Wednesday moring. I’d just finished my turbo session, cooled down, had some breakfast and showered. There wasn’t a sudden creak, crack or snap. I just realised I could no longer move my neck freely or without pain. I took the day off work and – frankly – panicked. Visions of the dreaded Shermer’s Neck before I’d even started the Transcontinental; my plans for the year in shatters.
Four days later, that seems a bit silly with my neck pretty much back to normal and a few rides under my belt. Yet I know I need to be ready for setbacks between now and rolling across the finish line in Meteora. The stupid thing would be to pretend there won’t be hard moments, low moments, fuck-ups and don’t change anything . The sensible thing is to look ahead, think about what could go wrong and figure out what I can do about it.
A lot of that is kinda obvious and I already have it in a hand:
- A training plan with Dig Deep Coaching to make sure I’m as strong as I can
- I have a fantastic Mason Bokeh Ti bike equipped with gear I trust like excellent Hunt Wheels, all set up based on a fit by Velo Atelier to minimise the chance of knee niggles and other pains
- I’ve started doing pilates with Caroline Kinch and seeing Puntey Chiropractic to build my core strength and flexibility for long days on the bike
- I’m planning my route and thinking carefully about how I will ride the race
This week has made me start thinking about the mental side of things. I know I will be tired and stressed in the race. I will struggle to react rationally and calmly to things I’d normally take in my stride like a puncture, getting lost or running low on food or drink. So how do I stop the toys going out of the pram when things go wrong?
Part of it is I think being confident in my preparation so knowing that adversity is temporary. Stopping, thinking, eating – even sleeping – will usually make things better; and if it doesn’t it will make things clearer when you need to work out what you can do. So I need to always have some food with me, a warm layer and an eye for a place to stop.
Another element is thinking about what scares me, what the worst is that could happen and being ready for how I react. That way I can know the signs and stop before things get worse.
The last part is remembering – ultimately – it doesn’t matter. A friend wisely told me “the Transcontinental will never define who you are” and they are so right. I’m doing this to see if I can, not to win or for recognition. If I fail I learn something. But if I fail while pushing myself too hard or taking risks I’m just an idiot.