Round 2 of the Southern XC Mountain Bike Series took place at Crow Hill near Ringwood on Sunday 26th April 2015. This venue holds plenty of significance for Gracie as this is not only her home race but it is also where she took her first ever MTB victory at 6 years old 2 years ago. Sadly, Sunday wasn’t going to offer the same jubilant experience!
The signs were positive for Gracie going into the race. Apart from the fact that she felt good, her warm up laps were very encouraging and her determination and excitement were at their highest. The course suited Gracie with a fast and flat sweeping right hand turn as they left the start line which lead to a single track down hill section in the woods. The climb that took the riders back in to the start-finish arena was already being talked about by Gracie as where she would attack if necessary.
Unfortunately, her tactics weren’t required as Gracie's race was over from a positional sense before it had really got going.
Gracie had positioned herself in prime position at the front of the pack for the start in order to get away early and make the single track in the top group….. that was the plan anyway?! Gracie and one of her GC Contenders found themselves in a crash right from the starting gun after being bunched up by other riders. With bikes tangled and both riders on the floor Gracie entered panic mode as she tried to release her bike, by which time all of her competitors apart from one who was still on the floor with her had got away.
Gracie raced hard to catch the rest of the field and began picking off riders both boys and girls as she went. But her efforts were only good enough to reward her with 7th place this time around leaving a very upset Gracie pondering what could’ve been had things gone her way.
Any adult that races a bike understands that it is a tough sport not just physically but also psychologically. Dealing with incidents like a crash can be incredibly disruptive to the mind-set when you are ‘in the moment’. But for an 8 year old it’s like the world has ended and panic sets in.
Watching a determined Gracie finish the race despite crashing is what resilience is built on. I read a very poignant quote shortly after the race that said ‘Strength doesn’t come from winning. Your struggles build your strength’. For now, I believe this to be true and the beauty about competition is that there is always a next time.
Onwards and upwards Gracie, we are so proud of you!! Good on you!!