2010 World Solo 24hr Champ - a Long awaited goal reached!

14 October 2010

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A long awaited goal reached…now what to do?

Let me tell you the quick version of how I became the World 24hr Solo MTB Champion in 2010.

Before I can tell you how I won the 2010 World 24 hour champs, I need to explain how I even got to be in a position to even consider winning.  Here's my story.

Norm back in the dayMy first taste of mountain biking was when I lived on the Gold Coast. Norm’s brother, Rick, was a member of Gold Coast MTB Club and insisted he take us for a ride. 
He was the proud owner of the revolutionary ‘Sling Shot’ and Norm and I got to use some other bikes of his.
Of course they were fully rigid and v brakes.  The standard tyre choice was a Smoke & Dart combo. 
At this period of my life, back in 1992 I was nearing 20 years of age.  I loved my cycling and thought that mountain biking was very scary but very fun.


Not soon after this intro Norm and I started to plan our family and I got pregnant with Saskia, she was born on January 28th 1994.  I turned 21 only 5 days later.
I did have a go at a few races after this, mainly 3hr enduros around the Mt Cotton area in Qld.  Bronwyn Battersby was the chick to beat, and she was unbeatable. 
I need to mention here that I got off my bike for most logs, drops and other scary things like steep downhills!

Norm and Saskia - gotta love them knicksWith Saskia being born, we eventually moved back to Victoria where Norm and I both originated from, got stuck into parenting and working. 
I guess your 20’s are tough work, and the most riding we did was commuting to work and taking our daughter along the river in a baby seat and then progressing to running alongside her whilst she learnt to ride on her own bike.

Then in December 2005, a few friends told me that the You Yang’s in Victoria (near Geelong) had mountain bike trails.  We were heading up there often to do trail running up the Flinders Peak walk.  So one day, we arranged to first go for a run, then get our mountain bikes out and do a ride.  This was now almost 11 years after we became parents.

Our old Klunkers - we still have themNorm and I at the time (and we still have them) had an old Avanti and an Iron Horse, both with rigid forks and very low spec. 
I think back in the day I spent $500 on the Avanti and $800 on the Iron Horse. 
But as punters our care factor was minimal, we had bikes with knobby tyres, so what did it matter?

Saskia on her Giant - good choiceWe were parked up top of Stock Yards car park on Great Circle Dve and proceeded to go down a very rutted out Cressy tk. 
I was so slow, brakes on the entire time, eyes popping out of my sockets and shaking with fear mixed with adrenaline. 
Back again next week for some more, this time with our new bikes worth $1200 and front suspension!

The idea popped up in my head that I wanted to get good at this caper, win races, get sponsored and all those crazy dreams. There were some people around me at the time who tried to tell me my dreams were unrealistic…lucky I was smart enough not to take them seriously huh?

Before you know it, Norm had found a race to enter.  Fat Tyre Flyers had an 8hr enduro at Whittlesea in January of 2006.  I was in a female pair and Norm in a male pair.  We packed food to last us a week and had no idea what we were truly in for. I think I cramped about a billion times and went home with 90% of the food we brought.

There were no placings or amazing results, but there was a newly formed addiction about to take hold of our lives and we had no idea that I would ever be a World Champion back on this day in January 2006.

The next week and the week after that we started training, riding at the Youies every weekend.
Slowly my running started to take a back seat, although I was still a boundary umpire for the Geelong Football Umpires League and a personal trainer. 
It was at this stage that I decided to get better.

Jess_2Many of you have heard me say this before, but today it is still no different.
My mantra was:
To reach my goals at becoming a better mountain biker who can win some races and improve with more successes than failures I need to get out on my bike at least 1 day per week, with the aim at improving 1 thing, 1% at a time, 1 week at a time, 1 month at a time and surely in 1 years time I will have improved.  In this time I also raced 26 events in a year and low and behold I had improved. 
I had won so many Sport Women events that I took it upon myself to race ELITE the following year.  I knew this jump in expectations would be tough and it was, I regressed, crashed, thought of quitting, took up road cycling for training and racing, and came last a lot of the time…but I persevered.

By the start of 2008, I could see my efforts were paying off.  It was in December 2007 I entered the Kona 24hr in Forrest as SOLO female and raced against my biggest competition Alex Kiendl. 
She was not in good form on the day, but it was still my chance to go hard, and I did. Over the next couple of years I had some massive highs and even bigger lows.

The 2008 Kona in Forrest I was 6hrs up on the next rider and in the lead. 
There was no passion to continue and I quit whilst in the lead.  Gee it hurt, but it was the lesson I needed and I have never ever looked back.

In 2009, Norm and I travelled to Canada for the World 24hr Solo champs, and whilst I came 4th, it was a massive disappointment for me.  But thankfully each time I have a bad experience I never let it hold me back for too long. 
I learnt how to move forward and make the most of my lessons learnt.   It is with this mind set and determination that I am here today letting you know about my win at the World SOLO 24hr mtb Championships in 2010.

606406690_2009_wsc_013_1922_MediumWithout strength of mind, ability to suffer, conquering your fear of success, being focused and of course selfish, I could not have won this race.  
Only failures can strengthen your mind and desire to win next time.  Set backs are only lessons in how to deal with your mind when things don’t go to plan.  Learning how to succeed is scary and involves pain, in mind and body and a lot of planning and sacrifices.  Often it is easier to only go part way on the road to success and stop short of your real potential.

Success often distances you from your friends and training buddies, often they can think you are too goal driven or turning into some pro cyclist snob. 
It also requires a lot of forethought and planning from day to day.  Daily life must still go on but somehow you have to fit that killer training session in.  So that requires going to bed at 9pm and getting up at 4am to ensure it all gets done and some!

As a parent I only got to see a few games of my daughter’s netball over the winter season, but thankfully I got to see her win a Grand final against a very strong team when it counted. 
We had a chat before hand in the weeks leading up about attitude and keeping your head held high, even if things go wrong & how much this vibe can help lift a team to win!  She told me that she played like this all the time now and how much of a difference it made. 
So now I had to take heed of my own advice!

This year, 2010, has been my most focussed yet. 
I have let a lot of social things go by the way side, only participated in races or events that I considered relevant or close by so alleviate stress.  But most of all it has been mentally exhausting. Everyday has been spent making sure I am always doing my best, always striving to put in 1% more than my competitors and believing that success can be mine.  Every night as I went to sleep I would read books to confirm my goals and self belief. 
I would play out how to win, what I would feel like, how I would talk myself into it and trying to emulate this by developing these neural pathways in preparation for race day.

Kurt TrainerDay by day this has been a process, often reluctantly and despite my best efforts to sabotage my own goals, I have stayed true to myself and all I can tell you is, if you want it, you can have it, but it’s not easy.

Success is a lot of hard work, crazy dedication, daily consistency, surrounding yourself with positive and like minded people and doing whatever small thing you can every waking moment to move towards your goal.
Ah…there is my 1% theory again.

So if you want to know how to win, it’s simple…   1%, 1 day at a time, 1 week at a time, 1 month at a time, 1 year at a time…. No short cuts, just consistency and people who say you can do it, and the courage to believe it.


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Please read on to Part 2