First year as a ‘pro’
The word pro still seems pretty daunting to me, because in reality I feel like I’ve only just stepped out of the youth ranks. I’ve been riding bikes full time now since Summer 2017. A little background about me; I was on the GB Mountain bike academy for a year after completing my A levels, where I lived in Manchester near the National Cycling Centre. I made the decision to leave last summer, however this is by no means representative of the support a I received. I just wanted a change after being predominantly a MTB rider for 5 years. The opportunity to race for TP Racing arose just at the right time and gave me a new sense of direction; Cyclocross.
So this winter I took the plunge and headed out to Belgium to live and breathe Cyclocross. I don’t know what warrants the status of ‘pro’ because I still certainly don’t feel like one. Yes, I have a salary and an incredible support team around me but I just don’t feel ready for that ‘pro’ status. It’s strange really – as a child you idolise ‘pros’ and put them on a pedestal. When you become part of that world the reality is that they are normal people doing slightly cooler than normal things. It’s a weird one to get your head around. As much as I have come to understand this I still have those pinch me moments when I’m lining up to race against legends like Marianne Vos.
So, as I was saying, my first year as a pro…
Obviously as with everything in life there are highs and lows. In this sport the highs are really high but the lows can feel like rock bottom. I’d be lying if I said that my first year as a pro has been plain sailing – this Cyclocross season has been a steep learning curve. Being an ex-MTB XC rider who thrives in grippy, muddy conditions
starting off as a CX ‘pro’ in possibly the driest CX season on record didn’t help my cause, but taught me valuable lessons. I understand my strengths and weaknesses more than ever and know exactly what I need to tweak in my training ahead of next season.
I feel like your first year of being a pro is almost a test. You’re 1 of 2 people; you’re either an incredible talent and slide straight into the top ranks, or you need to grit your teeth and persevere for a few years before you mature into the rider you want to be. I’m always honest with myself and set realistic goals – and in my opinion the majority of riders sit in the latter group, including myself. This doesn’t phase me at all though. I know where I am at and where I want to be, and I’m going to work bloody hard to get there. It’s like a war of attrition; who will be resilient enough to push through and not come to the end of the year and just think ‘nah, sod this I’m off to University’.
What are the highlights of my first ‘pro’ season? Racing against the best of the best, being a part of TP Racing with an incredible support network/ sponsors and being able to totally focus solely on riding my bike without other distractions. I regularly have to take a step back and realise how lucky I am to have this opportunity, especially as a female cyclist (maybe I will write a separate blog on this..?).
There aren’t many low points. Probably just the annoying lack of mud and my struggle to get a result that I really felt represented where I’m at, but that’s bike racing eh and as I already mentioned – it’s a long journey.
If I had to give anyone any advice about becoming pro it would have to be just relax and enjoy the ride. At times I’ve become too tied up in results and in reality, I need to remember I’m only 19. I say this as if I have it mastered… I really don’t, but I’m working on it. It’s pretty difficult to gain perspective at times especially when it means so much to you, but having a supportive ‘village’ around you makes this a lot easier. My Dad always tells me to think of life as a timeline and to zoom out as if your entire life is laid out in front of you, then it’s easy to realise how insignificant one event/ race is. This really helps me. Another saying I like is – ‘If it wont matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes getting angry about it’.
I hope you enjoyed my insight into my first year as a pro 😊. Keep the blog suggestions coming.