By Dr. Michelle Cleere

You have to prepare yourself to be competition ready. Your pre-competition routine is as important as practice. This prep is the way to deal with mistakes and overthinking, and to utilize muscle memory and develop a process-oriented way to evaluate performance. This is an incredibly necessary part of competing.

Learning how to deal with key competition moments has transferable skills to how you see, think, and feel about performance at practice and in daily life. And, there is another moment just a few seconds before performance that’s important to specifically address – at the start line – to be competition ready!

Overall mental attitude

You can’t be positive about everything all the time, but you can learn to be more positive – in your performance life and life in general. You can also learn to deal with nerves, doubt, overthinking, etc., all which impact performance and life.

Because performance mental skills and life mental skills are the same and each impacts the other, this is the reason that at the core, mental performance skills are life skills. For example, learning to deal with nerves before a test or presentation has carry over to dealing with nerves before competition.

Beat the demons

There are 4 key moments that can make or break you in competition.

1.Switch on your Champion… before performance. Could be the week before, day or night before, morning of, etc. To be the most effective, cyclists must deal with what happens mentally before a performance.

2. Develop Mental Muscle Memory… during performance. Thinking is what destroys cyclists who know how to perform. This routine Is designed to help you tap into muscle memory and distract you from thinking too much.

3. Bounce Back Faster… let go of mistakes. This is the most difficult. Why? An action has just happened, your brain starts to analyze it and your critical voice (ego) wants to immediately reprimand you for it. This is how you’ve been conditioned to respond but you can control that critical voice.

4. Post-Race Evaluation…after performance. Objectively evaluating performance is the most overlooked moment – what went well, what was challenging, and what do I need to work on tomorrow – but can be the most beneficial.

These are the basic, foundational building blocks for mental skills. Developing these key moments develops confidence, positivity, resilience, focus and emotional control.

Crossing the imaginary start line

So you develop your Beating the Demons (BTD) mental training program and develop the ability to utilize these skills in your performance and life in general. Congrats! You are well on your way to having better control of your life but then there are some small, seemingly innocuous moments that don’t quite fall within the lines of BTD. One of those moments is crossing the imaginary start line.

You’ve done your mental and physical warmup and are ready to go. But then, you cross an imaginary line. This line triggers that you are going from warmup to the race and things are about to get very serious and something starts to change. Even though you did an awesome job setting yourself up for success, the final seconds before a race could bring it all crumbling down. You must be prepared for this.

Preparing for those seconds – be competition ready

  1. Know it exists, know it will happen.
  2. Figure out how to deal with it, and plan to deal with it.
  3. Extend your mental preparation.
  4. Decide if you’ll use something similar to what you used in your race ready plan or need something else

In these few seconds just before the start, many cyclists will take a couple of deeps breaths, recite a positive mantra and physically get ready, set, go! Regardless, don’t let these few seconds ruin all your hard work. Be prepared. Be race ready! Make it happen!

Dr. Michelle
Elite Performance Expert
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Meet Junior Bear Athlete Meigan Butler

Every week we will introduce a new member of the Bear Development Team. This week, meet…


Racing Age: 18

Hometown: McKinleyville, CA

Race Bike of Choice: Trek Procaliber

Favorite Training Song: Highway to Hell – ACDC

Favorite Post-Ride Snack: Grilled Cheese Sandwich w/ Pesto + Turkey

Mountain biking has always been a huge part of my life. My dad was, and still is, obsessed with riding and got our entire family involved. I have been riding mountain bikes with my mom, dad, and older sister ever since I was little. Every Sunday, we would go on a family ride in our local forest. A majority of our family vacations revolve around mountain biking in unique, beautiful places. When I was young, my parents would take turns towing me on a tag along bike. Once I outgrew that, my dad and I rode on a mountain bike tandem. I wouldn’t say I loved mountain biking as a younger child. I use to dread going on rides and I could not wait for them to be over. However, once I was on the ride, especially after a fast descent or technical section of single track, I absolutely loved it. Not only did I enjoy the challenge and adrenaline, I loved being outdoors and exploring whatever terrain I encountered.

