After I returned from my incredible journey in the Indian Himalayas a few people asked me the question “what’s next?”
Racing the Hero MTB Himalayas and the challenges I was faced with at the time made it one of my most extreme adventures to date. It was a bit of adjusting afterwards when I returned to "normal life". Spending almost 3 weeks pushing my limits on the rooftop of the world, it was all about the here and now, living in the moment, nothing else really mattered.
When I spoke to my coach Rab planning the next 12 months, he said to me “can you please choose something a little less extreme for 2018” but I am pretty sure he knew that that was never going to happen!!
I have always been a true racer at heart, not to beat people, not to stand on the podium but to search for my own limits, to find out how deep I could really go. And then try and go that little further the next time. Being injured for close to two years and struggling with a body which simply did not cooperate, that mindset had changed a little. And the desire to race everything and anything I could find had been lost in my recovery period.
After been given the ok to run again in November I very ambitiously entered a duathlon which was my last great performance for an overall female win two years ago. Being held in January my multiple layers of ashmei clothing was neatly packed away in my gear bag and my bike was ready to go. But when my alarm went off very early in the morning, I felt sick to the stomach. This was not a bug I had inconveniently caught pre-race but it was simply anxiety. The last couple of years I had raced and trained with continuous pain, pushing every day. The thought of dragging myself through 3 hours of discomfort racing other people made me feel sick (even though my body was on the road to recovery). So I turned off my alarm, rolled over and woke up 2 hours later. It was a glorious winter’s day and although part of me regretted not standing on the start line it felt like the best decision when I took my dog Fynn (who was very happy) to explore some new trails high in the hills near Peebles. I ended up running for 2 hours which after only managing 40-60min in the last 2 months and almost nothing in the last 18 months this was a huge improvement. And with running fitness slightly lacking, I showed myself I was still quite happy to suffer. Just not always with the clock ticking .
So with my competitive spirit slightly lost, what is next for 2018? Feeling the most at home in the mountains and loving a challenge, it was a no brainer when StrongHer asked me to join them on The Ride, a 900km 6 day stage race in the Dolomites with 15.000m of ascend. Although I do ride a lot of mileage on the “skinny tires” for my MTB pursuits, I will be out of my comfort zone doing something which I have never done before. And for that exact reason why The Ride appeals so much to me. Mountains, bikes, passionate like minded (slightly crazy) people and 6 days of pushing myself to my absolute limits. What is there not to love?
I have always used other races to find form and fitness and together with my coach Rab we will put a schedule together which fits in with my day time job, keeps my body sound and will keep me mentally fresh to enjoy the process. I am lucky to be located in Scotland with lots of endurance races available over demanding hilly terrain which can prepare me for anything. With a combination of strength training, cycling, and running I am hoping to be in the best possible shape to stand on the start line of The Ride with Maan Klomp and in the process inspire other women to join us so we have a large bunch of enthusiastic of women in the StrongHer team.
So my answer to the question what’s next? More of the same really, but with a more adventure focus rather than a competitive focus, with people who are likeminded, whilst still pushing my own boundaries wherever I can!
"One can make a day of any size"John Muir
About Nienke Oostra
Nienke Oostra is a fierce competitor with big dreams. She started cycling late in life as until her early thirties she let her veterinary career lead her all over the world until her dream of becoming an elite athlete took over. Her goal for upcoming season is to qualify for the UCI MTB Marathon MTB World championship’s again and better her ranking from last year. And after 2 bad triathlon seasons she wants to feel good again and have fun again.
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