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Christine D’Ercole: Showing Up

Episode 22

“You’ve got to show up… Showing up is gold.

Does your self-talk get in the way of trying something new? On this week’s episode of Talk of the T-Town, Joan sits down with Christine D’Ercole, Master’s World Champion on the track and Peloton instructor. They explore body image and embracing your body type, dealing with adversity and overcoming it, and the importance of changing your chatter and making yourself proud.

Christine D’Ercole

Christine D’Erocole

Website: https://christinedercole.com
Instagram: @iamicaniwillido
Facebook: @iamicaniwillido


Transcript

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to the Talk of the T-Town Podcast where we discuss all things track cycling. Broadcasting from the Valley Preferred Cycling Center. I’m your host and executive director Joan Hanscom, along with my co-host, athletic director, Andy Lakatosh.

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to the Talk of The T-Town Podcast. I’m your host, Joan Hanscom joined today by my co-worker Maura Beuttel, and our special guest this week, many of you will know her, she is a Masters World Champion on the track, a national champion on the track. She is a storyteller. She is a Peloton instructor. We are thrilled to have with us today, the ever empowering, Christine D’Ercole joining us here in the T-Town Podcast in the month of March, which is a month about women’s empowerment, and it is in the month that we have announced our 50-50 in 50 initiative to get 50%-50% participation of male to female here at the track by our 50th anniversary in 2025.

Joan Hanscom:

I can think of nobody better qualified to help us kick off this message that all women belong at the track than Christine. Christine, thank you so much for joining us. Welcome to the pod. We’re thrilled to have you. Yeah, welcome.

Christine D’Ercole:

Thank you so much for that lovely introduction, and I am really, really excited about this initiative. I know that there’s… It can be, it’s not meant to be an intimidating situation, the banking, the idea that the bikes have no brakes, all of that seems incredibly daunting for a newbie, but at least through my experience, it was never anything but totally welcoming.

Christine D’Ercole:

I want to pass that on. I want to get as many women on bikes as possible, and I’m very proud to say that I’ve got a little posse that, where that I am, I can, I will, I do kit, who some of them have raced before and some of them, my age, older, younger, trying out something completely new and breaking the myth that you can’t engage in a sport after a certain age and breaking that spell of intimidation. I’m really thrilled about this and hopefully, fingers crossed we will get to 50-50.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, I think we’re going to build a coalition. Kim Geist has said, she’s like 100% on board with supporting the mission. Every woman that we’ve talked to since we’ve announced it has been like yeah, sisters, let’s get it done, which I think is awesome. By the way, those kits, the I am, I can, I will do kits are beautiful. They are stunning. You rarely say that about cycling kit and yours are quite good.

Christine D’Ercole:

Thank you.

Joan Hanscom:

I think that’s part of it. You look good, you feel good.

Christine D’Ercole:

It can certainly help. It can certainly help when you’re confident in your superhero cape costume. You go out there on the track.

Joan Hanscom:

I raced for a team one year that the kids were white, and it was a tough year.

Christine D’Ercole:

It was a tough year to rock up to the line feeling your best, I will say.

Joan Hanscom:

Particularly when you’re on the pale side as well, so you’re pale, and you’re wearing white, it was not good.

Christine D’Ercole:

It was a little vulnerable.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh yeah, it was just like, hey, this is white. Yeah, it’s not good. One of the things that I find particularly interesting about you is that you refer to yourself as a storyteller, a professional storyteller, and I have listened to you tell your story, a number of times on a number of different platforms. I think it’s a story worth repeating, certainly in our sport. Like you, I have a background in the ballet. I started when I was four years old and very single mindedly pursued that as far as I could through college. I haven’t really talked about this publicly, terribly a lot. My closer friends know, but certainly not public, I’m old.

Joan Hanscom:

Back when I was dancing, there was a very specific aesthetic, it was the Balanchine years, it was, you had to have very long legs, a very short torso, a very long neck and a very small head, and that was the aesthetic. I remember going to auditions and they would hand you… It was pre-internet, so they would hand you a little card, and the card would have your number on it, and then it would have on the back of the card length of femur to tibia. You were being measured like you were a pony at a horse auction. It didn’t matter how great you were, it just mattered that your femurs were the right length, and you were the sum of your parts.

Joan Hanscom:

I will not go into the details of which ballet company I auditioned for, or who the ballet master was at the time, but I auditioned for a ballet company at 108 pounds. I’m 5’8″, and I was-

Christine D’Ercole:

So am I, wow.

