I read an article a few months ago on Pauline Ferrand Prevot – the rider who achieved the unbelievable triple of road, cyclocross and MTB world championships within a year. As startling as her high was, it’s been matched by the depths of the low. Injury, illness, and misfortunte – and watching her race this year, the crashes and the body language tell a story of a shattered confidence. She even said how much the triple crown had been the worst thing that had happened to her.
For every towering high, there’s the fall. And while winning an amateur 24hr race is not remotely fit for comparison with a single one of Prevot’s titles, I’ve come across the fall.
Successive sicknesses and a body begging for a physical and mental break. Late nights at work desperately wondering how it will all get completed. The realisation that a bike race is just that – a bike race, and fundamentally, it won’t change your life. The same insecurities, the same resentments – all these things will haunt you. It is naieve to expect them to change.
But as much as the separation can make it feel hard to feel like a racer, it also gives a sense of perspective. There is nothing quite so beautiful as descending into a spring sunset. Nothing quite so thrilling as late-race pace to secure a win, pushing through the pain barriers.
In the immortal words of Captain Jack Sparrow – “bring me that horizon…. and really bad eggs”.