by David Einmo
A mechanical might steal your spot on the podium, but it doesn’t have to rob your enthusiasm. Stop playing the “what if” game and come back strong. The cyclocross races may be over, but spring ushers in a new mountain bike and road racing season. Below, we ask top pro cyclocross racers and coaches to share their strategies for overcoming frustration and ringing in a new season.
Former Masters Cyclocross World Champion, Mountain Bike Hall of Famer, Current 40-44 National Champion
Webber celebrating his win. © Steve Anderson
Coaches and racers emphasize perspective. If things don’t go as planned, consider what went wrong and develop a plan to overcome it next time, says Pete Webber, former pro mountain bike racer turned Masters Cyclocross World Champion.
“Write down what you learned and be sure to use that knowledge. Next, you’ve got to step back and have some perspective,” says Webber who coaches several top U.S. racers. “Was the mishap really that bad? Are you overreacting? If you were coaching another rider, what advice would you give them? Be calm and get back to work.”
Webber, a recent inductee into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame and coach of the Boulder Junior Cycling team, also emphasizes the importance of mental toughness to overcome disappointment. “It’s important to be accountable to yourself. The best riders, the ones who succeed year after year, don’t play the blame game, or attempt to find excuses,” says Webber. “They’re always learning and improving. They become tough and resilient and they don’t let obstacles slow them down. They may not have good legs every race, but you’d never know it. They know how to ride fast when things are good and when things are bad. They don’t overreact to how they are feeling. Instead they focus on delivering the goods.”
Two-Time European and Eight-Time British Cyclocross Champion, bronze medalist at Worlds
Wyman, game face on, going for bronze at UCI Cyclocross World Championships 2014 Elite Women. © Thomas van Bracht
Prior to joining the pro cycling ranks, Wyman studied physiotherapy. The clinical experiences left an impression that gives her perspective when a race doesn’t go as planned.
“In the heat of the moment, the race result is so very important to you, and so it should be. But in reality there are so many worse things in life,” says Wyman. “I take my job very seriously but equally I am lucky to have had the balance of a ‘proper’ job previously to this. When you work as a physiotherapist you meet people who really have problems. When you have to fight to get a stair lift for a cancer patient, who had a stroke, so he can sleep next to his wife in his final months of life, it allows you to put bike racing failures into perspective.”
Wyman pauses and then reflects with a smile, “Although I can’t deny that at the time when something outside of your control affects your race, it’s a real gutter.”
Check out Part 1 here, and make sure you’re subscribed for the upcoming Summer issue of Cyclocross Magazine for more strategies from top pros on how to use sports psychology to improve your cycling performance.