Joan Hanscom:

I was told that I had danced brilliantly, and if I could lose 10 more pounds, I’d be in.

Christine D’Ercole:

That’s so dangerous. That’s so dangerous.

Joan Hanscom:

I have grappled with that my whole life. I had one ballet master who would decide if we were thin enough if we could hold a teacup in our clavicle. You’ve talked about body image and eating disorders, and then you hear athletes in our sport, a lot of junior athletes who wash out of the professional side of our sport, talk about eating disorders. I think athletes like Ruth Winder have been very open about their struggles, Brad Huff very open with their struggles with eating disorders.

Joan Hanscom:

We were joking about how attractive your kid is and how you feel good in your Superman suit.

Christine D’Ercole:

Woman, Superwoman.

Joan Hanscom:

But this whole notion of what we wear when we come out to ride our bikes does play a factor into this whole body image thing. I feel like I’ve always worked against body type. You’ve embraced your body type. I’ve talked a lot about me as a way of setting this up for you to dig into what is I think, probably far more positive body image than what I have experienced.

Christine D’Ercole:

Our journeys are very parallel. I didn’t get to quite that level, there was no auditioning for major companies for me, and I bowed out around age 14, 15. But the experience was the same, where all the little girls are lined up in the back of the room and brought forward one by one as though walking up to a scaffold. They get on that scale, and have their name and their life’s worth written in a number next to their name, and to be told, I was told that I’d have a chance at getting certain parts, which happened to be the costumes with the short tutus if I’d lose another 10 pounds.

Christine D’Ercole:

My smallest was 112, and I did lots of very, very harming things to myself in order to get there. I remember asking the dance teacher, “How do I look now?” I was so proud. I was so proud of that number on the scale, and she said, “Well, now you look like a regular person, but you don’t look like a dancer yet, keep going.”

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Christine D’Ercole:

This is so destructive. I knew I was built a little bit bigger than the other girls. But in my head, this myth developed that I was so much bigger than everyone else, and she’s a big girl. I carried this, I’m a big girl story, I still carry it, and I’ve done a lot of podcasts where I’ve been asked, “Well how did you achieve this grand state of acceptance?” I’m better at how I talked to myself about it. I don’t know that… I’m in a way better place than I was. I don’t know that there’s an official, I’ve got this down and I figured it out completely because those little voices, they get routed from that very, very early age.

Christine D’Ercole:

Just for transparency, I’m still aware when I put my kid on, I’m still aware of myself, even when I get up to teach. But then I shift my gears. Well, that’s part of the work that I do with my workshops is about how do we cope with those moments where we’re saying all of this terrible negative stuff to ourselves? Because we still got to go on.

Joan Hanscom:

Right.

Christine D’Ercole:

We better change… Nobody can tell us… Sorry, everyone can tell us lots of great thing is about how great we look or how talented and strong we are, but until we hear it from ourselves, none of it’s going to be sustainable.

Joan Hanscom:

I think that’s so important for our junior athletes, in particular, to hear you say that, because they’re at the age that we were at when we started hearing the negative self talk about oh, just 10 pounds more, and you’ll be awesome, or you think now like, oh, well, just 10 more pounds, and my watts to kilo are going to be bonkers.

Christine D’Ercole:

That’s what I was going to say next, your power to weight ratio is going to improve. I’ve been through this story in my head where it’s not about, I don’t need to lose weight, I want to change my power to weight ratio, and I will be this much faster in my 200 meter time trial or whatever race. While that might be true, and I’m sure it’s 100% true that if I lost whatever amount of weight, I’d improve that power to weight ratio, will I be happy? Because-

Joan Hanscom:

Or healthier.

Christine D’Ercole:

… I have to check myself. At one point, how is the time of my 200 meter time trial any different than the number on the scale? Whether you’re trying to make a number go up your speed or down your time trial time, you’re still equating your worth with a number. I have to say when I went to worlds last… The time is a warp, right? Not last year, the year before.

Joan Hanscom:

Before the Great Interruption.

Christine D’Ercole:

Before the Great Interruption, I remember and I don’t know, I think everybody does this, you try to get a sense of where you stand amongst the competition, by doing all this research and Googling everybody else’s time and try to get idea of how fit they look, and to create this whole monstrosity in your head, where you almost decide whether or not you have a chance of winning the race before you’ve ever stepped on the track. We disguise that under, I’m just being realistic. But if I really went with that, then there’s no way I should have won that team sprint with [inaudible 00:13:00] if I just used the numbers. You know how they do the race predictor.

