.