Drinking, binge eating, adventures and family time: doing the off season right

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The days after the world championships are usually a mixed bag of emotions. All the pressure and anxiety leading up to the championships are washed away as soon as you cross the finish line (and of course later that evening when the washing away is done by some form of alcohol). Total elation, you made it! Another season notched in the belt, the belt that is professional sport.

To celebrate, the post-race protein shake is replaced by a beer, post race meal? Burgers and fries. Warm down? What warm down, my bike is already packed away. Hand me another beer and show me where the party is at! All the blood, sweat and tears from the year can be forgotten as you hug your teammates and start to dream about your upcoming holiday. For the next month, I will savour every day I have off the bike. And not once think about getting on it.  It’s amazing how quickly you can switch off and gain 10kg. Don’t get me wrong. I love my sport and my job, but whatever career you’re in, when you work so damn hard all year round, everyone needs a break, and nothing beats a good holiday.

You can instantly tell who doesn’t plan on racing post worlds, all you have to do is look at Instagram or Twitter. My feed is usually clogged with foodie pics of all the delicious treats we have deprived ourselves of in an effort to “be good” before the world champs. For the next month, the power to weight ratio is all but a myth. Moderation is thrown out the door and replaced with excess. I’m an all or nothing kind of person, I go hard or go home, which can be a very good thing or a very bad thing depending how you look at it. So during my off season I make every day count. When that time comes on November 1st that I need to switch my brain back to professional athlete, I’m raring to go. The off season is all about hitting the reset button and relaxing. The bike gets parked in the spare room, and won’t even be considered an option till the coach tells you “it’s time.”

In saying all this, however, I’ll admit that the whole off season I’m already thinking about the next season. I know I said it’s a time to switch off and enjoy the other things in life, but I can’t help it! And this is usually how I gauge my motivation to continue year after year. If I’m not pumped about the areas I think I can improve upon for the next season, then there’s something wrong. I’m always thinking ahead. My roommate laughs at me because I like to plan, something I can thank my mother for (yes you read right mum, thank you). As I lie here writing this blog at an ungodly hour because I’m so jet lagged and potentially still slightly hungover (drink fit I am not), I’m thinking about all the one percenters I can improve upon (alcohol is not one of them). How much better can I actually get? This is a thought that crosses my mind often. If I do absolutely every little thing right, what gains will I make. Will it be enough? Life is all about constantly improving yourself, trying to be your best self that you can possibly be. That’s why I love sport, it’s so measurable, the numbers and the results don’t lie. Although sometimes you wish they would lie when you’re having a terrible day on the bike.

For me my off season looks a little like this. Recover from post worlds hype/hangover by binging on all my favourite things such as chocolates, pastries and burgers for about a week while hanging out with my favourite people in Girona. It’s nice to be able to just chill, and not think about the usual five-hour, lactate and vomit-inducing efforts my coach makes me do.

After a week of just chilling out, I’m “recovered” and ready for some adventure. This year I’m jetting off to Cyprus with my bestie Carlee. A week filled with dancing, beaching it, cliff jumping, quad biking, sea kayaking, jet skiing, hiking, you name it, we will be doing it. By the end of that week, I’ll probably need a holiday from my holiday, and the realisation will hit that I only have two weeks of holidays left. Better make the next two weeks count!

Next stop will be Barcelona for the annual OC crew get together. If you’re wondering what the hell the OC is, remember the hit TV show in 2004 with Mischa Barton? No? I guessed so. Well, we have made the Girona equivalent, which is way cooler than those Californians. After a week of catching up with Ryan, Sandy, Summer and the crew (OC references), it’s time to head back to Australia, but not without a quick stop-over in Italy to pick up my brand spanking new equipment for the 2016 season (this is a massive hint as to where I’m going next year).

This leaves me with one week at home before I have to resume training once again. Every year since 2011, I have made the annual trip to Noosa, where for some insane reason, racing a hot dog criterium on zero training seems like a brilliant idea at the time and is immediately regretted about a minute in to the race. So this year, for the first time, I’m sitting out Noosa. I guess you could say I’m just getting old…or soft. Instead, I’ll stay at home on the Gold Coast and have a belated birthday celebration with the most important people in my life: my family. And then boom! Before I know it, November 1st has come around, and I have to start working off that birthday cake that I’ve been eating for a month. Bring on 2016!


Loren Rowney is a professional rider for Velocio-SRAM. With the team since its inception (as Specialized-lululemon), the South-African born Australian lives in Girona, Spain during the European cycling season

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