Jolanda Neff blog: Becoming one with your bike
I'm happy you found your way to my first-ever blog for Cyclingnews. I'll try to give you an insight into my life as a cyclist throughout the year, and share my thoughts on different subjects like power training, altitude training, team tactics, racing schedules, team politics, youth development, race structures, cycling culture and more. If you have a special wish, please let me know so that I can cover the topics you're most interested in reading.
My name might not be familiar to you, which is perfectly fine, because even I don't consider myself as a road cyclist. I love road racing, and I especially love my new aero road bike, the Madone, but if you've ever heard my name before, it was probably connected to mountain biking or cyclo-cross. Even in cyclo-cross, I'm still relatively new, only having just finished my second season of racing a reduced programme through the winter months. Again, I do enjoy the intensity, action and technical finesse that cyclo-cross demands, and I was super excited to race the new SRAM AXS e-tap system for the first time, but my heart belongs to mountain biking. It’s just how I grew up.
Switzerland did have world-class athletes on the road: Ferdi Kübler, Hugo Koblet and Fabian Cancellara, for example, and the likes of Albert Zweifel and Peter Frischknecht in cyclo-cross, but the one cycling discipline where Swiss athletes excel on a broad basis is mountain biking.
I raced my first mountain bike race at the age of six. In Switzerland, we have mountains pretty much all over the country. We have a vast trail network and even more hiking paths to ride on. We have a tremendous national mountain bike racing series where kids until age 10 compete on skills parkours instead of a lap race. We have a strong club culture where kids ride in groups regularly, learn from each other in nature, and train playfully and socially.
Today, Switzerland is leading the nations rankings in both the men's and women's category, and, for the past eight years, seven Swiss girls have won medals – eight gold medals, two silvers and one bronze – at the Youth World Championships. So, the future looks bright and, of course, you've all heard of the current superstar Nino Schurter, who won the Olympic gold medal in mountain biking.
You can read more at Cyclingnews.com