Hannah Report: The Thin Line

Jun 19, 2015
by Tracey Hannah  
Hanna report logo

Look around and you will see self-reproach in the face of those who didn’t quite make it as they exit the finish arena, contemplating the run that wasn’t quite enough. Trying to remember every moment and explain every second lost. The dream to have another chance, to pedal once more, brake less and be more fearless.

What about the ones covered in dirt? From the first pedal they gave everything and more, they were hungry, but one slight movement in the wrong direction, one moment gone wrong, one missed line and they lay on the ground in a crash that will take away their chances of what most will only every dream of, the dream to stand atop the podium, to be the best, to be number #1.

Beaming with confidence after round one Tracey Hannah can t wait to get on her bike and get down to business this weekend.

If you are a downhill mountain bike racer the line between being number one and watching the awards ceremony from the crowd is razor thin. What's five minutes of your life? We know that a lot can happen in 5 minutes. World Cup series leader, World Champion, hope, hopelessness, something amazing or something that you will regret for the rest of the season and maybe the rest of your whole career. You world is spinning out of control and the only thing that contains it is when the clock ticks green and you have five seconds to exit the start gate and make that five minutes the best of your life.

You are not alone when you aren’t winning, you're not the only one who knows what it means to have missed it. There are seven World Cup rounds and one World Championship. Only eight times will someone stand on top of the elusive podium knowing that they did what it took. They will stand alone; no one else knows how it feels, there aren’t hundreds of people relating to them in that moment. They are admired and well regarded, receiving the utmost respect for being the one who did the amazing and lay it on the line. A winner, a true champion.

Tracey Hannah had a few mistakes and crashed throughout the day hitting the ground more than a few times. But she was able to end training on a solid run and ended up 3rd on her timed run.

In the moment winning is perfect, a poetic ride, but be careful because there is a world of competitors out there striving to be the best. It's the best and worst place to be, it isn’t handed to you, it doesn’t come easy and you can never ever stop working for it. It will always be hard!

The hardest thing about the first three World Cups has been finding the fine line between fast enough and too fast - where is 100%? Why is it so hard to ride fast enough and safe enough. That's the funny thing about racing, you want to give all but hold back just enough. The clock shows you the dark red light as it slowly counts down to green, in that moment you have one last chance at determining which side of the fence this run will belong to.

Thanks to my sponsors: Pinkbike, Polygon Bikes, Kenda Tires, BOS Suspension, E*thirteen, VP components, Spank, BOX, KMC, Alpinestars, IXS, Zefal, Ride 100%, ODI, Skyline Queenstown, Camelbak, JetBlack, Reverse, Unior, ClearProtect, Shimano, Moonlight, TiSprings, FiveTen


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  • 114 0
 Great writing, nice to hear something from a rider that is truly thought provoking and doesn't just consist of the word 'stoked' over and over again!
  • 142 4
 This article got me pretty stoked. You know, at the end of the day we just went out there and read the article. Everyone did their part. It was a fun but challenging article to read. I couldn't have done it without my sponsors Folgers Coffee, Eggland's Best and kratom.
  • 8 0
 You know...
  • 30 0
 Feeding off each other.
  • 1 0
 Preety much stoked too.
  • 4 0
 @scott-townes for comment of the day
  • 1 0
 Thank you for that, Scott-Townes
  • 2 2
  • 2 0
 Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Stoked!!!!
  • 1 0
  • 1 0
  • 30 2
 As soon as I see an article from Tracey I have to click straight on to it. She is an incredible writer who grips you as you read! And as an amazing rider she really is an inspiration!!
  • 5 0
 yeah, I have to say, very impressive. The girl shreds, and can write very well! Hats off to you Tracey.
  • 23 2
 Tracey, you are the freshest writer on Pinkbike. Your articles have some fantastic and unique quality, a great food for thought. I love the honest style and I think you are a prime example of an athlete that has more to offer than hashtags (in relation to Mike Levys article who is my favorite MTB felietonist). Your previous article made some big impact on me, it has given me a lot to think about when it comes to how girls are raised, it is particularly important to me as a father of a 3,5 year old "princess".

  • 5 28
flag petehaddock (Jun 19, 2015 at 7:23) (Below Threshold)
 Thanks to my sponsors: Polygon Bikes, Kenda Tires, BOS Suspension, E*thirteen, VP components, Spank, BOX, KMC, Alpinestars, IXS, Zefal, Ride 100%, ODI, Skyline Queenstown, Camelbak, JetBlack, Reverse, Unior, ClearProtect, Shimano, Moonlight, TiSprings, FiveTen
  • 17 1
 Not only deep, but also something that everyone who've ever raced can relate to. Hope you got that elusive "100%" on the next round, Trace!

