In this article I interview Jessica Douglas about her World Solo 24 Hour MTB success

Interview Transcript

David: Welcome to Cycling-Inform Cycling Tips, my name is David Heatley and today I’m interviewing Jess Douglas. Jess is a World 24 Hour Mountain Bike Champion, in fact, Jess, you’ve won it three times, haven’t you?

Jessica: Yes, I have and it’s kind of … When I look back and then I think it’s pretty amazing that you can set out to achieve something so grand and then do it again and replicate it and find the code, which I hope we’ll investigate a little bit more today with your conversation.

David: I said it’s an awesome, awesome achievement. Anyway, we’ll kick it off, when did you first get into cycling?

Jessica: David, it’s a huge question because there are people I meet in life that they say, “Oh, they’re just like a fish to water,” or they’ve always ran, well, I’ve always ridden my bike. From the moment my dad put me on a bike at about the age of four and said pedal, held my back up for seat and sit, then let go and then I was pedaling that was when I realized that me and cycling were like … I was never going to say goodbye to my bike.

From then on … It’s really funny that I should look back and reflect that I used to go on little journeys when I was a child. I used to pack a back pack and ride around the river for 10, 20k’s when I was 10 years old and I wouldn’t really tell my mom where I was going … I didn’t even ask any friends to come but I was always out exploring on my bike and that sort of … When I look back at what I do now and then the fact that I love doing solo journeys and being out on my bike for 24 hours and it’s pretty much exactly how I was when I was a kid.

David: That’s amazing. It’s a fantastic story.

At some point you decided that you wanted to compete in a World 24 Hour Mountain Bike Event, so what sort of stimulated you to have that?

Jessica: I can tell you exactly, I know this quite intimately. Back in December 2005, myself, my husband Norm, and a group of friends, we were running at the You Yangs and we were running up on this peak, and we umpired football and we were running half marathons and 10k runs and I was really only cycling as a commuter. Our daughter was quite young at the time, I think she was 10 or 11.

These friends actually said, “Did you know that there’s mountain bike tracks at the You Yangs and maybe next week when we come and do our run up the You Yangs we’ll go for a bike ride afterwards,” so we all went, “Oh, that sound awesome,” and I knew I had a bike that was sort of a mountain bike. I thought, “It should be all right,” I had done some mountain biking before, back before my daughter was born. I sort of have this vision of how much fun and how scary it was going to be at the same time.

The very next week we came back and went for a ride and I thought, “Why did I just, like not do this again just because Saskia was born?” 12 years later here I am having a go at mountain biking again, and so at that point in time Norm and I were hooked. We got new bikes within a week and we were doing our first mountain bike race. This mountain bike race was an 8 Hour Mountain Biking Enduro and I teamed up with a girl that I knew.

I had so much fun and I realized that while I also was having fun that I could get better. I saw these other girls out there that were really awesome and they won or came second or third and we came fifth. I was only about 5 minutes a lap slower than the other girls, and I thought, “Geez, you know what they’ve been riding 7 more years than me and I’m only 5 minutes slower, I’ve got to be able to improve here.” I had this vision in my head that I could do it even though I was like 31, 32 … I think I was about to turn 32, but if I just focus on actually improving my skills with a little bit of fitness, I would have to improve.

I came up with this little philosophy for myself and that was, that I was going to be better and that I was going to go out on one mountain bike ride a week for at least one hour and improve one thing by 1%, and that one thing would be something as simple as, get off the brakes a bit earlier, or look out a bit further, or just be able to be a little bit more gusty. All these little things I knew would have to compound over time, it wouldn’t just be 1% a week. I would then want to put 2% in, 3%, etc., and just like anyone new to sport, especially cycling, you get sucked into it and you’re desperate to over train, but I knew that that was also a journey I had to go down.

Within a year I had improved hugely. I’d done 26 races, on podium on 13, admittedly, this was like a beginner level entry, sort of what they call sport level, but I thought being my first year in mountain biking I could enter in that level. Then the next year I thought, “Well, now I have to ride elites, so I suppose I’ll go through that process again. It’s going to be scary and I’ll probably come last lots of times but if I just apply that same thing again, that will happen.”

Then I started to find a niche for endurance racing. I really, really love doing the longer ones, like a 100 kilometers or the 6 Hour Multi Lap Enduro’s and I found that what I had was a quality that many people didn’t and that was the ability to persevere and follow a method, which is what you really need to do. You need to have check boxes and checklist and just go through and be quite methodical about how you race. I really enjoyed that process and decided that I’ll give these longer races a crack.

