The Six Stages of Getting Over a Bad Race
After a string of race disasters this year with snapped chains, broken thumbs, sickness and a major loss of form due to training for Iron Man wrecking every race I rolled up to, this race, I would take seriously. I stopped all the Iron Man training and stuck to bike miles, training harder than I had all year. I spent hundred of dollars on nutrition and getting the bikes dialed and perfect. I starved myself and spent every day hungry, losing 4kg. I tapered properly and carbo loaded like crazy. I rolled up on the start line of the the second last round of the Singletrack Mind Series at Nowra in the best form I had all year and was super confident that today would be "the day". I was ready!
Off the start line things went perfectly, I managed to get the lead in Masters and had settled into a tempo pace, and was enjoying the course when my free hub suddenly gave out. Pedaling just spun the cassette on the rear wheel with no power put to the rear wheel at all.
I was dead in the water, and may as well have been on a toddlers push bike.
I was 5km from transition and almost all of that was slightly up hill, so I wasn't going to be rolling down a hill to get back there, the only option was to walk and push my bike back there.
Bike race over, I started a new race... the race to mentally getting over this disaster...
Stage 1: Denial
I stopped and tried to fix it, but pretty quickly I worked out that my free hub was not repairable.
Even though I knew it wouldn't work, I kept jumping back on and trying to pedal, hoping it had magically fixed itself... it hadn't ;)
Stage 2: Anger
At first I wanted to smash my bike, and those that have ridden with me will know that I have been known to "test bike durability" from time to time ;)
Thankfully this time I remained calm and very quickly moved to the next stage.
Stage 3: Bargaining
As I stood there on the trail, I plead with the gods to just give me one... fricken... chance... please...
They didn't answer.
Stage 4: Depression
As I walked back to transition the difficult depression stage took hold. It's hard not to think about all the 5am training rides, some mornings before dawn several rides had been below -6'C. I thought about all the hours I had spent away from my kids, the thousands of dollars in parts, nutrition, race entries, accommodation and fuel. It had all been for nothing. It is not easy to shrug that sacrifice off.
It was just a pathetic little bike race and one of the biggest first world problems on Earth, I knew it, but that didn't make it an easy to deal with.
To me, it was a massive investment of time and money, and it had just gone to waste.
Stage 5: Acceptance
The next day I hoped to return to my former self and accept what had happened, but after a string of races this year being plagued with illness, injury and mechanicals, it wasn't easy. Monday was a long day of contemplation about whether the time and money I put into the sport was all worth it... as the day went on, concerningly, I couldn't justify the effort to myself.
Thankfully on Tuesday I woke up and remembered all the good fun I had training, the 7 hour training ride last Sunday with Gaz in the Spring sunshine, that was worth it. Watching my fitness improve, that was also worth it. The upsides came to the surface and I made my peace with the mountain biking gods and accepted that this happens from time to time, such is life. I just wished it hadn't happened at every race I have fronted up to this year ;)
Stage 6: Recovery
The best way to move on is to set a new goal, and make a plan that will get you there, so that is exactly what I have done... I am either stupid and a sucker for punishment, or enjoy cycling too much to see common sense; either way I am already planning the next race and have my fingers crossed that things will come together this time...