July 29, 2014
I have been a little slow in writing this the latest in our series blogs – I think perhaps this is because for the first time in the training program I have seen my progress start to plateau!
Shortly after the last blog I raced at Preston Park, expecting good things after the run of time trial PB's and the ground work I had covered in Dan's sessions to help me deal with the changes of pace of road racing. Unfortunately all the miles in my legs had finally caught up with me and I knew within five laps that I would be lucky to stay in the bunch, as expected when the pace went up I went out the back door. It was time to give my body a chance to recover so we moved my rest week forward which I think worked perfectly because the following week I was able to enjoy riding my bike in the foothills of the mountain range on the Greek/Albanian border (near Sivota). For the first time in a number of years I enjoyed climbing on the bike and able to spin up 40 minute climbs with ease! This part of Greece is absolutely fantastic both culturally and for riding so I can highly recommend it.
Back in the UK and I had picked up a niggle that left me off the bike for another couple of weeks, although this didn't feel like it was having too negative an effect on my fitness levels, so I threw myself in at the deep end on my return to the bike by entering the final race in the Lewes Crits series. This may have been the steepest learning curve of them all and firmly made me aware of how hard racing is. I was riding comfortable in the middle of the group but within a 15 seconds laps of concentration I was the last rider going into a sharp left turn that then goes up a gradual climb. Those on the front got to carry some speed into the corner, going into it at near to 20mph, whereas I rolled in at about 5mph and had to accelerate to 35mph to stay on the back of the group. This punishing effort combined with the two weeks off the bike resulted in me loosing contact with the pack and riding on my own for the next 45 minutes having witnessed the peloton steam roll away from me. The main thing to take away from this is that pure fitness won't guarantee success at road racing and that race craft is a skill I need to learn - give it a couple of seasons racing and sitting on the wheels of a couple of wise heads (Mark Markowski, Josh Cunningham) and I might have picked up a trick or two!
I read my old blogs whilst writing this and although things have plateaued with results and TT times, my progress over the last 6 months is more in line with what I had originally anticipated might take 12 months or more, so it's not all doom and gloom!
One of the best gauges of progression has been the Eastbourne Rovers Thursday night TT series and we have more of these in my up coming schedule and potentially another couple more races in the pipeline as well as a more varied long term goal that I will give more details of in the next blog. So with some more hard work and a bit of luck I'll hopefully be back on the ascent.