Do What Scares You

By Carrie Barrett – March 1, 2015
photography by Flasbax23

I love the famous Eleanor Roosevelt quote that says, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Doing something scary isn't necessarily about going to the dentist, swimming with snakes, or deleting your Facebook account (although those things can bring out irrational fears in almost anyone). 

To me, doing something that scares you means getting out of your comfort zone and accomplishing something that you want to do, even if it seems a little scary or risky. Pushing those boundaries leads to more confidence and competence in anything you do, and getting out of your comfort zone prepares you for new endeavors. In essence, it makes it easier to push your boundaries in the future. Doing something that scares you means taking “inspired action” regardless of the potential outcomes. The more you do something, the easier it becomes. Or so they say.

In December, I was sitting at the Austin Fit offices brainstorming my columns for the year ahead. I write a lot of training plans, but realized I had already tackled most of the common distances and larger events in town—including 10ks, half-marathons, sprint triathlons, and even half-Ironmans. I wanted to spread my wings and challenge myself to try something new and hopefully bring a few readers along with me. What other event could I train for, write about, and encourage others to also try? What is another unique Austin event that I could feature? I decided on that cold December day that I would try my hand at something I swore I would never have the guts to do even though it seemed super intriguing. I committed (out loud) to try crit racing at the Austin Driveway Series this spring and summer. 

Talk about doing one thing a day that scares you.

I love bikes. I love riding and teaching others to ride. I'm an Ambassador for Specialized Women bikes and it's part of my duty to encourage women to try something new and explore life's possibilities on two wheels. I'm all about charity rides, adventure cycling trips, and even triathlons. All of those are group activities that involve being on your bike, but in a more relaxed atmosphere. Even most long-distance triathlons require a four-bike-length distance between you and the cyclist in front of you. It gives you time to think, react, eat, and even soak in the scenery. That’s my kind of cycling.

Criterium racing, or crit racing, is held on a short, closed course. Cyclists complete multiple laps on the course and race against competitors in their own experience category (or “Cat” for short). If you are a beginner, you begin as a Cat 5 and—through a number of race registrations and points earned—can eventually make your way up to the competitive elite Cat 1 status. Strategy, instincts, and technique are everything in this sport. I’ve never raced in an atmosphere where it’s mandatory to be within inches of the rider, in front of you at speeds that are already uncomfortable, while throwing in sharp turns and corners along with 50 of your closest friends riding right next to you. Think NASCAR on two wheels. 

Fortunately, Austin has one of the nation’s premiere venues and race series located just east of downtown. "The Driveway" is a privately owned racetrack, nestled between the Colorado River and Walnut Creek. The racetrack’s continuous ribbon of smooth asphalt has become a mainstay for central Texas cyclists. As social as it is competitive, the Driveway is a family friendly event that continues Austin’s 28-plus year tradition of Thursday night races. Race season lasts from March through October, giving crit experts and wannabes plenty of opportunities to get out there and challenge themselves.

I’ve been to a couple of Thursday night races as a spectator, but never dreamed I would dare myself to toe the start line with other women. To encourage new people to enter the sport, Holland Racing (the event owners and producers) have different theme nights including ladies nights, clinics, and even junior racing. I know I’ll participate in at least one of the Ladies Nights even though some of these ladies are able to lap some of the men out there. 

 To take on this endeavor, I’ve employed the services of one of the best cycling and multisport coaches in town, Chris Toriggino, owner of Athlete Architecture. He is well-known for coaching athletes of all levels, including some of the most competitive female cyclists in the circuit. I may never be as good as some of these athletes, but I’m willing to give it a try. I’ll admit: I’m scared of crashing, being dropped by the pack, and finishing in last place. I’m also inspired and motivated to crush those irrational fears that may be holding me back right now. That’s why I’ve enlisted a coach to help me, and I highly encourage you to consult a coach when you’re ready to tackle something new. They can help build you a personalized training roadmap.

I hope you’ll follow along with this plan and column over the next few months as I go from timid cyclist to crit racer. I hope my journey inspires you to try something new this year, even if that means just coming to the race series as a spectator. I’ll keep you up to date with my progress, and I hope you’ll keep me up to date with yours. 

Do one thing a day that scares you. 



Coach Carrie’s 12-Week Crit Training Plan

Week 1 

Monday/ Bike: 1 HR Aerobic Endurance Ride, zone 2 effort 
Strength: 4 Rounds of Strength: 25 Squats
15 Push ups
25 Full ROM Situps
20 Dead lifts

Tuesday/ Rest

Wednesday/ Bike: 15 min WU, 30 min steady pace, 15 min CD

Thursday/ Bike: 75 min ride, include WU and 6 x 45 sec fast spin ups
Strength: 4 Rounds of Strength: 25 Squats
15 Push ups
25 Full ROM Situps
20 Dead lifts

Friday/ Rest

Saturday/ Bike: 3 Hours, rolling route, high tempo, easy effort

Sunday/ Bike: Easy 60 min spin, small chain ring


Week 2

Monday/ Bike: 75 min, easy spin, big mileage week

Tuesday/ Rest

Wednesday/ Bike: 15 min WU (100w), 8 x 2 min intervals (170+w) w/ 2 min recovery, CD to 1:30 total 

Thursday/ Bike: 75 min ride, easy small chain ring, 110-120w

Friday/ Rest

Saturday/ Bike: 3 Hours, rolling route, high tempo, easy effort

Sunday/ Bike: Easy 90 min spin, small chain ring


Week 3

Monday/ Rest

Tuesday/ Bike: 75 min, easy spin, recovery effort

Wednesday/ Bike: 15 min WU (100w), 2 x 20 min (5 min 170w/5min 150w x 2) 5 min recovery. CD 100w

Thursday/ Bike: EASY recovery ride in the small ring. Include 4x :30sec pickups



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