KATARZYNA NIEWIADOMA

Procycling - - Prologue - KN

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

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