Sunday, 22 December 2013

All I want for Christmas...

...is gold.

As a newcomer it's hard to quantify what you actually want from a sport because you know so little, really, about what is actually achievable. It's equally hard to express to your peers what it is your goals entail, especially when they have been riding for a considerable amount of time in comparison to you.

Race face.
For most who race at club level their achievements are ingrained, whether they're successful in their respective categories, always do well in the bunch sprint on the Wednesday night races or manage respectable times consistently in their local timetrial. They have achieved success, and equally loss. There is an air of normality around results. An attitude of "take it or leave it". Riding their bike is just something they do, they do it well, and that is that. Life goes on. In turn, there is a general degree of respect gained by those who are consistent. Whether it be consistent in pulling the pack on a Weekend ride, or keeping their name in the top 10's throughout the local race season.

So what happens when you don't want to be the same as one of those people? What happens when your view is over and above anything local? What sort of person does it make you when you do not simply accept life outside of riding a bike? What happens if you don't really care about a KOM that everyone's been trying to hit, or you don't take part in the club runs because you'd rather stick to "the plan"?

I've found it increasingly difficult, recently, to express my goals for cycling. I'm not as quick as the guys who do group rides, I don't climb hills well and I don't finish anywhere near respectably in the local (albeit 99% male dominated) races. So when my rather dominantly vocal emotional side decides to let the world know that I want success at the very highest level I can possibly reach, I wonder if it's perhaps met with some degree of humorous doubt. Probably quite rightly so.

I'd probably do a lot better if
I kept the rubber to the ground..
I've been riding a bike for less than two years, raced for one season and I'm in my almost late 20's. In comparison to the very small but unbelievably talented, strong number of ladies and young women who ride here, I'm on the bottom rung of "small fry". I don't really expect to be taken seriously, and due to my somewhat 'gobby' nature, I very rarely am at the best of times. Yet I'm perplexed as to why inexperience must be met with so much doubt and ridicule, when those more experienced athletes should be more encouraging and helpful.

So hear this, for you newbies who feel like they can't express themselves, and for you old-hats who reckon you know a thing or two. Hear what it is to have never won. To have never even sniffed at anything resembling a podium. To have never contended a sprint. Hear what it is to dream and to simply crave success more than life itself.

Every morning I put my headphones in on my way to work and I stare out of the window. I have a select amount of songs that go with my daydreams. I put those on and I imagine that moment. I imagine the finish of courses I've watched on Youtube or ridden myself. I imagine every detail. From the kit of the girls around me, to potholes, to spectators around me, to the way my hair moves when I move. In slow motion I imagine every side-to-side motion of the bike, I imagine exactly how my hands look and where they're positioned on the drops, I imagine my head bowing, my face grimacing, and my bum out of the saddle as I push every drop of energy I can muster into each and every stroke. I imagine powering away with some girls in a break. I imagine meticulously following a wheel and then, in the heat of the moment skipping from behind it to clear myself a wheels length, to a bikes length. Again and again I imagine and re-imagine until I get to the end of the song, I hit the line and I imagine myself whispering "yes!" as I clench a fist and stop pedalling. I imagine crying uncontrollably with absolute euphoria at the notion that I have finally achieved my dream.

Over, and over, and over. I think about this process in any form possible, pretty much every 5-10 minutes. Every waking moment of every day. Yes, this is pure obsession. I need this thirst. Without it I have nothing else, because I'm yet to experience the reality of winning.

I have never won a single thing in my life. Literally. Ever. Until now I have never had the desire to. I've been competitive in music and even sports at times, yet never have I had this overwhelming desire...nay...requirement to come first.
Worth posting - I was considered obese
some time ago. I've now got these.

Now, I will be riding with an extremely brilliant team next year, so my desires will undoubtedly need to be suppressed at times for the benefit of the girls I'm going to be working with. I've no problem with this, in fact I relish it, my dream job would be to be a lead-out-lady. So don't get me wrong, I'm not all about me here. But for those of you in my position, for those of you who have realised you have a talent which you've not yet had the chance to cherish and develop, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

For those of you who know what it feels like to win, just remember what it was like before you did, don't take for granted what some of us would be prepared to sacrifice everything for.

And for those of you who've assumed I'm joking, or not taken it seriously when I've said I want to make it to the top - that's simply your own, uninformed, opinion. Do not judge someone based on their own life choices and dreams, because you're wasting your time and energy doing so.

It's not a case of if, it's when. I will win. You'd have to cut off my legs to stop me.

Happy Christmas. x





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