Oscar Powell - When a Break is a Break
Although the season ended a few weeks ago for most people mine ended a lot earlier. It was all going so well until about 3/4 of the way through. I hadn't lost a single round of the British 4x series, I had won my first downhill race and things where really looking up. I was feeling really good on the bike and didn't have any doubts about sending big ol jumps or rounding off a corner with 13 psi in my tyres.
As always there is another side to every story. I lost my winning streak at Redhill Extreme in the 4x series after winning all my heats and crashing in the finals. It felt as if the pressure of being expected to win had got to much, I found my self trying to hard for something I knew I could do, which was mega frustrating because we all no that saying just chill out does the exact opposite. After that race I didn't win another 4x race, I crashed at national champs and felt as though a wasn't enjoying racing as much as as I used to. Something needed to happen to give me a new inspiration.
It came in Falmouth at the penultimate race of the year, after a sweet practice session with my teammate Tom Gethin I finally felt I could ride a bike again! It was super wet and the tyres were slidin, almost the full three sixty at some points. We spent way to much time crashing on some wide open grass corners/ice rinks. It was so much fun and it made me remember why I ride, when you've got an ace group of people and everyone is stoked on riding there is no better feeling.
This all came to a quick end though. First run of gate practice and I was up against the big boys. I got a bit tangled with the rider next to me and went head first down a drop, I pretty much supermaned it and went for the fists with full extension in the arms. Punching anything is not really a good idea especially the floor. It's pretty tough. I broke my two middle metacarpals and knew that I would be out for a fair amount of time off the bike.
As much as it sucked being sat around all day with a hand that looked more like a claw, It felt like the break came at the right time. With so much pressure building up so many expectations and so much energy going into my riding something had to give and that was what I needed, a long ol rest and some time to put my feet up, drink tea and have some free headspace to think about what I want to do. I also started training hard and focusing on keeping my fitness up to scratch, Greco kept me in the gym and helped me so much with rehab and recovery, so thanks for that!
After getting back on the bike now I feel so much better, properly recovered, fully refreshed and ready to go ham again! This break really showed me the importance of taking time off, especially towards the end of the season when riding has taken its toll on both your mind and body. It is not unheard of that a lot of the big names in mountain biking take a considerable chunk of time off at the end of a season for this exact reason and it's often more time than you think, a six week break is the standard time to recover from bone injuries so that would be a good guideline. You'd be surprised how good it feels being back!l
Moral of the story is that a break in either sense of the word is often quite a good opportunity to have a good rest, obviously… but also let's you reset yourself, change your goals and have a different approach to what your doing. It's so good to have time to free you headspace and you often feel so much better on the bike after a long time off.
I'm now all back and normal! My hand is feeling ace and I'm in a much better place, my fitness is better than before and I'm really looking forward to the off season.
First on the cards a photo shoot. It's one thing I'd really like to focus more on this year and I've got a few projects that I'm going to be working on. I'm also going to be focusing on downhill so much more long runs and hopefully some trips away. Racing wise I'll be doing the winter series at the Forest of Dean for now but more news about that to come!
Photos by Nick James and Emma J Floyd