It’s time for a good update! First off, I hope that everyone is rocking and rolling and enjoying the season and fall weather. It’s so nice right now and the riding is absolutely perfect here in Western Massachusetts.
As many of you already know, my season has started off on the wrong foot, so much so that I’ve struggled to finds good words to describe it all.
Highs and lows come with the territory, and crashes and misfortune happen to every athlete. I’ve been very lucky and prudent about my risks in the previous seasons, but this year, I think they all caught up at the same time and my focus for the past three weeks has been on coming back to health, strength and mental freshness.
But to back up and lay the context for everyone, I have to start by saying my pre-season was different in a lot of ways than previous years. I’ve never had a difficult time putting a leg over a bike and getting out there and doing the work. I actually love that part of the process, it wasn’t hard to do the workouts and as someone who likes to be overly honest all the time, I found the motivation was there but the ‘sacrifice > reward’ was at times lower than I wanted and had gotten in the past, which simply put: I was getting faster, fitter, leaner, all that, but it was taking longer to see the gains and I’m still not sure why that was, maybe too much training, maybe not enough balance in my life, rest… I don’t actually know. Come late August, which was basically ‘go-time’ I took a small rest period and I did the workouts I typically do to test myself pre-season. I did some of my best times on test climbs I use and my best power outputs of my career, maybe because it was such an early start to the season it had me really backed into a corner with timing and feeling rushed to put the final touches on my last block of training. Regardless, I got there and I was ready and very focused, nervous even, to get it all started. But overall I was excited: Perceived exertion was low at high power and I came into the season winning both days in Rochester, New York, for the season opener.
In my plan I was attempting a peak for this season that I hadn’t done in a while, I think the last time I did this was maybe 2011? Basically it went that I did some altitude training and, different from other years, came back to training at sea level for the week leading into Trek CXC for some sea level power. I felt this was a no-brainer given the opportunity to race against the Euros on home soil, but I also knew that I would drop off slightly in performance in October from being peaked out so early, but I felt it was worth it.
But a hard (stupid) crash in my warm up at Trek would end that entire block of training and that planned peak. I was so sore, and—long story short— on top of the injuries I got a head cold / sinus infection from the really stressful week of travel and engagements with sponsors and everything added to that. Of course, mentally I told myself to be strong and pushed myself to perform because for me if I’m mentally strong, I’ve learned that just about anything is possible (within reason of course!) But the pain from it all was real and every hop, bump, run, et cetera, just made it worse.
A head cold with sneezing exacerbated my battered rib cage and before I knew it, I had to take seven days off and then do slow rides to get back to health. My body was super pissed. Both the World Cups and C1 races were gone and my fitness had taken a good hit from lots of travel, time off the bike and so on. Brutal for me on all levels – literally the worst possible outcome.
In the moment, with the rib situation: I tried my best and did everything in my power to remedy it, with things like anti-inflammatories (which I hate), chiropractic, massage, everything, but in the end, looking back, it really just needed time.
Finally, this week, I now feel almost no pain from the efforts of cross’ riding. But my fitness has not bounced back as quickly as I would have liked, maybe from pushing it too hard early season, maybe my body just telling me to relax, either way you slice it, I needed to head back to the drawing board and reset myself. Patience is not something that comes naturally, but I do have it, and it’s necessary right now. I’ve skipped weekends of races and done my best to keep my head high, despite being angry and hungry to showcase myself.
Mentally, I felt the setbacks, without question, and I’ve had to rebuild from those – not just the beating I’ve taken on the course, but the mental stress from the energy it takes to get to good fitness and then not to see any of the fruits of your labor. That’s the harder part of it for me: Rochester was nice, but it was low-hanging fruit compared to the opportunity that Vegas and Iowa presented. I said to someone that I was embarrassed about my performances, because I was. Representing the jersey of national champion and getting my head kicked in, regardless of the circumstance was so far from my expectation… Again, I’m at a loss for words. I hated being in that situation and I felt bad for those who came out to be fans because it wasn’t coming together.
My goals now are revamped and I’m focused on putting in my best performance at each race I toe the line at, one by one. My next race will be in Cincinnati at the Continental Championships and C1 races. I won’t go to this weekend’s round of the World Cup in Valkenburg, which stinks because I want to be racing there and I want to be competitive with the international field and have those opportunities. But with everything I just wrote above, you can probably understand why I’m not going to the Netherlands to race this weekend.
It’s the reality of where I’m at and this training block is going to allow me to come back up in my regular level of racing and get my legs under me—and it will give me the confidence of another block of solid training to propel me for the rest of the season. For myself, I can’t be just rolling around at races hoping things improve over time and ‘training through.’ That’s just not who I am as a rider or racer and if I’m not bringing 100% I’d rather not line up.
Thank you all for the messages, none of them went unnoticed! I’m doing much better and look forward to sharing some good performances with you all in the coming weeks and months ahead. So it’s said, I didn’t write this blog as a way to ask for support, or to tell a sad story, but to keep you informed on where I’m at, how things are going and even though it’s probably more information then anyone needs, I assume everyone reading cares about it so I wanted to get in here and give you the details of it all from the source. So no pity parties! Just positivity and good times ahead!
I also want to say one last thing and that is!!! I’m so pumped for Aspire Racing as a unit, despite everything I wrote above, the team has come together so well, all of our staff and the addition of Ellen Noble who each weekend I’ve been off the podium, Ellen’s been on it!! Representing for us and kicking butt, her win at Gloucester last weekend was a beautiful performance! She will be racing at the Valkenburg World Cup this weekend, wearing the women’s U23 leaders jersey and trying to improve on her 5th place from Iowa! Good luck E!
Thanks everyone for reading, be safe out there, have fun and see you all soon,