‘Decide today that you won’t give up on your dreams and desires. Keep pressing forward, believing’
At the end of 2014 I was given the chance to follow my dream of becoming a professional cyclist, an opportunity I could not resist. Novus Holdings (Formerly known as Paarl Media Group) have sponsored me for 2013/14 and helped me grow as a completive cyclist. For 2015/16 I will be part of the Novus OMX Pro Team. This is my first contract with a professional mountain bike team. The experience to date has been a steep learning curve but one filled with fun and laughter. The best part is that even though we have only spent 3 weeks together we already feel like a family.
Just over two months into the season I have already participated at seven races (1 Road, 2 Stage & 4 XCO), each of them bringing their own set of challenges.
Starting this year as part of a pro team, I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform up to everyones expectations. I constantly compared myself to other riders instead of focusing on my own journey.
FROM HIGHS TO LOWS
Tankwa Trek was the first stage race I participated at, as a solo rider. It was the only race I had no expectations towards. Each day I went all out until I blew. The first 2 days I burnt out half way and had low energy for the rest of the stage. This is where I learnt first hand that nutrition is key, especially during longer races. The 3rd day was my breakthrough where I pushed myself hard from the start and managed to keep going at a fast pace till the end. It was a great feeling finishing close to the top ladies.
After a successful Tankwa Trek I had good form going into my first XCO race of the year, where everything went to plan. I was hoping my performance at the first SA XCO Cup the following weekend would be even better and I put a lot of pressure on myself. Unfortunately things went in the opposite direction. With less than ideal preparations leading up to the race and not feeling great on race day I was disappointed with my performance. I finished 2nd but my time gap behind Candice was almost 7 min. I felt I was taking a step back and questioned my pursuit of a cycling career.
Racing the Aramex Songo Champions Race reminded me again that even though results are important, having fun, loving what you do and being able to share it with others is still the top reason I ride a bicycle.
PARTNERSHIPS & SUPPORT
Cape Epic, a race I never thought I would do so soon especially with XCO as my focus. I was lucky to team up with Mariske Strauss the best female XCO rider in Africa. As a part of the Novus OMX Pro Team I couldn’t have asked for a better support structure for my first Cape Epic. This being said I felt I needed to perform and didn’t want to let anyone down, especially not Mariske.
After the prologue there was no turning back. Mariske and I had a great chat expressing our views about how we want the race to go. It helped to calm me down for the rest of the week but took time to get into my head.
The race was tough not only physically but also mentally. Mariske really helped me through. Her ability to push through pain is incredible, she has patience of the world and not to forget she makes the best chocolate brownies & date balls!
The most important things I learnt in Epic are:
- Communication is key, not only with your teammate but also with your support crew
- Eat Eat Eat….on & off the bike
- Never leave your partner. Mariske stayed with me all the time, which was great motivation, and I didn’t feel like I needed to play catch up all the time. Best teammate ever!
Despite the last Stage of Epic being pretty much a blur, pushing hard the day before and taking 3rd on Stage 6 was worth it.
The two weekends following the Epic were important points earning races on the XCO calendar. Having most of the team there was a great way to continue the racing vibe and do some team building.
Once again my expectations were high despite knowing I had just done the Epic and got sick afterwards. I wanted to prove my spot on the team and be in the top three, maybe even on the top step. Unfortunately both races didn’t go as planned so I was left disappointed.
We have ideals but most of the time reality doesn’t go their way. Initially it is easy to keep ones head held high and look on the bright side, but when things continually go wrong one looses hope and motivation.
It is great having goals and dreams but what I have learnt is that you need to accept where you are and keep working to where you want to be. It will take time and your journey will be different to others so stop comparing yourself and focus on what you need to do.
I am very grateful for all the support I have received in my cycling and thank each and everyone who has played a role.
I am excited for the rest of the season. Keep Smiling 🙂
“Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.” – Ansel Adams