In Sydney, you may have heard, it’s been raining. A lot. Rain puts a dampener on any outdoor training regime, but it gets particularly difficult for mountain biking. I’m not averse to cycling in the rain – depending on the intensity, my perceived safety among traffic, I don’t mind it too much, though I prefer it to start raining on my when I’m already on the bike, rather than to start in the rain! However, for mountain biking, it’s not simply a case of putting up with the rain, well not with the amount of rain we’ve been having in Sydney. Instead, there is the condition of the trails to consider. With all this bad weather, we’ve had flash flooding of the trails, trees down, and riding through the mud can damage the trails and their longevity. All in all, this means that the hours I can spend on the trail are strictly limited. There will be a few days of sunlight that get my hopes up of finally being able to take my brand new bike out on the trails and work on my skills, only for the next few days to be constant rain.
It is hard, all those days of wasted plans, not being able to get out and focus on the things you were so keen to work on. It easily leads to a loss of motivation, a loss of drive, that can be difficult to recover from.
So what do I do?
1. Work on my strength.
I’ve loved lifting weights since I was first introduced to them a couple of years ago. At first I was afraid, I wasn’t strong, I didn’t want to get too “big” looking or some ridiculous thing like that, as I thought all women who lifted weights turned out looking like men. But, I learnt that’s not the case, at all! Even if it was, who cares? I feel incredible when I lift weights, when I feel strong and capable, when I see that I lift more each week, each month, and see tone in my muscles. I think a flexible and comprehensive fitness plan is the best kind of plan for what I want to achieve. Do I want to be the best mountain biker in the world? No. Do I want to stand on a podium for winning the Scott 6+6? No (though that would be an awesome!). Do I want to be fit and strong, have significant muscle mass that protects my joints and bones as I age? Do I want to stay fit and active as I age, feeling stronger and healthier every year? Hells yes. So, time to lift more weights.
2. Keep on riding.
I can’t get out there on the trails, but I can ride about on the roads. Road cycling was still part of my training, so I have increased my road cycling, more in the amount of commuting I am fitting in at the moment, and some trainer sessions, those Sufferfest videos really get the heart rate up! The wonderful experienced I had at the Tour des Plages has only made me even more determined to ride longer distances. This will help with my endurance and all the hills I tackle in between will only help my fitness. Although, I need more hill practice, that’s a must.
3. Street skills.
I can’t get out to the trails, but I can get out on the street. There are a few little drills I can work on, and I like watching Youtube videos (MTB tips are my favourite to watch) to give me ideas on what to work on – some cornering work, track stands, slow-moving handling skills, things that will be useful out on the trail when the weather finally clears!
Ever since becoming active I have wanted to experience more. Perhaps that was part of the driving factor for my change in lifestyle. I have noticed that during training programs, people get burnt out, lose focus, start to hate the activity they love because of the pressure to train when some days you just don’t want to. I don’t want to reach that point, and my aim for the year is to compete in the Scott and do well by my standards. To ride hard, ride well, finish strong. To achieve that, I don’t want to get so focused on a strict training program that I will lose that love of mountain biking that made me aim so high in the first place. Keeping that in mind, I like to add in runs around Sydney, which I’m ok with in the rain, as well as planning some camping and hiking trips in the coming months, and a trip to Sri Lanka.
So until the rain stops and the trails dry out, I will do my best to stay motivated. I will do my best to not let the weather get me down and stop me from being active. I will try to be flexible, to keep improving my fitness and strength and enjoying being out and about as best I can in all the wet weather!