It took some time for me to write the first post for my blog since I didn't know where to start. Season 2022, offseason, new season...well let's start with a season 2022 recap- as short as it can be for 35 race starts :')
In the winter we completely changed my training, we needed a fresh start after a 2021 season was subpar with my alergy flaring up a lot of other symptoms in my body. Season started with Andalucia bike race, a 6 day World Marathon Series race that I rode in a pair with Stefanie Dohrn. Stefanie and me never rode together before, so we needed some time to adjust our team riding. I didn't do any build up for this race since my coach wanted to have a longer base considering a long season ahead, but my first all out efforts felt great and I felt better every day. After six days of racing we finished the race on 3rd place and I continued my journey a bit northern in Spain with a training camp in Altea, than another stage race near Zaragoza, Aragon bike race which I finished on 1st place.
A great start to a season continued with an amazing streak of XCO races in Croatia, 1st place in Premantura and 3rd place in Metković. Than another 1st place racing together with Stefanie on UCI Marathon series 4 Islands in Croatia. I felt better every day and the training went perfectly, that was until I came back home. I was suddenly completely exhausted, soon I learned it was from the Corona virus. I already had three shots of vaccine but it still impacted my trainings, and it took a few weeks to get my trainings on track.
Just as everything clicked together again, I went to Poland and won my first individual gold medal on UCI Marathon series. It was a flawless race and a perfect confidence boost before our biggest goal of the season, European XCM Championship in Czech Republic. I went there from Poland and Amar (my coach) joined me a few days before. I loved the area and a technical track so I really couldn't wait to race.
But the race was a disaster. I felt great but I soon learned that it really didn't matter. On kilometer 10 another rider crashed infront of me while we were going full speed on a tarmac road and I had no way to avoid her in the crowded field. I fell down, had a mechanical, fixed it and tried riding for atleast a medal again. I had it in me but my ankle was so sore from the crash that I really wasn't sure if it was broken or not so I had to quit the race.
Days after were the worst days of my life, it was just unfair.
Days after were the worst days of my life, not because of the medal I surely had in my legs, but because I did not have the chance to fight for it, and I couldn't do anything to change it was just unfair.
I went on a training camp and focused on another goal, World championship in Haderslev, Denmark. I knew the profile of the course was different, short hills and technical descents, XCO race that lasted for 3,5 hours. We than changed my training to suit the course which was a challenge for a hilly Bosnia and Herzegovina, but I had a lot of riding up and down the same and only flat road in Sarajevo. After two months and some in between preperational races in Bosnia and Herzeovina, Turkey and Austria, it was D day. I knew I had the legs and I was starting in the front row in a stacked field, I just needed some luck.
That was the only thing I didn't have. After just a few kilometers my derallieur started working strangely and my chain dropped and got jammed into my cassette. I knew that my race was over. It was such a fast course that losing just a few seconds means a bad result, let alone 5 minutes which took me to fix it. I had two options, to quit the race or to have a good training on a lovely course in Denmark and just enjoy riding my bike. Off course the second one looked better. I finished the race on 30th place, and with starting 5 minuted behind the last rider wasn't even bad. Than Amar and me took a small unexpected vacation in Copenhagen since our flights were delayed, and we needed to get our minds of the bad luck we had on the most important races of the season.
We had one more goal, winning the UCI Marathon series overall. There were two races left, Ornans and Roc d'Azur, both in France. This time I was only trying to avoid the trouble. It was pouring rain and that plays to my advantage coming from the muddy area. Well after 8 kilemeters I had a crash with another rider while entering a single track in pouring rain. I hit my head hard, my front shock wasn't working and my front brake was broken. Not again. I just wanted to finish the race and show the fitness and the legs I've been working for all year. I started overtaking riders after riding uphill, but when the downhill came, it was imposible to navigate the bike with all those mechanicals. I had two more crashes and refused to give up the race. I pushed as hard as I could and won 2nd place! It was a win for me, and the biggest win of the season, because it was just me working agains the odds.
I needed to have that last push for Roc d'Azur and it was important to finish the race. Sunshine and rocky trails were a perfect match for the last race of the season. I saved myself a bit too much knowing the technical terrain at the end is hard, so rode a steady pace and finished 5th while taking the overall win at the UCI World Marathon Series. A happy end to a rollercoaster of the season.
Leaving the season with a positive feeling and big motivation is a big thing for my winter preperations. I know I have a lot of space to improve and can't wait to work on the new version of Lejla for season 2023.