Last year, I made the mistake of being over-confident. This year I am going to let my legs do the talking.
I feel like we've turned a corner at last. It's 2013, and I can finally put 2012 behind me. The London Paralympics seem like they were years ago in my memory, yet it's only been a few months.
But perhaps now that the calendar has changed I can start to focus on the season ahead.
As I have mentioned before, this year brings a whole new approach from me. New work ethic, new coach, new equipment, new drive and so on. The hard work is already paying off – I have seen my power numbers steadily rising and my weight is slowly dropping. There are still many months to go before meaningful competition begins, but for the first time in a long time, I am feeling hopeful.
I am starting to believe that I can win again. Interesting enough, it is this type of belief that got me into trouble last year. It's all about that fine line between confidence and arrogance.
Without a doubt I was arrogant last year. As the reigning world champion I went to events expecting to win, regardless of my form. Don't get me wrong – I worked hard all year but I just assumed that I was going to be better than everyone else. I assumed that no one else would work harder than me or make bigger gains that I did. And I was wrong.
Some might say that confidence is the ability to trust your own decisions and instincts or in the case of a cyclist – their own capabilities. A self-confident cyclist knows they have the potential to take on the world and come out on top. And they do so with their actions and not by their words.
An arrogant cyclist constantly talks themselves up, but fails to back up their promises. And if you find yourself constantly trying to impress others with how good you are, then you probably have crossed the line from confidence to arrogance.
Doing what I do requires me to be a bit of both. It's the nature of the game. I can't write blogs and talk about my training and racing solely in terms of what I 'hope' to do this year – I need to have the confidence to come out and lay it on the line and say I'm going to win. Or at least make some sort of implication to that effect! There is an innate difficulty with writing (or speaking) about how well you want to perform in races without coming across as even marginally arrogant.
But saying it and believing it is where I think it matters. Part of my public persona is to BE that brash athlete and make big promises. It's what the public and the sponsors want to hear. But you still have to back it up. And you also have to be very careful about buying into your own PR (that's the kind way of saying it) if you aren't even remotely able to deliver on your promises.
Last year, I made the mistake of being over-confident. This year I am going to let my legs do the talking (with the exception of these blogs of course). It would be easy for me to state right now I'll win Worlds – but I know there are some VERY good riders out there that have similar intentions.
And until I cross the finish line with the fastest time and someone is putting another rainbow jersey over my head, I won't be arrogant enough to say I'm going to win. I'll just keep working away at being better.