Upon reflection the year of 2018 was an enormous year of growth both on and off the bike for both myself and my family.
I trained and raced and completed a number of other endurance events.
The most notable of which are the successful Evereresting challenge where i raised money for Arthritis Queensland, the end to end to end challenge ride on the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail where I completed in the fastest time and travelling to Scotland to compete in my first World Championships (details of these can be read about on the website 24hr-racer.com).
I am not going to rehash every race again as I think this would get very boring very quickly! Instead I am going to reflect on what went well, what went badly or not to plan, lessons learnt along the journey and what will be improved upon going into 2019.
In 2018 whether through sheer luck or a stronger immune system sickness has not been a problem I have only had 1 bout of cold and 1 of gastroenteritis. I think Hayley’s immune system has massive improved during her time in day care so she is rarely bringing sickness back into the home. This has meant I have become stronger, fitter and healthier. I have not changed my diet too much just incorporating as much fruit and vegetables into it and planning meals for when I am at work. I gave up all alcohol over a year ago (more to do with controlling the Fibromyalgia than anything else) which seems to be helping.
I have been lucky in that I have sustained no injuries throughout 2018 I had a few bad crashes but managed to walk away from all of them. Due to the gradual weight training and incorporating core exercises into my daily routine and following a well thought out training schedule I have not become injured or over trained. As riding is a low impact sport I have been walking the dog for at least 4 days per week for 40 minutes at a time. I am still unable to run as the knee pain becomes too severe which I would love to incorporate into my training. Still I am very happy that I am able to ride and I don’t actually need to run anywhere.
On a whole the Fibromyalgia has been kept under control through the exercise and I don’t need to take any medication for the symptoms. At times I have enormous pain but mainly due to house work and picking my toddler up (12.5kg) constantly. If I do too much walking or weight baring exercise my knee pain does flare up again and at times my knees feel so stiff I can’t bend them properly, Due to the weight training and core exercises I am able to manage picking Hayley up, carrying her and playing with her without too much fuss. I commented to Tom the other day that even if I wasn’t racing i would still go to the gym and do core every night as this is helping me to function in every day life.
I have managed to find a balance between work, training, racing, parenting and staying married. Though at times I do get it wrong and the balance becomes a little skewed. I misjudged my road ride last week and wasn’t sure how long it was actually going to take to do the distance which I needed to complete. It also didn’t help that my sense of direction is not great and I got two places confused. I was supposed to be out for 5 hours it ended up closer to 9 hours. It does take some practice and daily planning to fit everything into my day. This is going to have be rethought out for 2019 as I am doing shorter days but more days at work. This year I have to work 4 days per week and 8 hour shifts so the training will have to be managed differently. I still aim to ride to work everyday and extending the ride in the evening. I am hoping to get a gravel bike in the next couple of weeks so I can mix up the terrain on the way home and get off some of the road.
In 2028 on reflection there were no major disasters just a few arguments! Nothing went drastically wrong and anything which didn’t go perfectly led to major learning opportunities.
At first the World Championships in Scotland appeared to be a complete disaster as I felt overwhelmed and was bitterly disappointed that I had to pull out of the race on the medics advice due to inappropriate clothing and inadequate fuel intake which led to hypothermia.
I felt I had let everybody down especially as so many people had helped me to get there in the first place. A day or so later I came to the slow realisation that even to get myself on the start line especially racing in the elite grading was an amazing feat in itself. I had worked out all the logistics independently, arranged care for Hayley, ensured I had 2 working bikes and the remainder of the equipment which I would need.
I started at the allotted time and fulfilled my objective which was to ride until it was either finished, I broke both bikes beyond repair, I broke myself and was unable physically to continue. I opted for the latter and was forced to abandon. However 3/4 of the field had pulled out before midnight due to horrendous weather conditions and a dangerous course. I feel I actually did myself proud and was able to come 6th in the female elite category.
You have to attend the big, scary events in order to realise what it takes to compete at this level. When I first started riding bikes I didn’t know that I could get to compete in the top tier especially not in 24 hour racing!
So on reflection what have I learnt?
Overall I learnt that I love riding and racing bikes no matter the race but i have a very fond affection for 24 hour mountain bike racing. I learnt that I have not yet fulfilled my potential in endurance racing and am still completing the apprenticeship.
I realised this year that there is an apprenticeship for 24 hour racing and it takes years of commitment to the sport to be successful.
Not only do you have to be physically strong and capable (hours of riding, core, strength work and adequate nutrition to prevent sickness), have a solid skill level (hours of practice and going back to the basics including hours of mountain bike lessons), be mentally prepared and ready to face the challenge you also need a solid support team surrounding you. I’m forever grateful that at 2 of the 24 hour races this year I had my husband as my support crew. Tom has learnt a lot about the sport and is able to judge when I need something even before I know it. At Hidden Vale this year it was 38 degrees with high humidity and people were coming back with heat exhaustion Tom threw everything he could at me - sugar, water, caffeine, pizza and sweets which kept me going.
Overall the year of 2018 was about consoildating a solid base, learning new skills and developing as a rider.
In 2019 I would like to develop my skill base further, become stronger, plan my racing better and avoid some of the errors which I made in 2018.
2019 will be further consolidation and learning aiming for Worlds again in 2020 at Armidale NSW.