What I Learned from a Week Coaching 18 AMAZING Shred Girls at the #ENCXQuest
I’m going to be talking about the ENCX Quest for A LONG TIME. In case you’ve been wondering why I’ve been pretty absent from this blog for the last week, it’s because I’ve been in Western Massachusetts with 18 amazing young women and my colleague/bestie/fave human Ellen Noble working on cyclocross skills, riding bikes, running, doing yoga and a ton of other fun stuff. It’s been exhausting, exhilarating, and so much freaking fun.
So, what have I learned, other than the fact that, at 31, I no longer use current slang without sounding ridiculous and that teenagers think I’m kind of freaking old?
#1: Just Send It.
These girls Were. Not. Afraid. It was so cool to watch them see new features and look at things like drops and sandpits that seemed super intimidating, and just go for it. One of the campers, after a few of the girls didn’t make it up one of the ride/run-ups, stood there assessing it, and instead of getting freaked out as one of the newest riders there, she looks at me and just says, “I can do that,” and nailed it.
#2: Progress, Not Perfection
So much of this camp was about progress, not perfection. Ellen and I reflected last night that we were most impressed by the girls who tried and failed, versus the girls who nailed certain things perfectly. When it comes to learning new skills, you need a willingness to fail, I realized—it’s so easy to play it safe and soft-pedal to avoid straight-up failing on a feature, and then really going hard for the stuff you know you can do well. What really matters is actually trying things that you may not actually succeed at—that’s how you eventually do succeed!
#3: Daily Training Environment is HUGE
We set up the camp to be six days partially because there’s so much to work on when it comes to cyclocross skills, but also because we wanted campers to get into routines and start really understanding the importance of a daily training environment. That’s something I regularly strive for (ahem, morning yoga), and it was a huge topic of discussion as well as something we really focused on throughout the camp. It made me realize I need to revisit my own daily training environment and work on optimizing it!
#4: Friendships are KEY
This week, I got to watch 18 girls—some of whom didn’t know anyone else at camp—become friends. I also got to spend a week with my favorite people, Ellen and, of course, Peter, plus our friend Jordan, who came in in to help with nutrition and a ton of other stuff. Sometimes, I get caught up in the training/racing aspect and completely forget why I started, and why I stayed in cycling: Because it’s where my community is, and where a ton of amazing people congregate and have fun together while trying really hard to beat each other in a final sprint. It’s a pretty great spot.
#5: I’ve seen the future, and it is BADASS
We were only kind of kidding when we wrote one of the awards as ‘Most likely to beat Ellen this year.” These girls are fast, they’re technically skilled, and they showed me one very clear thing: the face of cyclocross is rapidly changing, and the future is most definitely female. YES. (Stay tuned to Shred-Girls.com for more on these amazing girls!)