I wasn’t introduced to competitive mountain biking until my freshman year of high school. I joined the Humboldt Composite Team and for the first time ever I rode with kids my age. I made lots of friends from this team and enjoyed team rides. However, the idea of racing was still terrifying to me. I didn’t get to race my freshman year due to an injury from Track and Field, so that bought me time to think about racing in the future. I already wasn’t a huge fan of climbing hills and the idea of ‘pushing my limits’ sounded awfully painful, but my parents gave me the push I needed to try it out and see how it goes. After getting the courage to roll up onto the start line, I found it extremely fun. Being in a racing environment was an incredible experience and it got me hooked. Looking back, I wish I never lost that year since I found a passion for it.

One challenge I encountered was last year’s first NorCal race, which was only my second year of racing. Within the first ten seconds of the race, I started getting blocked out to the side and caught a pole that caused me to crash. I knew my knee was in an immense amount of pain, but I got up and pushed on. It wasn’t until halfway through the race that I noticed I had a sock full of blood. After I finishing the race fourth, tenths of a second away from third, I went to the Stanford medical tent and seeked assistance. I ended up going to urgent care and getting seven stitches. It was a rocky road after that: my knee got infected, so I couldn’t compete in the second race. I had to take antibiotics to cure it, only to find I was allergic to them. This was a six week process of endless doctor appointments and stress of trying to heal my knee. By the time I was cleared to ride, I had ten days to make train into the next race. After a strenuous and short training block, I completed the race in second place. This challenge was tough, but it made me fall in love with the training process, gave me more motivation to push my limits, and showed me how truly passionate I was about racing.

When I am not on the bike or doing schoolwork, I enjoy spending time with family and friends. We love to play games and spend time outdoors. In the summer and any spare time we can find in the rest of the year, we spend time in our vacation house in Oakridge, Oregon. During winter, my family and I cross country ski and fat bike in the snow. During the summer, we spend time hiking up mountains, fishing, kayaking, and adventuring on our mountain bikes. When I was twelve years old, I also discovered I loved tennis. I played a local team with the Humboldt Tennis Club. Through this team, I got to train and travel all over California and Oregon to compete in tournaments. In the fall, I played on the Varsity team for my high school.

This year, I am incredibly excited to be a part of the Bear Development Team and take my racing to the next level! It will be a new learning experience, challenging, and most importantly FUN! I am going to make the most out of this last year as a junior racer.

Meet Junior Bear Athlete Alexis Bobbitt

Every week we will introduce a new member of the Bear Development Team. This week, meet…


Racing Age: 18

Hometown: Austin, TX

Race Bike of Choice: Trek Top Fuel 9.9

Favorite Training Song: Waste a Moment – Kings of Leon

Favorite Post-Ride Snack: Bananas + Peanut Butter

Ever since I was born I have been riding bikes. My parents like to say, “she was off training wheels before she was even out of diapers”. My dad was a big cyclist all throughout his life and when he met my mother he got her into it and they decided to pass it on to their children, my 2 brothers and I. We grew up racing since we were the age of three and have always been out at race venues and around the amazing people that are in the cycling sport. Growing up around the cycling community, the support, the spirit, the character, and attitude of everyone in the sport has all built me to be the best me I can be. Everything about mountain bike racing, the community, the excitement, the anticipation, the strength, the challenges, the effort required to excel and so much more is what I found my love for the sport in. I have learned so much through cycling and am still excited to learn so much more that it has to offer.

My family is the reason why I am in this sport today. Both my mom and dad are heavily invested in my cycling career and I love them for it. Through every high and every low on this journey I endure they have stood right by my side and have given me words of wisdom and encouragement to keep me going and get through anything. I am so thankful that I was raised by the most supportive and amazing parents that have always pushed me to achieve what they knew I could even when I didn’t think I could.

When I’m not on the bike, the little time that I am, I am spending time with my amazing family or am in the outdoors on two feet (not two wheels) with my dogs and friends. My family also rides bikes so most of the time we’re on the bikes together but we also love exploring new places together by taking day trips around where we live. Most of the time we are going to parks and hiking down to a river or to some other natural creations. We also love relaxing together and having a ‘sit on the couch and movies’ day in. I love doing new and exciting things so I’m always looking for new places to go and new things to try.

