Clara Hughes (Canadian Olympic Champion)
It’s that time of the year when the snow comes and goes but hasn’t decided to make it’s winter home just yet in the mountains I call home. Lately, that home has been Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. That time of the year when it’s a constant self-inflicted arm-wrestle to get the butt out the door and on the bike or in trail running shoes. I’m honored to share with the network of fellow cycling enthusiasts and soon to be riding companions on July 13th for the Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan what motivation is like in the mind of a former athlete like me. You see, people often comment about the level of commitment and resilience they see with Olympians. Oh, if they only knew the constant war waged in this thick skull of mine to simply keep the wheels turning. I have to admit, it was a little easier when I was training for an Olympics.
Winter or summer, on the blades or bike, there was a sense of responsibility to the ultimate goal of trying to win big races every four years. That, and the team of coaches, trainers, therapists, physiologists, psychologists, and teammates…all waiting to give you a hard time if you’re late, let alone absent. Not training was simply not an option. Now that I’m a recreational athlete, it’s a little different. I’m actually quite lazy at heart (Editor’s note: According to Clara’s Strava© profile, in the last month she has averaged 345 km on the bike per week. If only we could all be that lazy!).
I love sitting inside watching the snow fall with a coffee in hand. Why be frozen and miserable if you don’t have to? Well, because I like even more the feeling of getting out…rain, snow or shine. Exhausting myself on foot, bike, ski or snowshoe, and then sitting with that coffee in hand watching the snowfall is even better. The challenge is that first step out the door. My advice? Set yourself up for something so big – like a Granfondo or a cross-Canada trip on two wheels – and scare yourself with visions of suffering, slobbering and not feeling ready or motivated. It all serves as effective fuel for my motivational fire. The pay off is feeling great not just physically but mentally, as well. There is the satisfaction of the adventure when you do get outside that money cannot buy. Dreaming, not dreading, the summer of cycling ahead is where I’m at. I get creative with what I do. I cross train…a lot. I go with the flow of the forecast and environment I’m in when choosing the mode of exercise. Which brings me to our little get-together next July. I promised Axel and Jodi I’d come and take part in this fantastic event a few years back. The timing is finally right. Can’t wait for the ride!
Sign up to race with Clara Hughes in the Grandfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan here.