Helen Wyman: Preparing for the Worlds

Preparing for worlds

So how do you do it? Three things come to mind:

1 – Stay healthy
2 – Be at one with the course
3 – Rest and avoid travel

OK, so let’s forget them. I’ve been sick, I dislike snow, like dogs hate cats, and to get here you drive, forever, whilst the outside world gets colder and more covered in white fully stuff…that I still don’t like.

So, unlike last year, where I ticked all of the above boxes, I need to take a different approach. Being sick, OK, I’m not that sick. It’s not an excuse as I fully intend to give the stripes a major go on Saturday. So I need to turn the few days off I’ve had into a good thing. I’m fresh, fresher than I was last year.

Snow, to be honest, there isn’t much on the course, so far. It’s actually one of those places where the course can change a lot. You get a deep freeze overnight, but with some early morning sun the race can get pretty sloppy. The last two days have seen the course really being a mud tyre affair, something I hadn’t bargained for before coming here. I have six tread choices in the wagon, and I thought the mud was going to stay fresh for when we return to Belgium.

Rest and avoid travel, there some people say, why don’t you fly? Well to me, every flight is a risk. I don’t mean crashing, they are full of germs. I’m pretty sure the chap with the mustache in seat 28E gave me this damn illness on my way back from Spain. I’m just about feeling 90 percent plus again, and I certainly don’t want to risk it.

There is also routine. I have a routine and that involved driving to events. We split long journeys. We tend to eat at home, travel a few hours, pick a small non-chain hotel, sleep, get huge value for money from the free breakfast and Wi-Fi, then truck on to the event destination. I use the time to relax, sleep, and we (driver and me) hatch plans for world domination. I really don’t mind it. I never drive so I have a lot of space and freedom and I normally lie down and play candy crush. These long drives have helped me get to around level 500, so who can complain about that?

The routine continues at events. We always book self-catering places, not hotels. I mean think about it, you are going to the biggest race of the year, something you have spent 11 months-ish working on and dreaming about, and then you go to a hotel and break your pattern. I can cook for myself, when I want, I can bring my own food, my own drinks. I have a fridge, a kettle, and oven. It’s as close to home as you can get. I carry that routine on at Worlds. We have a little place in Czech Republic about 18kms from the course for this event. We have BBC World, Wi-Fi, and a newly built apartment. It’s great, I should really move here.

So to the race, I’ve been doing a little more on the course than I’d normally do. As I’ve alluded to, I’m not a snow lover, but I intend to make the most of it. I feel proud of last year’s bronze medal and although on paper or in William Hill you won’t find me in the top favourites for the race (Lechner, Vos, Prevot, Nash, Cant and a healthy Compton), I intend to upset the odds. I’ve done laps with “Driver” and I’ve done a lot of laps with Mike Garrigan. This season I’ve had a lot of help from Mike and Jon Page. Those guys are amazing and generous with their time, and patient with me.

I’m hoping that course time will pay off. I’m feeling good on the course as it stands but, as I mentioned, it can change at any time. I’m really grateful we now get an afternoon start time, and I hope that will play a little into my favour as again that keeps a routine, but also gives the sun time to do its magic and create muddy havoc.

So that’s that. It’s about making the most of what’s available. I’m in with a shot of good result, so I’ll take that. I’ve give it my best.

See you after the finish line.

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Follow British 'cross champion Helen Wyman during the 2012-2013 season as the Kona factory team rider competes in both the United States and Europe through to the 2013 world championships in Louisville, Kentucky.

Based in Belgium for seven years, Wyman has won the British 'cross championship seven years running, notched victories in the US and Europe and has stood on the podium at 'cross World Cups.