Because I have been part of biking and racing since I was born I went through a stage in my life where I wanted to take a step away from bikes because I was just getting bored of doing the same thing. My parents tried to keep me into it and tried to get me to go out and ride and sometimes it would work and others it wouldn’t. But, when it did work and I got out and rode my bike I loved it and always had so much fun. Luckily, as you can guess from me having the opportunity to be a part of this team, I got back into biking. Around the end of middle school when I started riding with my high school team I started having more fun and found it easier to get myself to go out and ride my bike because I had a team and friends to do it with. My parents saw something special about me and my connection to biking enough to push and fight me to get me out on my bike. I am so lucky to have them behind me pushing me in the direction towards what they knew, and I now know, was right for me.

Meet Junior Athlete Ryan Campbell

Every week we will introduce a new member of the Bear Development Team. This week, meet…


Racing Age: 16

Hometown: Lakewood, CO

Race Bike of Choice: Trek Top Fuel 9.9

Favorite Training Song: Big Poppa – Notorious B.I.G.

Favorite Post-Ride Snack: Breakfast burrito

As far back as I can remember I’ve been riding bikes. My father was a huge influence on me getting into riding as a kid, as he was a marathon mountain bike racer. Ever since I’ve been able to ride a bike I have loved every moment on one. In the third grade my aunt and uncle, who are also big cyclists, suggested I go to a cyclocross camp one weekend. I fell in love with the sport and decided to start racing cyclocross on a bike loaned to me from Danny Summerhill, and found out I was pretty good. Ever since then I’ve never lost my love for the sport of cycling. 

Outside of biking I love to hangout with my friends, spend time with family and ski. I’ve been skiing just as long as I’ve been riding, I would say it’s my second love. Skiing is a great offseason activity for me. It’s a break from the hard work of training, but still a great workout and tons of fun. I learned how to ski from my mom, who used to race, and I don’t know that I could have asked for a better instructor.

I try to spend as much time as I can around my family as they are the most influential and supportive people in my life and I feel incredibly lucky to have their support. The biggest challenge I’ve had and have every year is putting in the base miles for the upcoming season. On the front range of Colorado you never quite know what the weather is going to do on any given day, so it’s definitely a struggle to find the motivation to go out and ride when it’s in the 20’s and wet/snowy especially when it was 50 degrees the day before. I always find a way to avoid the trainer through, and get the miles in before I get to that start line for the first time, even if it means having icicle fingers.

I am beyond stoked to get racing in less than one month and start my season on this amazing team!

Meet Junior Bear Athlete Santiago Sciutti

Every week we will introduce a new member of the Bear Development Team. This week, meet…


Racing Age: 17

Hometown: San Rafael, CA

Race Bike of Choice: Trek Top Fuel 9.9

Favorite Training Song: ‘Till I Collapse – Eminem

Favorite Post-Ride Snack: Garden burger

I have always been involved in sports including soccer, baseball, basketball, and track. I rode bikes recreationally through middle school and loved spending hours riding around with my friends and combing the bay area for the best dirt jumps. When I did not make the basketball team freshman year, a friend suggested I consider joining the high school mountain biking team. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The San Rafael Bike Dawgs thankfully let me join even though registration was closed. 

After my first race, I was hooked. I’ve always had a lot of energy and I liked the adrenaline rush of competitive cycling.  Plus it was really fun. Even though it’s an “individual” sport, I appreciate the strong team aspect and the amazing support we receive from it being a fully parent run team. 

Sophomore year, I decided I wanted to get more serious, so I sold my dirt jumper and MTB bike and upgraded to a better ride. Going into season I hoped to do well and was pleased with the results, but knew I could improve if I dedicated myself to increasing my skills. Riding with experienced and stronger riders has been and will be a great opportunity and I’m really looking forward to the upcoming season.

One of my biggest challenges is my learning difference that I have lived with since I started school. My struggles with dyslexia have taught me to persevere. Since school comes with academic challenges, I feel my best when I’m on my bike especially because it allows me to focus and gain confidence in myself.  

When I’m not riding my bike on the trails of Marin, I’m chilling with close friends and family. I can be found outdoors participating in activities like backcountry camping, hiking, and sun chasing.