This week Women Who Cycle is happy to share the story of an Australian professional cyclist as Rachel Neylan reflects on the tumultuous year that was 2020. I really enjoyed reading Rachel’s social posts during 2020. She’s very philosophical and expresses herself beautifully. It’s the second time I’ve interviewed her. If you’d like to hear about her start in cycling head here.
Over to Rachel….
Q: Wow, what a tumultuous year 2020 was for all of us. Can you please share what you did in 2020 as a professional athlete?
As I’m based in Italy I decided to come back to Australia for the heavy lockdown period. While we were not racing it was a nice opportunity to be in Australia. Albeit not spending much time with others it was great to be in the same timezone connecting with friends and family which is rare.
It gave me an opportunity to reassess my goals after Tokyo was cancelled, take a breather, and reset for the next 12 months.
I returned to Europe in June and prepared for the short three-month season we were lucky to have had had late in the year.
Q: I really enjoyed some of your very philosophical social posts in 2020. What was your highlight of 2020? What was your lowlight?
My highlight was certainly being selected in and racing the world championships with the Australian team, my 5th representation.
My lowest point was bearing the brutal disappointment of team issues, non-invites, and lack of racing in the back end of the season while I had great form.
And here’s a couple of Rachel’s philosophical posts that I enjoyed from 2020:
From 5 April 2020 – Optimism starts with the simple acceptance of what is, and a gentle smile staring back in the mirror After 12 days quarantine in Italia, an epic journey back to Australia, and 14 days of self-isolation that was quite a full few weeks!
Rather than over chronicle my self-isolation on social I took it as a time to connect with family and friends in this hemisphere, read, ponder, write, listen and just be a bit more still than usual (Not so easy )… Not much changes now though, fully committed to physical distancing I’m buckled in for the next block of solo training, all set with a long indoor #stayhome to-do list, local produce box to minimise supermarket trips, and more of the above
Everyone I hope you find your groove in all this, whatever challenges you’re carrying. There’s no right way to think or feel now we are in uncertain times with so many uncontrollables but one thing is for sure is that through every difficult challenge there is great opportunity for growth. We all want to act help and serve those who are suffering but the best thing we can do is lead by example, stay home and let your butt seated on the couch do the taking!
From 11 June 2020 – Head down bum up. One of my favourite Aussie sayings! Whatever the environment throws at you meet it, rise to it graciously, acknowledge the uncertainty, embrace the vulnerability then begin your challenge wholeheartedly knowing why… I have learned often enough over the years that the most rugged environments can produce the most beautiful outcomes if you’re willing to go all in, head down bum up.
Q: What are your goals for 2021?
- To be part of a winning team and positively contribute to a conducive winning team environment.
- To podium in a European UCI race.
- To be selected for my second Olympics team and be a key player in winning a medal with this team.
- To inspire everyday women globally to ride bikes as a means of physical and mental health.
Q: You’re currently riding for Spanish team Team Burgos Alimenta. What’s the team like as an Aussie?
I continue to learn Spanish fast! I do love learning about different cultures and being outside the comfort zone. Challenge is growth!
Q: At 39 you must be thinking of your life beyond professional cycling. What’s next for you?
Yes absolutely, it’s my twilight phase! Ultimately I want to combine experience and expertise with both hats – health professional and professional athlete. I have an innate passion for empowering others to become happy strong healthy humans – sport and health are not separate!
Q: I’ve read an interview where you said that you think we should drop the term ‘women’s cycling’, can you explain your perspective here?
I think a big part of change can start with challenging vocabulary. The sport of cycling is one sport. We have male and female races, different distances different chromosomes but that’s all. No other reason to deliberately state the gender difference, like it’s a separate entity. This suggests and drives a perception of separation within the sport.