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Race like a mother.

Posted by Lexi Miller on
A couple of years ago, we met Michelle Hansard when we hosted a trunk show in Dallas, Texas.  Michelle is a bike mechanic and mother of four.  In case you missed her story, your can read it here.  In honor of Mother's Day, we caught up with Michelle to see how she's hangin' in during these times...
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LM: The last time we spoke, you said you were planning on getting into racing in the coming year (2019?).  Looks like you did just that.  What were some of the highlights from your first season?  What were some of the challenges?

MH: When I started my first year in racing (2019) I did not know how amazing it truly was going to be. The first race I did was so hard and so defeating. It was a combined field, with multiple categories, so it was really fast and hard. I wanted to give up and I felt like I was going to get sick on my bike, but I pressed on. After the finish, I was so glad I kept going because I placed 3rd in my Cat! I was hooked. 

A few races down the road I discovered the USA Crit Series. This was the most amazing racing production I had ever experienced. Cameras, TVs at corners, the races were televised, amazing announcers, as well as D1 racers! I then tried to make it to as many of those races as I could. Getting to race in those and finishing in the top 10 was one of the great highlights of my racing in 2019. Traveling for races is also a wonderful part of the race. With the USA Crit Series I got to see places I may not have ever gotten to. Tulsa Oklahoma, Boise Idaho, and Littleton Colorado were the three I was able to make it to last year. 

As I raced, I became a part of a movement that caught fire here in Texas for women's racing. We encouraged each other as we stood up for equality in women's racing. We had record numbers for women signing up to race all across Texas to raise awareness that we are sick of being paid less and men being allowed to race in our races and take our podiums as well as other injustices. Through this movement I met an amazing woman from Great Britain and soon I became a member of the InternationElles. I am now the mechanic for the InternationElles cycling team who raises awareness for gender equality in cycling by riding the Tour De France the day before the men. 

The challenges at first were figuring out the formula. What do I eat the night before a race as well as the morning of? How long do I warm up before a race. How much do I train to get stronger and not be tired or to sore for a race? All things that could get figured out with time and more racing.

LM: What's it like being a mom who races bikes?  Do you feel like that defines you at all, sets you apart in a good or bad way?  Or is it a non-issue?  Are your kids following on your footsteps?

MH: I'll be honest, it is extremely hard to be a single mother and race. I am pulled in so many directions already by being a single mom and throwing time to train and race in with it was a bit overwhelming at times. But the reward and being a part of that community makes it worth it. A part of me wants to do it to make my kids proud of me and look up to me. I want to inspire them to work hard, be great, give life their best, and do amazing things. I do see how it sets me apart in bad way due to the fact that I just do not have the time I need to train as hard as I could. But I do as much as I can and give it my best when I do. 

My two girls, who are the younger ones, love to go to my races. A photographer (Stevie Emmons) captured them cheering me on at the sidelines during a race and later sent me the photograph. The photographer told me how much my girls and I inspire her, it brought tears to my eyes. It was such a beautiful moment captured. My 8 year old daughter was very inspired by my racing and said she wants to be a racer like me. I was able to get her own racing bicycle for her birthday and we have been working on her training. I am so excited to see how far she will go. 

LM: Seeing as COVID-19 has shut down nearly every competitive event, what are you doing to try to stay focused and motivated without having races as goal events?

MH: With COVID-19 changing the face of racing this year, it has been more of an emotional struggle than anything. I had planned to race in all but two the the USA Crits as well as be a part of The Tour De France with the InternationElles. It is so hard to try to replicate the efforts your body and mind exerts during a race so I feel that my fitness is not as it would be if the races have been happening. But I am still training. My kids are home from school so I am not able to go do long road rides so most of my riding is on my trainer. To keep it fresh I move my trainer to the back yard or in the living room with the kids while they watch a movie. Sitting on a trainer for 2-3 hours is no walk in the park! I do whatever I can to keep me motivated. Cookies motivate me too! If I do my workout, I earned a cookie.... or 10. 
I have also incorporated running as of late. I do a quick run around the block while my 15 year old watches the younger ones. 

The TDF has not been canceled but postponed, so I am training for that. It is what is keeping me going, along with wanting to blow the competition away when we do race again. Though I am the InternationElles mechanic, I am still going to be able to ride some of the stages so I have to be ready for that endeavor. 

LM: How are you balancing all of it?  Homeschooling, your fitness, your sanity?  I saw an IG post of you on your trainer next to your pool, which looked like a pretty good hack!

Hahaha! Yes, training by the pool is like staring at the prize! Knowing I get to jump in after I get my work done. That IG post is an example of me balancing my kids getting to have fun and I getting my training in. I think I am so used to going 100 miles an hour and staying busy out of my mind that I just do it, I don't really have a choice not to. Every moment of the day I have something I have to do. I am beginning to realize my level of stress is almost too much but my cycling world brings me sanity. If only it could pay my bills! I hope that one day something I am doing within the cycling world will, so then all I have to focus on is cycling and my kids. That would be heaven! 

I have had a small break since I was furloughed from work and I have absolutely LOVED it. I have been able to give so much more time to my kids and myself since I wasn't working. But I am sad to say they are making me come back next week, which brings a whole new set of stresses on. 

My day since COVID-19 usually looks like this:
Homeschool for 3--6 hours 
Lunch break
Laundry
House work
Get on my trainer  
Cook dinner
Get kids ready for bed
Sleep
Repeat 

Before Covid, my day would start at 6am and I would not be able to stop until around 9 or 10pm. I do hope to find a job I can work from home so I am not so exhausted all the time. But no matter what, it is worth it. All the training, all the time that cycling takes makes the rest of the hustle worth the fight for the time to do it. I just pedal on. 

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