Cole Oberman: Calming the Early-Season Jitters
Photo by: Adam Pulford // Team RideBike
For me, mentally preparing for the start of a race season is the hardest part. My equipment is tuned and ready to go, my training has been as reasonably close to perfect as possible, and my team has all the logistics nailed down. Still, the distractions and doubts creep in, robbing me of my focus.
In the fast paced world of cross country mountain biking small mistakes add up quick. A momentary lapse of focus can mean the loss of a podium finish or a body pummeling crash. To start this year off, it was the later for me. I was off to a great start at the traditional North American XC opener at Bonelli Park in Southern California. Comfortably riding in the top 10 when a loss of concentration in the feed zone put me headfirst into the ground.
A cracked helmet and a bruised ego left me limping for the remainder of the race, eventually finishing in a disappointing 19th place. Luckily for me, I found some redemption in the following day's short track cross country event. With my mistake fresh in my mind (mostly thanks to my aching body), I was able to force out irrelevant thoughts and focus completely on the task at hand. I navigated the blistering pace and tactical racing to finish on the podium in 5th.
For better or for worse, the final step of my mental preparation for the year is making a costly mistake like this. A mistake that will serve as a reminder for the rest of the season to stay 100% in the moment and looking forward.