I guess everyone who cycles carries around an image or sense of identity; roadie, mountain biker, trackee, cruiser, messenger, even the kid who rides the trike around the block. Or rather, I should say there are two identities-- the real you and the one you pretend to be for the day. Who hasn't pretended that Phil is narrating your mundane little training ride or business park crit? That's part of the fun of it. If you take it too seriously and they meet face to face, it can be frustrating.
For me, that image has evolved a lot over my life on two wheels. When I really started to get into riding back in 2001, I had a lot of limiters. I settled for being okay as someone who gets dropped in the hills on club rides and being happy just to finish. Sure I get the whole zen, "I'm just happy to be out there and have fun" idea, but there is a competitive side of me that wants to win. A primal urge to go fast.
I wanted to start racing the day I watched my ex race in a criterium for the first time. He had already told me "you better not start racing, or you know you'll take it too seriously." It was a big concern for him, feeling like it would take too much time in my already busy life. Wanting to be the good wife, I wanted to please and was careful about how into it I got and how much I let myself dream. I settled for being someone who races occasionally who doesn't really care how she finishes.
Now all of the limiters are off. The only thing holding me back is myself. I have decent bikes, a fantastic team, a man who supports me unconditionally who happens to be a great coach, and more knowledge skills and confidence. Now comes the real work. What do I want? How will I get there? How do I get the balance right between work, rest, and cycling? What is my new bike identity? What am I good at? Where can I realistically improve?
I know that I want to compete in races where I can use my strengths. I love sprinting!
I know that I want to finish more doubles (especially the Terrible Two).
I want to experiment at the track more (I get my ass royally kicked every time, but it's still fun and I wonder if I can get better at it).
It's always a work in progress.