How to ruin your day in 15 steps

Jessica McWhirt
4 min readAug 12, 2022

One. Preview the race a day before and freak out about the sections that are dusty; that will force you out of your comfort zone, and will inevitably be your downfall. Only practice these sections twice before calling it a day. Go home and replay those sections all night: the loose dirt on the descent; the turns that force you to disconnect from your bike, especially the corner that’s tight and abrupt. Picture leaning your bike into the corner. Picture your body trying to stay centered over it. Then picture sliding out, your bike shooting away from you, falling onto the dirt, ripping the side of your bibs, and causing a five person pile up as other racers barrel around the corner and run into you.

Two. Wake up in the morning of race day to play your worst fear on repeat. Have something caffeinated to really wind up your thoughts. Keep telling yourself it’s an insignificant bike race. “It’s a midweek race, for fucks sake.” Tell your friends and coworkers you can’t decide whether or not to race. Let them decide for you.

Three. Give yourself until 12 PM to register for the race. Check the weather. Watch the radar. Hope it’ll rain, so the race will be canceled.

Four. Okay, wait until 1 PM. Register. Select “sport.“ Find the starting time. Get the address and put it in your phone.

Five. Figure out when you need to leave to arrive with enough time to get your plate, tie it onto your bike, and warm-up. It’s 4:30 PM. You need to leave by 4:30 PM.

Six. So you do. You get there at 5 PM. You scan the rows of cars for a familiar face. No one. But then again, you don’t have a lot of mountain bike friends and the ones you do have aren’t there, yet. Your husband didn’t come with you, so you talk to yourself in your head. “Go find the registration table,“ you say to yourself.

Seven. You get to registration. Tell them your name. Spell it out because what kind of last name is that? Grab too many zip ties to fasten the plate onto your bike. Pocket the rest.

Eight. Go pee.

Nine. Decide to warm up on the section that scares you the most. Still struggle to take turns as fast as you need to to keep up with the racers.