FORREST mountain bike rider Jessica Douglas has come out of retirement to defend her world championship title in Italy.
The 39-year-old called an end to her decorated 24-hour solo career eight months after winning the 2010 World Solo 24-hour MTB Championships.
She continued to compete in shorter-distance endurance rides like last weekend’s Forrest Six-Hour but riding for a full day had lost its appeal – until now.
“What happened was I got an offer to do the world championships with my airfares paid for but I didn’t say yes initially,” Douglas said.
“I sat on it for about four or five months trying to work out in my head whether I did want to retire, there was a bit of a nagging sensation in the pit of my stomach,” she said.
“It wasn’t until I had someone mention to me ‘you’ve been such an inspiration, I’m going to this or that’ that I realised I wanted to go back and do it.
“While riding, the pain can be horrible but when you come out the other end, when you’ve really put in for something, you think ‘wow, anything is possible’. It’s such an amazing feeling.”
Douglas and her husband Norm will depart tomorrow for Finale Ligure, a township on the Gulf of Genoa in the Province of Savona in Liguria, Italy, to contest the World Endurance Mountain Bike Organisation 24-Hour on May 19.
The event will be Douglas first 24-hour since her win in 2010, after the event failed to happen last year.
“It was quite exciting when I realised I wanted to do it, I’d already been racing a multitude of races, once I made the decision it gave purpose to my training,” Douglas said.
“I’d always been training, saving money… just in case,” she said.
The Italian adventure will be Douglas’ first international trip to somewhere other than Canada and she and Norm have reserved 10 extra days for travel post-race.
“We’re staying less than 100k from the border of France so I think we’ll catch the train there, it’s a beautiful area,” she said.