CRASHING during a race can be a road cyclist's worst nightmare.
But for Shannon Malseed she is turning hers into a energy she will use to drive her deep into a successful professional cycling career.
Malseed's horror moment came on January 4 when she was involved in a crash with Brit Molly Patch and Emma Chilton on the final lap of stage two of the women's Bay Crits in Geelong.
After falling heavily onto the bitumen, unable to continue she was transported to a nearby hospital.
The diagnosis; a broken scapula, some spinal damage in the form of small fractures in her spinous process between her T-3 to T-5 vertebrate and also a concussion.
The crash ultimately ended her summer campaign, which was to include the 2020 Cycling Australia Road National Championships in Ballarat, and meant a week in a dark room and five healing.
The Portland export admits the road to recovery was not smooth but it allowed her to reassess why she faces the nightmare head on each time she gets on her bike.
"I definitely have had some days where, and especially at the start when it happened and all through the summer racing, I did have mental demons," the 25-year-old said.
"I remember a few days where I was angry with cycling and angry that I had poured so much into it and seemingly not getting anything out of it.
"Those emotions came on tired days, when I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and often when that happens you get a bit irrational.
"I definitely had some days where I was emotional and irrational and upon reflection I realised cycling gives me everything.
"It allows me to travel, gives me passion, drive and motivation to be better every day and it allows me to meet so many cool people.
"It's also my health and fitness outlet and it's a great feeling as well to be able to call it my job and race around the world, it's really inspiring."
But this revelation is nothing new for the Team TIBCO Silicon Valley Bank rider.
"It's something I actively work on to be able to recognise those demons and turn them around," she said.
"That's not something that happens overnight I've worked on that for some time and this crash has made me stronger than ever mentally.
"I've spent so much time working on the mental side of things. We do so much physically and I feel this adverse situation has been a huge benefit mentally for me heading into the rest of the season."
Malseed feels the experience will help significantly when dealing with the tough moments that can be the difference between a good and bad result in grueling races or tours.
"Through experience I figured out what really is the driving force for what I do," she said.
"So when you are in those crunch moments of pushing yourself to your limits you know what your driving force is, you can draw on it and know why all the pain and suffering is worth it.
"It's part of what you have to do, you're pushing yourself past that pain barrier. From this experience and the adversity I faced, I now know my why, my passion and what really gets me out of bed every morning which helps me in racing and training.
"I feel when you have those negative thoughts you should draw on the reasons why as it has definitely helped me keep pushing forward."
The Ballarat resident, who is currently staying at her parents in Narrawong, is back on the bike and currently training in her home region as she prepares to springboard into a big season on UCI Women's World Tour.
April's Ardennes classics in Belgium and the Netherlands - the Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne and the world's oldest one-day classic Liège-Bastogne-Liège - is the first professional races Malseed is targeting.
And the lure of returning to the world tour and a chance to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and September's World Championships in Switzerland are her biggest motivations.
"It's not missing out on racing that is driving me but more so the excitement around getting back to racing," she said.
"Having those events that I'm doing in April in the Ardennes are also selection races for the Olympics and world champs.
"That is really where my drive is and it motivates me to get back on the road racing.
"I love competing and being in a team environment. It's all those things that get me out of bed each day to work hard."
Malseed has been enjoying the roads and sights around south-west Victoria as she continues her recovery.
"It's pretty flat around here and windy with good roads to make you strong as you are putting power on the pedals," she said.
"But it's also good to go up to the Grampians to get a bit of elevation in the legs so I did some training up there and training near the Otways for elevation as well.
"I have been travelling around to mix up the training rides. It's always great to be back on the home roads where it all began with training feeling a bit nostalgic.
"I always love coming back here and it's a beautiful part of the world to train."
Despite a little sightseeing, and a few club races with Warrnambool and Port Fairy squeezed in, the training has been targeted on one thing - getting back to world tour standards.
"(It is important) to get the intensity into the legs before going on to bigger races in women's world tour but also getting your head into racing is important," she said.
"It's good getting that competition feeling in your mind and remembering what it feels like as I haven't really raced since September.
"That is a long time with the injury happening right at the start of January and I missed all the racing through January and February.
"It's really good to have access to these races in the south-west region and I can build up my racing legs again and then head overseas."
The talented rider is working closely with coach Ben Day, the high performance coach for Australian UCI World Tour team Mitchelton-SCOTT, to get the best out of herself.
"I am grateful to have him as a coach he is well reputed in the area and he is a good friend of mine," she said.
"We have been working together for over a year and I am keen to see where we can go with it. He has really got the tools to be able to take me to the pinnacle of the sport and the rest of it is up to me."
Representing her country on two of the biggest stages in road cycling is also an appetizing prospect for Malseed.
"I'm excited about the possibility of going to the Olympics as we have some great, talented and strong women in the Australian pool of cycling," she said.
"It's pretty cool to be able to have a goal to come up against those women and show myself and my strengths to team selectors.
"My main goal is to be able to show those strengths and be selected for the games in Tokyo and following that I hope to be representing Australia at the world champs."
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