Still, I hoped things would turn around so I could write a really positive upbeat race report once I was back on top. Well, turns out things aren’t that simple! Even though I had some good domestic races, my World Cup races were mediocre. Why? I don’t know. Probably a lot of different things.
Which brings me to now, the end of the 2014 season. I’ve learned a lot this year including:
1. Not being so hard on myself. This is a tough one. I still struggle with it. In the early season, when I wasn’t instantly riding as well as I wanted to be, I was completely demoralized. I was brushing off the positive things as being random and focusing more on the negatives. I had to let go of expectations, stop worrying about how I “should” be feeling/riding/racing and just ride.
2. Slow progress is still progress. I was expecting to flip a switch and be back to 2012 ass-kicking Georgia, but that wasn’t happening. I was making progress, but it was taking a lot longer than I thought. Instead of just throwing up my hands and saying “this isn’t working!” I had to take a breath, look at the facts objectively, and recognize (and appreciate) the little things that were going well.
3. Racing smarter. Some of my best races this season were short track races where I was patient and attacked at the right moment. Instead of my old “Diesel engine” drag-everyone-around-and-get-outsprinted-at-the-end strategy, I tried being a little more tactical. This paid off with a few trips to the top step of the podium, and those victories helped me build some confidence back little by little.
Winning the short track race at the U.S. Cup in Colorado Springs. Felt great to be back on the top step of the podium- it had been awhile.
4. Enjoying the process. I had some great training in 2014. My “numbers” were good. I made improvements, and I was really enjoying my training rides. I made a concerted effort to do more skills work, and my technical skills got better as a result. This satisfaction with what I accomplished in training was what kept me going through the whole season, even when the race results weren’t there.
I worked very hard to look like a boss going off of small jumps. It paid off. Look how cool I look.
So, some ups and downs during the MTB season. Despite my results not being much better on paper than they were in 2013, I’m in a better place. I know I can be back at the top, I know it’s going to be hard work and it might be slow going, but I am up for it. Bring it, 2015.