Joan Hanscom:

Right.

Christine D’Ercole:

That makes me so angry.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, my coach once said, we were at a training camp for a team I was racing on and everybody was like, when we weren’t on the bike, everyone’s like, FTP test, what’s your… Of course, somebody’s FTP, who’s five foot two has nothing to do with your FTP at five foot eight. But we were all going down the rabbit hole. He finally said, “Look, if FTP was the only thing to winning bike races, you’d show up with your power test, and they’d write you a check at the registration desk.”

Christine D’Ercole:

Exactly.

Joan Hanscom:

When I start to go down the rabbit hole or spiral a little bit on numbers, which, as a person with OCD, I can very easily do, I try to remind myself of that conversation where he just looked at the whole group of us and went, “If it was only FTP, we wouldn’t even have to race our bikes.”

Christine D’Ercole:

That is a tremendous statement. I do try to impart that fact in my classes as well, because I see a lot of people post, I improved my FTP by X amount or it went down by two points. It’s just become another scale for self-judgment, and it really does not have anything to do with your ability to win, and it doesn’t determine your ability to win, and it definitely does not determine your worth.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. I think that, that is such an important thing for folks to understand because it is so easy to get into training peaks or into your Peloton class, or whatever your swift results are start to be like, “Oh, this is hopeless, or, why am I bothering or I don’t belong here.” I think that the answer is, look, very few people are ever going to go to the Olympics, but you can ride a bike for your whole life. If you like doing the thing, embrace doing the thing for the purpose of doing the thing, and not necessarily for an outcome, but do it because you enjoy the process of training, do it because you enjoy the social life, do it because you enjoy competition, whether it’s against yourself or other people, but don’t let the numbers intimidate you away.

Christine D’Ercole:

Don’t let those numbers take your joy. Exactly.

Joan Hanscom:

I think that that’s an incredibly empowering way to approach sport. Again, specifically with cycling, because we can do it till we’re old. You think about things like football for boys, they play football in grammar school and high school. Most people stop then because most people don’t move on to college, certainly don’t play once you’ve graduated from college, if you played there. You can’t do it for life. It’s not a for life sport.

Joan Hanscom:

But cycling is a for life sport. I got my first bike when I was four years old, and I raced around my block, my one block that my mother allowed me to ride my bike on for hours at a time. Weirdly enough, I’m still doing the equivalent of that many decades later, I’m still doing the same thing. Maybe that explains why I like to ride the same routes all the time, because I was programmed as a child to go around one block. But we can do that late into life, and we can find competition where we are.

Joan Hanscom:

I think that goes back to this whole thing of wanting more women to feel empowered to come out to the track or come out to bike racing or to try a Peloton class. You don’t have to race bikes, but you can love riding them, and you can feel empowered riding them and being part of that community and have an identity as a cyclist. That’s not scary, but I think a lot of people are scared.

Christine D’Ercole:

I think so. When I share the type of cycling that I do, there’s a wave of, oh my God, that I’m so intimidated by that. Honestly, how is it any different than skiing, in terms of intimidation factor or scary to have no brakes, you don’t really have brakes… It’s very similar in a lot of ways to skiing, and that demystifies it. But I think another piece that can be intimidating that I’m obviously trying very hard to help people break through is, those kits, you’re exposed, there you are, zipped up skin tight, and not every single kit is going to hug your thighs in the most flattering manner.

Christine D’Ercole:

That then ties back to all of the shame that as soon as our bodies start to change in puberty, and you may have been a tiny skinny kid, and then suddenly you’re blooming into all of these curves, and you become self-conscious and self-aware and trying to hide those things. I know that dance did that to me, it made me ashamed of my body, and specifically, my thighs, my legs, because they wouldn’t put me in that short tutu because my legs were bigger than the other girls, and I would stand out.

Christine D’Ercole:

When I discovered cycling back in the ’90s and started winning races, I suddenly became proud of the thing I had been ashamed of. That was a tremendous breakthrough for me. I was finally able to be successful and have joy in my body, because of my body, not in spite of it.

Joan Hanscom:

You embraced it.

