Loren Rowney:

Where to Next?

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I am officially bike-less, for the first time in 15 years, since my very first race bike, a gold, alloy Giant with shifters on the down tube. A bike that was loaned to me by my local club, Gold Coast CATS, so I could try out this cycling thing. An Easter Sunday ride to Coolangatta and back from Runaway bay would have me hook, line and sinker. That was it, I wanted my own bike, and I wanted to race the local boys at Sunday racing. Just the other day I had to pack up and hand over my last official team race bike. My super slick, super fast, carbon Scott Foil, quite the contrast to that old alloy Giant . The decision to call it quits meant I no longer had a nice sponsored bike living in my living room or garage, the envy of most at the cafe. A huge chapter of my life has just come to a close, and I’m feeling rather empty and directionless. I know it will take some time to process,  and I haven’t had the greatest closure. Falling into a depressive state is a high risk based on my prior history with mental health. I recognise this, I acknowledge the facts about myself, but I am adamant this was the right decision for me, however sudden it might appear to some. And to the naysayers, no, I am not throwing an opportunity most would kill for. I took the opportunity when it was presented all those years ago, I ran with it, I learned and grew from it, but now it’s time to close this chapter. My only regret was perhaps not recognising that I had been kidding myself for some time.

Here I am, at a cross road in my life…with no direction. At 28 (yes I know technically I am still “young”) it is a fucking terrifying thought that I have no qualifications in anything, I’ve been racing my bike for years as a “job”, but in reality haven’t worked a real day since 2010. A lot of my friends appear to have their shit together (aka established in life.) By that I mean, they’re settled into their job, home, life situations, where there isn’t too much of the unknown going on. As for me? My boyfriend lives in Belgium, I no longer have a job in Europe, I have all my things in my apartment in Girona, still paying rent, and I’m here in Australia living back home with my parents. When I look at it from that perspective, it seems quite bleak, with the begging question “why the heck did you quit in the first place!?”. Then my phone vibrates and a message comes through from an old friend congratulating me on my career as a pro, and that I must look forward to this new chapter. There it is, one moment, and you get your perspective back. Nothing was ever certain when I chased the dream of becoming a pro athlete. I just knuckled down, worked hard, got a few chances and made it happen. I can look back and say I honestly had a crack, and I had a hell of a time racing around the world, representing my country, meeting awesome people, and seeing amazes places. Ok then, what is next?

Well one thing is for certain, I need to finally finish this environmental science degree that has been on hold for the better part of 5 years. It is also a time to try something new, and explore other sports I was perhaps too busy, or too afraid to have a crack at whilst pro. For me, mountain biking is that sport. It has always appealed to me, and every single time I got on a mountain bike I would end up battered, bruised, exhausted, but just loving life so much. I can not think of a better way to ride a bike, than amongst nature, either with your own thoughts, or mucking around with a few friends in the dirt. It is such an inclusive sport, and I would dare say, slightly ( ok a lot) less elitist as road cycling. I was always too scared to go out on the mtb too much when racing as a pro, as I am quite an amateur, and due to my competitiveness, risk of injury was always super high. So for now, I’m going to enjoy having my arse handed to me my mates that ride mtb, and start giving back to the community that has supported me so much as my endeavours as a pro. On that note, anyone is Newcastle who wants to come riding with me. I’m in town till Saturday Feb 4th!

Loren

6 thoughts on “Loren Rowney:

  1. Good luck Loren! You have the rest of your life to figure out what you want to be now that you’re all grown up! Embrace it!

  2. Hey Loren,
    Leaving sport is difficult. I competed in two sports at the world championship level in different decades. It is easy to get lost in retirement and think your life has less purpose. I have battled a few demons, but emerged. I may have a different perspective foie you. The more info the better I reckon!
    Currently I am completing a nursing program in canada. Happy to reach out.
    All the best
    SE

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words Sandy. Would love to get in touch some time and here your thoughts.

  3. Loren, from one cyclist (non-racer) to another, I’ve managed depression and anxiety for many years. “Change” is hard for me to deal with and I struggle to avoid comparing myself to peers or social expectations. For me, success is measured by remaining true to myself, my beliefs and my personal growth. You’re on the right track by trying to fill the void with getting your degree and using the mtn bike as exercise to “get outside your mind.” Medication, meditation, contact with nature, giving to others and accepting myself are all key things for me as well. I hope you find this supportive or at least realize the great personal resources you have: determination, a sense of humor, self-awareness, maturity, family and friends, past experience, etc. Good health and good luck.

    1. Hey Eric! Thank you for the comment. I’m currently keeping myself busy, jetting over Australia, catching up with friends that I haven’t seen in a long time. Then straight into uni for a bit…and after that a little unsure, but I’ve realised that it’s ok 🙂

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