The New Year is always a good time to reflect before the year sets off with a vengeance. Here are our suggestions to help you do that in relation to racing:
1. Take a moment to reflect on why you are racing
In 2017, we should be remembering that most people participate in sport because it's a hobby. That means that they do it because they enjoy it. My impressions of women's cycling especially is that message is often lost. If you don't enjoy riding your bike, then you're never going to perform at your best because your heart won't be in it. If you enjoy what you do, it reflects on others and will encourage them to have a go too.
2. Not riding for a team doesn't mean you should stop racing
Women leave the sport for a large variety of reasons, but the number of women who join teams one year, only for that team to fold at the end of the year and those riders suddenly disappearing as a result is scary. If you're not on a team, you can still race as a private member or join a club. There are loads of clubs out there, all with different cultures and focus. Let 2017 be the year when you find the club that suits your needs best. And if you're on a team, there's no reason why you can't join a club as a second claim member.
3. Give yourself a break
This is especially relevant if you're on a team. What do I mean? Everyone has to deal with the trials and tribulations that life throws at us. You can't be at your best at every race. If you don't do as well in a race as you had hoped, use the opportunity to use a bit of self-review and think about why that was. You may have been under the weather or you may have had a busy week - look at it with a bit of perspective and it won't seem as bad as you originally thought. If you don't give yourself a break, chances are you will eventually pack it in, and nobody benefits from that.
4. Support your local events
If you don't want to travel around the country to race National Series or Tour Series, it doesn't mean that you should give up racing. There's nothing wrong with concentrating on local or regional events instead. We're extremely lucky in the UK that there's a vibrant women's racing scene, with loads of different local leagues all around the country. I'm not saying that you should all enter every event, but don't write off these events - these are the events where you can try out different tactics, you can see your mates and race without any pressure. Riders who focus on their local events develop far more quickly in general than those who don't.
5. Racing gives you transferable skills
If you're reading this, you're likely to be either in education or in employment of some description. Competitive sport can give you a number of skills that cross over into your working life - grit, determination, perseverance, dedication, patience, confidence, assertiveness. If you want to succeed in your chosen career, the chances are that you will need these qualities to do so.
This isn't an exhaustive list, just some suggestions to help you get the most out of the new season. Until the next time, happy cycling!