Saturday, September 25, 2010

How to bake your best self..

Is it just me - or has New Zealand taken a beating over the past couple of months? From earthquakes to storms to Commonwealth Games dramas, a lot has been keeping us Kiwi's on our toes. Despite the distractions, I can't justify completely abandoning my blog for 3 months! A lot has been happening since June, so I thought it might be good to stop studying for tonight and spread the love to my fellow MTBr's.

Over the course of August, I managed to 'acquire' some new machinery, in the form of a road bike and a race bike. Sitting in the hallway is a 2009 Diora Modena II roadie bike, courtesy of Kay @ Bike Otago. This is my training weapon of which I spend 75% of my riding time on, and while I enjoy my time on it, this does not mean I am a roadie - despite my reputation of being "my hypothetical roadie self" ;). The more exciting bike is the 2010 Bergamont Platoon Team. Suffice to say weighing in at 9.3kg's and SRAM/Magura specced, the Bergamonster makes climbing a breeze and descending a shitload of fun! Thanks Bike Otago and Bergamont for making it happen.

With new bikes, came a new training program, of which I have just completed the 6th week. Unsofar I have had many learning curves (and one big roadie crash) and have come to realise the importance of recovering well, listening to your body, and fuelling it with what it needs. Already I am feeling stronger on the climbs, faster on the descents, feel I have improved endurance and an all-round stronger body and more determined and committed attitude. Lisa Morgan has taken me on for my first proper race season, and does all the hard yards analysing my progress, deciding training and putting up with my stream of questions and piss-takes. Occasionally, when enough is enough, I am treated to a delightful lecture when I've been more troublesome than usual ;) Thanks a tonne Coach - I'm absolutely loving the program, and I think you know how much I appreciate your guidance and support.

Out there on the bike, 2 hours a day, 6 days a week, I spend a lot of time thinking. I think about how University is just like being on the dole, except your parents are proud of you, how funny Emily Batty is to have wirless hair straighteners at her races, and most importantly - how the hell Paul Henry gets away with all the shit he does (an inspiration - truely!). I also interrogate myself as to why I want to race, and understand what motivates me to voluntarily visit the hurt box everyday. I can put it down to two things: I enjoy riding – every aspect of it. The pain, the challenge, the fun, the good people and the coffee. I also enjoy training. Why do I train? I train to race. But, why do I race? To get the best out of myself. Why do I want to get the best out of myself? To see what I am capable of. One day in the future, I would like to compare my best self to world class athletes. But in order to be your best self, you've got to understand how get there. Strange as it seems - I reckon it's very similar to baking a cake, and here’s why:

• With a cake, you have to have the right combination, quality and proportion of ingredients. You also have to be committed to making it happen. If you skimp on the input, the output won’t be as good. Just like training, you get out what you put in.

•There is a very key ingredient to make a cake rise, which is often forgotten: baking powder. If you don’t have it, you get a flat cake. I liken this ingredient to determination and resilience on the bike. Important, and often lost sight of when the going gets tough.

• If you don’t get the right ratio of ingredients, the cake’s gonna taste funny, be lumpy, or blow up altogether. Sometimes you are lucky and when you shake things up a little, it works out ok. But for the most part, follow the recipe – it is tried and trusted for a reason. Follow your program, trust it and don’t lose sight of your ultimate goal.

• Just like the cops say, “don’t drink and fry - you just might die”. If you don’t keep an eye on the baking process, more than likely, it will burn and be uneatable. If you eat burned cake, you might die too ;). Just like baking, when you train you have to look after and listen to your body and mind – after all, it is what you are investing all your time into.

If you just so happen to get the combination just right – you get a world-beating cake. The same goes for becoming your best self – you only get out what you put in.