I’m a little bit worried about what I’m going to do when I get really old. I see old people around everywhere struggling to just be mobile. Do they ever get frustrated? Do they ever reminisce about the good old days when they could run a half marathon in under ninety minutes? Why is a nineteen year old talking about problems sixty years in the future, you ask? Well, I’m actually thinking about the opposite to restricted mobility – going fast. I’m noticing more and more that I’ve got to be going fast, otherwise I can get impatient and frustrated. This can be potentially problematic, so I try to redirect this attitude from rushing through study and channel it back into the bike. I guess my point is we’ve got to make the most of the time we have. I don’t want to be moping around on a mobility scooter in sixty years wishing I had made better use of my body when it could actually be made to go fast.
So, in my typical last-minute fashion, Fi from Bike Otago and I decided to enter the Southland MTB Club’s Mad Winter Enduro (on night that entries were due – as usual!). There’s something so exciting about racing - the promise of going fast in the weekend made it incredibly difficult to concentrate on studying for exams! Somehow I managed to live through them, and all of a sudden we were heading to Invercargill in Scotty’s newly established mountain biking van. Check out how comfortable the bikes are in the back!
After a quick warm-up it was time to line up for the Le-Mans start. Any of you who have done one of these know how hectic it can be, but I managed to be in the middle of the pack heading out of transition. The first two laps were rough – my derailleur threw a tantrum, refused to shift single gears and slipped when under climbing pressure, and to add to it all I was also hungry and had too many clothes on for the weather! But, you really have no option but to grin and bear it, so I decided to hunt down a girl through the single track to distract me. I even threw some drama into the mix by sprinting past her on the inside line through a hairpin in the transition zone! Fi blasted off to complete her laps, while Celia and Scotty fed me up with bananas, a chocolate bar, Powerade and Peak Fuel - great for someone who was seriously lacking sugar!
After Fi came in I was feeling much better and only had summer gear on. We were hoping to get in another lap, so I latched onto the back of an R&R rider and chased her around the single track. Little did I know it was Erin Greene, which explained why I was blowing myself to bits trying to keep up! Nevertheless it was great to see her race lines and style and even better to have two former Otago Girls’ girls out on the track. After a reasonably quick lap, Scotty hooked me up with some Peak Fuel and told me to use it for the next lap. I was stoked to be able to do another, so gave it everything I had and have never felt so shattered! I sprinted through the transition zone to the finish. Little did I know, I had already passed it, and a spectator had to tell me I had finished – I never realised because I was so focussed on what was ahead! I think it’s safe to say everyone had a great time, thanks so much Southland MTB Club for another great event, to Scotty Cain for being support crew and congratulations to everyone else for surviving!
Because I’m relatively new to racing, I always feel I come away from a race having learnt a whole heap about how my mind and body handles racing. Coming away from that race, I reflected on what got me to the finish line when I felt my body couldn’t. There seem to always be the same two quotes that stick with me during a race, especially when I feel I can’t give anymore. Lance tells me that “We are so much better than we know” and Lisa tells me to “Give everything in the moment”.
“Give everything in the moment, we are so much better than we know” resonates well with me. It gives me the belief that everyone has the capability to do things they would not even imagine are possible. This is what goes on in my mind when I am trying to beat a fellow competitor, when I’m so tired I want to get off the bike and collapse, or when I want to just walk away. It’s like another energy I draw from to get me to the finish line. Of course I can bloody well go fast to the finish, so I trick myself into thinking my life depends on it. I always tell myself that I want to cross the finish line in the future at a World Cup race, and tell my friends, parents and coach I gave it my all, had nothing left - despite the outcome, fantastic or terrible. I am going to give this racing thing my very best. There is no room for excuses, reservations or doubts anymore. Ultimately, out there on the track, I am my own greatest rival. But, if I play my cards right, I can be my own best friend.