For the past few days I’ve been reflecting on the 2016 road season. Year by year, and the more I race, the more I learn the importance of staying focused through the highs . . . and finding patience through the lows.
The beginning of the season was definitely rough, as the start of road racing tends to be for me. San Dimas and Redlands are two of the toughest races I face in the year – the hills are brutal, the field is intense, and I tend to feel jittery and nervous in the pack. However, instead of panicking at my results, I’ve learned to step back, enjoy the feeling of pushing myself, and trust that as the season progresses, my legs and results will come around.
It was gratifying when both improved throughout middle and late season racing. Nationals went incredibly well for me this year, culminating in a criterium win that I certainly could not have predicted. In this instance, I took a couple of days to enjoy the win, and then got back to work. There was still plenty of racing ahead, and it was important that I stay focused to ensure I could be the best possible teammate for Trek Red Truck.
Superweek, a series of races I like to call, “the most wonderful time of the year” followed closely after Nationals. The level of fun at these races is off the charts, with big crowds, lots of money on the line, a sizeable women’s field, and a Vancouver - based team that gets crazy cheers. One thing I love about TRT is that we’re aggressive – we try to be in every move and we continually initiate attacks. We brought that style to every Superweek race, and really showed it off at the highlight of the week Gastown Grand Prix.
We have a diverse team and everyone has different strengths; we’re excellent at using those strengths to our best advantage. Sara can sprint, Leah can climb, Denise, Gil, and I can spend laps off the front, and best of all, there isn't any selfishness or egos. We go into every race ready to bury ourselves for our teammates, to give support to each other throughout the race, and to find the positives of the day . . . regardless of the outcome.
The season concluded with a short track camp in Milton, followed by a stretch of racing in Belgium. After Superweek I was fatigued, so facing another ten races was certainly daunting.
Racing got off to a rough start in Europe – girls are far more aggressive and much better technically. Having raced over there before, I remembered that it took time to adjust to the racing style. This time, instead of getting frustrated, I was able to be patient and let myself adjust. “Follow the wheel” and “move up” became my mantra as the races went on. I slowly improved at moving up through the pack, powering over cobbles, and taking faster and faster corners.
One bizarre (and infuriating) thing about racing in Belgium? The screaming. Yup, every touch of the brakes, every little bump, and some Belgian girl will start screaming her head off. Actually, my best result came in a field of close to 100 girls, when I got so tired of listening to girls screaming that I attacked off the front, and stayed away until the finish, ending up 6th. I think annoyance might be my most powerful motivator.