Since retiring from cycling in 2012, my relationship with the sport has sort of felt like a break up. The memorabilia, race numbers, medals, and gear that I once proudly displayed have all been stuffed into drawers - sans the bike. Instead of stalking on Instagram, I make an infinitesimal refresh of the cycling trades every morning. Like avoiding the places “we” used to go together, I rarely attend bike races. The break up could be healthier, I admit.
The closest I’ve gotten back into cycling has been documenting a Master’s Track Worlds, a camp for my former team director’s junior team (LUX), and the Women’s 2016 Team Pursuit Olympic Squad. That’s it – seven years.
I’m not saying that I regret my decision to hit the pause button. Since I was thirteen, cycling was my religion. But these past seven years, I needed to separate church and state in order to offer myself time to heal.
There are days that I ask myself if I made the right decision to go down the path I did. To not make the conscious effort of crafting a new version of Kit like so many who remain in the sport after they cross their last finish line. But I owe it to myself to remember how I felt in my final days in the peloton, and recognize that taking a step back was the healthiest choice I could have made at the time.
But attempting to compartmentalize cycling, I inadvertently atrophied one of my lifelines – the people in it.
For instance, I’ll never forget the day I called my sponsors to tell them I wasn’t competing anymore. It was excruciating (as are all things twenty-one). These relationships meant the world to me - not for the products, but the people. As an odd-ball kid with a breathtaking amount of energy, I spent a lot of time by alone. I guess it makes sense why people matter so much to me.
Up until recently, I’ve been telling myself that “it’ll all be there tomorrow” to make my absence feel a little less punishing. It’s now become my greatest regret.
Last year, I lost my cycling mom Brenda Berry and teammate Colt Peterson. Last week, I lost my friend Kelly Catlin.
Cycling was the connective tissue that brought us all together, but it was my mistake for allowing it to keep me away from my tribe.
After seven years, it finally dawned on me how post-break up, cycling and I can still be friends.
So last week, I made the call out to my friend Caley about shooting the Redlands Classic. Mind you, the last time I was at Redlands was when I raced it in 2011.
After spending a day exploring the course in ways I never have, sitting in a bed of wildflowers, reconnecting with friends and teammates who I hadn’t seen in years, and feeling the adrenaline pump through my veins from Dave Towle being on the loud speaker…I finally felt liberated from the solitary confinement I dealt myself.
It’s good to be back.