I had a break from racing cross country mountain biking last year and I watched the World Cup races from the comfort of my sofa with a little sadness in my heart. I had given up the buzz, the excitement and pure awesomeness that is the World Cup Circus. After many chats with my friends, family and coaches I decided to give it another go. It was never going to be easy to race at that level again but I’m in it for the long haul. I want to get better and push myself as far as I can. I know I can get better and starting from the bottom you can only go up, right?!
This brings me to today, I am sat in a hotel in Germany after completing half distance at the second round of the World Cup Series in Albstadt. I didn’t give up after half way I was just not fast enough to stay in the race. If I’m completely honest about it I’m pretty gutted I didn’t get further. I’m in the best shape I’ve been in a while and I thought I could hang in for longer. Saying that there are some positive points to be taken from the race, I didn’t crash, my little Cannondale FSI rode like a dream and it was just so amazing to be back racing at that level. I didn’t come last and I beat my gridding. I finished 70th overall.
The course was demanding both up and down. The climbs were brutal, steep and loose off line. The descents were tricky and tight, I couldn’t just relax and let it go there was always something to catch you out. I am pushed so far out of my comfort zone at these races. It not just the racing it’s getting here, signing on, picking up a transponder and making sure you’re in the right place at the right time. It’s way more stressful than you’d think but all the time there’s this under lying buzz, you’re here with the best xc mountain bikers in the world and believe me that is a pretty cool feeling.
This year; unlike the other years I’ve done the series there are a really good gang of British riders out here. It makes things far easier and way more fun when you can practice with friendly faces. I think that we’d all agree that it’s scary taking the leap to race at this level but the experience you gain out ways the fear.
If someone had told me six years ago I’d be racing in World Cups I would have laughed and told them they were insane. I’m proof that with hard work and a little perseverance you can get here. I’m not at the sharp end of the race and I won’t be bringing home any prizes but I will be bringing home some pride and a whole load of experience. Sometimes that’s just as good as a medal; well almost!
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