When I did my first 24 Hour Solo, which I couldn’t fathom that I would actually do, but it was pretty much I’d use the same mentality that I used when I had to give birth to my daughter. I had this realization of, “Oh, sh**, I’m pregnant and I have to give birth to this lump. Well, every other woman in the world does it, so I guess I’ll just hand it over and do it,” and then she was born. I realized it was fearful but if I just realized that other people in the world were successful at giving birth, why wouldn’t I?

So, I thought the same with 24 Hour. I wasn’t the pioneer. I wasn’t the first person to make it happen. Other people before me had done it and they lived to tell the tale and they actually looked like they really enjoyed it, so I really wanted to do that. When I turned up to my first 24 Hour Solo I had this goal of not going to sleep but I did have a little lie down for about an hour, and I came third, and it was like, “Gee, what if you didn’t lie down? What if you wait around? What if you had a better mental focus?”

All these things over the time, built me up into a 24 hour racer, and as I said I just realized that I actually had a gift of being able to suffer for the longest. It’s a bit of a scary gift to have because you have to go to a rite of passage before you would have actually get to that place, and that’s the scariest part. Sometimes that can be 12 hours before you get there, and that’s what I think most people are fearful of.

David: Yes, watch out here it comes, Jess. So, that attention to detail has been quite an important part of your training leading into the world, so just coming back to it, at what point did … Back then did you think that you were going to win a 24 Hour World Mountain Bike Event when you’re just starting out?

Jessica: No, I hadn’t realized that and mainly because I didn’t have someone telling me that I could do it. It was … and look this is honestly, this is something that, if someone says to me, “You can do this,” or, “You can’t do this,” I’m not motivated by that. I’m really intrinsically motivated, so I have to realized it myself, and that’s what I like about the evolving athlete in me, is it nothing is ever impossible.

I just let things evolve organically and then I find it that that’s where I either am driven or not, and so over time as I became … When I won my first Australian 24 Hour Title, when I was being encouraged by Brandon, that was just like, “Oh, wow, hang on a minute, there’s a prize attached to this, that I get to fly to Canada, and compete in the World 24 Hour Solo Championships?” I suppose I hadn’t thought of that, “Okay, I’ll best … best train for it.” It was like opportunities popped up because I did a certain thing, I wasn’t searching for it, so did that make sense?

David: Yes, it’s kind of being more of an organic sort of growing realization over time, because of being like a light bulb that’s just going on, “Oh, I’m going to go out and do this 24 Hour thing.” It’s kind of being one of those things that sort of grow and probably has a whisper to start off with and then I suppose it becomes quite deafening, “Looks like I must do this.”

Jessica: Yes.

David: Is that what it’s like?

Jessica: It is, and even to this point I’m going to do another 24 Hour this year and I’m really fine about it. I was just like, “Yeah, yeah, I’m going to do it. This is going to be fun and I really enjoy it.” What I enjoy about it most now, David, is not necessarily … It’s quite multi-faceted. It’s not just me trying to win a race. I really enjoy the entire process. I enjoy the social side of it. I enjoy inspiring other people. I enjoy meeting other people out on the track. I enjoy what it brings to me before and after and then once again from a personal growth perspective, I always learn new things about myself.

Some people will never do that because they always compare 24 Hour racing it’s quite … quite a good metaphor for life but there’s so many people in the world who just go, “You know what, I know I could have success but I like comfort. I don’t actually want to go meet myself in the middle of the night because I’m a little scared of what that might entail.” I think people are scared of the success that they might find and success, I don’t mean by winning, I mean by finding out how to get the most out of your life.

David: Let’s step back to that first World 24 Hour Event in Canada wherein you had a few learnings associated with it, as we would expect for the first 24 Hour, so tell us a little bit about how that went?

Jessica: Coming over to Canada was really exciting, first off, because I had actually never been overseas. Here I am, 30 year old, I think I was mid-30’s by then, going overseas for the first time and to an amazing place, so that was quite exciting. However, the training for it was actually sort of no drama but getting over there and I guess the jetlag … I’ve never considered what jetlag would do to me so I can’t remember what the Canadian time was but it just took me all week and I was even on the start line yawning just thinking, “I have not had enough sleep. I don’t know how I’m going to get through this.”

Then Canada’s totally different, that their mountain bike trails are just up, down, up, down, and the hills are long and big and I was like, “Oh, this isn’t like the trails in Australia where it’s nice, beautiful, single track with flowery stuff.” Canada itself was just magic. I really enjoyed the process but then being put up on a world stage against the world’s best I thought, “Geez, I’ll see if I can have a crack.” I was coming sixth into one point and I was coming third at one point, and then in the middle of the night I just lost the plot, got tired and then started coming fourth and that … Look I came fourth.