  • 12 1
 A true knife edge opinion. Christ I feel like that when I have a shitty ride or a hot one on my local trails. What pressure the men & women of the DH circuit experience before & during races is unparalleled. I think it's high time that this is recognized as an Olympic sport, Aaron Gwinn showed that technology (chains) only go so far & pure flow & line choice is what separates the podium, top ten, top 50 and the rest of the world. A great article.
  • 31 0
 almost completely agree. Just don't make it an Olympic sport. The Olympics seem to suck the fun out of everything.... except syncronised swimming, which seems more like an artistic attempt at not drowning than an actual sport.
  • 1 0
 @adwamski that's what Mtb is all about pure flow n fine lines. You sir hit it %110.
  • 5 0
 I don't LOL very often in front of computer screen, but that comment on synchronized swimming...thanks.
  • 1 0
 @properp you've past the thin line
  • 22 8
 Win or lose, on the booze
  • 13 1
 Incredible rider but a truly phenomenal writer, amazing work.
  • 8 0
 Thanks for being a great rider and inspiration to girls, guys everywhere. You are first class.
  • 3 0
 Five minutes isn't very long. Ten seconds is even less. I have always admired racers at the top of whatever sport, especially the 100m sprint. To stake your livelihood on a dream, knowing that a tenth of a second is the difference between being a paid up boss and a nobody. That takes real courage and determination. Nothing but respect for these people. More so for those with so much potential who just miss out and chuck it all in actually. Cam Cole for example.
  • 2 1
 So true. This is exactly the reason that I don't race (national level that is, no WC..), I can't handle the stress that comes with it knowing that I have to hit every root and rock perfectly or it'll send me a couple of places down the list..
  • 1 0
 Fear of failure?
  • 4 0
 Be it a professional racer or just a girl looking at her first 2 foot drop, the mental aspect of mountain biking plays an important part.
  • 2 0
 I think this is exactly why Tracy's writing resonates so well with us. We're all at different levels in our skill development but the struggles, the mental blocks, and the triumphs are just as real
  • 4 2
 I've never read one of Tracey's articles. What a great piece! After reading/following the Amanda Batty ordeal and how she characterized this website and its comment-ers, I'm also pleasantly surprised to see such a positive comment thread. Maybe it wasn't PB and its users that were the problem in that situation....
  • 8 4
 Loved the article and Tracey's insight and honesty. I think these things really added to her words ability to transport me to feeling like I was standing there in the pits at the conclusion of a race. In regards to the Emily Batty thing (Her side here:http://blog.amandabatty.com/2015/05/why-im-leaving-pinkbike.html), I think it would be hard to deny that pinkbike commenters have not perpetuated some ideas that promote the objectification of female riders and at times have done so in a way that may have even influenced the safety felt by some females in the sport. I remember a certain piece on Holly Feniak (www.pinkbike.com/news/Women-Who-Ride-Holly-Feniak.html) that really exploded on this topic (and rightfully so IMO). I don't think it should be any women's responsibility to prove themselves in anyway but would suggest that pieces like this go a long way in helping people find the empathy (or imagination of others experience) important in not treating them like objects or things whose value is based on appearance or other superfical or sensroy features alone.
  • 2 0
 *Amanda Batty... sorry. Wires crossed for a second. Not xc powerhouse, but also often objectified, Emily.
  • 5 0
 Always enjoy reading these. Very insightful.
  • 5 1
 This will be my daily affirmation. Thoughtful, reflective, poetic... Thank you for penning this, Ms. Hannah.
  • 6 0
 She will be on top soon.
  • 1 0
 Great article, and for those who have competed in races where there is only one competitor at a time, you know the feeling of trying to balance conservative with risk taking. Greg Minnaar is absolutely the best at this, and it appears Aaron Gwin has figured out that balance as well. Go Tracey!
  • 3 0
 Great writing. Very interesting to catch a glimpse into a racers mentality at the highest level. Thanks Tracey.
  • 2 0
 "... it isn’t handed to you, it doesn’t come easy and you can never ever stop working for it. It will always be hard!" ~ take that one to heart!
  • 4 1
 "Where is 100%"? That's the crux of it. Great bit of writing as always
  • 2 0
 How fast is too fast. Only the best riders in the world know this feeling.
Riding at 100% is inconceivable to me.
  • 3 0
 I'm pulling for Trace and Mick every time they come out of the gate.
  • 1 0
 I have a vision of the first Olympic DH: Peaty and Ratboy mixin' it up with all the road geeks. That would put some fun back in the Games!
  • 2 0
 Really cant wait to see this girl at the top of the podium more often, she just needs to let off the brakes a bit more! :-P
  • 2 0
 Very good piece, I had no clue she was such an incredible writer as well!
  • 2 0
 That expression on Tracey's face says it all :/
  • 2 0
 written from the heart... moving.
  • 2 0
 nice report..
  • 1 0
 Great Stuff from a true champ
  • 2 0
 Nice one, Tracey.
  • 1 0
 Brilliant read, sums up the feelings you encounter in racing perfectly.
  • 2 0
 So deep. Nice writeup.
  • 1 0
 My comment got deleted. It wasn't even offensive.
  • 4 3
 Be hot.
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