Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The road less travelled

 I have done some big things in my life. Swapping hemispheres on my own at the age of 20, finishing a veterinary degree in a foreign language, taking a leap of faith and swapping hemispheres once again returning to Europe to race pro for a season in 2013 to name a few. I never really truly felt the size of the impact of these decisions until someone would say to me “That is huge”.
I am very independent, to the point that I have been asked at what (low) point I would actually reach out and ask for help. My independency has isolated me a lot, although I am someone who grabs every opportunity presented to me when I want something, most goals I have pursued on my own. Supporting my own dreams and aspirations. Financially, physically and mentally.
I am a few days away from jumping on a plane to ride the MTB Hero Himalayas stage race in India. 8 days of riding, 650kms, 17.000m of ascend through the beautiful Indian side of the mountain range. I have dreamt of doing something like this for a while. And now, for the first time whilst working towards something big, what I am about to do actually feels huge. When in the scheme of things I have probably done bigger things!

when I was allowed to ride over winter it felt like magic

The last few days I have felt the fittest, strongest and most confident I have felt in the last three years. Where previously my seasons were cut short in the summer, year after year due to injury and fatigue, this season I am still improving with leaps and bounces. Improvement is what I strive for. I am someone who likes to keep moving forward whether that is in my job, sport or as a person. I want to keep on progressing into a better version of myself. And this year, after so many setbacks and disappointments I am slowly starting to move forward again. At every level. This is a great feeling.

Not without help though. Over the last 12 months I have had to fight the temptation of jumping on a plane and finding a new destination to hide many times. “Leaving” had been my survival mechanism for so long now and something I had become very good at. It gave me a false sense of security that I was moving forward. Because in reality it was running away from something rather than moving toward something I was doing. 

Lately I have been very lucky to have some really good people around me, who listened, who understood, who were patient, who helped me out, who did not judge. It was not only my body which needed to recover from the abuse I had put it through over the years, but it was also my mind. And as I was working weekly with my physio to repair the broken pieces in my body, I was working with my coach Rab to re-gain my strength and fitness, day after day after day. And as I was ticking off the boxes with such small tiny improvements they felt like I was standing still, my mind had to learn how to be patient, how to be quiet, how to be positive and  how to believe in the process.
Lucky to have this in my backyard

In my 4 years of racing at elite level, this past year has been the greatest learning curve of all. I will be racing in India next week and it feels huge. Knowing where I have come from this year, knowing what the process has been, knowing the ups and downs involved and the fact that I kept going regardless, means for me that whatever happens in the Himalayas, getting to the start line already feels like a success.
A big thanks to the people who  got me through the turbulence this year; physio David Ryan for working so hard with a very stubborn athlete! Coach Rab Wardell from Dirtschool for listening, advising, supporting, keeping me in line and for always staying so positive even when I wasn't! (Not just my coach, also my shrink!) James McCallum from Whatsyourmeta, for guiding me through the final weeks, answering my million questions and keeping me positive. Sandy Wallace Cycling for being so supportive and keeping my bike(s) in order and ashmei for making me looks stylish on the bike. Big Bobble Hats for being the coolest sponsor I have ever had, we are going into our 3rd winter together!!
Naomi, Jantiene, Karin and Sarah (through correspondence!) for being the best friends I could ever wish for, supporting, inspiring,  accepting and believing in me. Last but not least my Michael who rides this roller coaster life of mine with me, for giving me the freedom to do what I love doing and always being there when things fall apart. I could not chase my dreams without any of you!

                                 "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step"

A moment with Michael

Podium with Karin in the Grandraid Adventure race earlier this year whilst giggling from beginning to end

Jantiene and I on our 2 day mountain bike expedition this Summer, what a blast!

Naomi and I on one of our many rides together facing whatever Scottish weather would throw at us

Working with James McCallum at Whatsyourmeta ; pain cave

                                        going into my 3rd winter with the coolest sponsor ever!
My support dream team, Michael and Fynn

Podium at Glentress 7 with SWC team mate Zara Mair

house filled with drying ashmei gear

Catching up with Sarah at the Engadine bike Giro in Switzerland

success is not always defined by winning

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