Juliana Bicycles
 

Blind Racing and Other Things Like Life

Octubre 22 — 2019 | Santa Cruz, CA

Juliana Bicycles Alex

Alex Pavon is a ski racer turned professional mountain bike racer for the Juliana | SRAM Pro Team. When she isn't competing in enduro and multi-day stage races, Alex gets her adrenaline rush as an ER medic in Flagstaff, AZ.  
 
Alex is an enigma in the world of competitors, she is out there to win, but she is also out there as a steward of women mountain bikers. 
 

 

If you search “life quotes” on Google, you will certainly stumble across some of the famous ones, like “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get” or, “Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance you must keep moving forward.” One quote you probably won’t find is, “Life is a like a multi-day blind enduro race, you never know what’s coming around the corner.” Ever heard that one before? I didn’t think so, because I just made it up.

My life has been molded by sports. I learned to ski when I was two and a half years old, and I pursued ski racing at an elite level for most of my short 25 years. When I retired from ski racing and started mountain bike racing, I felt really comfortable. Enduro racing was basically ski racing in the summer—flinging yourself down a mountain going really fast and battling the clock. Pre-ride the courses, figure out lines, memorize them, try hard. I could do that.

Then in 2016, I went to the inaugural Trans BC Enduro. It was six days of mountain bike racing through the mountains of interior British Columbia without any course map to study or any pre-riding. It was completely blind racing and I had never been challenged the way I was challenged during those six days. Neither ski racing nor standard enduro racing prepared me for that week.

But despite the crying, there was some part of me that wanted to conquer all of that.

Aside from racing the Enduro World Series in Whistler one time the previous year, I had never ridden anything so steep and technical. Plus, it rained Every. Single. Day. For six days. I cried numerous times that week. And I don’t cry often. But despite the crying, there was some part of me that wanted to conquer all of that. I never gave up, I always got back on my bike, and when the race was over, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that I would be back the next year. And the next. And the next. 

I’ve raced a multitude of blind enduro races since then. It has become a love affair. The challenge and uncertainty are something that I crave. I’ve learned more about myself and about life during those long, tough, and sometimes miserable days, than I’ve learned anywhere else and that’s why I keep coming back, year after year. 

…you absolutely cannot control everything; you can only control yourself.

 

Among the first things I learned from blind racing, and subsequently, life, is that you absolutely cannot control everything; you can only control yourself. You can prepare, you can have yourself sorted, and you can have a plan B, C, and D, but you cannot control the weather, other people, or any of the weird other stuff that could happen out there on the trail. 

So, like in life, you have to expect the unexpected. Blind races are unpredictable and might have an idea about what’s coming around the next corner, but the truth is, you don’t know until you know. The easiest thing can throw you on your face, and the hardest, scariest obstacle you blow through easily.

Which means you need to be adaptable. Since things can change really fast, if you aren’t willing to adapt to the situation you’re going to be left alone in the woods, or you’re just going to have a miserable time. Similarly, it's amazing how much your attitude can change the way you perform. If you believe in yourself, give a smile, and commit to a good time it makes adapting to the situation easier, and more fun. 

Unfortunately, even if we do everything right, we are all going to crash and burn at some point... keep going. It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get back up. Get up, learn from your mistakes, and be grateful. Take the time to look around during those wins, and losses, to observe what is happening around you. Since we aren't just shaped by the beautiful moments in life, next time shit seems tough, remember you are growing.

Most of all, it’s just a bike race. The truth is that there aren’t a lot of things that matter so greatly that our world might actually end if it goes badly. So next time something seems like the end of the world, or you are doing poorly in a bike race, think about how much it really matters. Then let it go. As long as we have our health, our friends, and family, we are doing pretty damn good. 

Life is a like a multi-day blind enduro race, you never know what’s coming around the corner.

Juliana Bicycles

Follow Alex on Instagram for a series of adventures on her trusty Maverick and Joplin

 

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