T his is an interesting time of year as an elite rider. I’m in Spain for the final winter training camp, and every week you feel yourself and see your team-mates getting fitter and faster. I’d be happier if the racing had started already, but at least now I know it’s just around the corner.
Just four or five weeks ago it was all about having long, steady rides. We were getting used to new equipment and, to be honest, to each other, as we welcomed quite a lot of new riders to the team.
But since then, I’ve started to feel the intensity build within the team. When we head out as a squad now, there’s not as much talking as before. Everyone is much more focused. For me, I quite like being alone with my thoughts. I think a lot about the upcoming races, or when we’re going slower I think back to my family at home in Poland – to my parents, my older brother, my older sister and her baby son.
But mostly I’m focused on the job. I’m spending a lot less time on the bike now. But the intervals are short and sharp. They’re closer to what it’ll feel like in races. A tough training session may well be agony, but for me the reward is a greater feeling of confidence and happiness.
Earlier in my career I tried to avoid the burn for as long as possible, but now I go out looking for it and tackle it straight on. I guess I’ve just realised that you need to push through the pain, or at least learn to cope with it better. And you can only get better by repeated exposure.
What I find drives me a lot of the time is thinking about how small the margins in the races might be. Sometimes, making it to the front group might just cost me five more seconds of pain.
The other thing that I like at this time of year is getting to know my team-mates better. At WM3 we’re really good at not talking shop when our training ends. We move on and talk about life and our experiences. This year, alongside the Dutch riders, we number two Polish riders, an Australian, an Israeli and an Italian. That’s a lot of different culture, traditions and experience to explore. And as I love to learn more about others and to talk it means that the enjoyment doesn’t stop when the day’s riding is over.
Kasia has been enjoying bonding with her team-mates from around the world in training