What better result could I have be? It gave me the hunger that I wanted to win the World Solo Championships the following year, which was going to be in Australia, so I thought, “All right, this is a learning curve.” I’ve spent a lot of money, probably $10,000 getting over there. I was little bit disappointed with myself but when I got back I was highly motivated then and just go, “Well, all right if these girls can win it, I’ve seen what it takes to win, I’m going to do it.” So, I gave up a lot of things for a good 8 months to get that World Championship in 2010.

David: Then you went on to win three of them.

Let’s talk about the last 24 Hour that we did in Stromlo and Canberra. Let’s talk about that event. Let’s talk a little bit about the lead up to that event and how that went because that was quite interesting in itself, because at that time you were really, really busy.

Jessica: Yes, with work. I’m self-employed. I have a Mountain Bike Skills Coaching Business where I’m not the only one teaching, I have instructors beneath me that I manage. Plus, we have The Corner Store in Forrest and my husband builds websites. Plus, I’m a mother and other small businesses within our small businesses as well that consumes a lot of time. Events, as well, I think we had the Forrest Festival that we’re leading up into and still being an elite athlete at the same time, so I had a lot of events and commitments in the lead up to the 24 Hour Event. I think I could probably go back to what I remember, as just trying to fit it all in, in the middle of winter.

What do you do when you live in Forrest, in the Otway’s, in Victoria, where there’s quite a significant rainfall and it’s probably dark at eight o’clock in the morning when you get up and it’s probably dark by the time it’s five o’clock, and it’s been raining all winter long? I think that’s when I went to France and did some hill riding over there with Dave Volley and then went to Mongolia and did some racing and got sick.

David: You got really sick.

Jessica: Then I went to Townsville and got some sun trying to recover from that illness. Look, I think I came out with a really good philosophy for doing things and that’s, “Stop procrastinating and just do it, and at the end of the day you can only do what you can only do.” I think, between you and I, David, I focus on quality instead of quantity.

David: Because the amount of training that you did in the lead up to wasn’t … I wouldn’t consider it a huge, huge amount of training but we really focused on the specifics, we focused on just keeping you on track. I think the majority of the time that I was working with you it was right about you were … We’re talking about questions around the scheduling and I can show you everything I can and I have a bit of a question around Mongolia and I thought I’d look that’s going to … it’s either going to be really successful or not but it’s certainly worth it.

It was little bit of a risk for you to go over there but I think at the time … it’s one of those things that really if you haven’t had done that I think in the back of your mind you would have been questioning, “Well, what if I had gone to Mongolia?” It’s just the whole experience of getting over there and doing that, right that you did. It was probably more important than going, “Well, look you know if it doesn’t work out then it might jeopardize your 24 Hours,” so scheduling was certainly one of the biggest issues that we had with your program and making sure we were getting it right.

I heard the questions you were asking it’s like, when you got sick and stuff it’s like, “Well, what do I do? Should I go out and do this race? Should I go out and do this training?” You know those are where really the quality was in making sure that we’re just making sure that you’re healthy and even leading into we spent a lot of time initially, didn’t we, on your making this stuff, because you had a few niggles physically leading into it.

I wanted to get those really addressed before we started loading you up because I knew that if we didn’t address them early on then we’re also going to fall off gears and then it would just have reduced ourselves into … We just wouldn’t have been able to recover from it, so I think the scheduling and stuff was really important.

What does it take to be a World 24 Hour Mountain Bike Champion?

Jessica: I would say … I think I touched on it before and it takes a certain mental make-up and I don’t mean you don’t have to be mental I just mean that it’s working on a side that I would say a lot of athletes ignore and that is working on mental toughness and –

David: Because I would consider you to be mentally very, very strong.

Jessica: I think that’s what, when I got back from Mongolia and was ill and I drew upon experiences and then also just had a little bit of faith in the process. I find that a lot of athletes out there, of all different age groups and even the elite athletes if it would come back from somewhere like Mongolia when they’ve been sick and go, “All right I had a really good build up into that,” and I was coming good as the race went on, I got better and faster, and fitter, and stronger, and realized what it was like to hurt that much again and then came back, and was really, really sick.

I think a lot of people would freak out and go, “Woah, now my World Solo Championship Campaign is jeopardized. This is going to fail. How could this possibly be?” I remember you telling me, “Do you think you can do enough in three weeks?” I said, “Of course. Yeah. Absolutely. Why wouldn’t I be able to?”

