You’ve all seen the “before” photos from a World Cup – the nicely laid out kit, bottles, gels, and number plate that give you an idea of what goes in a World Cup racer’s race day bag. You’ve also all read the “race recaps” – the posts that go into great detail about how a race went down. So, I decided to give you something a little bit different to read: a story of World Cup Aftermath.
As you can probably guess, World Cups are hard. Like, REALLY hard. So hard that, sometimes, when you cross the finish line, you can’t believe you managed to push your body that far and actually still be alive at the end of it. Yesterday’s World Cup in Albstadt, Germany was one of those races for me. I crossed the line and nearly puked (thanks to a sprint finish), and then had to sit on my top tube slumped over my bars for a few minutes before I could even contemplate moving anywhere.
Eventually, I coaxed my legs into moving again and had a congratulatory high five from my coach. When you’re this thrashed, there are only a few things on your mind (mostly because your brain has ceased to function). Relief and happiness are there, but at the same time, so is total emotional depletion.
Once the finish line hoopla and interviews were over, the first thing I reached for was water (it was HOT!). I then forced myself to start the spin back to the team truck where I had some delicious treats waiting for me (aka, chocolate milk and salt and vinegar chips).
Post-race gut is not pleasant. After a tough and hot race, I feel like I will never be able to eat again. However, when your mind is already on preparing for the next race, eating immediately is the number 1 priority. I learned long ago that my post-race belly can only stomach savoury things; salt and fat are all I can choke down. Hence the chocolate milk and chips! Real food will follow, but for immediately post-race, the junk will do.
After a heartfelt thank-you to the mechanics and coach, the best thing is to get the heck out of there and get the heck into the shower. I went back to the hotel, stretched out on the hard floor for a minute (nothing like a hard floor to release a seized back – that course was PHYSICAL), had a shower, and spent the next few hours in a race-induced stupor.
I typically can’t remember much of what happens post-race, what with the extreme fatigue, hunger, and dehydration, but I do know that it is always worth it. Sure, you can’t sleep the night after (core temperature through the roof and adrenaline still buzzing), you’re hungry every hour through the night (pro tip: always have pizza stashed in the fridge), and you feel like your entire body has been hit by a bus…. But without fail, when I lay down post-race to try and sleep, I already can’t wait for the chance to line up again.