Christine D’Ercole:

In dance, in theater, in modeling, in all of these spaces, your success is based on someone else’s opinion of your physique. The Balanchine body, if you don’t have that length of femur, you’re out of luck. While genetics plays a part in success in many different ways, in many different sports, some people are better built for one thing than another. In cycling, I was successful because of myself, because of my decisions, and because of strength that I naturally had, not because I was pretty enough, or tall enough or skinny enough. When you go to the track, and you see, this is so empowering to me, I love showing up at the track and seeing all the different bodies, all of these beautifully strong bodies, all different shapes.

Christine D’Ercole:

I want all women to see that, because the fight for the thinner thighs is real out there. The messages that I get back when I say in a class, or somewhere on social, you are bigger than a smaller pair of pants, it’s like a revelation, and it is a revelation. We’ve been taught that, until you fit into that smaller pair of pants, you’re not worth being seen, and we all know that this is just not true, we have to break that.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, and it’s a hard thing to break. It’s easy for us to say that. Those are simple words to say out loud. But the bigger challenge is to internalize that and to actually believe it. It’s particularly hard, I think, when the outside voices are still amplifying the other message. I think in the past year here, one of the most disturbing things that happened to me, and I lost a ton of weight, I had a bunch of surgery. Over the course of having three major surgeries in six months, I’ve lost 30 pounds, and I’m happy, like, yay, I’ve lost 30 pounds, and that’s the old brain, that’s my weird monkey brain kicking in that says that’s better.

Joan Hanscom:

But I had a parent of a junior athlete in front of the junior athlete roll up to me and say, oh, somebody has been riding their bike, you look really fit. There was a moment in that exchange where I felt good. Oh, I look the part of a bike racer now. Whereas before, maybe I didn’t, even though I’ve been racing bikes for 20 years.

Joan Hanscom:

Then instantly behind that was, oh, crap, you did not just say that in front of your kid, because it did a number on my head in that exchange. But then I thought, what’s the message to the kid? I was just like-

Christine D’Ercole:

That’s a huge moment of reflection.

Joan Hanscom:

We confront that all the time. That wasn’t at the track, that was a road setting. But still, it makes me feel glad that you have not had that experience here at the track, and that’s certainly the environment we’re trying to create here is that you don’t have that experience here at the track. But it does exist in our sport, and we have to fight that, we definitely have to do what you do, which is look around and say, look at all these great, strong, athletic people. It doesn’t matter if they have short legs or long legs.

Christine D’Ercole:

It definitely doesn’t matter. We need to have those conversations in the infield with each other, that you’re fine just the way you are and you have no idea what you’re capable of, just the way you are. We have to change that chatter, and really, really embrace real bodies, because they are far more powerful, and they’re far more capable of making us proud if we would simply, simply allow it.

Joan Hanscom:

Yep. That’s the hard part though. That’s where the work gets done.

Christine D’Ercole:

It requires risk taking, it requires people showing up as they are. It requires taking the risk of showing up, of doing something new, of not judging oneself, and entering the track, entering the space with curiosity, about one’s own capacity for a possibility. It requires bravery. But the more people who do that, it does become contagious, and over time will change the community, will change the environment, will change the atmosphere when more and more people do that.

Christine D’Ercole:

I think it requires conversations like this, it requires things like the Women’s Wednesdays. It’s the communication and the conversations that’s going to help change the conversation in one’s own head.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, let’s set that… We started with the deep dark side of things, we went right to the heart of the beast. But let’s turn the narrative. Because you said, let’s see the possibilities. Let’s grasp that topic now, because I love that topic of the possibilities. We had the great year of interruption, we had COVID, where I like to pretend that that year just didn’t actually happen. That it exists in a weird parallel universe. But 2021 is coming up, and hopefully things are a little better this year than they were last year. I think we have lots of reasons for optimism between vaccines and numbers coming down and more knowledge, more tools this year to be safe.

Joan Hanscom:

What I viewed as a year of great possibility, and again, we have an opportunity this year, more people than ever bought bikes during COVID. You can’t buy a bike in a bike store right now. You can’t buy parts for your bike. So many people went out and bought them. I think there was certainly a massive run on Peloton bikes.

Christine D’Ercole:

Yeah, there was a little one.

Joan Hanscom:

Maura herself is a living testament to that. I view this as a year of great possibility here at the track for just more people, more kids, more women, more men, more people, more families. But let’s talk about what you view as possible for you this year, in this great year of renewed possibility. What’s ahead for you, Christine in 2021?