Because once I have time I can do something and I really enjoyed … I actually enjoyed the fact of recuperating from being ill because I realized that sometimes life throws those kind of things at you to say, “Okay, that was a really good experience in Mongolia and now sit down, chill out. Relax. We’re not really probably going to taper into this race. We’re probably going to build into it. This is a different approach but actually it probably suits you better, so that you don’t get all niggly and bored, and educated and over trained. This is really fun.”

Even from the mental strategies that I have in a race when that approaches, even the fact I enjoyed using my brain to, I guess, settle my physical worries of whether I could get the training in, does it make sense?

That was kind of really good because I thought, “Well, no one can know what I’m doing now to prepare myself for the World Solo Championships.” They might be going, “Sh**, Jess is sick. Yay, I’ve got a chance,” and I’m like, “You know what, I’m sick that means I’ve got more time that I’m spending on me. You ain’t got no chance.”

David: It’s just a matter of turning it around really, isn’t?

Jessica: It is.

David: It’s making the best of something that may … that could either flip you one way or the other, you could either be driven by it and make it motivate you, or you could be depressed by it and make it demotivating. You have this fantastic ability of being able to look at whatever opportunities and things that are thrown on your path and go, “Well, this is something that’s going to help me,” or, “This is going to drive me towards getting a better result.” I think that’s really where the power is with yourself, Jess, that’s just a fantastic ability to be able to look further and turn things into something a lot better than other people would look at them as that.

Jessica: Look, as I said the one thing that I hold, I guess, that keeps my faith going, is that no one, no matter how much they train, no matter … all of a sudden I look on the start line, no matter what their race results say and … People would always go, “What do you think of the start list?” I thought to myself, “What do I care? Honestly, I can’t be them. I can’t worry about them.” The good thing is though is they can’t be me either. They might be able to see my Facebook post and read my blog and check my details on Strava, because I don’t hide it. I just go, “You can look at my data or whatever.” You can look at it. You can try and replicate it but you can’t be me.

It’s like people who go to those motivational seminars and I got Mike pay a $1000 to see Anthony Robbins say a few words. There’s only a very small percent that will actually go away and replicate that word by word and go, “You know, I’m going to implement that.” Everyone else just goes, “Oh, that was great. I’m motivated for a day,” and then they just move on. I know that people look at other athletes and go, “What are they doing?” But are they out there actually replicating them training program per training program? Probably not, so I was just like, “Kid, you can’t be me.”

In the start line I have my head space and that is always comforting because no matter I can … and I guess, if I can go on to this World Championship that was just last October in Canberra … I actually used my, I guess, my smarts, at 40 years of age, I was able to look back and be one of those sneaky veteran riders and watch what the other people were doing and go, “Okay, I’m going to watch for your faults and I’m going to watch for when you’re not doing all the right things, and I’m going to just keep that in reserve because I can see your weaknesses. You might be able to see my weaknesses too but are you taking note? Because I am.”

David: It was a great strategy and it was one that worked really well on your favor, you had the experience and you were just basically looking at the riders. It was interesting because you said to me it was, “I just want to go there and just hold back a little at the beginning of the race just to observe.” I think there was two things around that, one that you had the opportunity to look at the other competitors and look at their weaknesses and size them out, really and then not necessarily use that to your advantage but have that as an important piece of information to help build not only your confidence within the race but to use it to get a better result.

Jessica: Look, it was quite exciting because once again it could be quite… hey, 24 hours is a long time but it’s also a short time but when you’re spending that moment with yourself every second and it goes by a second at a time and a minute at a time, there’s a lot of time to think. Sometimes the thinking … If you don’t have a plan the thinking can go AWOL and not be in your favor, but once again like I said early on in the conversation I like to have a process and a methodology and part of that is being present in the race.

Not only am I constantly drinking every, say every fire road that I cross or using that same gear selection every time I get to that climb and not wavering from that no matter how tired I am. Following my notes of methods is really important but then also having something to engage your mind is like … it’s like a constant little game that you are engaging with. Watching other people and looking at what they’re doing, and watching their position on their bike, and whether they’re stomping down on their pedals or what gears they’re doing, or whether they’re drinking, it gives you that game play.

It’s like being in a 24 hour interactive game. I know it’s kind of fun so that’s another thing to focus on so that you don’t feel tired or fall asleep or get bored or start going, “Wow it’s me, I’m out here for 24 hours. Yak, yak, yak I want to go home.”

