2016’s training and racing highs and lows
It’s now been a little over a year since I began racing semi seriously, or at least if not racing in an entirely serious way (I’m not in the Tour de France!), actually paying attention to how I train for racing and giving it some thought. In that rather short amount of time I’ve learned a great deal about training; I really like to know the mechanics of things and be armed with the facts, so I’ve read up a lot about what to do and why.
I’ve learnt what works for me so I’m now able to figure out my own training plan and I’ve been doing this fairly successfully, to the extent that people are now asking me to help write theirs. As I’m already a qualified coach, that sort of thing definitely holds an appeal so it’s something I’d like to investigate in the future!
Photo: Dave Noakes
My training was derailed pretty early on in the year when I crashed racing my mountain bike. Being in plaster unfortunately coincided with me needing treatment for something else that left me feeling very tired (and fat and grumpy!). I then reignited an old back injury and could hardly walk let alone cycle, so had to take yet more time off the bike and skip many elements of my gym routine, particularly squats and the like. I started seeing a sports therapist on a weekly basis and gave my body time to heal whilst still remaining as mobile as I could without putting my back, hips and glutes under too much strain. It was around that time that I started swimming again as it fit the bill perfectly. I’m getting more and more into it so something good came from the mess at least!
Photo: Ginger Beard Photo
The broken bones and illness messed up a lot of my competitive plans for the year and meant I couldn’t race the entire Red Hook Crit series as I was off the bike for the opening round in Brooklyn.
Equally disappointing was missing all the mountain bike races I had planned and generally just not getting to shred as much as I wanted to. After doing my first downhill race, I had plans to race a lot of Enduro events on my mountain bike, but these mainly had to be ditched, firstly because I was in plaster and then a splint and latterly as I needed to focus on training for crit racing and I just didn’t have time to do everything properly. When it comes to mountain biking, competitions aren’t a big part of what I do anyway, but it was certainly disappointing not to be able to race more than a couple, or to ride at many of the places I intended to visit this summer.
I was also hoping to try my first road race this year but had to forget that as my endurance went down the pan with all the time off the bike. Maybe next year!
Photo: Carlos Vernandez Laser
Despite all the set backs, I managed to get back on the bike in time for some races and to achieve some results that I’m really proud of including 2nd place at the Fixed 42 ‘World Champs’ in Berlin and most recently, a top ten finish at Red Hook Crit Barcelona. I wasn’t expecting too much after such a bad start to the year but it seems that the base miles I put in over the winter and the gym work I was able to continue when in plaster were not entirely a waste.
The main thing that’s helped is that this year I’ve more experience and a better understanding of what to do and what not to do in races. In the main, I’ve figured out how things work simply by racing as much as I can, which hasn’t been as much as I’d like but every single race helps. I make plenty of mistakes but I take something away every time I compete, without fail.
I’m finally starting to feel like I’m as much a part of the race as everyone else whereas previously I felt like I was kind of tagging along or even a bit of an imposter. It’s a lot of fun helping shape the dynamics of a race and infinitely better than feeling like you should get out of people’s way – something I actually used to do!!
Photo: Josh Greet
Now the crit and road racing season is drawing to an end I’m excited about all the mountain biking I’m going to do. When it comes to racing, there’s cyclocross to explore which I’m strangely drawn to despite the fact I had an awful race last year that actually made me cry!!
I was hoping to race all of the South West Cyclocross Series but as per, life has got in the way so though I raced round 1 last weekend, I’ll have to miss the next few – should save me a few tears at least!
But seriously, one thing I’ve learnt through my ups and downs with racing is there’s no point in stressing about it too much – it’s meant to be fun and when I go into things with no demands of myself other than to enjoy it, things tend to work out for the best.