It’s all over but the shouting. Worlds in Bogense was nothing if not a pure pleasure to watch.
Sanne Cant and Mathieu van der Poel both produced stellar performances worthy of their rainbow stripes. It was a nail biter for Cant, who kept us on the edge of our seats ’til the final lap, when she showed her late-race magic on the biggest stage. MvdP raced as he’s raced all year, taking the race to his rivals from the gun.
If you looked carefully, you could see the confidence that both riders exuded, even when things looked sketchy. Both rode with patience, grace and supreme self-confidence. At the end, it was clear that the strongest and most deserving rider took the rainbow jersey in each race.
No matter if you’re a fan of MvdP and Cant or not, their rides in Bogense were displays of the technical, physical and mental strength that both bring to our sport.
For me, watching MvdP is joy, pure and simple. I don’t agree with those who say that his dominance made ’cross boring this past season. Simply put, he is the visual representation of what I aspire to be as a cyclocross racer.
Yes, I know, I’m an old dog and it’s increasingly harder to learn new tricks, but you can’t fault me for trying … and for dreaming.
The Elite world of cyclocross isn’t over just yet. There is still some racing left on the calendar.
For us mortals though, our seasons ended after our respective state championships or the mudfest known as Louisville Nationals. The prevailing wisdom is now to rest, to allow our bodies to recover and to analyze our season. Most of us will look back and focus on what we didn’t do well last year with an eye towards improving our weaknesses.
But let’s look at this a bit differently, shall we? What if, and I’m just hypothesizing here, what if we were to take an equal—or even larger—amount of time to appreciate what we did well? How would that work in the larger context of improving our ’cross racing?
I know it’s a stretch but think about it for just a minute. If we were to figuratively give ourselves a pat on the back for what we’re good at, wouldn’t that give us the momentum to approach the offseason in a more positive manner?
For a moment, I encourage you to explore what might come from starting the analysis from a position of strength rather than weakness? Would you be more or less motivated? Would you bring more energy to the hard days and accept the rest days more readily?
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t put in the work to develop those skills that were lacking. What I’m saying here is that we might actually bring more focus, intensity and energy to that work if we were to move into it feeling positive about ourselves rather than negative.
I’m also saying that we need to be completely honest with ourselves now, moving forward to next season.
Forget about the “should-haves” and the “could-haves.” Look at what you did well. Celebrate it. Bask in it. It doesn’t matter how minor those successes might seem to you.
It could be that you rode sections of courses this past season that have given you trouble in the past. Maybe you beat a long-time rival in more races than he or she crossed the line in front of you. No matter whether that “victory” was for 11th or 1st, it was a victory for you.
Maybe it’s as simple as the fact that you followed a training plan to the letter (or almost to the letter). Whatever it is, the point is to start the process of preparing for next season feeling positive about the one that just ended.
The trap that we want to avoid is placing the blame for our shortcomings elsewhere. “I could have trained harder, but work got in the way,” or “I would have had a better placing but that guy fell right in front of me two turns from the end.”
The litany can be endless. Let it go.
Get up earlier. Get a headlamp and warm clothes. Make sure you’re not behind “that guy” in the last lap. Turn the negatives into positives and keep trying to focus on what you did well.
It’s not always easy, but as the saying goes, “If it was easy, everybody would do it.” Turn those “failures” into opportunities for growth and do it be coming into this part of the year feeling good about what you accomplished last season.
Now, with that in mind, think about your successes from last season and go for a ride.