Motivation. Everyone needs it, but at this time of year it often feels like the dog’s buried it in the garden or it’s so far down the back of the sofa that you just can’t be bothered to dig it out. Orange team rider Hannah Barnes tells us what gets her out of bed and on the trails.
I’m not sure that anything in particular motivates me exactly. I’ve always enjoyed ‘training’. Even before I started riding, when I was about 14, I would run round a 10 mile loop and keep trying to beat my time. I used to race sailing dinghies. I loved getting absolutely exhausted and the feeling of being physically at my limit. The windier and wilder the better.
Whilst at Uni it was all about climbing, and the ‘training’ side of that I loved too, such as the campus board and 45 degree board. Even just doing loads of press-ups for the craic, I loved it. So since I started riding when I was 18, it was the same really. I just really enjoy pushing myself, and love the training side, as well as just caning the trails and being outside. The fitter I am, the more pleasure and enjoyment I get from riding. Then that translated into my race results. That motivates me to train as opposed to just ride.
I don’t really set myself specific goals. I just do my training and general riding with the baeys (brother Joe and the Dudes of Hazzard), and hopefully that translates into my results. The main goal is to have fun and ride my bike in cool places around the world, as well as to get some sweet races in along the way. Riding for me is as much about the travel, adventure, variety and people, more than reaching specific goals and stats.
In the winter I tend to alter my exercise depending on the weather so I still do something. If it’s filthy weather or icy I’ll go to the gym, swim, some yoga, a run. I have a bit of down time in October and November, then try and build it up again.
The last few months haven’t gone to plan, as I had norovirus then a chest infection, and a turbo cold of varying degrees for the whole of December. I think it didn’t help working 12-hour shifts in the hospital, then heading straight to the gym. I was generally trying to do too much.
After a couple of weeks in La Palma for some sun and quality riding, I’m back into the swing of things, feeling healthy and getting the fitness up again. I reckon the best thing to do in the winter is go somewhere like La Palma or Tenerife. It’s cheap, sunny and great for training.
This is the first year I’ve had a coach, Joe Rafferty from Pro Ride Guides. He is great, he’s so supportive and really knows his stuff. I don’t think general riders need to employ one, but it depends on what you want to get out of it and what you are trying to achieve. It is definitely a great thing to have a trainer, as long as you do what they tell you to do. Having someone who has taken the time and effort to put together a training plan ask how things are going, is enough in itself to make you do it. It’s great to have Joe’s knowledge, and to know that the training I am doing is specific to what I’m aiming for.
Although, I also think that if you generally just put in the effort and always do something and use your head, then you’ll get results. It’s common sense. Racing is largely in the head too, in preparation up to the race and also on the day. If you prepare for success and believe in your abilities it will probably happen, or be a lot closer to it anyway.
Compared to previous winters, everything is generally more specific this winter, such as the gym exercises and riding ‘efforts’ and so on. Each week and phase has structure. It’s more about quality not quantity.
I was physically at my fittest a few years ago, when I was working as a nurse full time. Although my riding has improved a lot over the last few years my fitness has been pretty level. Now although I do fewer hours in the hospital, I am busier than I ever have been. I found it hard this winter to get the balance between hospital work, training, and the e-mails and media side of things.
I have a nice variety and mix planned of races again for this year. I’ll do three of the four Bluegrass Enduro Series (Bluegrass/MET is a new sponsor), a couple of UK road sportives, the Transvesubienne, A French Enduro Series round, one World Enduro Series round, the Mountain of Hell, the Megavalanche, the Trans-Savoir, the Scottish Off-Road Triathlon Championships… and a few others along the way. I’ve also got a trip to Norway planned in May with my friend Angie Hohenwarter.It’s going to be a great year, I can’t wait!