Stage one of The Tour of Slovenia was littered with small climbs, narrow roads and technical descents.
5 days before - my eyes had been glued to my psychologists fingers as they moved rapidly from side to side. I held the memory of making a phone call to my coach Mark Windsor some 12 years ago in my mind. It was the call to say I had "decided" to stop racing. It wasn't a decision I wanted to make. I'd loved cycling but mental illness had lead me far away from joy. 12 years later the memory still hurt like hell.
I was having my first experience of EMDR. A therapy that has been used to treat PTSD, Panic attacks, Anxiety and Depression. It uses eye movement to encourage the brain to appropriately process and take the sting out of the memory.
I wasn't sure about it, but it had been well backed up long lists of scientific studies. So I gave it a go. I did notice a decrease in the pain of the memory. But, I thought that could very well be because I was now more focused on the fact my eyes hurt.
The next 5 days I spent absolutely exhausted. I mean dead tired. This Added additional stress to the upcoming Tour. My form had not seemed to be getting better, I was dead tired, was about to start my first .HC tour. I started wondering if I was tired from something else; had I overtrained? was something wrong with my blood? anemia? some other deficiency? I wanted the race to come already...
Yesterday, my eyes were darting from left to right for a different reason. I was trying to keep track with the corners. They also had to move up and down as the road ramped and fell. I wasn't super settled. I was questioning what I was doing. Narrow roads and steep pinches in the back end of the race built the negative chatter. "This is hard", "can I survive 4 more days of this" "I thought this was the easiest stage", "maybe I won't even finish the first one".
Occasionally I could break from the chatter, for just a second, trying to take in my surroundings, look at the Word Tour Jerseys throughout the bunch. Look at the green hills and rushing rivers that were the backdrop to the day. It was beautiful, it was cool to be part of.
I ended up getting dropped with a group of 30 riders about 30km from the finish. Eventually rolling across the line totally dead.
Let's see what becomes of day 2!