Alise Post competes in the women's BMX race at the London 2012 Olympic Games at BMX Track on Aug. 8, 2012 in London.
Alise Post just wanted to get back on her bike. Six wins in her first eight BMX races this season has been an added bonus.
Post won her fourth consecutive USA Cycling Elite BMX National Championship on March 29, then she added the UCI North American Continental Championship the following day at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., as part of her hot start.
“I was excited to get racing,” Post said. “The offseason was a little rough this year for me and my family. I didn’t know how the year was going to kick off. I couldn’t be happier with how it’s going.”
Post recorded the fastest times in two of the three rounds during the national championships to win her fourth Stars-and-Stripes jersey.
“The national championship was awesome,” Post said. “To win my fourth on the big track against new talent and tough racing, it’s awesome to be able to hold on to that national championship sleeve for another year.”
Post added a win Saturday at the USA BMX Super Nationals event in DeSoto, Texas, and is now preparing for the season’s first UCI BMX Supercross World Cup later this month in Manchester, England.
“I’m overwhelmed and excited with how well this season has started,” the 23-year-old said. “This year is going to be a really good building year for everything, a confidence-builder because I’m just racing a ton. I couldn’t be happier with how it’s started out.”
Post wasn’t sure how the start of the season would go because she wasn’t focused on her offseason training. Post spent most of the offseason spending time with her family in Minnesota and her mom, Cheryl, who was fighting cancer.
BMX is a family affair for the Posts. Alise followed her older brothers into the sport at age 6. She didn’t like it at first but gave it another try at her mom’s insistence. A year later the family opened a track in their hometown of Saint Cloud, Minn., and they have been heavily involved in the sport ever since.
Alise was going to skip a USA BMX nationals series event in January and stay with the family, but Cheryl insisted.
“My mom wanted me to go and race,” Post said. “She loves it and wanted me to go race and watch the feed and hear about it. So I went with literally zero prep.”
Post won two races at the Silver Dollar Nationals in Reno, Nev., against a tough field. Cheryl passed away two days later.
“I didn’t know how the season was going to go without training, but that [Silver Dollar Nationals] race was a big eye opener,” Post said. “It put some things in perspective. It made me realize it’s not just about physical ability. You have to have your head and heart fully into it.”
For all the success Post has had on the bike — a world cup win in 2012, a trip to the London 2012 Olympic Games, a second-place world cup finish in 2013 to go with two silvers in world cup time trials and a fifth-place finish at the 2013 UCI BMX World Championships — she’s still learning how the mental side of the sport impacts things.
“Everyone at this point is good at what they do,” Post said. “The separating factor is often who is the most confident or believes in themselves the most. Honestly, I feel like I lacked a little bit of confidence. That January race was a reminder to myself where I’m at and gave me a bit of confidence for the year.”
The victories Post has this season are going to be building blocks toward her goals of international success and another run at the summer Games.
Post was hurt for half of the points races leading up to the London Games but qualified for the team with a late run of wins. She crashed during the Olympic semifinals and missed out on advancing.
“You think you’re ready to handle pressure like that, but clearly I wasn’t,” she said. “It didn’t go to plan at all.”
This time around will be different, Post said, because she knows what to expect and knows confidence will help her deal with the pressure-packed situations.
“Every single race I’m in now is a (confidence) builder to be able to deal with the pressure (of international competitions),” Post said. “You have to deal with that pressure and win. That will be a key element in being able to hold it together for (the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games). For me every single race I’m at right now is going to be important in developing those mental skills and executing when the time is necessary.”
She’ll get plenty of opportunities. The world cup series includes four more stops later this year — including the finale in Chula Vista, Calif., — and Rotterdam, Netherlands, will host the UCI BMX World Championships in July.
“Hopefully the obstacles of the past couple of years and the experiences I learn from all this will help me in this next run,” Post said.
“I want to pull it together for the whole thing and execute what I’m capable of.”
Tom Glave has written for TeamUSA.org since 2011 as a freelance contributor on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He covered prep and college sports for newspapers in Missouri and Arkansas for nine years and now works part time in the Houston area.