Heather Kay joined the Flow MTB race team in 2018. Had she known what the year was going to throw at her she could have decided to forget racing for the season. Competing in 9 races, all with top 4 positions, it’s been a great first year on the team and making the time for racing meant she had time planned in her calendar for herself, her bike and her community of friends, and when cycling is fundamental to your mental well-being it probably saved her from a mental breakdown.
If I’d had an inkling of what I what I was going to go through this year whilst on my drive to Round 1 of the Welsh Gravity Enduro Series I may have just turned around and decided to forget racing for a season. Nothing to do with how I felt on my bike, injuries or results (those were all amazing). Just that this has financially been the toughest season I’ve ever done, and that has impacted me in a multitude of ways. Feeling like I was letting my sponsors down, turning down opportunities to race, quitting a race series part way through, using Facebook to find people who can give me a lift to a race, begging my sponsors or scrabbling round the local bike shop for a cheap fix to enable me to continue racing.
When you are struggling to make ends meet every day you have to eliminate any sort of extra activity and expenditure but when cycling is fundamental to your mental well-being and you have responsibilities to sponsors you find yourself in a sticky situation. I ended up working a multitude of jobs: part time, temping, self-employed, juggling a calendar with hours and jobs all over the place, pretty much my only days off all season were for racing. I was exhausted, discouraged, stressed and frustrated. As tough as it was fitting everything in, if it wasn’t for those days off I forced myself to take to be able to race I might have completely lost the plot. The opportunity to catch up with friends, get out on the bike and just be in nature for a day saved me from mental breakdown.
So here I am, season complete, new full time job started, sale of my flat on the verge of completion, feeling like the nightmare of the last 12 months is finally drawing to a close. All I can do is be grateful for the amazing support of the communities that surround me, I could never have made it through without Flow MTB, Stanton Bikes, Summit Cycles in Aberystwyth, my family and the incredible community of friends both in Aberystwyth and in the mountain biking world. Thank you all! Here’s to next year, bigger and better!
Follow Heather on Instagram / Photo: Dave Price