Since this time last year, it always sits in the back of your mind and has a lot of influence on many of the decisions and choices you make throughout the year. It’s a slow steady build up the whole season. Training sessions, racing and rest periods are all built around that one day. It’s always a bit of a fine art/juggling act to get all of your stars aligned and have everything fall into place on that exact day at that exact time for just 45 mins. Sometimes it goes exactly how you want it, and sometimes it doesn’t.
4th in Tabor a few years ago has been my highest placing in worlds back in 2015, followed by a 6th in Zolder the following year, those 2 worlds are the ones that stick out in my head because those 2 times I was at the front fighting the whole race with the win in reach. I took risks in both races to win that jersey, possibly forfeiting a podium place but for me, it was always all or nothing. Both are results I’m really proud of even though I didn’t manage to step into that podium, I had done everything within my power to win and the run in too each race went pretty much perfectly. These times are the ones that stay with me every time I put my leg over a bike. Sometimes, mostly when things are not going great, looking back to those moments, being so close gives you that extra motivation to push even harder.
All of the work we put in before is always closely monitored and planned out by the best trainer we can manage to find, we make sacrifices every day, starve ourselves, hurt ourselves, all in pursuit of those ‘diamonds in our legs’ feeling. I’m still undecided if I believe it is, in fact, a fine art or just a bit of potluck.
My race in Valkenburg ended with a mix of emotions. Last year I raced worlds but wasn’t in the best shape after missing half the season with injuries. I saw just being on that startline as a victory in itself last year and in no way did I see myself in any kind of condition to be a contender for the medals.
In comparison most of my season so far has gone really well, finishing consistently at the front of races and stepping on a fair few podiums. I've raced at the World Cup at Valkenburg a few times before and finished on the podium there too, so its always given me good memories and good motivation! My preparation hadn’t been perfectly smooth. I got sick in early January with a lingering virus and missed a big chunk of training time along the way but by the time race day was here I was in good health and looking forward to racing.
I did a few laps on the course on Friday & was pretty happy with how it looked, it was mostly rideable, muddy, a bit slippy technical and very heavy going. All of which tend to suit my style of riding so I was, of course, positive and excited to get stuck in.
By the time Saturday came around and all of the other racing had taken place, the course had changed quite a lot. The slippy mud had turned to sticky mud which lead to a lot more running and on & off the bike. It just so happened the stars didn’t quite align and I didn’t find any diamonds in my legs. I didn’t have my best day out but I gave it my all. Most of the race I was fighting for 6th place, until a couple of crashes the last 2 laps saw me lose a few places and I ended up 11th.
It wasn’t the result I had hoped for of course but its honestly all I had in me on the day. I was pretty disappointed, to say the least but in a strange way it made me a tiny bit happy to see the competition so incredibly high and the sport in such a good place. If you're not firing on all cylinders and everything goes 100% you can forget it nowadays! Some days you have it and some days you don’t, it’s that simple.
Even though I didn’t have the perfect race, looking back on what an amazing weekend GB had with Ben & Evie winning in such style it definitely gave me something to smile about!
It was also so inspiring to see so many fans from home travel out to support us all and of course, we appreciate every shout and cheer - I heard every last one! I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, Cross is coming UK! It’s only a matter of time :-)
So I’ve had a couple of days this week back home to chill out and reboot the body for a final big push towards the closing races of the season. Don’t forget to keep an eye out on race schedule at mudiiita.com and of course updates on social media @Mudiiita
Until next time ….