The best thing about National Champs was seeing my athletes go and slay it. The other best thing was having my 5 year old’s birthday on the same day, allowing me to appreciate something in the midst of being unable to race and keep the sport of XCO racing in perspective. Also I got to rollerskate, which was cool for me, and terrifying for Elv and her best mate who just did the splits for two hours.
The days after Toowoomba were really hard. I was in a flux, incapacitated at work due to the injury, yet still planning on racing Nationals. I would be like ‘fuck yeah i’m racing at all costs’ then head out on the bike and be unable to get out of the saddle due to the injury, then come home in a state of despair. This happened a couple of times; the ultimate motivation to crush skulls, followed with the reality being unable to ride my bike and using codeine (yuk) to sleep at night, on my back (the worst) then waking myself up when I move from the pain. It was quite the rollercoaster.
Thursday the course practice was moved, I was still unable to load bear with my right arm, and I made the decision not to race. It was one of the hardest decisions I have had to make, but once it was done there was a calm. What I suppose it’s like when you’re struggling in the water when you can’t swim, drowning, and all of a sudden you learn to float.
With my endgame wanting to be worlds ’17, I had to come to terms with the fact that despite riding with the top women in Australia in XCO, and on one day being the top woman in XCO, without completing Oceanias or Nationals I have little chance of ending up in Cairns in September.
It’s a learning process, the coach-athlete process is one that has me always learning, and the athlete and coach relationship I have with myself is no different.
I am a ‘no regrets’ kind of person and that’s served me well here. Having a break now is excellent both physically and mentally after a long and tough national season, with many ups and downs. Plus noone should have to do pre-0400 starts forever.
Some excellent takeaways I have made that will assist both myself and others I coach from my own season include:
•Don’t doubt the importance of having someone to bounce ideas off. As my own coach I feel this is sometimes a little more difficult. Yes I trust the process and it has been by and large pretty successful, but having a sounding board definitely would have helped with an objective eye cast over my decisions.
•Pre 0400 starts have a limited lifespan, and it shortens along with daylight hours.
•If you’re feeling consistently flogged, you’re probably flogged. Having one day of sunshine and rainbows in training amidst weeks of grey drudgery does not a fresh rider make.
•Your stupidest crashes will probably cause you the most damage, and be the most frustrating.
•Hard work begets results. Too much hard work can push over the other side of the optimal curve, regardless of how cluey you are.
•Don’t doubt the power of having a community and support in the training and racing journey. Likewise, don’t doubt the power it wields when taken away or diminished.
•Never doubt the power of a woman scorned. Hell hath no fury like a cyclist with a point to prove.
•When you love what you do, it’s not hard work at all. When you stop loving what you once did, have a good look at what’s going on around you.
•You can feel shit and have a good race.
•You can feel awesome and have a terrible race.
•There is a law of diminishing returns when it comes to worrying about race weight, as it turns out when you’re skinfolds are already in athlete-land, just eat well and make peace with having a lot of muscle mass. When you climb faster than tiny people then it doesn’t matter if you’re 57 or 61kg, it’s about the endgame. And it seems that, every time, i’ll feel better and be more powerful even scaled to weight, at around 60kg rather than 57.
•When you head for a break after a long season, 11hr sleep at night is definitely a thing…