My life is very much in a different place to where it was 1 year ago. HJ and I are engaged, but not living together (while he’s studying abroad). HJ retired, and I’m now riding for Cannondale Girls. I was riding for Nakamura, but now I have a shed full of gorgeous green bikes from Cannondale. I’m considering a sofa in the shed so as to better admire these beauties. Even my training has taken a new and, for me, uncomfortable approach. I’m certainly happier and more motivated for my training, so I’m hardly complaining! Not to mention the perma-grin I have from fatbiking daily!!!!
I haven’t found anything good to write about recently. Or at least, anything to write about that couldn’t be well covered by Facebook and social media. I’ve been racing: since the Gorrick Brass Monkeys I’ve raced the Modum Fatbike Challenge, Gorrick Spring Series and Beitostølen Fatbike Weekend.
The Modum Fatbike Challenge was a FATastic affair. Sun, blue skies, mild weather, super solid snow conditions and all snowgletrack meant huge grins from everyone who raced. The Beitostølen Fatbike Weekend, by contrast, was almost the polar opposite: soft, loose, windy, snowy, where everyone finished having ridden their socks off, and physically done.
The Gorrick Spring Series was my first outing on the new FSi team bike. Depsite taking some time over the set up, I still got things wrong. Recovering from flu and then a cold combined with some back and hip pain, meant I didn’t finish the race. It wasn’t my day but I had fun riding, and fell head-over-heels for my bike.
The process of season analysis, something that would typically take a month, last year took me nearly 4 months. I needed that amount of time to not only digest my performances and training, but also to reach logical, balanced conclusions, that were fair and without emotion. Sometimes it’s easy to get a bad result and to feel that all ones training is wrong and needs changing.
After months of mulling things over in my head, I finally sat down with HJ to discuss my thoughts, conclusions and directions for the future. Throughout 2015 I had said that 2016 was to be a recovery year. I knew I needed it mentally, but pushed on through the 2015 season, even though my motivation and passion for cycling lessened. On some days, I couldn’t face riding a bike. I completely lost the fun aspect of cycling, and instead became too cautious, reserved and afraid to do anything. This had to change, but it took me some time to understand WHAT needed to change, WHY, and HOW.
Since the age of 13, ‘Win World Championships’ has been at the top of my goal list. As I’ve grown, this has become less of a dream and more of a possibility. Each year, all my training has revolved around those three words. Other goals, such as ‘improve skills’, ‘improve TT time’ or ‘do better race prep’ are found much lower down the list, and some even get ignored entirely in order to accomodate goal number 1.
Post 2015 WMTBOC, I no longer care whether I win a World Championship gold in the immediate future. I’ve won enough World Cup races to know it’s more than possible. But structuring my life around the goal that relies so heavily on others performance, is no longer my priority. In fact, that goal doesn’t even make it to the 2016 list.
Instead, the top of my list is occupied by ‘have fun, be less serious’, followed by goals that are far from MTBO specific. During the CX season in Norway, I saw that many aspects of my cycling are not only woefully inadequate, but neglected entirely. These areas are a big focus for 2016 and beyond, but above all, the fun factor of pedalling is the overriding goal for the year.
I am training 50% less than I have done for 2014 and 2015. 50%! It is uncomfortable for me. I love to have huge volume in my training. It’s how, during the winter, I perceive myself to be working hard. This was the main factor I attributed to my lack of motivation during the summer last year. Although not strictly overtraining, I came close. With less training hours, I have more time to recover mentally between training, and this seems to be making for a fantastically fun winter! Some days I even pop out for fatbike ride even if it’s not scheduled in the weekly plan.
So far, I’ve loved every session this winter. I’ve been exploring; in December I had swathes of forest and frozen marshes to explore by fatbike, away from the trails. I finish sessions grinning from ear-to-ear. I fall asleep at night making plans on where to ride the following day: where I can do intervals, where can I explore, I wonder if the trails in the forest are packed down, where can I challenge myself?
I’m really excited for the summer. I have so many rides and races planned across England and Norway. They won’t all be good. They won’t all be bad. But as long as I’m having fun, smiling, learning and improving, I’ll be happy.