Charlotte Rayner

 

Sports recipient

Mountain Bike Athlete

About Charlotte

  • XC mountain bike athlete and coach from Auckland, New Zealand.
  • New Zealand U23 Champion 2017 and 2018.
  • Oceania U23 Champion 2018.
  • World Cup athlete.
  • Riding for 4Ever Racing NZ.
  • Currently on the road to recovery after sustaining a concussion in March 2019.

Picture by Extremekid Productions

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July 2017

Europe racing report and reflections

I’m now back home in little old New Zealand, freezing my hands off and looking the wrong way when crossing the road! Here are my reflections of my European season.

Being honest, my results over in Europe were pretty rubbish, not going to lie. I competed in four World Cups and two Swiss Cups over 11 weeks, and in all these races I got 80% and wasn’t allowed to complete all the allocated laps (due to being so far behind the leaders). My first race was a tough pill to swallow when I got pulled out of the race. I had no idea what to expect and I hadn’t really prepared myself to be 80%ed. The following races were a lot easier to deal with as I knew more of what to expect.

I was really nervous going into that first world cup in Czech Republic, worried about being dead last. I finished in 51st out of 60 riders. It’s not a bad result considering it was my first ever XCO race in Europe, and it was against the best U23 riders in the WORLD. I was not completely spat out the back all alone, there was always other girls around me to have a battle with. After this race I told myself I can only improve, and although it didn’t really feel like I was improving with each race, looking back on it, I was. The second world cup in Germany I pushed myself so hard and finished in 48th with some mechanicals. That’s an improvement. The third world cup in Andorra I finished in 38th (although there were fewer girls at this race), I rode really well and was passing people on the muddy downhills that some others were walking, but unfortunately, I faded in the last half of the race due to altitude. It was still an improvement. The fourth and final world cup for me in Switzerland was my best race of them all. My heart rate AVERAGED 190bpm for the duration of the race, I was having some close battles with some other girls, I didn’t fade towards the end or let any other riders pass me in the last lap. I was doing this jump in the race that is the biggest jump I’ve ever done, and I finished in 42nd and apparently was very close to being allowed through for a final lap. That is quite an improvement.

So, I did improve throughout the season, which I’m happy about. And although I’m not that happy about the placings themselves, I have to be realistic. I started training only 10 months ago, after a 3 year break off proper training. I started with absolutely ZERO fitness, riding my bike once or twice a month. To be able to compete on the world stage, against the world’s best and not be last, after less than a year of training is something to be proud of. All the riders I know from New Zealand who were over competing in Europe this year have been competing at this level, or building to this level for a number of years. I have to keep reminding myself that.

I also learnt a hell of a lot. It has been a massive learning experience, about training, racing, my ‘limits’ and technical ability, as well as all the information and skills I gained from travelling to such amazing places on the other side of the world from home, especially travelling alone for the most part.

I was helped by many generous people, without whose help I would’ve really struggled. There were people in Europe who’d I never even met before helping me. There were some of the Kiwi’s in Europe helping me. And of course, there was all my amazing family, friends and supporters in New Zealand helping me, including the 4Ever Racing NZ MTB team and the Pohutukawa Coast Helping Hand Trust. I really cannot say how thankful I am for all the support I’ve been given.
I’m looking forward to some downtime, before getting back into training again, this time hopefully ramped up a lot more! I’ll have to have even better time management to fit in uni and work as well! I keep getting asked if I’m going to come back again next year, and I think I’m going to have to. I feel as if I can improve so much more and have much more to give!

“The important thing is not necessarily to have succeeded; the important thing is to have fought well.”
Thanks everyone

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