Happy to be back racing | Evelyn Stevens

This was the first year I have ever put a schedule together. Channeling my skills as a former banker, I made a beautiful Microsoft Excel file with dates, locations, plans, and details, and I even added in some fancy hot key formulas.

I shared my masterpiece with family and friends and I was ready to tackle my 2013 season with precision and detail. All was going well until I literally landed on my face in Italy during a race [Classica Citta di Padova]. My beautiful Excel file went flying out the window as quickly as a few of my teeth had broken off, and I quickly learned that cycling, like life, cannot always be planned.

To embrace a classic cliché, this past month I was given a few lemons — but thanks to my team and amazing support network I have learned how to turn them into sweet and yummy lemonade.

One of the biggest changes in my life since I became a cyclist was addressing the amount of help I needed. In the beginning, I found myself resisting, but I quickly learned if there was any way I was going to succeed in this sport, I needed help. That help has come in all forms: a ride from the airport, a place to stay, being taught how to corner and descend, someone to answer my plethora of questions, someone who helps you laugh after that bad day on the bike, and in so many more ways.

Crashing hard last month multiplied the amount of help I needed; sometimes you don’t realize how lucky and loved you are until something bad happens. I am grateful for everyone who has helped me this past month — it made my recovery as smooth as possible. I now feel rejuvenated and ready to be back on the bike and I have even started to think that my scars and broken teeth are cool.

Feeling rested, happy, and with a bigger smile than before (albeit a bit different looking), I ventured off to the Czech Republic on Tuesday to meet my Specialized-lululemon teammates for the start the Gracia Orlova stage race. My teammates have been amazing this spring; we had a bad string of crashes with myself, Trixi Worrack and Ina-Yoko Teutenberg all hitting the tarmac hard. The rest of the team has been forced to pile quite a lot on their plates. They have been amazing to watch from afar and I am thrilled and honored to be lining up next to them again!

Thursday was the first road stage and I would be lying to say I wasn’t nervous to start racing again. But after being sidelined for a month my hunger and love for bike racing has grown even stronger. When I was struggling in the bunch, I just tried to flood my mind with happy thoughts. I thought about drinking a coffee with my mom and dad in Cape Cod or the beautiful Tuscan view I had last week while staying with Connie and Davis Phinney.

I am lucky to have teammates that are patient and supportive and quick to let me jump on their wheels and help me through the peloton. This spring was not what my Excel file had planned, but I feel lucky to be back on my bike, back to racing and back to smiling, thanks to so much help and support.

Evelyn Stevens went on to win the first stage and place second overall at the Gracia-Orlova stage race held in the Czech Republic from April 24 to 28. Next, Stevens won the Cafe Velo Tri Lakes Time Trial held on May 4 in Colorado.