Last learnings from Europe

Val di Sole – 54th
Lenzerheide – 38th


Expectations shift with reality.

During my foray into cycling over the past couple years, I’ve generally set expectations low – or at least within reach, so as to avoid being disappointment… Minimum performance expectations, so to speak. It’s not that I don’t believe in myself, I certainly have high hopes; but over time I’ve found I don’t do so well as a dreamer. I do better when I’m planted in reality, it keeps anxiousness at bay.

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(Keith Phunkt Valentine @phunkt)

That said, coming down from the high hopes and fleeting reality of winning Nationals was more emotionally exhausting than I could possibly have imagined. I was drained of energy and motivation – a tough place to be with just one week before flying back to Europe for a third set of World Cups. In hindsight, instead of feigning positivity and energy in hopes of finding it hidden inside me somewhere, I should’ve just let go for a while – taken some down time to regroup, rest, and reset, and let the energy come around.

Val di Sole, Italy and Lenzerheide, Switzerland are both beautiful places. Even though heading over I was short on enthusiasm to travel, it did not detract from my appreciation of these places and the opportunity to visit them.

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Quiet mountain roads in Italy

Despite being in a tough spot and never getting up to speed on the long draggy climbs of Val di Sole, I still finished on the lead lap, in 54th – up from my seeding position. I honestly felt pretty defeated from this outing, but after some earnest conversations with my brother, coach, and ever-wise trip teammates – Catharine Pendrel and Sandra Walter, I came to realize that my expectations had shifted, and I wasn’t being fair to myself with them.

So, reset.

Things came around really well for me in the week between Italy and Switzerland. Giving my body and brain some reprieve brought me to a much more capable and positive place for race day. I really enjoyed riding the track in Lenzerheide; the rooty sections of forest, meandering lines through fields, combined with larger natural and manmade features made for a very fun course that felt like real mountain biking. All our preriding was in the wet but come race day it was dry and grippy; it would’ve been nice to see the track dry in training to speed up my lines – at least I know them for next time!

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(Marius Holler – @theoutdoorlab)

I finished 38th on the day, which isn’t my best result on paper, but it was probably my most encouraging World Cup ride. Still rocking a back-of-the-pack call up (plate #78, seventh row), I made efficient work of the start climb and dropped into the top singletrack around the top 30. I spent the first half of the race riding as high as top 20, but by the fourth of six laps was losing ground and positions. It would’ve been amazing to roll a result in the 20’s, and while dropping spots at the end of the race isn’t fun – I take pride and confidence from the first half the race.

Being able to ride at pace is the start, holding on to it is next. There was a moment of top 20 reality, now I just need the shift.

This was my last big mountain bike race trip of the season. This summer has been more than I imagined it would be thanks largely to my team of supporters – those of you reading this and others. I do my best to ride and race in a way that I and those watching, cheering, believing, can be proud of. Even if it’s not perfect – I mean usually it’s pretty far from it, I just want it to be the best I’ve got.

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(Keith Phunkt Valentine @phunkt)

One thought on “Last learnings from Europe

  1. Congratulations on very respectable WC performances, Jenn. Impressive to even be there let alone place respectably.
    I really enjoyed reading your lessons learned. Your introspection and writing is great! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    E

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