Being a professional rider is an amazing goal to strive for. You get paid to do what you love, you get free bikes, and you get to travel the world to compete in some of the biggest events out there! But along with those incredible highs, there are the ‘not-so-great’ moments when you don’t have a great day – which is amplified when that day just so happens to be at a competition.
Mongoose pros Kevin Peraza and Nikita Ducarroz are very familiar with finishing on the podium, but that doesn’t happen at every event. To be fair, it doesn’t happen at every event for any pro! During the UCI Freestyle World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, Nikita and Kevin didn’t get the runs they hoped for and had to leave the event a little disappointed.
Many of us read or watch stories about athlete success – like Kevin’s phenomenal X Games showing last month – but the lessons on how to persevere when you don’t perform the way you wanted are equally if not more important for riders aspiring to complete at the highest level. With that in mind, here are a few tips on how to handle adversity [with Worlds as the example] from two top athletes, Nikita and Kevin.
After an event that doesn’t go your way how to you get over the disappointment?
Kevin: After an event, despite the result I’m chasing or the minor errors that happened, it’s more about looking back through all the highlights of the run that created those special moments that kept the energy high for me. Treating the crowd to a show and not holding back. Always stoked to try, or the ones that I wish I tried.
Nikita: Honestly, I’m not sure I have an exact answer to that. After my result in Montpellier, I felt absolutely devastated. For days even. Here at Worlds, of course it was tough immediately after and for the next hour or so, but I was able to mostly move on quite quickly. I would say it was a combination of getting a good debrief in with my team to get all those initial feelings out, then taking a moment to just take in the fact that I get to ride bikes for a living and ground myself in the fact that I was in Scotland with all my best homies. Enjoying that moment rather than dwelling on the past as well as the overall picture. Just being in the now. Of course, I still feel bits of sadness/disappointment and “what if that hit here and there”, but at the end of the day sometimes mistakes happen, and I’m just ready to go back home and keep riding for the next one!
Did the consistent rain delays play a factor?
Nikita: The rain delays definitely don’t help. I think after battling them in Montpellier because I didn’t quite know how to handle it, I came into this event with a better understanding of how to keep my mind in the game even with the potential for postponements. To make sure I would be ready to go. Better to be ready than to already be shut down because then it’s quite hard to turn back on again, especially at a moment’s notice.
Kevin: The rain delays definitely changed a lot of what the event could have been. Not to mention, waiting countless hours to go through all the groups, with some overnight delays on qualifications. Warming up and then having to stop to warm up again, again. Yet the event finished all the way through, and the riding did not disappoint.
What advice do you give people wanting to compete when the day doesn’t go your way?
Nikita: My advice is to just be open. Keep your mind open so that you don’t allow easy frustration if the situation changes or doesn’t go as planned. Be ready for anything. Do your prep as you normally would and adapt. This is all stuff that doesn’t necessarily come easy so start at home during training and just in everyday life. If it’s a normal routine/habit, it will just happen naturally at events. And world peace.
Kevin: I like this last question. It taught me a lot as I’m writing it. I think if you don’t accept that there is always a chance of a “bad day” in a competition then you haven’t fully committed to giving it more than a 100% before dropping in. Obviously preparing, self-confidence, and being focused is key, but my advice to those who compete and don’t get the results they’re looking for, is to remember that you should feel satisfied with the result as long as you give everything to your ability. But remember that with that comes errors and lessons to take home. Be proud of your journey, and how far you have come. Remember why your started in the first place and find that spark again — enjoy the process and get back to work. Job’s not done. 💪🏼🔥
Thanks to Nikita and Kevin for sharing their thoughts the day after Worlds when the disappointment was still raw. They knew this could help someone down the road, which is one of the many reasons they are true professionals and continue to inspire!