Life is not a smooth road, it’s rough and rocky with a few curve balls thrown in. Dealing with failure is just part of the deal and how you handle it can have a huge impact on the future. People say you learn the most when you lose and not when you win and I couldn’t agree more.
A few weeks ago we had the 2017 SA national championships which was held at Mankele bike park close to Sabie. I was coming into the event having won it 2 years in a row and felt that I could do it again. Long story short, I ended up crashing in my race run and finished 2nd. I was devastated knowing that I threw it away and lost the sleeve. However I really focused on taking the positives out of it and putting it behind me as I knew that in order to ride well you can’t dwell on the past. Now anyone will tell you that this is no easy task, when you put so much dedication into something and then fail it’s extremely tough to deal with mentally.
This brings us to the present, I am in Germany and just raced the 4th round of the IXS German Cup series and here is how things went…
I arrived on the Friday morning for practice and weather was dismal! Pouring rain and mud greeted us and would stay with us all weekend. I did not do a track walk as it was a long hike in the pouring rain so I decided against it as it was a short track. The next issue was the shuttle which was extremely slow and meant I would only get 3 runs on Friday, 4 on Saturday and 3 on Sunday which included seeding and race runs! The track was not too steep but was filled with roots and due to the conditions it was tough to keep it together for a full run. This was the wettest race I had done in a couple of years but man oh man was I having fun, actually the most fun I have had riding ALL YEAR!
In my seeding run I had no expectations as I had only done 6 runs on a track that I did not know and most the others had raced there before. I also made a huge mistake in my run which cost me around 4 seconds but I was pleasantly surprised when I seeded 2nd just 0,7s off the lead! This gave me some confidence but also added pressure as I knew I could win but needed to hold it together the next day when it counted!
I had a great practice in the morning of race day and in my mind I visualised going 10 seconds faster than my seeding run. I really believed I could go 10 seconds faster with the right run BUT due to the unpredictable conditions I knew it would be tough to hold it together. However in the start gate I had a feeling that I can’t describe, it was almost as if I knew I was going to do it before it happened. Sure enough I managed to nail my run and crossed the line with the crowd roaring. I had gone 10 seconds faster and won by over 4 seconds… I can’t even begin to explain the feelings going through me at that point. It happened as I had imagined it and the whole situation just seemed surreal. In our sport there are so many variables to consider and when it all comes together it is the most amazing feeling and it’s the feeling we as racers all chase.
This day was just proof to me that if you can mentally get into the right space and not let failures get to you then truthfully ANYTHING is possible! I thought back to how I felt after national champs and realized that this win just made up for every bit of the disappointment I felt. Don’t give up when you fail, keep your head down and keep working because in the end it will be worth it!
Until next time…