Part of getting older and more experienced with your riding and racing is recognising your habits and patterns. Be they good or bad, at least when you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses it’s easier to work with or around them. I’m a creature of habit, and from the outside it would seem like traveling to Europe for the northern summer was a set routine. But each time is always different. Even if it’s the same race, experiences can go from the happy end of the scale one year to disastrous the next. And that’s ok – it’s something to learn from.
The past week and the coming one are virtually a mirror image of this time in 2012. Last year, I ventured to the Sudtirol to race the Dolomiti Superbike with a variety of Subaru-MarathonMTB Team mates, including Naomi Hansen. We were travel buddies too, and post race went to Livigno for high trails and to make sure our riding dynamic was spot on. We had paired up for the Transalp MTB stage race that started exactly one week after the Dolomiti Superbike, and although we both had countless days of solo and paired stage racing in our legs, we hadn’t raced together.
Being able to utilise the strengths of each rider in a paired stage race is essential for success. Failings are more often seen than success. The successful team dynamics happen quietly and efficiently without drama on the trail or after the race. Through respect and experience Naomi and I rode well together, in a fairly low stress eight days. We experienced some other mixed teams implode, and countless men’s teams fall apart from two egos racing each other.
So one year on I’m in Livigno again, and this time with a different Elite Australian mountain biker, Imogen Smith. As much as there are lots of similarities, there are huge differences too. Although Imogen is a well accomplished and experienced mountain bike racer, she hasn’t ridden a paired stage race. Getting the dynamics right both on and off the bike is the next step. It my not be modest, but we’re both riding really well. Climbing, descending, powering the flats… but matching our speeds and supporting each other through any low moments will be the true test, and unfortunately one that can really only be tested under fire.
Although we both raced the Dolomiti Superbike last weekend, it’s fair to say we both had positive experiences – very much unlike what Naomi and I experienced in 2012!
With Transalp racing from Mittenwald to Riva del Garda, it’s not just a different route, but a different team mate, personalities and a whole raft of new adventures that lie ahead. So my habit of traveling to the other side of the world to do some bike races might look very similar on paper, but the reality is far different.