Christine D’Ercole:

For me, I had the experience of actually being totally sidelined from my training for the past month. I was diagnosed with a squamous cell carcinoma. I had to go through its removal and the reconstruction around it on my face, smack in the middle. I literally was not allowed to move for three weeks. Now, I’m just coming back very, very, very carefully.

Joan Hanscom:

You look great, by the way. Our listeners can’t see you because we’re not a video podcast, but I can see you and you look terrific.

Christine D’Ercole:

Thank you, my glasses are hiding it, and I’m a little skilled with the makeup. But I was plowing through my training, and I actually, before this happened, a few weeks before the surgery, I was speaking with my coach Missy Erickson, the amazing Missy Erickson and I kept tweaking things. I tweak my elbow, I tweak my knee, I tweak my… Every other week, it was something that I had to modify and adapt for, and I was like, I need to shift gears.

Christine D’Ercole:

So, did things a little differently. I wasn’t able to lift what I wanted to lift, I wasn’t able to squat what I wanted to squat, and my headspace is going, oh boy, you’re supposed to be making gains now, you’re supposed to be building your base now, and you can’t right now. Then this happened. It’s been a big leap of faith to simply accept, this is where I am and I’m starting from scratch.

Christine D’Ercole:

I’m sure some base is still in there after as many years, as I’ve put into to cycling. However, I am starting with no expectations right now. I want to do nationals, I want to do worlds, I’m planning on showing up, but with a completely different attitude. I really had a hard time in 2019 at Nationals with my headspace, I really, really struggled with my chatter. From there to hear, I feel a tremendous shift in terms of actually being able to do what I say, what I preach about entering a space with curiosity and not judging yourself. Not judging yourself, on your own opinion of yourself or against anybody else’s opinion of you, or against anybody else’s times or power to weight.

Christine D’Ercole:

Coming in naked, basically. We’ll see what happens. But I plan on showing up. The thing that makes my heart race is, I want to stick with Masters to start, but I remember in 2018, when I came down, and there was UCI races and Masters races happening, and I remember thinking, well, I don’t do elite, I don’t do UCI. I’m not fast enough for that. Then I remember seeing several of the women who I had just raced with, do UCI races, and I said, oh, damn, you cannot ignore the fact that you were just in a race with those women, and you were hanging with them and doing well, doing great, and now they are hanging with the elites, then you have no excuse but to try to get out there and see what happens.

Christine D’Ercole:

It was that shift again of, okay, no expectations, let’s see what happens. There was that one UCI scratch race, and it was a C-1 race. I forget what the parameters are, but I think there were five countries present and cyclists of a certain caliber. There was a breakaway, and I found myself in a chase, literally found myself in a chase, it was on the girls’ wheel, and suddenly we were in the front of the pack, and I’m like, oh no, this is not what you… You think you’re a sprinter, sprinters don’t do this, they wait at the back, they don’t go for breakaways, and there I was, there we were, and we caught the girl who was ahead of us, we went by her. We kept very, very gracefully taking turns.

Christine D’Ercole:

It was such a beautiful experience of sportswomanship. Then the bell rang, and I found just a tiny bit of extra kick there as I came around, and I was in the front, there was no more sharing laps. This was to the death, and the pack was charging and Kim Geist is there and I think Rushlee Buchanan was there. I’m old enough to be some of their mom. Then I crossed the finish line first, and I won that UCI category one race against big, big, big deals.

Christine D’Ercole:

Then that other voice in my head says, will they let you go? Well, there is always this give and take of under estimating someone and it being a mistake.

Joan Hanscom:

That goes back to the earlier, it’s not just your FTP that wins bike races, your brain has to win bike races too.

Christine D’Ercole:

Exactly. That was such an empowering moment of not having any expectation at all and enjoying myself.

Joan Hanscom:

You just have to show up and let it go from there.

Christine D’Ercole:

Yep, you’ve got to show up… Showing up is gold.

Joan Hanscom:

Right? It’s funny that you say that, I mentioned earlier I had three big surgeries, two iliac artery reconstructions, and one other surgery. Those were in the fall of 2019. Obviously, when you have iliac arteries that are blocked or shut off, or you don’t get blood flow to your legs, which is exceedingly problematic, if you want to race bikes. It definitely impedes your performance. For years, I had had this building up of this iliac artery issue. Then I got them fixed. I finally got diagnosed, which, it’s a hard diagnosis to get. Finally got the diagnosis, finally had the big surgeries, was off the bike for 12 weeks, and was all looking forward to the 2020 season to come back and test the legs, and see, well, was it really the iliac arteries the reason why I was performing the way I was performing?