David: It’s all part of turning that around. It’s like turning something that could possibly turn into a negative than to a positive or any, isn’t? We keep on coming back to that.

Jessica: Yes.

David: Now you’ve got a support network. You don’t do a 24 Hour Mountain Bike World Event without people around you, so tell us a little bit about the support you get from your sponsors and the people involved with helping you out?

Jessica: I think my biggest fan is my husband, Norm, and if he wasn’t in the picture I would not be World Champion. It takes a really good partnership for someone to be consistently winning these kinds of races and I think Norm, enjoys it more than I do, to be honest and the fact that I’m sort of not racing these big races as much … It’s good because it frees up some of his time but I think he misses it. Having someone that really has you on their side … There’s not many people out there, husband and wife teams or maybe mother and daughter, or mother and son, or father and son, kind of … with that person who is willingly to stay up all night and do whatever it takes to make you win.

There’s not that many people out there that would do that. Your mates might go, “Oh, I’m a bit tired now. Do you mind if I have a nap? Can you do a few laps without me being there?” They just go, “It should be all right.” Or maybe you would have to pay someone to have that sort of commitment, so having Norm there is really, really, extremely part … It’s a huge part of my success.

Then my other support network is obviously Giant, they’ve been behind me since 2009, I think now … 2009 … 2008 and their philosophy with me is, “Just go out there and ride your bike and be a good person. We love that you win but that’s not what we want from you. We just want you to be out there,” so that really helps me race my style without being scared of, “Oh, am I going to disappoint my sponsors?” They are like a family to me as well.

David: Giant … Liv/Giant are awesome. I think they’re a great organization and they’ve got that really good attitude around that it’s about basically just supporting the cyclist. We’ve got some involvement with Giant as well and we just love the relationship, so they’re an awesome sponsor, and just coming back to Norm, it’s interesting because I was really keen to watch you race at Stromlo for your last 24 Hour that you’ve just done and I thought, “Look, you guys are an awesome team. I just don’t want to get in the way of that,” so I decided not to come up for that very reason.

That was like you and Norm do such a fantastic job that I didn’t want to upset that. I didn’t want to influence it. You’ve proven that it worked really well in the past and it was just one of those things were maybe my involvement might have changed the outcome so I thought, “Well, I just let you guys do it because you know what to do best.” It’s just fantastic that you’ve got an awesome team and I know with me and Jody and I support whenever you’re racing and I think she really gets a lot of value out of that, so it’s been really good.

Let’s talk a little bit about the coaching, just generally, what do you find to be the benefits of being coached, as opposed to just trying to do it yourself?

Jessica: I think the best thing for someone like me anyway is mentoring, guiding, having a sounding board, and then also taking some of the stress. I felt stressful, I guess, but taking some of the time that it takes should maybe allocate time to yourself. If someone else allocates time for you and says, “Look, based on what was discussed and what I know about your life and how you’re traveling and what your goals are, this is what I’d recommend that we commit to and what I’m going to get you do today.” Simple as that.

David: I know, it’s really powerful, isn’t? It’s like you’re not the only person that comments a lot about that programming that we do. It’s just like setting up the program and really being the sounding board for … just when you’ve got questions and not necessarily in doubt but you’re just not certain around the decision that you want to or the path that you want to take and sometimes it’s the sounding board and we discussed it and there were times I just go, “Nah, I think this is the best way of doing it.” I think it’s just a really important part of being a coach is really providing that sounding board and also the programming.

Like I say, you’re not the first person to mention that a lot of people find it really helpful to have somebody to structure in their program and what they need to do, based on where they’re at, at the moment and that changes. It changes, didn’t it? A little bit. Because I know when you got really sick you were planning to come up to a race and it was like, I know you were in doubt about whether you should do it at all or not? I just said, “No, I don’t think you should do it.” At the end of the day I think that was a good decision.

Jessica: Absolutely, and sometimes that’s what you need because you become either the good cop or the bad cop in the story. Say for example, like we’ve said, Norm and I are a really good team, so I’ll be here at home thinking, “Look, I’m just … I actually think I shouldn’t do this,” and say Norm will be thinking, “You really should. You really should,” or maybe in a moment he might be saying, ” No, no, no don’t.” Then a chat with someone like yourself and then you come up with another solution or it might just be, “Okay, you know what, I feel this is the right decision,” and there’s so many people in your life that you want to try and keep happy but then having someone that is a bit more –

David: Removed.

Jessica: Removed, yes, helps you make better decisions because sometimes there can be emotions in relationships, and especially someone so highly connected with your race results and the next race coming up so it’s … I think that’s really good you become, like I said, the good cop or the bad cop but whatever you are you need that third person that’s removed. I did anyway.

