Not Everyone Can Win But Everybody Can Give 100%

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BY: Rob Smith

Published: 21st April, 2015

It’s easy to write about things when they go well, we all like to show off and isn’t blogging all about showing off? Oh yes we might get our sponsors names out there which means they may support us again in the future but I’m sure most of us do it because there’s something ego boosting about talking to folk and hear them say good things about you or that they’ve read what you had to say.

The support that Jane got at Brighton Big Dog the other year following our racing debut was nothing short of amazing and it made me realise that people actually read my ramblings.

Following my trip to WEMBOs I wrote honestly about where I felt I was and also where I hoped to go this year with my racing. I’d been training, I’d set goals and this was the year I was going to be honest.

Nationals Rd 2

If things had gone according to the plan this would have been written whilst Jane was driving me home and I’d have been crowing on all manner of social media but it didn’t; for only the second time in my 10yrs + of racing MTBs I stepped off a serviceable bike and withdrew from a race. I’ve a pretty good idea why I did it and I don’t think I’m going to like myself when I admit to the reason as it’s a trait that I’ve disliked in others .

I think I got off the bike because I wasn’t going as well as I hoped I would, I had given myself a goal for the weekend, not winning or getting on the podium but getting a top 30 finish; something, with the reduced field and it being home turf was easily achievable. So when I got a poor start, got swamped and then seemed to be going everywhere but forwards I didn’t like it, I began making silly mistakes; falling off into the brambles on the first climb and seemingly hitting ever rock and stone on the course. I rode every A line, not with ease but without crashing and drawing blood so it wasn’t the course that did for me it was something a lot stronger than that it was my mind. 

Role Models

Whether we court it or not, any senior rider is going to be a role model for the younger generation or new comers to the sport, 10 yrs ago my role models were (and indeed still are) Jay and Maddie Horton, their “friendly” nature, willingness to share and encourage has helped me develop as a rider.
That encouragement has led to me being the lead in Royal Navy cycling for anything with knobbly tyres for some years and throughout my time I’ve tried to increase participation in events encouraging riders to have a go and that it’s not all about results, it’s about participation and giving it your all. More recently when Jay & Maddie started coaching the Maverick youths and then the Pilgrim Flyers Jane & I became involved and during the last couple of years we have seen riders of all ages grow and develop and in some cases move to the highest level of racing. I hope I’ve been a role model to them as they have progressed. Hearing a dozen pilgrims shout your name definitely encourages me when I race.

Not everyone can win but everybody can give 100%

So what happened on Sunday? I think, no, I know what happened; the race, this race that I’d staked the wholes winters training around didn’t go as I planned/hoped. I wasn’t Absalon incarnate I was me, riding a bike in a bike race but I wanted to be him, and when I wasn’t rather than doing what others had done earlier in the day.

“I had an awful start, with my first laps mentally testing me as I dropped places, I managed to slowly bring it back though and my lap times got faster rather than slower. After over an hour and a half o racing I finally finished in 9th place, only 10 sec behind 8th and 30 seconds behind 7th place… although I didn’t quite get there, it has taught me not to give up at the start!”

From Lucy Allen’s Facebook page First year Elite riding for Mazing Tree IT

I just gave up and went home, and the embarrassment/ disappointment of that decision hurts; more so than the hole in my shoulder, or the numerous grazes on my limbs. I could list a load of reasons why things didn’t go the way I wanted but they were all within my control so are my fault. On the day I didn’t have the mental toughness to continue where others did. When it wasn’t going my way I gave up I didn’t give it 100% irrespective of where I was likely to finish and that’s the bit that hurts. Not the role model I aspire to be, or the rider I thought I was.

So where now? We’ll sun’s shining in Cornwall so I’m off later to ride the local trail centre with the ever improving other half of the Smith pairing and then some local racing at the weekend. Back to racing at 100% for the fun of it and results? If they come it will be a bonus.

Finally thank you to Jane, all my friends and fellow races for not judging me and letting me sulk in peace.

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More on the 2015 British Cycling MTB Cross-Country Series Rd2:
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Rob Smith

new racer trying to fight his way through the masters pack.

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