At the beginning of the season Flow MTB rider Rebecca set herself a goal to ride the full 2018 HSBC National Downhill series. We’re 4 rounds in with the final round coming up this weekend, so how’s Rebecca getting on?
I missed most of the race season last year after a crash at the start of the season left me unable to ride for most of the year. As winter approached I was in the worst shape of my life, I was unfit, I was physically weak and I was still struggling with confidence following my crash.
One of my sponsors, The Physio Clinic Bristol, had been working with me helping me to rehab my injuries and chatting with their Strength and Conditioning coach I realised that if I wanted to be competitive in 2018 and reduce the risk of further injury I needed to do some work. I really wanted to get back on my bike and back to racing again. I was motivated and determined to get there and armed with my new gym program I started some strength and conditioning work.
I was enjoying the gym work even though it meant I needed to get up early so I could walk the dog and then go to the gym all before going to work! I was getting stronger and my injuries were feeling better but I was lacking a focus and started to wonder why I needed to get up so early… Also the gym work on top of netball season meant I was actually riding my bike less which I wasn’t happy with but I was too tired to fit it all in and something had to give.
I set a goal to ride the full 2018 HSBC National Downhill series, something I hadn’t done before, and knew that to do that I needed to be fitter and stronger as well as improving my riding skill. I entered the series before I could change my mind and then the enormity of doing the hardest race series given my current form sank in.
I met up with my strength and conditioning coach in a panic feeling the need to plan but not sure how to do it. Together we discussed my strength and conditioning program, my race schedule, biking, netball, Pilates and how to balance all of this with life so I could still see my husband and go to work. Something did need to give but it wasn’t the gym.
I recognised that strength and conditioning would give me a strong base to work from and my riding time and skill would increase as netball stopped and the days got lighter (longer days means more time obviously!) so the thing that I decided I needed less of was evening chill out time. I needed to get up early and in order to be able to function I needed sleep so I was going to have to go to bed early. Determination without a plan wasn’t going to work I was going to have to pack my gym bag, make my packed lunch and breakfast before I went to bed if I wanted to get to work on time.
The Physio Clinic wrote me a training plan around my races and suddenly I went from having no plans to having life and training plans! It might have seemed a bit overkill but it helped me keep my sanity and gave me structure which I badly needed to feel confident I could achieve my goal.
Marking off milestones
Every day setting the alarm was a challenge but I loved the gym when I got there and I worked hard as I was determined to be able to ride all the tracks in the series. Fort William is the longest track on the circuit requiring endurance as well as skill and strength. Getting over that finish line kept me setting that alarm.
I noticed that my rides started to feel easier, I was less tired and my body no longer felt like it was being run over every day. I started to change shape and could power up hills I had previously walked up. The first regional race of the season was a major milestone, I didn’t have the confidence I needed and although physically I was getting stronger my skill level needed some work. I came last and that just made me more determined to do better.
I spent a weekend with Flow MTB and MTB Instruction, 2 of my sponsors, working on bike skills and confidence. I started to believe I could finish the first national race of the year and when I came away from it finishing a few places higher than expected it boosted my confidence and motivation further.
Doing it for myself
With each race I have crept up the rankings a little bit further as everything had come together with my training. I entered the National Championships in Glencoe knowing that I had a good chance of doing well as the track was steep and nasty, which suits me and I was on great form mentally and physically. I was determined to win and attacked the track all weekend with the confidence and strength I had worked hard to build. I still couldn’t believe it when I won but as a reward for all those early mornings it was hard to beat!
It didn’t stop there as I still needed to finish the series as that was my goal so I am still setting that alarm and working hard in training.
At the start of the year I had a goal of racing the national series. I have worked hard towards it; keeping focussed and never gave up when it didn’t go my way. I not only hope to finish the series, I hope to finish higher up the rankings than I thought possible. On top of all that I get to wear the national champion stripes for the year and can’t describe how cool that is, I’m still grinning. I had a goal and the motivation, determination and plan to achieve it. The reward when it all came together has made the hard work and early starts worth it. Everyone loves coming home to medals, cake and tea.
If you want something enough a bit of planning and effort can get you there. It doesn’t matter whether it is to ride your first 100 miles, win races or just learn how to build your own bike!Rebecca
The 2018 HSBC National Downhill series consists of five rounds across the UK with two rounds awarded UCI category 1 status.
- Round 1: 7-8 April Cwmcarn
- Round 2: 12-13 May Fort William (C1)
- Round 3: 30 June-1 July Rheola
- Round 4: 11-12 August Rhyd-Y-Felin (C1)
- Round 5: 22-23 September Bringewood
The Physio Clinic are based in Bristol and provide general and sports physiotherapy, as well as rehabilitation. Their Sports Performance Clinic brings together a range of services tailored to specific training or sporting goals. Find out more thephysioclinicbristol.co.uk
MTB Instruction offer mountain bike skills courses for all levels of rider. Each course is tailored to the requirements of the riders from basic core skills to advanced jumps, drops, enduro and downhill. Their mountain bike courses will improve every aspect of your trail riding getting you riding your bike confidentially and to your full potential. Find out more at mtbinstruction.co.uk