Joan Hanscom:

Then 2020 was not the year to test the legs. Another year has gone by, you’re a year older. I still want to test the legs this summer, myself, and it is that leap of, all right, can I show up and do it? And can I accept the consequences? Can I accept that either I’m going to have the legs that I think I’m going to have, because I had all this work done and I’ve tried hard in the time intervening to get back, or have too many years intervened where you weren’t a good bike racer to come back to it. Then it’s a real mental battle. But you got to show up to find out, you got to show up to get the answers.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s fun to talk to you where you’re in a similar, although-

Christine D’Ercole:

Very similar place, yes.

Joan Hanscom:

I don’t recommend 12 weeks, by the way.

Christine D’Ercole:

My heart banged in my chest when you said 12 weeks. After a day or two of not moving, I’m always like, I would like to move.

Joan Hanscom:

I was allowed to walk. So, I became the world’s greatest walker, which is so not a bicycling thing. But I was going for QOMs on the local trail network, walking QOMs, which was ridiculous. I was going out and doing 12 mile walks after work in the dark with a headlamp on. I was like, “I’m going to get fit again.” I was out there walking my little heart out, because it was the only thing I was allowed to do. I tend to become a very, very unpleasant person if I don’t burn off my nervous energy, of which there is a lot.

Joan Hanscom:

I became a champion walker. At one point, I thought I should just do this, I’m really good at this. I could do race walking, I’m good at this thing.

Christine D’Ercole:

There’s a lot of people who have to change their modality. So many runners come to cycling because of running injuries.

Joan Hanscom:

Nobody goes the other way, though.

Christine D’Ercole:

Nobody goes the way though, this is true.

Joan Hanscom:

Nobody does that.

Christine D’Ercole:

I’ve been really inspired by a lot of Peloton riders who have had setbacks and been sidelined by limb loss, by replacement joints, and COVID itself. I read their stories, and it gives me perspective on my situation like okay. It becomes a mirror. We’re all going through the same thing, so many of us going through the same thing of trying to… First, how do you get to the starting line again, with a different body, with different lungs, with less limbs, or with changed situations, and how do you move around new scars, both mental and physical.

Christine D’Ercole:

If we, through this conversation can help encourage people to walk up to that line and acknowledge all of the fears that are running through your head, I am scared, I am petrified and also acknowledge that in that is, I am hopeful, I can try, I will begin. Use whatever framework one uses, that’s the framework that I use for myself. I am where I am, I can do something about it, here’s what I will do, and then do it.

Joan Hanscom:

I think the last one is the one that gets me right, is I will do it, I will do it. That’s the first step, and then it’s the second step, and it’s every day deciding to do every day. You got to get to the I do every day. My mom had MS for 60 years. She obviously struggled and suffered. It was painful. But she said, “You know, Joanie, I don’t get depressed. Every day, I get up and I move forward.” What a lesson, right?

Christine D’Ercole:

Absolutely.

Joan Hanscom:

Every day, you get up and you move forward. Some days are better than others, but they’re all days, and you can do something every day. Sometimes that might just be a very small thing. It doesn’t mean you set a new power record. It just means you do something. What that something is-

Christine D’Ercole:

It’s very powerful to not judge ourselves whether what we did was big or small.

Joan Hanscom:

Right.

Christine D’Ercole:

It’s like putting in the base miles, and just keep going.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I know Maura over here, she’s my baby bike racer. I’m going to teach her how to race bikes this year.

Maura Beuttel:

I was one of the lucky ones to get a bike during COVID, which good.

Christine D’Ercole:

That’s fantastic.

Maura Beuttel:

Joan has been taken me out and mentoring me and showing me the ropes, which has been great.

Christine D’Ercole:

I love it.

Joan Hanscom:

I’m going to turn her into a roadie. Sorry, track can’t have her. Need more roadies. But Maura, I think you’ve been doing the Peloton all through the COVID with Christine, what’s your experience been doing?

Maura Beuttel:

Getting the Peloton, and you take the first couple of classes, you take instructor here, instructor there, and just figuring out what kind of class you like, what instructors and stuff. I got really into Kendall Toole’s classes. She kicks my butt every day. Then I came across you I’m like, wait, she comes down and races at T-Town, I should take her classes, I know her through people, this is cool.

