The last year has felt like holding my breath to keep motivated to get out of the bike in the hope that goals would present themselves. Obviously this is a challenge with the lack of events so I’ve been holding out and ticking over until I could breath out again once reaching the first events of the year on route to the bigger goals.

So it was a relief to see that the Gorrick crew were putting on some events in April that I could aim for. I’ve managed to keeping plugging away during winter and under Lee at Transition MTB coaching have really been focusing on getting some deep efficiency levels by keeping things very easy on most rides. I’ve been amazed to see how controlled my heart rate has become on climbs now so something great to build on. April isn’t a time when we had planned to be working on any higher intensity so turning up to some flat out races was clearly going to be a shock to the system.

Race 1.
The gorrick team has set things up pretty well at Frimley limiting numbers and separating age cats out to avoid mass start groups. The grid was alphabetical which I guess you can’t really complain about for a 3 hour race as it’s not like there is a 3 hour official rankings or anything. I’d had a bit of the child lurgy the week before but was just about over it bar a few snivels. I had a good blast around and was surprised that I could keep the effort levels high. The course was relentless as it near constant twists and turns. I’m generally crap on this sort of course preferring the wide open blasty stuff but I made the most of the occasional jump and drop to max the enjoyment factor. I’ve been testing some Scrub Carbon Wheels over the last year for a mate of mine. He’s looking at putting together a UK built carbon wheel at a reasonable price and these ones come in at a racey 1500g for a strong 25mm internal with hubs that seem to have a really quick pickup (even better than my dt240’s) which I really felt the benefit from on the stop start twisty singletrack. I must admit I’ve abused these a bit as well over winter when I’ve failed to clean my bike and left in a muddy heap for a few weeks to return to smooth spinning freehub and bearings which is a good sign for those who don’t polish their bike after every ride! So give Andy at Scrub a shout if you’re after some xc/down country hoops.

Scrub Carbon 25 Wheelset | eat up the twisty singletrack

It was great just to be racing again and I rolled in 8th in cat so within the top 10 points which was pretty decent as there seemed to be some fast chaps out there. It was interesting to compare myself to others that I had raced against in previous years and was surprised to have been there abouts or beating some of them which is a great sign given the lack of intensity in the training plan to date. I had forgotten how good it feels after a race after doing everything as well as you could on the day. I had a little dad boogie on the way home in the car to some dance anthems.

XC hucking… Pic @kevinsheldrake

Race 2.

Back at Frimley again and a similar course and certainly as many twists and turns! By some ungodly doom I had yet again come in to the race with child snots this time affecting me way more than I thought. A dodgy stomach the night before added to the woes.

I can conclude that the biggest threat the race performance is your children… don’t worry though I’ll have my revenge in the vet 50’s making them pit for me whilst I bark orders for more porridge at 3am…

The face of dismay!

In the end I managed an hour at some reasonable gas in around 5th before my body told me to piss off and go home. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, there’s always other races right. Well this year and these days I definitely want to make the most of the opportunities so it was massively frustrating. I wasn’t going to collapse in a heap or anything though and given I’d driven 2 hours to get there I tried to change the goal for the day, character building, time to not throw the towel which I thought would make me feel better if I at least finished. However it was utter misery seeing the glee on pursuers faces as I slid to second last. I even had a stop for a flask of tea at one point to cheers me up and had to put a gilet on as I was feeling cold. I knew I should stay backed off though as the body was empty so I wasn’t going to do anything other than make things worse. I tried to think of it as just time riding my bike which I should be grateful for but I was instantly in a grump which continued for a few days.

The snot monster….How I felt after the race…

Having adjusted to life of 5am starts and managed to keep life balanced it felt like a kick in the teeth. Of course my reaction is disproportionate to the importance of the event but I couldn’t help it! This has coincided with struggling with some body mechanics around running that has been an old niggle I had tried to work around, now unsuccessfully.

#runningwanker inevitably gets injured

I’m having to go get physio support and work on some mobility stuff which is going to take a bit of time to sort. So the off road iron man plans are going to be put on the back burner until later in the year which means a 100% focus on the UK 24 champs at Exposure 24/12. Lee has already planned out our attack on the event with some stepping stone goals along the way which is helping me focus on knuckling down.

Onwards and upwards as ever!