Standing on the start line for the Kowalski Classic I was so excited about the race ahead. I’ve been feeling really strong on the bike lately and was looking forward to a good, solid race. I joked with the people next to me about the frosty temps, peeled off my warm down jacket and looked forward to glowing with the warmth of racing in a few short minutes. That feeling never came.
My legs felt they’d been pulled out of a freezer and I couldn’t manufacture any punch. I hoped things would change but my body just seemed to shut right down instead. Despite growing up in Canberra, I’ve always felt the cold more than most. So why did I keep riding? It’s not like the car and warmer riding gear were ever that far away. I think the answer lies in the fact that despite having a bad race, I was still having a really nice ride.
The course for the Kowalski was essentially an 83km singletrail. Even on a bad day, they’re the type of trails you can just roll through, pumping the bike and enjoying the arc of one corner to the next. And I was having a nice time listening to my thoughts. Not much beats a long ride for working out big lifestyle questions like ‘What am I really enjoying right now?’ and ‘How can I turn around things that I’m not?’. While my heart rate sat at a training rather than race pace, it felt good to have a level of fitness where that was still enough. Most of all, it was nice seeing so many other people riding really well and thoroughly enjoying the event.
The following day I rode Stromlo with some mates, back in short sleeves, the warm sun on my skin. I felt and rode like myself again and smiled as I ran into more friends by the minute. The long weekend meant a lot of riders had come to Canberra for the race and stayed for an extra day on the trails – clearly loving the feeling of riding as much as I do too.
Thank you, as always, to the Subaru-MarathonMTB.com team for their support. There are no guarantees about what will happen between the start line and the finish chute, but a big part of our attraction to the sport is entering new events and looking forward to finding out. That’s the reality of racing. And why, when entering events, it’s so important to pick ones like the Kowalski that are also about the ride.
Photos: Kath Bicknell, Gaye Camm.