Back at it?!

Back at it? 

Maybe yes!! 

It’s been a while. I think it was just not the time. It was time to live and to do what I wanted to do! Which I really did. Apparently I feel like sharing this story now. I got some questions about if I did quit racing. Maybe I was not sure about the answer either, but I am now. 

I’ll try to be not too long, or to keep it short even. 

As I tried to explain last year, I was dealing with overtraining. This period was not the easiest one, but for sure one of these periods in life where you learn a lot. I’ve learned a lot about myself, about the training I have done, about all the races I have been racing, the life I have lived and was living and of course the work-life-sport balance I was trying to balance. And, last but not least, I experienced the power and joy of riding bikes without being in a race. Just you, your bike, nature and your buddies. That’s it. 

So last summer went like this. It was a process. And it took longer than I thought it would take. But slowly it went better. And I was feeling stronger every month. In september I could tell that my energy came back. I first realized this during my first mountaineering tour. During a 10 hour tour to a stunning peak somewhere in the swiss alps, I could feel that my body “wanted to work hard” again. This may sound weird if you don’t know this, but might sound familiar when you love endurance sports; you feel your heart pumping hard, you feel your muscles burning, you might get a bit dizzy getting up higher in thinner air, you kind of suffer or maybe you are suffering big times,  but at the same time you are enjoying this. All these feelings, summed up, and still being in this mode where it feels good. And strong. Do you know this? This feeling, was gone, for more than 7 months. And during that day, I could feel this feeling coming back. For months I could not even imagine how something like a race over 4 or more hours would even work. How could you give all you have for such a long time? No way! And obviously I did a lot of these things. Often way more crazy than that. For example 8 hours of Grand Raid racing: 125km and 5100hm. Or what about all these Cape Epics? Maybe it’s some kind of ‘protect-mechanism’ of your body. Just not being able to imagine things where you are not capable of doing at that moment. 

Apparently things can change. These ‘crazy’ ideas came back and also the feeling of maybe being able to do these things were. During this time winter already started and Davos was getting loads of snow from time to time. 

I told myself: Just see how it goes. My goal was to get fit again. And it still is! I wanted to follow my feelings about how I would train and especially not losing the joy and all the good stuff. No specific plans about races or whatsoever. Go with the flow.. :-)

This went very well. I felt good and was having an amazing time. I went ski-mountaineering a lot. And where I could I rode my bike as well. Then, during one of these ‘best powder days’ in the end of january, I tore my ACL in my left knee. PATS! Surgery followed 1,5 week later. I immediately knew something popped and something was not good. At least my last downhill was one of the best. I couldn’t believe I was actually skiing like that, for real. Thinking of it makes me smile now. The crash and that what followed obviously don’t. Just when I had the feeling it was going better, physically, this happened. Seven weeks of ‘rest’ and crutches and then building up and getting more active day by day. The focus was on my knee, but when it went better of course also on my general condition. And I seriously couldn’t wait to ride my bike again. The first time after the doctor allowed me to do so, was so nice!!! 

So.. I don’t know if things happen for a reason. But this time I did. Such a long break caused a real reset for my body and maybe also my mind. I think that was really good and I really needed this. 

It’s not even 6 months since the knee accident. I could not have wished for a better recovery so far. I was back on my bike pretty quickly and also back on my mountainbike and riding real trails. Even on my enduro bike and riding real tough trails. And long and steep climbs on the cross country bike. I had a few crashes which left me bruised all over but my knee was holding up great. While doing all this, I noticed something really cool. I feel the energy being back while riding, pushing and suffering. I can go all in for a few minutes, recover quickly and still feeling good. My heart rate is higher than it was in years. Can less really be more? It would have been nice to realize this a while ago maybe. Haha. Better late than never, right!? I can even imagine how a race over 4 or more hours would work!! :-) Let’s say I am especially super happy with this feeling right now.

And racing? Yes, I will be on the startline at the Swiss Epic. Together with Betty Janas. And I am really looking forward to do that. It’s even a home race, since the Swiss Epic moved to the Graubünden region. The race will start and finish in Davos. I am training for this race and after that I will see what I will do next. 

I tried to be short, apparently that didn’t really work out. :-) 

Greetings from the UCI Mountainbike World Cup in Andorra, where I am helping Corina Gantenbein as her physio! :-) 

Cheers, Hielke!

(pictures from Martin Bissig, Davos Klosters, together with Corina Gantenbein)