Dealing with disappointment is an inevitability whether it be performing badly or due to circumstances out of your control, which affect your training or racing. It’s important not to get hung up on not performing as well as you did last year in the peak of the season with amazing conditions compared to the start of the season when the weather conditions and your own form may not reflect the best of your ability. For example I went out on a ride up a steep hill to try and beat my best time in the beginning of March. Looking on Strava I saw that I was 11 seconds off my PB and some 30 odd seconds off the top spot on the leader-board. I felt that perhaps I wasn't going as well as I should be and felt downhearted at my performance. What I later took into account however was the many factors that could have affected my time. For starters the time of the year meant weather conditions weren't in my favour and I had also moved from compact to standard rings… I wasn't in form either unlike when I did my PB.
It’s critical to your self-confidence to not go too harsh on yourself in these scenarios. Don’t let Strava be the be all and the end all as segment times are un-comparable unless they were done in the precisely same conditions.
It’s easy to consider just giving up at trying when the odds seem stacked up against you. Especially when living on an Island, travel to races becomes a massive nuisance for me. I entered races at the start of the year expecting to be able to somehow just get there, only later to be severely let down by my own lack of planning and preparation to get to these races, leaving me out of pocket from race entry fees and admin charges. The impatience and lack of sympathy from the race organisers hugely frustrated me and made me extremely aggravated at the structure of British Cycling.
At these times I found that it helped me to again focus on why I enjoy the sport and to have a little more confidence in my own ability. Learning from mistakes is the best way to move forward. I made sure I could make it to races before I entered them. It’s all well and good saying to yourself ‘I’ll get to these races at whatever cost while you enter them, but when it gets around to it maybe you don’t have the money for it, the trains don’t get there on time, or you just don’t have the equipment… Preparation and being realistic is a key part of developing your own self confidence and ability to get out there and race.
As a junior rider it’s easy to compare yourself to other older riders about you and to think that you’re a long way off being able to perform at that level. Having a valid perspective is something I tend to ignore only wanting to be as good or better than my peers. However given time and effort, results do come and you can edge towards the goal you will forever be pushing just a little further out of your reach.
If something goes wrong for you in the world of cycling for whatever reason work out logically whether it was or wasn't out of your control. If it was then there's nothing you can do to change that. If it wasn't - then it signals perhaps what you need to do to improve but remember... putting it into perspective and not being too disheartened is a good thing too.