Maura Beuttel:

I took your class, and I was like, wow, this is just so… Everything, the self-talk. I’m coming into cycling from swimming, and just experiencing a lot of stuff that we’ve already talked about with the numbers and everything through that and coming into cycling, and I never used my legs in swimming at all. It’s great, coming into this and actually doing a sport where I can use them. But everything in your classes… I’ve actually taken all of your Haleakalā rides.

Christine D’Ercole:

I read that. Congratulations.

Maura Beuttel:

Thank you. They were really hard. I can’t imagine how you did it all together, five hours. Actually up a volcano, I’m sitting up in our Peloton room looking outside at three feet of snow and I’m like, I hate this, this is awful, and I wanted to quit so bad, and I was like, no, you’re not allowed to quit. If she can do it, all together, you can do it separately. You have 20 minutes to go.

Maura Beuttel:

The last 10 minutes or your final ride, I wanted to die. I was like, my legs can’t handle it anymore, I have nothing left. You had said at that point, you had switched your frame of mind from I am, I can, I will, I do, to don’t fucking stop, you asshole. I was like, yes, I have never resonated with something so much in my entire life. It’s like you put in over four hours of work, you have 10 minutes left to go, you just have to keep chugging along and doing the thing. It didn’t hurt that the last song you had was Kings and Queens by 30 Seconds to Mars. It was such a great song to finish with.

Maura Beuttel:

I finished that last hour and I’m sitting there on the bike and I’m crying because I’m like, oh my God.

Joan Hanscom:

She’s texting me by my [inaudible 00:44:41]

Maura Beuttel:

Yeah, and I’m texting her. Every day I’m like, oh, my output is this now and I actually had to retake my FTP because the first time I did it was all messed up. I know nothing about any of us right now. So, Molly Joan, I don’t know if this is good or not. She’s like, “No, you’re doing a great job. Thumbs up, keep going.” All the thumbs up.

Maura Beuttel:

But getting so close to something and wanting to quit at the end because you’re so drained, but the feeling of accomplishment, you’re so proud of yourself like, damn, I really did the thing. I can’t even imagine how you must have felt when you got to the top of that volcano and seeing the view, and just having it all be worth it.

Christine D’Ercole:

Well, you know, what was worth it was not the view of the vista, which was beautiful. But it was a different view of myself, and what I was capable of. I saw myself differently. Yeah, there were so many moments that I just wanted it to hurt less.

Maura Beuttel:

Well, and your bike wasn’t geared right either.

Christine D’Ercole:

No, that was… What a dumb mistake. For someone who’s been around bikes as long as I have, I’m not an expert by any means, but why… I’m sorry, but why didn’t the bike shop suggest, maybe you might want a different [inaudible 00:46:18] They were lovely, by the way, they were probably just busy. Also, people right up that volcano on completely inappropriate bikes, and it can be done. That challenge, it was humbling, and it made me proud at the same time.

Christine D’Ercole:

The relentlessness of it, which I tried very, very hard to impart on the rides, I did replicating it on Peloton that, it’s either steep or less steep, but you never really get a break, so you have to reframe what your break is. When you’re on a switchback where the stretch is a little bit less intense than the one before, you allow that, because you realize, you’re only at 3,000 feet, and there’s 10,000 to be covered. So often we start with so much ambition, and we just want to plow through it. I’m going to do this in four hours.

Christine D’Ercole:

I think one absolute elite professional guy did it in four hours with support and no stopping. We get excited about doing something like that, and go out of the gates too hard. One of the big things that climbing Haleakalā reinforced in me, taught me again, because I think we need to learn lessons over and over and over again, is patience, patience. In all of those moments where I heard the words in my head, wow, you know you don’t have to do this. Wow, your lower back is really fatigued. Your butt could use a break. But standing up is going to cost your thighs too much to give your butt the break.

Christine D’Ercole:

Letting those thoughts pass, and not getting stuck in them was something that I experienced. Yes, you’re feeling all of these things. It became very, like in Savasana in yoga where you’re lying there and your nose is itching, and the cue is don’t move and allow the sensations to pass. It happens in a bike race to me a lot. I’m like, oh my gosh, this hurts, that hurts. I can’t hold on to this intensity anymore.

Christine D’Ercole:

Catching yourself, refocusing shifting the words in your head, get back in the race, get back in the game, get back in the ride, focus on the top of the hill, focus not on what’s happening in the body, but focus on where you’re going. You’ve got to stay in the thing long enough to get to that point, to have that conversation, to change the chatter, to keep going. All of that conversation is how I got to the top of that volcano.

