By Melissa Muhr
There is nothing like racing your bike under the hot desert sun. You’re in the gate and your mind is racing. You ask yourself, what am I doing? I’m a 33-year-old wife and stay- at-home mother of two. What if I crash and break something? Who is going to get the kids ready for school? Cook? Clean? Do the laundry? Then you hear it. Riders ready. Watch the gate. The gate drops and your heart is pounding. This is why. Right here, right now.
My hands are gripping the handlebars as I fight for the holeshot. I listen to the sounds around me to decide if I take the inside line or go high. I peddle when I need to and pump the rhythm section. As I round turn three, I hear my teammates and family cheering me on and instantly I have no regrets. I cross the finish line and I breathe. I did it.
Now why, you ask?
As a stay-at-home mother of almost eight years, I had come to the conclusion that I had lost my identity. It had become hard to find time for myself. I was extremely depressed and just plain hard on myself. Not only was this taking its toll on my mind and body, but it was also taking its’ toll on my abilities as a parent and wife. Ultimately, depression had lead to me stress eating, which, unfortunately, had caused a lot of weight gain. Several doctor visits and tests later, I was diagnosed with depression and PTSD. The only cure was exercise and a better diet.
Exercise – when? Diet – YUCK! But I knew I had to do something. Then it hit me. Race BMX.
I mean why not? I was already at the track three to four times a week watching my kid’s race and/or working as the volunteer photographer. My biggest obstacle was – how? I was overweight and out of shape. I was ashamed of being overweight and extremely embarrassed by the thought of racing in front of stands full of spectators.
But hey, slow and steady wins the race, right? So, I did it. I got in the gate. I was terrible at it, but I instantly fell in love with racing. Racing BMX is not your typical stroll down Main Street. It’s a full on sprint. BMX is not a team sport. Winning is solely based upon your abilities to ride. And I wanted to ride.
This meant having to clean up – dare I say it – my diet. It also meant I was going to have to make time for exercise. (Insert whining here.) I found myself at the gym at least three times a week running on the treadmill, actually enjoying myself because I was seeing results. I was only racing once a week, and occasionally joining my kids at open practice. But, the next thing I knew the season was over and seasonal depression sunk in. That meant I was no longer at the gym or sticking to my diet. I once again found myself gaining weight and feeling depressed. I needed to find that thing people called self-control.
Grand Valley BMX was in the works for a new Supercross BMX track. And with just months away from the new season, I knew I had to find the motivation to get back to the gym and train. With my youngest starting preschool, I found that I had a little more time for myself. I needed to set a goal for myself. So I set my sights on the 2015 CO State Championships.
I have always loved being on a bike. In college, I raced mountain bikes all over the state. So when I found spinning at the gym, I found myself once again enjoying exercising, being healthy, and seeing results.
Before I knew it, the season had begun and so had the race for the finish. After traveling the state with my family by my side and participating in several state qualifiers, it was time; time to see if all that training had paid off.
The CO State Championships arrived. It was hot. I was tired from the long season. But once again I was in the gate under the hot desert sun, with my mind racing and my heart pounding. And then the gate dropped.
I did it. I found myself again. I found myself by racing BMX. I found myself enjoying a sport with my family. I found myself getting healthy for a sport that I never in a million years thought I could or would do. I found myself finishing first in the state. I found myself wanting to train harder for the next season. I found myself while waiting in the gate and waiting to hear those words. Riders ready. Watch the gate.