But, the heart of this blog is not about the win. It's selfish, it's about disappointment, my disappointment. Yeah, team success and the personal can be hard to balance.
Heading into this race, I had done some great training, in fact, I'd done the best block in terms of volume I've ever done. So a week out I was hoping for some good legs.
Over the years I've battled excruciatingly with anxiety and depression. Returning to racing has been nothing but the hardest moments of my life. It's not filled with happiness, joy or self confidence. It's showing up each day, year in, year out, with a niggling belief mixed in amongst all the messed up anxious and depressed parts of my brain, that I'm not good enough. That I'm pretending, that I can't do it.
I've also had strange periods where my body seems to go into reserve. It's weird, I feel flat, a strange sort of woozy on the bike. It's kind of like when you are first starting to bonk. But it can stay for weeks. I've had it throughout my career, I've had blood tests and they always come back clear. I don't like to talk about it, as whenever I do, I feel like people tend to just think - It's just his anxiety. But it's not! And it's frustrating as hell. It spins me out. It tends to hit me once or twice a year and always has me longing for it's departure.
When it hit me a few days out from this race, I was worried, hoping it would pass, knowing it wouldn't. It didn't. I've learnt that despite the feeling you can still get a bit out of your legs. Not as much as you would like, and you knock up earlier and you feel stressed about it. But I gave the race a crack anyway, hoping to ride through it.
It actually wasn't a bad race. On the second of four circuits with a 2.5km hill, I dropped my chain on a steep pinch and lost 30sec. I was able to chase back on to the lead bunch of 40 riders but I was getting more and more woozy. Generally just feeling a bit shit. I cracked heading onto the last lap and dropped back a couple of bunches, I felt defeated.
So, although my teammate won, and trust me, he has worked bloody hard for his success and is genuinely one of the best people I've met on this planet. I battled to think about much except being frustrated for myself. In fact, his win made me feel further away from being a legitimate bike rider. When all is said and done, I've done some ok things with cycling. But I've struggled to feel like I belong. That I'm a cyclist. In many cases I've not coped well with other's success. It makes me feel more like an imposter. And I hate being an imposter. I want to belong - don't we all?
This experience is a bit of a funny one. As Ben is one of the few riders I'm usually genuinely wrapped for when they get a result. And even in this instance, I'm happy for him, but my personal frustrations wanted centre stage in my mind. I wasn't hoping for a great result, I was just hoping for a race where I felt prepared and strong. Just last week I'd done some training where I felt great. I'm heading into a block of races and instead I now feel woozy - can I take a trick!!?
Why tell this story? Why not pretend? Well, because this is life and we all have some moments like this. Its not something you are proud of, but beating yourself up with guilt (what I usually do) is not a great way of dealing with it. So I've gone with honesty. And you guys back home in Orange are who I'm confiding in.
I've written this just before we celebrate Ben's win over pizza, so now I can put my ride aside for a bit and celebrate with him!