David: I think that’s really important, especially at the level that you are competing at. It was just … Let’s make the right decision here, so that was one certain scenario that was certainly strong on my mind as well and on the campaign and it’s those decisive moments in the lead up that I think really helped.

What sort of improvement have you seen since you’ve gotten on to the program? When we’ve been working together just … Obviously we’ve talked about structure and stuff but specifically around some of the skills around the physical training, because I know that for me become … I’m not a mountain bike rider. I wouldn’t know the first thing about riding a mountain bike, and because you guys are so good at it, anyway, I mean, your skills are fantastic so we really just worked on the physical aspect of the training, didn’t we? And so tell us a little bit about what sort of improvements and what sort of the things you got out of that training?

Jessica: The biggest thing for me and I still, even now was I’m just in No Man’s Land, sort of not being coached at all. I can still drew upon efforts on the ergo, whilst I’m out doing a hill climb or out on a race, or out doing whatever it is I go, “Okay, so just imagine that this is just a 10 minute block, ” but it’s actually not 10 minutes and just settle into that, that hurt zone and I think I drew upon that in every race I do. I’ll get to a spot and once I get in as I said earlier, I like to be methodical and I’ll get to a certain gear and I’ll find a certain cadence, and I’ll get into the body position and I’ll just lock on. It’s like autopilot.

I can’t recommend enough ergo sessions. They are the best and for time for people that don’t have the luxury of getting out and doing beautiful two or three hour rides with tiny little sections of meaningful training in them … I just … I love them. I dread them, I’m like “Oh, it’s going to be hurt. It’s going to be …,” and I look at it and I go, “Oh, at least I’ve got a 10 minute warm up. Oh, I can prepare today over the hurt.” Then when you look at it and you do the sum, it’s only 20 minutes of pain in a whole hour that you have to suffer, but if I … They’re just magic. Absolutely magic.

For me, the big improvements were how I dealt with elements on a race and how I could draw upon certain blocks in an ergo session and what it felt like to be in that plane for 5 minutes or 2 minutes or 20 minutes or 10 minutes, and to draw upon that instantly in a race and go, “Okay, so it’s just like that so let’s just do it.” If you can have the presence of mind to do that … The ergo sessions they teach you how to suffer way more than a big long road ride with a bunch of mates.

David: It’s important that we address that, like for me the ergo sessions that we select have to be relevant to the events that you’re doing. You talked about, obviously, working on your suffering, so that’s one of the components and into a training sessions that’s just absolutely fantastic for working on technique and getting things right in an isolated, very focused environment. I love ergo sessions and I think they play a really important role. They’re not the total Holy Grail to answering every training problem but I really believe that they’re an important key.

Out of it, what would be your favorite enduro training session that I would have given you?

Jessica: It’s … Is it the … The fruit bowl, fruit climber.

David: Fruit bowl.

Jessica: Yes.

David: Everybody loves the fruit bowl.

Jessica: I love it. I love it. Absolutely, love it and I could do that two in a row.

David: Yes, it’s an awesome … I actually … I really love the fruit bowl too. When we’re going into a training sessions out here in Mansfield, I actually love rolling at a fruit bowl. I’ll ask people, “What do you want to do today?” They go, “Oh, I don’t know. Can I at least do a fruit bowl because I love it so much?”

Jessica: What’s so cool about it is there’s lots of good hurt in it but it’s just long enough that you go, “I can do that. I can do that,” and then you get your recovery and then it gets shorter but harder, but the recovery is quite ample that you go, “I can do that again,” but it’s not long enough that you get that like, “Okay, I’m totally recovered.” It really feels that some of the stuff that I replicate in racing from the fruit bowl and actually it’s … I think that’s almost the Holy Grail.

David: The fruit bowl.

Jessica: Yes.

David: It’s something for everybody. It’s a really good mix of

[inaudible 00:38:32], and we don’t put a lot of recovery in their because when you’re out racing you don’t have the opportunity to really fully recover, so it works a little bit on that electric buffering as well, which is really important for when you get those decisions and stuff. I think that’s really relevant to mountain biking as well, but there is a big history behind how I put together the fruit bowl as a … into a training session and one day I might talked about that bit.

Jessica: You should.

David: Anyway, a couple of finishing up questions. The first one is, do you get nervous when competing?

