08 Mar Loren Rowney’s Interview Part I – Overcoming mental stress and difficulties.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa in October 1988 and raised in Gold Coast, Australia Loren Rowney is one of those different cyclists, who on the spur of difficult or controversial moments is able not only to bring some light but also to provide us with a different perspective to look at various issues.
A few weeks ago we heard the sad news that BMX legend Dave Mirra took his life. The “Black Dog” had beaten an elite athlete again. In the spur of that moment, Loren Rowney, who saw a reflection of her own problems in Mirra’s ones, spotted an opportunity to make an impact by sharing her own feelings and experiences throughout an outstanding article. When we asked her if we could translate and repost her article she accepted saying: “I just want to spread the word, and keep the conversation going.” suggesting that once she talked about it could potentially lead, encourage and legitimate others to do the same.
First of all, thanks for your deep, personal and heartfelt contribution to such a tough and sometimes taboo topic, as depression is. There have been positive reactions and feedback to your article that may potentially lead to bigger debate about sports psychology and coping strategies. Moreover, it has been a great opportunity for those who have never competed at any high level, as I personally haven’t, to realise the sadness an athlete may encounter and how overwhelmed they could feel.
The sacrifice that cyclists commit to, getting sometimes very little in return, make them sometimes wonder why bothering doing it. It is so hard to reckon that one should be happy cause you did it the best of your ability, giving it a 100%, but that there are many factors that were unable to take into account and control, which are random.
When we are chasing a dream or following our passions it could take up so much of our life that it is no longer just what we are doing or what we have but who we are. It can clearly become by far the largest piece of our personal identity, of ourselves as individuals, so that at the end of the day it could be incredibly hard to reckon/acknowledge our life, our existence in without it. That is sometimes the case of young talented ladies who are facing tremendous difficulties in their path to make their way as professional cyclists. How and what piece or pieces of advice would you give them to bring some light into the darkness they might be facing?
Light into the darkness – it’s never going to be a simple or easy journey. The mind (our thoughts), in my experience, is a very complicated thing indeed. I think sometimes what we lack is perspective. A wise friend told me to stop and pause when I felt these moments of darkness, and recognise what I have, and try to find the positive, instead of searching for, and dwelling on the negative…which is so easy to do. Sometimes a little thought, is all it takes to snap you out of it. Self talk is one of the most important skills you can learn as a person. I’m no master, but I’m trying damn hard to become one.
You started strongly the 2015 season, winning the mountains classification of Santos’s Tour Down Under, you played a great supportive role at “windy Qatar” but as soon as the Spring Classics season started you suffered a very unfortunate and heartbreaking crash at Drentse 8 van Westerveld when a spectator hit your handlebars making you crash badly resulting in broken collarbone. However, you did an amazing come back, competing just 6 weeks after that crash, getting back to your previous fitness level, delivering great performances for your team, and finally getting good personal results such as two victories during the month of August at La Route de France and Trophée d’Or Feminine. How would you rate your 2015 season, any comments about 2015 season that you would like to make?
I guess disappointment. I was having a good Spring, and I feel like I was robbed of that because of some idiot. I never got closure with that crash, it was thrown in my face on social media. People constantly wanting to talk about it. At the time I didn’t realise it, because I brush things off, put them in a box…which is bad. But that crash really had an adverse impact on me mentally. I should have taken more time to come back. Hindsight. Overall, 2015 was a hard year: my crash, a relationship break down, my mum dealing with cancer back in Australia, my team folding, me not feeling comfortable in the team, it was a roller coaster, but I pulled through and finished strong, so that’s something. To end a season with two european wins is a good year, but it could always be better.
This is already your fifth season as a professional cyclist, what were the biggest differences and challenges you faced during your first year as a pro when you switched from competing at national races to both WWT races (formerly World Cup events) and UCI ranked races? What advices would you give to cyclist for cyclists who are turning professional?
My transition to pro was quite smooth in 2012. I had a clear run. I went to the USA, won a bunch of races, had a lot of fun, made some awesome friends. It was a fantastic year. In saying that, the one big shock to the system was at the GP de Plouay-Bretagne (World Cup), my second ever European race, after winning a stage at La Route de France (I thought if I could win there, I had Europe sorted… how wrong I was). Plouay was an eye opener as to the level I was competing at. These girls were fast. I thought I went alright, but this was another level, and from that moment on where I was dropped like it was hot, I knew I had leaps and bounds of work to do before I we truly established in the European peloton.