2014 is my fourteenth year as professional mountain biker and you would think that after fourteen winters I really would have my training and preparation dialled.
DIRT ISSUE 145 – MARCH 2014
Words Tracy Moseley. Photo by Steve Jones
Well its seems not, as I have found myself doing all sorts of new and challenging training and racing. Fourteen years is a long time and a lot has changed in MTB, so it only makes sense that my training would have to alter too. I have also created changes myself by moving the focus of my racing. After 12 years on the WC Downhill circuit over the last 2 years I have moved across to enduro. I have had to spend more time working on my fitness and less time on my DH bike. I also think it’s really important to take time each winter to look back at your year and decide what areas you want to or need to improve to make your riding more successful and fun.
Some people may think that after winning the first ever Enduro World Series (EWS), I should just keep doing whatever I was doing as it seemed to work. However I know that everyone else I was competing against will be stepping up their game. Last year I learned so much about the demands of a full EWS, so I imagine everyone else did and will be tailoring their training accordingly.
If I want to defend my world title I need to make sure I keep pushing myself and work on the areas that need improving. You need a good all around bag of skills and fitness but I know that if I can race the stages with less fatigue I will be able to make fewer mistakes and ride harder technically. To do this I have been focusing most of my time on road and XC riding, which has at times been pretty boring, but I know that when the season arrives I will be riding my enduro bike, so it is worth it.
I also mixed up the road and XC riding with a block of cyclocross (CX) racing. Around five years ago I rode from home up the canal path to Birmingham to watch the National Cross Champs. It was a 50 mile trip, which in itself was a great adventure, but somehow I found myself watching the race thinking ‘I’d like to have a go at this one day’. A few years later I went to a World Cup CX race at the famous venue of Koksijde in Holland. The atmosphere, buzz and excitement was amazing. CX is a huge sport in Holland and Belgium and has a massive following, and that just made me want to have a go even more. However every winter since then I have had rehab to do because of injuries and CX was never the best way of easing myself back into training. In 2012 I did finally get to do my first two local cross races. Sadly they were not quite so glamorous as the World Cup. I found myself ploughing through some of the muddiest terrain and I really questioned quite what the appeal was.
Twelve months on I had forgotten that feeling and signed myself up for four races. Again they all turned into the muddiest, hardest–going bike racing I could imagine, but the community and atmosphere was really cool. It made me realise that in every cycling discipline there is a great sense of friendship, belonging and almost a family feel to it, and just like the DH scene had become my life for the last 14 years it was great to see that happening to people in other disciplines too. It made me realise that the bicycle has an amazing power to bring people together. Often I feel that each discipline can feel very distant from one another and we all know people that ‘can’t stand roadies’ or think ‘all DH riders are unfit, arrogant, extreme idiots on bikes’.
Well my experience over the last couple of years has made me realise that each discipline is certainly very different and will appeal to different people, but at the end of the day we are all having a great time enjoying our chosen sport. I hope in time more people will respect and appreciate cycling in its entirety and not just the particular discipline they have chosen.