It comes down to a handful of days, race days. That’s what everyone sees, what everyone remembers, the moments that add up to define an athlete. My 2014 season defined me to the world as a newly branded classics rider and a Commonwealth Games medalist. I’m especially proud of finishing 2nd at Le Samyn des Dames and sprinting for my medal in Glasgow but, unlike a race, life doesn’t stop at the finish line and the road in between the races can be harder.
In hindsight, it was always going to be a tough year. Regardless of how excited I was to have a new team, go the Commonwealth Games and take on the spring classics for the first time, it all came with a steep learning curve and high self-expectations. I had to navigate a lot of new territory, I made a lot of mistakes, and faced a few obstacles I almost didn’t overcome. I always stay positive, look for the silver lining no matter what the situation, but there were times this year that challenged my outlook on life. Put simply, this year there were more downs than ups.
As the season progressed, I had one disappointing race after another. There were allergies, mechanicals, bad legs, poor communication, illness and everything in between, but, most importantly, I couldn’t pinpoint the overarching issue that was keeping me from the podium. I was endlessly frustrated. Of course it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Every so often there was a glimmer of sunshine that made me think I was on the right path. Standing on the podium in Glasgow looking into the crowd at my family, was one of those sunny moments. From the outside, that medal was a reward for racing hard and sprinting myself in third among the best riders in the Commonwealth. For me, that medal was a reward for slogging it out day in and day out during a less than ideal race season.
In cycling, it comes down to one day, one race, one moment and at the end of the season it’s easy to value yourself by your race results (or lack there of). But an athlete is more than a list on a sheet of paper, more than a podium finish, more than DNF, more than a medal. While I’m proud of my race accomplishments, especially my Commonwealth success, I also value how I survived so many disappointing race days and still raced like I could win the next one. I value how I fought to believe in myself when self-doubt threatened to knock me down. Most of all, I value that this season I learned that I am more than my race results.
I’m looking forward to a new season with a clean slate. Onwards and upwards!