Jessica: All the time. I’d say in the lead up it could be the entire week in the lead up I’m all good. I’m fine. I’m focused. Then on the morning of the event I just think, “Come on, can we just get started,” because I just don’t like being on the start line. I really .. Actually, being on the start line is not so bad, I’d say the hour before my start is when I’m most nervous and it’s just that I want to get started. I just want to get into it because I’ve done all the work and now we’re fist fighting around, and now we’re just doing stuff because we just have to so I prefer, like I had a race on the weekend that I rode my bike to, to warm up, so I went the long way and I didn’t get there until half an hour before the race started.

Because I thought, “Well, that’s just a waste of time. I’ll do all my toileting at home and I’ll finish off my nutrition. I’ll put a fresh bottle of water on my bottle now and then I’ve got everything else waiting at the race for me. I got Norm to take it up there.” Then I rode there, so I was actually in a happy space and just turned up, said hi to a few people and we were off, which was perfect. So I like to keep busy, so if I can … even in a 24 hour race I like to just be on an ergo, ride my bike really easily rather than sit around.

David: I understand. Everybody responds to nervousness differently. I think nervousness is a good thing. I think it means that something is really important that’s going to happen and it’s very normal for people to be nervous, so it’s how we manage it. I know of lots of different athletes that … I’ve got some that are very chronic with nervousness and we have all the stuff that we have to address but for you it’s only that sort of I ask, not too much of a problem.

Jess, I know World 24 Hour Mountain Bike Championships, are they something in the future? Or what does the future hold for Jess Douglas now?

Jessica: It’s not out of the question, although this year I will tell you that I’m not going to Scotland, the World Solo Championship’s in Scotland in October. It’s just … we’ve got a few things on. I’m really busy with work and I’ve got another 24 Hour that I can do here in Australia, and for me now it’s like winning at a World Championship level is fantastic, of course, I’d love to be the World Champion, however, as I’ve said to you before, I realized that with my racing that my job is actually no longer do I have to win everything to be still doing my job.

I actually do my job better when I’m not winning everything. I actually … It’s like an artist, I find that I’m a bit Van Gogh-ish sometimes, the more pain and suffering and lack of success I have the more creative and amazing that I could come up with really awesome blogs and really inspirational quotes and then I go and do a really good race and it’s like every now and again I need to have a little kick up in the ass to do something really well, which is probably quite normal in life, really.

But as you said earlier, I like to use the things that can be quite negative and perhaps demotivating for people are actually what makes me more motivated, so every time that things aren’t going to plan I actually go, “Oh, I can’t wait for the silver lining to show itself up. That would be awesome. I know that there’ll be something good happening here.”

Like I said, when I decided not to go to Scotland there was just a momentary sort of, “Oh,” I’m a bit sad that I won’t be there but in that same moment, pretty much I got offered accommodation, airfares, and free entry to go over to Rotorua next year in January, to do their 24 Hour Championship over there. It’s a New Zealand Championship, so even if I win I won’t be titled the New Zealand Champion, but whoever is the New Zealand person that comes second or whatever will be that, but I’ll win the prize money and I get to go to Rotorua and do 24 Hour there, so that would be fun.

Opportunities always pop up and so 24 Hour is not dead in me. It will just evolve into a different outcome. It doesn’t have to be World Championships status but I still have to be the best Jessica Douglas I can be, and as I’m getting older I’m just realizing that this is fun. It’s my job and I’m not going to retire. Things will just change. I still race elite level and I have this philosophy that, “Until I come dead last in female elite three times in a row I’m not racing age group.”

David: All right, that’s fantastic. That’s awesome.

Jessica: I have to come dead last, three times in a row.

David: Awesome. Tell us a little about what’s happening in your business. I know that you’ve set-up here in Mansfield during the winter which is awesome, so you’ve got a part of your business set-up here in Mansfield on Mount Buller and it’s –

Jessica: In summer.

David: In summer, sorry, in summer. What else are you doing in your business?

Jessica: We have another Corner Store opening up in another part of Australia in a couple of months. I might … I don’t know whether I’m privy to tell you that yet but there’s some new trails being built in a new part of Australia by World Trail. They built up all the trails in Mount Buller and many other awesome places as well, and we’re opening up another store. I’ve got more Mountain Bike Skills Instructors opening up in Canberra and Taree. We’ve got … What else have I got on? I’m heading up to a race actually, next week to Alice Springs for a week.

We’ve got The Corner Store in Forrest, that’s still going crazy. We’ve got a couple of events going up. Norm’s starting this Beyond Blue Ink in conjunction with Beyond Blue, I should say and more of a participation mountain bike and / sock lacrosse kind of ride called “Chase the dog in the Otways.” Plus, we have the Forrest Festival which is in the first weekend of November, I think, or … No, sorry, first weekend of December. No, 29th or 30th of November. Sorry, I’m looking at my diary again this weekend.