Christine D’Ercole:

I remember getting to where you can see the observation thing, the goal, the building that says 10,023 feet of elevation. Right before it is like a 10% incline, and you’ve got to be kidding me, you’ve got to be kidding me, how can you put that here? Then I found a way, because I wasn’t going to quit that close to surge up the top. After everything my body had been through, there is something about seeing that finish line that lights a fire.

Christine D’Ercole:

It was such a beautiful moment, it was such a beautiful moment. Changing that chatter, that moment when you flip the switch. I think that’s why I love racing so much, or cycling in general, because it gives me the opportunity to encounter those moments on a regular basis, and come out the other side proud.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s it. I think that’s the message that I want to leave our listeners with today. Is that… Or maybe potential listeners, maybe people who haven’t come out and raced yet, but somebody who does race is going to say, oh, you’ve been thinking about, you should listen to this podcast. For folks who haven’t come out and given a shot, whether it’s road or track or mountain bike or gravel, whatever the thing, if there’s a message to take away from this podcast today is that do the thing-

Christine D’Ercole:

Make yourself proud.

Joan Hanscom:

… experience the thing, and then have that moment at the end. Because if you have that moment at the end just once, you’re going to want to have that moment again. I remember the first marathon I ran, I was like, that last point too, I was just like, I hate this, I’m never doing this again, this is the worst thing ever. Why do people do this? This is barbaric.

Joan Hanscom:

The second I finished the line, I was like, when can I do it again? I even caught myself like, wow, that was a quick switch. Literally 10 steps ago, you were vowing never to do something this stupid ever again, and here you are saying when’s the next one I can sign up for, because that moment of the achievement, whether it’s crossing the line in your first crit, or doing your first race here at the track or doing a gravel race and finishing and having a really grand old time with the beer tent, it doesn’t matter what the thing is, but that experience of finishing the thing or Peloton ride for Maura, when she was texting me after stage five, it doesn’t matter what the thing is, but when you have the thing and you finish it, it feels so good.

Christine D’Ercole:

It feels so good.

Joan Hanscom:

It doesn’t matter if you did it the fastest, it doesn’t matter if you won or didn’t win, it doesn’t matter, you did the thing. I guess that would be out of this whole, I think rather beautiful long conversation is come out and do the thing. The moral of the story is-

Christine D’Ercole:

If you’re afraid of it, all the more reason. I think if we have inklings, maybe we thought about trying that once, that we’re obligated to our potential, we are obligated to our potential to listen to those inklings, take that risk, show up without judgment, see what happens, and when you realize you’re at that moment, wow, why did I do this?

Christine D’Ercole:

Then you get to that line, and you have that flip, you realize that making yourself proud becomes addictive, in the best way possible.

Joan Hanscom:

Yes. That’s where we should end this conversation today, because we can’t hit a higher note. That’s the message of the day. Right, let’s hit that note, all, let’s go into 2021 looking for that, here at the track and we can’t wait to see you back down here.

Christine D’Ercole:

I cannot wait, it’s been way too long.

Joan Hanscom:

I hope you have another night where you can bring your fan club out, because that was brilliant.

Christine D’Ercole:

That’s so beautiful.

Joan Hanscom:

We’ll look forward to having the cheering section up in the stands, socially distanced and masked wearing, but still out to cheer, and it will be terrific. I cannot thank you enough for coming on the pod today and sharing our goal of 50-50 in 50. I think with a whole lot of voices like yours chiming in, we’ll get there. So, thank you so much.

Christine D’Ercole:

Thank you so much for having me. It was an absolute pleasure to speak with you.

Joan Hanscom:

This has been the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. We look forward to bringing you more content like this. If you liked what you heard, please like, share, follow comment, it all helps us gain listeners. Please, if you did like the message today and you do have friends who are track curious, share this message with them, tell them to listen to this podcast and encourage folks to come out and try the thing and to get that same feeling of crossing the line or scaling the volcano. We look forward to seeing everybody here at the track.

Joan Hanscom:

This has been the Talk of the T-Town Podcast with host Joan Hanscom and Andy Lakatosh. Thanks for joining us for this week’s episode brought to you by the B. Braun Medical Inc. Head on over to our website, thevelodrome.com, where you can check out the show notes and subscribe so you’ll never miss an episode.