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.

Photo: Dave Kozlowski

Photo: Dave Kozlowski

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.

Syd Schulz

Pro mountain biker.

Average human.

I write about bikes and life and trying to get better at both.

more here

11 thoughts on “Confidence

  1. Hey Syd. As you said ending the season without any permenet injuries is a win in any book you look at (trust me look it up haha). Anyways it’s been amazing for me to follow you and Macky during this season. Excuses or not things happen we get rattled. We put pressure on ourselves. We dought ourselves. We make mistakes. But there is one thing to always remember ” I ride cause I love it”! In my opinion this is the best thing to remember. Bring the fun back into each and every ride and you’ll see your confidence follow suit. Just a little ramble I thought I’d share. Take it for what it is. Always looking forward to more of your inspiring blog posts and Macky’s videos that I can drool over. Keep it on two wheels and occasionally one!!!

    Till our paths cross!

    • Thanks for the comment! I’ve really been struggling to have fun riding (especially racing) and that’s been the the worst part of the past few months. Now that the pressure of racing is off I’m looking forward to actually riding just for fun (which also means not riding when I don’t want to, haha).

  2. Keep at it, Syd! As a fellow female racer, I’ve had my ups and downs. Well, recently mainly downs. While it felt like a bad season to you, you were a constant source of inspiration for me to get back up, keep riding, and never say sorry. Your honesty has done amazing things for me and others, and I value you and your racing highly for it!

    • I do have a coach and he’s great! I’ve definitely been able to avoid the physical aspects of burnout this year by training more intelligently and recovering better. Last year I was a sick a ton at this time of year. Just got to get my head together, maybe a meditation coach? haha

  3. Keep at it Syd. Sometimes you just need to ride for the sake of riding. This is where a lot of pro athletes hit a wall specifically because they find that they are no longer riding for the love or riding..

    What did I say before…. Fall in love with the process and the results will come?!
    FALL IN LOVE with the process and the results WILL COME.

    Take your time, get back to riding because you love it and go from there. You got this!

  4. Sorry, I keep forgetting to reply! I had a few concussions a few years ago from some Hockey, and I found the mood swings to be really tough. It will get better as your brain heals up, so try don’t beat yourself up. After my last bang, it was a long few months, but it’ll calm :-)

    Also, thanks for all your writings, love seeing them

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