We just do everything, really. We have bikes coming out of bikes and we travel a lot, so we’re heading on … In winter we’re heading off to run Mountain Bike Skills Clinics at Autogen, Elly Beach, Townsville, and Darwin for five weeks. We’re gone all of July which is kind of magic. We’d be up in that sort of 25 degree dry heat a week.

David: That’s awesome. It’s awesome, a whole week I have to [inaudible 00:46:53], mid-winter as well to do a little bit of riding up there for a week or so as well, so next year we’ll probably end up going over to Italy. I know what it’s like, mid-winter in Australia, it’s nice to kind of either go North or go overseas to a warmer climate … Just staying a bit too super, super busy.

Two final questions, the final one, is there anything else that you’ve learned in your life that we haven’t really talked about, or cycling that we haven’t talked about that you think is important? Is there anything that you really want to, the gold nugget, what’s to recap on what was just talked about?

Jessica: It’s something that I’ve learned with myself over all my racing and my training, over … It’s funny it’s going very quickly now, 2006, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, … we’re in 2014, I can’t believe that I’m in my 9th year of consistent cycling and I’m 41. It’s never too late.

People say to me all the time … I’ve met this girl the other day and she’s 40 and she says, “Do you think it’s too late for me to start focusing on becoming a better cyclist?’ I said, “What do you reckon? No, it’s never too late.” If you’ve got that little seed inside you grow it. If you sit there and say, “It’s too late,” Well, then it is. You’ve got to choose it and I think that’s the biggest thing that I’ve learned in life, is that you really can choose your next … the next step that you take. It’s up to you. It really is up to you. Nothing is impossible. Everything is possible. There is always an answer and there is always a way to do something.

I try my very hardest to use really positive words in my life, to surround myself with people who are happy to be forward, positive thinkers themselves. I have this other philosophy that, “It’s better done than perfect,” meaning just do it. Don’t sit around planning, planning, planning.

I met my bookkeepers the other day, said, “Before we go and do this other thing,” or “Before we go and do Buller next summer we really must come up with a budget before we say yes to anything.” I said, “No, no, we’re going to say yes first, then we’ll work it out.” It’s just … I’m not going to plan that freaky that budget and then go, “Oh, can I do it or not?” I want to do it. I’m going to work out how to do it now. It’s like when you’ve got an athlete in front of you and you’re coaching him. That’s the end result, you work backwards.

David: I totally, totally agree.

Jessica: It’s … In life everything is possible and I think my 1% rule that I invented for myself, which is … People use the 1% rule over time but it was something very applicable to me back in 2006, that’s I still hold now. That if I just do something today, move forward just one step, just one thing, if I think even in the days that I’m not motivated, just do something … something, it will culminate tomorrow.

There is a few philosophies that I also focus on every day and that is, “Do today what others won’t, so you can do tomorrow what others can’t.” It’s a really, really powerful message and, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the other best time is now.” You could sit there going, “I want, I should, I could, maybe …” Just do something now because tomorrow you’d be wishing you had a start at yesterday.

So for people out there who were thinking of anything … anything, whether it’s to become a better cyclist, whether it’s climbing hills, to win a race, or whether it’s just to be a better person, or whatever the goal is … People don’t sit around waiting for things to happen when they really could have just done something, it’s like if you’d saved one cents a day back when you were born, just one cents a day where would you be today?

David: Awesome. Awesome stuff. Awesome stuff, Jess.

How do people get in contact with you, for your business? Because you’re a … Obviously, Mountain Bike Skills and you’ve got The Corner Store and everything else that’s happening, so what’s the best way to get in contact with what Jess Douglas and Norm Douglas is doing?

Jessica: There’s many different ways. Probably the best way, because you’re listening to me is to contact me via my website, because then you can read all about my life philosophies and where I’m up to, and what I’m doing, and really that links into every other sphere. I think I have links to all my other businesses through there which is The Corner Store and Mountain Bike Skills, but is my website and I try and update my blogs every week or two, but through there you’ll definitely be able to see Mountain Bike Skills and The Corner Store as well.

David: Fantastic, so, easy.

Jessica: Too easy.

David: Too easy.

Jessica, it’s been inspiring and fantastic to talk to you and I really appreciate you taking the time out of your super busy schedule to have a chat with us. Thank you very much.

Jessica: Thanks a heap David. It’s been great.