Being a crew member/wife of an endurance racer is an interesting job. I realized that during one race, while Chris just gets to ride his bike, I have to perfect the following occupations for him to succeed: mechanic, emotional therapist, massage therapist, nutritionist, water specialist, mathematician, doctor, secretary, mother, wife, dictator, lawyer, pharmacist, chauffer...
I get to celebrate the highest of highs and suffer through the lowest of lows along with Chris, without the glory of actually competing in the race, standing on the podium, or getting a complementary t-shirt.
I originally started this blog to open the eyes of mountain bike racers to what their crew and family goes through -- both good and bad.
I've shared my experiences at races where Chris has excelled and achieved more than he ever thought he could. I cheered the loudest for him as he stood on the podium in Park City and cried with relief when he finished Leadville with a great time. I watched him, cheered for him, and worried about him as he plowed through the Winter Park series. I hated not being able to be there when he got his award at the end.
On the other hand, I've been there for the lows. I saw him totally defeated the first year at Leadville, hating life after the Firecracker, completely disappointed after Moab got cancelled, and now this.
This weekend we were in Tucson for the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. I think he did great. He worked really hard and was in 7th place after 12 hours and then his body decided to stop cooperating and he shut down. I pushed and pushed to get him to go out for one more lap at 1 am but he knows his body more than I do, and he decided the best thing was to stop. He didn't want to get stuck on the back side of the course and have something bad happen. I think he made a good decision. I've seen his mind want to stop, I've seen his body want to stop, and this wasn't either of those. He physically wasn't in good shape and it was best not to risk it.
As we heard that Lynda W had broken her collar bone, Chris turned to me and said "well, at least I didn't break something." However, over the past 24 hours I've struggled in my mind about what would be worse: broken body or broken spirit. I know that if Chris broke a bone, it would be a LONG road to recovery for both of us. He's not good being cooped up in the house or being told he can't do something. At least I could take him to the doctor or give him pain medication or help him work out one part of his body while the other is healing. This time his spirit is broken and I don't know how to fix it. The 14 hour ride home was good minus the last few after we hit the Colorado border. I'm not sure if it was being back in the state or what, but the spirit broke and there's nothing I can do but wait for it to get better. I can only imagine that this is what is like for a husband to watch his wife in labor. I want so badly to help, but there's nothing I can say or do to make it feel better. If only they had emotional epidurals... I could use one myself.
Ah the interesting job of being the wife and crew of a racer. Would I do it for just anyone? Absolutely not. Would I do it for my wonderful husband who I am always proud of no matter what happens in any piddly race? Any hour of the day.