With mountain bike racing you are constantly learning. You are learning from your own mistakes, learning from those that are better than you, learning from your teammates, learning from your coach, learning from your manager. I think you need to try to take something away from everybody you come across and use it to improve your game. A lot of the lessons are not simple (or they are so simple you miss them), they cannot be taught, they have to be experienced and you have to figure them out on your own. I guess that is why mountain bike racing, training and the whole process that goes with it will never really get old.
The final block of mountain bike racing for me for the season just finished up and I am back at home now. It was challenging few weeks of racing full of ups and downs but I think it was the most productive few weeks of the year because I learned so much. I wanted to share with you what I learned and maybe it will help you with racing or maybe it will line up with something you are working on in your life. Of course, everyone is different, and this stuff might be useless to you, but I feel like it helps me out.
“Stay the Course”
Keep on track and keep trying even when shit gets hard. There are going to be challenges with racing and it is not always going to go your way. After a ‘bad’ race dust yourself off, think about what happened, learn from it, and move on to the next one. If you can do that ‘bad’ races do not exist. Racing my first Elite World Cups was challenging, it is hard to stay motivated to move forward when you are racing in 80th place. I have to remember though, that I am racing the best in the world and every athlete out there puts as much, or more, into the sport as I do.
Think about all the good things you did when you were racing, think about the parts of the course you crushed. Think about the small changes you might have made that really helped you out there.
“Set reasonable goals”
You need to set goals that are attainable and measureable. You need to set goals so that if you do your best out there and still end up in 80th place, that you feel like you came out with a personal win. Think goals with a focus on the stuff you need to actually do to reach your goal. To finish the race, you need to climb that hill really fast every lap.
“Don’t take your hands off the bar on a rocky downhill.”
Just don’t do this, it is very simple. I learned this one the hard way. Just when I think I have figured this racing thing out, I haven’t, that’s what keeps things interesting.
“Embrace the performances of your teammates and those around you, even your competitors.”
At both World Cups three of the athletes racing for Norco had career best World Cup finishes, super stoked for them. They motivate me to do my best and show me that exceptional performances are possible. I also noticed this watching some of the gravity events at Crankworx in Whistler. Even though the guy in second place just lost his shot at winning 25 K, he was so stoked that the winner had just thrown all these crazy tricks and nailed them.
I am now home for the longest time in a while. I am stoked to enjoy Halifax in the fall, do some local races, gear up for ‘cross and get back to school. I’m going to go out to my first Jambro of the year tonight, wish me luck.