Optimal Arousal – its a problem

I have been catching my breath.  From the end of May through till the middle of June I raced more than I have in years.  I couldn’t help it.  There was so much good stuff to do!  There was the Tour Series, the Nocturne, and another favourite of mine on the track –some derny racing.   Needless to say as the month went on this lot caught up with me and my recovery was not quite up to scratch.  Hardly surprising when you look at the standard and commitment of the riders on the women’s scene at the moment.

Irrespective of my own performance, these are in exciting times for women’s racing.  There has been a lot of ‘T.V. time’ and the interweb has been awash with publicity via twitter, face book and blogging.  The multi-media world is spinning at a remarkable speed, and I for one have been a little reluctant to jump on the roundabout.  And I think with good reason.  They say ‘all publicity is good publicity’, but I am not always so sure.  I definitely have some moments I would rather not have broadcast on you tube.

Presenting at the cycle show this year. Caption competition?

With the presence of cameras and hundreds of spectators at the roadside, you do become aware of how visible you are and that people may be judging your behaviour.  I suppose we are all role models in our sport and the more eyes are on you the more aware of this you become.  I always try to behave but striking that balance between competitive focus and having fun is not always easy.

At the start of Oxford Tour Series. Poker Face. This is how to concentrate. Result: 5th.

Tour series Colchester. 20 mins held on the line in freezing wet conditions and excitement tips towards silliness on the back row. Result: DNF (ok I punctured but the writing was on the wall)

Managing yourself in these difficult circumstances is one of the challenges I really enjoy, and one that I am certainly nowhere near mastering.  We all race because we enjoy it, but we all want to do our best too, and it is not always easy to marry the two objectives together.  I love watching how different riders cope with stressful situations and how this affects their preparations.  The mind set is clearly all important and I think this is particularly challenging for those of us trying to juggle work/children with occasional high level competition.  It really helps to get into the swing of racing regularly if you have the time, but having said that I know how hard it is to deal with racing full-time and have nothing else to keep you in check.  At times when you are not going well, that can be harder.


The ‘inverted U hypothesis’ with my behavioural correlates

I know that for me my confidence sometimes lets me down.  I tend to wallow in self-pity if things are not going well, and lose faith in my abilities and fitness.  This is a source of amusement to the other girls because it seems that every time I make apologies for lack of fitness I pull a good result out of the bag!  If only I could be more consistent.   If only I had more self-belief.


I find all my team mates inspirational but in terms of a demonstration of determination I don’t think I have ever witnessed anything like Louise’s focus to win a stage at the Ras last September.  I think this deserves a second mention here for me because of the determined self-belief it took to keep going at every stage until the win finally came.

This is a proper race face. Now and forever known as ‘the Malcolm X’


For me the glue that holds my racing together these days are the friendships I have made with my team mates and other riders.  Without doubt there are more women’s teams than ever before in the u.k. and the atmosphere and support between everyone has been fantastic.  Across all levels there is respect for what we are all trying to do, and bucket loads of fun, and as a result I think the buzz around races this year has been electric.  Win, lose or draw, if you have friends around you end up with a smile on your face.

Thanks girls, let’s have more of the same.


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