Crashing is a part of pro cycling, or indeed any form of cycle racing – she explains: “You’ve got 130 people trying to get to the finish line first, it’s going to happen. Half the time it’s my own fault though which is annoying.”
“Sometimes you do get the feeling on the start line, a gut feeling that something is going to go wrong… I guess it is all part of it, that’s what we’ve got ourselves into, it’s the path I’ve chosen so you’ve just got to accept it really.”
I have to ask how a pro cyclist deals with that risk – especially when it could put their career on hold for an unknown period of time. She says: “I do think about it. It’s a dangerous sport, everyone knows that. Sometimes you do get the feeling on the start line, a gut feeling that something is going to go wrong… I guess it is all part of it, that’s what we’ve got ourselves into. It’s the path I’ve chosen. You’ve just got to accept it really.”
Fear of crashing can affect and inhibit us all – but what can we do to reduce our chances of that gut feeling becoming a reality? Barnes says: “Just race more, you just need experience. You need to be able to kind of judge the good wheels to be on, who is not so great. It took me a long time to work it out. But always being top 5 or 6. It’s hard but it’s safer.”
“And I had to do team pictures the other day, and I had to put team kit on… I’ve just never felt so excited to wear lycra! I think just putting a helmet on – is going to be exciting.”
Though I’m sure it feels like it’s been an age, it should just be a few more weeks before Barnes can ride again. I ask her what she most looks forward to – and I expect most riders who have suffered an injury can identify: “I’m most looking forward to just a ride to a coffee shop. Just the riding, and this time of year is my favourite time, just riding for hours with friends. I’m quite upset to have missed that. And I had to do team pictures the other day, and I had to put team kit on… I’ve just never felt so excited to wear lycra! I think just putting a helmet on – is going to be exciting.”
There’s no set plan for her return – team DS Ronny Lauke isn’t going to rush it and neither is Hannah – she says: “We’ve set no goal, we’ll just wait until I feel I’m ready, and we’ll go from there. Hopefully once I can ride the bike it’ll just take a couple of weeks before I can do some training rather than just riding.”
She does have some 2016 dreams –but is happy to let time and the injury take its course – she says: “I’d love to go to the Olympics, it’s my main goal to make the team but if it doesn’t happen it doesn’t happen. Hopefully I’ve got one or two more in the future so I might just extend my season four more years! I’m just trying to not dwell on it too much and concentrate on getting better.”
Good luck Hannah!
Read more about recovering from the effects of a crash and the resulting fear here.