Juliana Bicycles

Racing in Europe with Britt

 

Racing in Europe with Britt

July 17 — 2019 | Whistler, BC

Words by: Britt Phelan 

Progression happens the most when youʼre put into uncomfortable foreign situations. Competing on the World Cup in skiing for over a decade has taught me this the hard way. 

When I was a kid, fresh on the Canadian National team for skiing, I got a rude awakening when I went to Europe to race for my first season. My whole career to that point had been pretty sweet. I was the youngest selected to the National team in a long time, and I won a lot of races and progressed quickly through the international ranks. Upon competing overseas for my first season on the National Ski Team, I wanted to prove myself. But, I tried too hard, crashed too much, got too frustrated and somewhat panicky about not winning and not being the best. 

I learned to compare myself competitively with my competitors...not to measure my worth against them, but learn from the best.

This all led to a hard learning curve, one that would take years before I figured myself out and figured out how to race against the best. It came down to focusing on me, but still looking around and learning, and most importantly not getting frustrated. I learned to compare myself competitively with my competitors...not to measure my worth against them, but learn from the best. I learned to accept my weaknesses as challenges and work on them bit by bit. 

Heading to Europe to race in the Enduro World Series for the first time was a really cool experience for many reasons -  a big one being that I got to rewrite a part of my career that Iʼd failed in skiing as a kid. 

The first race in Val di Fassa, Italy went pretty well. I tried to learn and observe the best to see what they were doing and how they were going so fast. My race went mostly as I wanted it to. It was safe, sorta smooth, and sometimes fast. I had a 6th place on the one stage where I didnʼt make a relevant mistake. This showed me that with good riding, I could play with the big girls. I ended up in 15th place, with no mechanicals, no injuries, no significant crashes, and a lot of new things to work on. 

Health is first, then fun, then speed. I had none of those, so it was an easy choice.

I had my chance the following weekend to bring a bit more confident riding and trust to the tracks in the EWS in Les Orres, France. Unfortunately, it didnʼt end up happening for me. I got really sick the night before training and remained so until race day. Race day I was still unable to eat anything without it coming back up. But, I wanted to race so bad, so I needed even more validation that I couldn’t do the race. As I dropped into the first stage, I knew right away that it wasnʼt going to happen. Health is first, then fun, then speed. I had none of those, so it was an easy choice. 

Itʼs always hard to pull out of a race, especially after really looking forward to building on my results the week before. But, the experience I got riding new trails in new countries was a big take away. I get caught riding the same stuff in my home town of Whistler...all the trails have a certain flow to them and a certain pattern. Europe was a new ball game, with stuff Iʼve never ridden that forced me to look at line choice, bike handling, and body position differently. 

I’ll be back to Europe again because I love racing bikes...maybe even as much as I like riding them. 

Follow Britt on her bike and ski racing journeys.

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