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Red Walters journal: confidence is performance-enhancing

Rider journals 2021: Red Walters #03/August

Red Walters is one of nine riders keeping a journal for The British Continental in 2021. Red has recently joined Hagens Bermans Axeon as a stagiaire for the rest of 2021 and is supported by the Rayner Foundation. In his third journal installment, 22-year-old Red recaps an eventful – and extremely positive – two months…

It’s been a hot minute since I last wrote a blog here, and quite a lot has happened. So here’s my attempt at summarising two whole months in a short journal post…

Photo: Chris Wallis

Mission France

My plans for traveling to France had been mercilessly built up and broken down several times over in the first half of this year. I’ll be honest, I’d lost a lot of hope, but not all of it. The rules seemed to be changing on a weekly basis, but when an opportunity presented itself I booked the next ferry over and packed my bags.

That folder could’ve been filled with the lyrics of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” and the border officer would’ve been none the wiser!

Hearing how some people had been turned away despite carrying all the necessary documents, I refused to let that be a possibility. My overkill folder with its dozen pages served as my skeleton key passing through each of the border checks. The mere thought of painstakingly going through each page being enough of a deterrent to even check half of them. That folder could’ve been filled with the lyrics of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” and the border officer would’ve been none the wiser!

The crossing itself was pretty bad, I won’t lie. All because I forgot that I’d actually booked a seat, so ended up getting a whopping two hours of sleep on a Sofa that can’t have been more than four feet long. That experience easily gets a spot in my top three worst nights of sleep. A “fun” three-hour drive followed the next morning, and while driving on the wrong side of the road wasn’t an issue, the lack of a rearview mirror was interesting. I’ll tell you right now, every cubic centimeter of that car was full. Bikes wheels, oats, and almond milk (of which I had 32 kgs) meant I was essentially driving a van. I could’ve joined the lowrider car modding community, such was the ride height with all the weight.

A week of quarantine later, the ‘riding in France’ morale was well and truly present. It took me a while to chill out with the ‘zone 2’ rides that were most definitely above zone 2, but the change of scenery was a welcome one. I’d gotten used to the local lanes, even experienced a real genuine french croissant, but it wasn’t long before the part I’d been waiting for, and craving for the longest time… racing!

It’s go time! Its go time!

The first race was – like many races over there are – a town centre crit, this one especially technical. I’d even gone out for a six-hour ride the weekend prior to recce the 1.1 km circuit, such was the keenness I had. Race day was pure focus. Focused on eating the right things at the right times, the pre-race ride to loosen the legs… I didn’t want any excuses not to perform at my best for the first race.

The emotions after a couple of wins make you feel invincible

Long story short, I managed to play my cards right, and with the help of my teammate Harry’s leadout, secured the win. I made a video with power overlays if anyone wants to see how it panned out.

A few days later was a road race, which I also managed to win. Probably my favourite race I’ve ever ridden (also on YouTube), and in a way, it felt like I’d never won before. I was so excited! The emotions after a couple of wins make you feel invincible.

Confidence is performance-enhancing

I’m not claiming to have figured out the secret to being the winning machine or anything like that. But what I can say for certain, is that confidence is a huge facilitator in success. I say this within the context of cycling, but I believe it’s true almost across the board. Having the mindset and belief that you can and will win changes so much about how you ride the race in my opinion. A bike race is made up of so many small (and some seemingly inconsequential) decisions, but approaching all of them with the outlook of winning can change a lot I think.

It can be a fine line between confidence and arrogance, where it’s important to find a good balance. But believing you can win whilst respecting and understanding the strength of your opposition is a good middle ground. 

The best part about self-belief and confidence is that any success you get as a result of it confirms that faith, which perpetuates the cycle. The next two races I had, I played leadout man, and got wins for two of my teammates, taking third in both. I think confidence can also be contagious, and using that is what makes teams work best together.

Racing in the Caribbean

For those that don’t know, I am half British, half Grenadian (Grenada is an island in the south of the Caribbean). I’ve been thinking for a very long time about competing as a Grenadian athlete for a few reasons. And had been in touch with the Grenadian Cycling Federation for a while before it was announced that the Caribbean and Pan American Road Championships would be going ahead in the Dominican Republic this year. So, long story short, I’ll now be heading over on the 9th of August to try and get myself some under-23 continental stripes, which, by the way, look awesome.

COVID is making travel more challenging from a logistical perspective, but I’m determined to make it happen before the next part of my season…

The next part 🙂

So this post comes a few days after my announcement, but I’ll be riding with team Hagens Berman Axeon as a stagiaire for the rest of this season! I’m so excited to have the opportunity to race with such a team, and my race calendar is incredible. A huge thank you to everyone who’s made it possible. This could have a whole blog of its own, but all the details are in the press release on the team website.

Right now I’m frantically changing my flights for after the Pan American Road Championships as I was hoping the Dominican Republic would come off the red list for entry back into the UK. It hasn’t … so I’ll be staying in Spain for a while before flying out to Belgium to race with the team. I’ll write another update after the championships, hopefully with a fancy stripy jumper (as my girlfriend calls it) on my back.

I’m never sure what people want to know from these, so if anyone has any questions, I’m always open to chat.

Featured photo: phippsimages.com

Find out more

Red Walters journal #2: the challenge of committing to your dreams

Red Walters journal #1: my new team for 2021

Red Walters interview: on racing and racism

Red on Twitter

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Red on YouTube

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