Journey to world champion: Mikayla Harvey

Mikayla Harvey claimed the win in the 20-24 age category at the 2018 ITU Aquabike World Championships with a phenomenal effort on the bike on the back of the opening swim.  Now, here in her own words, Mikayla takes us through what goes into this new event, and gives us her insight into the journey that took her to a world title.

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Mikayla Harvey is the latest Kiwi to join the highest ranks of professional cycling, signing with Bigla in 2019, photo provided

Mikayla Harvey claimed the win in the 20-24 age category at the 2018 ITU Aquabike World Championships with a phenomenal effort on the bike on the back of the opening swim.  Now, here in her own words, Mikayla takes us through what goes into this new event, and gives us her insight into the journey that took her to a world title.

 

Aquabike: it started as a bit of fun . . .

 

Aquabike is purely a swim, bike event made of a 3km swim and 120km bike. I come from a triathlon back round so swimming and running aren’t too foreign for me. The Aquabike started as a bit of a fun event that I was doing in February early this year at Challenge Wanaka. 

Challenge Wanaka, is a huge event in my town and everyone gets involved – that’s what inspired me to do the Aquabike. Doing a full triathlon would require a lot more structured swim, bike and running training. Which would obviously take away from my commitments as a cyclist. Therefore, just doing the swim then bike was perfect as I could get away with not doing much swim training; you can tell by my slow swim times but I managed to complete the 3km!

 

Baby jellyfish and a pancake course

 

The course in Denmark was very different compared to what I did in Wanaka. We swam in the Odense Harbour, which was very murky and filled with heaps of baby jellyfish. This didn’t really bother me, but it just gave the water a funny texture! 

The bike was a cool course that was made up of a 60km circuit. It started with a technical inner-city circuit then a ten-kilometre straight piece of road out into the country. Unfortunately, this section was a crosswind, so I couldn’t hit the super-fast speeds that I was hoping for.  Then it was a zigzagging loop around the country, through little villages. I liked this part as the shorter sections made the kilometres easier to tick off.  Each turn became my next point of focus.  The actual course was pancake flat… so, I must admit I would have enjoyed a few more climbs! 

 

Against the clock for the long haul

 

Going into the race, I knew I was going to struggle in the swim. I had only done a small amount of swimming beforehand and hadn’t swam 3km since Wanaka.  My main goal was to hold a solid pace the entire swim and not lose a tonne of time on the top girls. 

The bike was what I was most excited for. I wanted to use the race as an opportunity to really push my physical and mental limits.   I haven’t done many endurance events where it’s just yourself against the clock for such a long amount of time. So, I was curious to see what I was capable of and how important mind over matter truly is! 

 

Swim survival to cycle speed

 

Nothing too interesting happened in the swim. I tried to keep a decent pace the whole way and not blow up at the beginning by keeping up with the faster swimmers. The swim took me a while, my upper body strength needed a lot more working on. Once out of the water, I had to find my transition bag then head to the changing tent to put on all my gear. I wasn’t going for the ultra-fast transition gains. So, I put on socks, road shoes (I don’t have speedy triathlon shoes!), popped my helmet on, got my bike and I was out.

Luckily, the swim didn’t take too much out of me, I just had to focus on re-hydrating and fuelling for the rest of the race. I set out at a solid pace, a higher power then I was wanting to average for the whole bike.  This pace was uncomfortable, but I decided to try and hold it for as long as possible.  As the distances ticked by, I was still holding the same power and managed to hold it the entire race. 

 

No clue I’d won a world title!

 

Out on the course, it truly became a mental game. I learnt a lot about myself out there. A strong mentality is so important, there were many moments where I could have eased off. However, my desire to dig as deep as possible would always kick back in (a lot of self-talk was going on!)  I wanted to leave everything on the course and have no regrets.  Especially because I had no idea where I was coming, as there were other races on at the same time.  When I crossed the finish line I was extremely happy.  I had no idea where I had placed.  However, I raced my best and pushed myself deeper then I ever have before.  So, I literally couldn’t have asked for more. Winning the age group World Title, just made that moment even more special!

I am heading back to Marin County in San Francisco. I will be able to hit out a good block of training with a few local races to get some extra speed in my legs. I have a big racing block in Europe during September.  So, my training will be focused towards getting myself into my best possible form for these races!

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