Finding New Purpose in Lockdown

It is now July 2020.

I don’t even know what the rest of the year holds. We are deep in the ‘pandemic’ of COVID-19 here in Victoria, Australia. I partook in a smattering of racing early in the year, won a few road races even. Norm and I were enjoying being grandparents to Finley and I was starting university.

There has been no blog since November 2019.

It has been a significant challenge to understand who I am now, what am I striving towards, and of what value am I to the world now? Change is uncomfortable and it's definitely what I am experiencing now.

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The past few years have been soul searching times. Moving from Forrest back in March 2015, it has been a slow reinvention, to say the least.

When we briskly packed up, we were done.  Running our cafes, events, and mountain bike skills businesses had depleted a significant amount of passion and energy. Yet I was still a cyclist, yet I still did not want to that to go, what would I do if I didn’t ride and race bikes?  So 2015 I went and raced and won a 24hr National 24hr Championship in Canberra, and was able to say the magic words of 3 x champion in both world and National.


We started the process of selling the shops and winding down MTBSkills.  How does it feel to let go of emotional and financial investments that are part of your identity?  Well, it felt sort of ok, but a real hit to the ego too.  We were industry experts and willingly slowly letting that part of our lives go. However, there was one bonus, we had many many weekends where Norm and I would be wondering what we would do? Unsettled with the time and space we had created, and not rushing from one task to the next. 

By 2016 we were just running events and I started to dabble in Bike packing events and racing.  So much fun, but I wasn’t completely sure if this was me.  I loved the multi-day riding and sleeping wherever I could at night, riding for 20hrs at a time, don’t get me wrong.

My new lifestyle though, I didn’t want to be away from home, I was enjoying the comfort of the couch at night and missed Norm whilst gone on bike packing adventures. Our We Ride Bikes events were really hard to work, but super fun to deliver.  We would head back to Forrest and stay the night or weekend to make it happen.

And then in 2017, Mike Hall died whilst doing the Indy Pac Bike packing race from Fremantle to Sydney.

It was on the day we were setting up our Otway 300 course.  We were broken, and now what do we do? Norm and I knew this would be the last time we would run this event and we wound up every race we managed by mid-2017. Since this time, trying to work out what to next has been a challenge. Norm started working full time as an employee as a General manager of a Geelong based company and I even went and had a crack at full-time work.
Safe to say I gave it a few months and then invested my time and energy back into my coaching work.  Lots of fun and new reasons to get back into racing.

But now I was racing the road bike more and more and loving it. I’ve been focused on my coaching business, my own professional development, including back to uni this year and really enjoying being a grandmother. Yet racing on my mountain bike, doing the Otway Odyssey this year despite my disappointing result, had lost its shine and I did not and have not touched either of my mountain bikes since February this year. 

Then COVID-19 came along so what did it matter?

I just invested in a $1000 smart trainer, kept doing my indoor Zwift workouts and used cycling as a fitness tool as well as social via platforms like Discord. And here I am now in July where I think I know what’s next. The last time I had these life direction challenges it occurred to me that all I had to do was add value to the world, provide myself as an example that you CAN do anything.

Over the years I have come to realise that my story with all its various hardships and vulnerabilities is exactly what people resonate with, they want to be let in on the uncensored reality.  Because the times of triumph then mean so much more.  Me, Jess, becomes relatable, my ‘life wins’ become a realistic vision for people to believe, “If she can do, then so can I.”

I am writing a book, a non-fiction memoir actually, and I am 20,000 words into it. This process is so cathartic really for myself, and revisiting all my life experiences and the lessons I learnt along the way too. We often downplay the resume we create over the course of our life.  Yet this is the gift that comes with age, wisdom that can only be gained from participating in life with all the highs and all the lows. 

I am learning slowly that every skill I have from the past 47 years has even greater transferability to the 2020 version of me.

So that’s it, all I have to do to is to keep paving the way for others.

  • Share my failures, my triumphs and my daily grind.
  • Share my learnings and communicate HOW they can be of value to others.

...and now I must get back to writing my book, so I can do what I said I would!