So, what happened after Rio and until now?
After Rio I went back home to daily life in Copenhagen for the first time since February. Mentally it was a huge transition to come back to Copenhagen, since I would go straight back studying. I felt thrown out on very deep water! I hadn’t been in the study rhythm for many years, so EVERYTHING felt like new to me. Every morning I was hoping that today would be the day I would master just some of the challenges thrown at me. I was going directly into the courses on 9th semester (In total dentistry has 10 semesters) and I would mainly follow practical courses, meaning “hands on” courses. I was assigned several patients, whose dental faith are all in my hands alone throughout 9th and 10th semester. The point is, that at this level we (students) have learned (and are expected to remember…) all the basic skills in different areas of dentistry. So now we get patients with immense and diverse treatment needs. Our job is to analyse, diagnose and make a prioritised treatment plan. Day by day slowly all the pieces began and continues to fall into places for me. Even though I couldn’t (and still can’t) remember all the theoretical stuff when questioned by the teachers, at least I find some confidence in realising that my hands haven’t forgotten the feeling of drilling a cavity in a tooth, making restaurations and root canal treatments, giving injections and extracting teeth.
Now, you may ask yourself “What on Earth is the current Mountain Bike World Champion doing in dentistry school?” Well, to make a long story short, I actually entered my studies even before I started mountain biking. So, during my first years at dentistry school when I found out: A. what a mountain bike is. B. That it is actually quite fun to ride a bike. C. “Oh, I can actually ride this thing quite fast. Hmm.. let’s see where this might take me.” – that’s when I had to make a plan on how to still finish my dentistry studies. At the beginning I would take half the classes, meaning that one normal school year, would take me two years to finish. Then, I would gradually take more and more time off from school and the last couple of years, I was on leave in order to really just enjoy and get the most out of life as a pro athlete. Now, after the Olympic games was a good time to get the last bit of studies done, in order to never have to think about school ever again. Often, in the world of sport post-Olympic year is any way a bit more quiet in comparison to the very focussed two year qualification period leading up to the Games.
Taking an education you can see as an insurance for my future. I have a plan B. I have an idea on how to make a living, when I no longer will ride my bike and that’s important for me. It gives me safety. For most of my life, my identity was something else than being a bike rider, and that part of me I aim at reviving at some point. In my eyes it’s a huge privilege to have an education as kind of safety for the future. Another huge privilege is, that I can ride my bike for as long as I want for the love of it, and not because I have to. I’ll always have this plan B waiting ahead of me. Another option could be to go gambling my money in casino, but since I have no expertise in that area, I might play my cards a bit safer.
So, that’s why the Spring of 2017 will be a bit easier for me when it comes to bike racing. I will target the latter half of the 2017 bike season, as soon as I’ve closed the door to the school for the last time.
In 2017 I will leave out the Cape Epic, which is an 8 days stage race race, that I have a great relation to. Not only the sweet memories of winning it three years in a row, but also for the following effect on my shape, since it contributes to a good shape for my races in the early part of the season. A fact, that on the other side leaves me a bit more drained towards the end of the year. By leaving out Cape Epic in 2017, I aim at having a bit more left in the tank for the races from mid-season an onwards. How all this will works out will show, but for sure it’s a strategy that needs to be tested.
What am I doing at the moment?
At the moment I’m on Mallorca putting in some basemiles as foundation for the season. Since I already did the January exams that normally follows 9th semester, this leaves a good amount of time with no obligations at school and I aim at putting this into full use. And training this time of year is just so much easier when escaping the danish winter conditions. Here on Mallorca Thomas is able to join me, but at the end of January I will spend a good two weeks in South Africa, where he will not be able to join me. Luckily South Africa always welcomes me warmly and there will be good company waiting for me.
From the beginning of February I will be back at school until June. There, hopefully, I can call myself a dentist and put the studies behind me for good. Still in the Spring, you’ll see me racing my bike. Main spring goals will be the two first world cup race at the end of May, as well as other races to prepare for the speed of World Cup racing.
Thanks Annika for the update. I was surprised to learn that you would not be racing the Cape Epic this year, but I completely agree and understand about finishing Dentistry school and putting your plan B solidly in place. I also appreciate your willingness to share these aspects of your life with your many fans — it is exciting to watch you race, and its interesting to learn how you balance this part of your life with the parts away from professional racing. I wish you success in your final semester of school, and look forward to seeing you shred the competition later this year! 🙂
Great that You can balance sport life with studies, dentist or any medical studies are really hard. talented you are. Have a nice season and see you in WCH Czech Nove Mesto or maybe in Jelenia Góra Trophy Maja Włoszczowska Race 3rd June in Poland?