PRO DIARY 3: TAHNEE SEAGRAVE
Photos: Seb Schieck, Ben Winder and ‘others’.
Tahnee Seagrave is the ‘bright young thing’ of women’s World Cup downhill racing. In 2013 she was the Junior World Champion and she also won the overall Junior World Cup title as well. In 2014 she stepped up to the senior class and bagged fifth place overall in the World Cup series and a bronze at the World Championships. This year she finished an excellent 3rd in the World Cup and 5th at the World Championships in Andorra.
We’ve hooked up with her this year to write a monthly (kind of) ‘Pro Diary’ for us, documenting the ups and downs of racing… and all the good times in between. Here she is with entry number 3 as she heads into the off-season…
This season was my second year racing elite, finding my myself in with some pretty fast and ballsy girls. I have no doubt that I improved this season, as it’s pretty clear on results sheets, but not only that, I have felt a lot more confident in my riding after a winter of playing on bikes and just genuinely enjoying time on my bike and improving. Although I wasn’t as consistent as in my first year, I guess at the time my goals were more attainable, keeping them safe and within reach. This season my goals were greater as I didn’t mind setting the bar higher, I felt it was needed to progress as a racer and to climb the ladder. So as I got closer to reaching my limits a few mistakes and crashes were inevitable. Looking back on them now obviously I’m gutted, but I’d much rather that than pootle down in to a safe position and feel like I could have done better. This has given me a long term goal, wanting to reach a limit where I have enough strength and control over my bike that mistakes and crashes are a rare thing.
I would say this year was the toughest year out of the four that I’ve spent on the World Cup circuit. Not physically, but mentally. This year, there have been a few races where I have sat in the start gate and felt strong, healthy, more than capable, and in an incredible state of mind which makes you feel indestructible. Unsurprisingly, I’m not (great news, T). Obviously this isn’t a bad thing, but your performance is only at its best when your mind is, and if you only have these positive thoughts and feelings at a few races of the year, typically, on average, you won’t do so well.
After beating myself up I would remind myself that it’s normal… all racers are different and everyone’s going to have a favoured track, a preferred atmosphere and a particular routine where they feel comfortable. But being a successful racer is being able to deal with things that aren’t going your way and to embrace them in a way that will fuel you forward. But hey, I’m human, and as they say, mistakes are the portals of discovery. Luckily I’m keen to learn and eager to improve, and if it were easy it would be boring. I’m now going in to my winter’s training with motivation and drive like no other year before.
One major thing I learnt this year is that racing is the easy part. Well, not in a lot of people’s cases and certainly not in mine (because I’m no Greg Minnaar just yet), but realistically, it should be. My point is that in my opinion all the hard work should be done, dusted and out the way before the race, it should have been done in all those hours spent sweating, crying and screaming on the turbo trainer or in the gym. It should be done on track walk, in practice, in timed runs, in recovery… all these aspects should be prioritised accordingly and maximised to ensure you feel prepared and ready come race run.
Sadly, apart from its vague appearance here and there, I’m a huge hypocrite because I did none of this. Well, I liked to think I had anyway. It’s really easy to say and genuinely convince yourself that you’ve done everything possible and pushed yourself hard until you turn up to each and every race of the season and get proved otherwise by surrounding competitors. For sure it’s one big reality check. It’s good though, I’m not feeling sorry for myself, I’m just glad I had this eye opener and glad I have the people around me to be honest with me and push me on to reach my potential. I’ve learnt so much this season, not only as a racer but also as an athlete and an individual.
So here I am, desperately nibbling on every little last piece of chocolate I can find before kicking off my training in a couple of weeks. Cheers!