7hrs 15 mins in the saddle, the longest ride I’ve done in over 20 years …
A Breakthrough Race
The first race of the season is always a bit of an unknown, everyone’s been in hiding over the winter months grafting away so on one quite knows where they stand.
I know I’d had a good winter in terms of putting the miles in, and losing some much needed weight so was intrigued to see how I matched up against the others.
The day dawned very bright, and I was feeling positive and eager on the trip through to Glasgow. Cathkin is an interesting course, with lots of man made features coupled with flowing single-track. Some like it some feel it’s too sanitised. Personally I love it, even if it perhaps doesn’t play to my strengths as much as some of the other courses we’ll ride this year.
Having ridden around for a bit warming the legs up and catching up with loads of folk I’ve not seen over the winter, It was time to get gridded and get ready to race.
I was back on the third row due to not having a great season last year, and had a poor start, deciding that caution was the better part of valor on the first lap. By the fist climb I was feeling good, and set about pulling riders back. Passing Jason Lindsay, Roddy Fawbert and Gary Johnson in quick succession.
One of the things I’ve worked on hard over the winter is my technique and handling as I felt that was one of the areas that was losing me time last year. So some good work over the winter with Elite rider Craig Owen coupled with some weight reduction on the bike and some fast new hoops from Fraser Waters at www.thehappycog.co.uk shod with some extremely svelte Dugast Rhino tubular tyres the speed difference was really noticeable.
On the climbs I was strong and able to put out some consistent high power. And the race felt like it was passing by at some pace. It was lap four before I realise it, and although I was feeling strong I was also starting to tire a little, noticeable by some cramping in my right thigh.
I pushed on through the start of the 5th lap but on the final ascent of the Clyde climb my leg tied up with cramp and I had to ease off. Frustrating as I knew I’d not taken enough water and gels on during the race, succumbing to the “I’m going well, I’m invincible” attitude rather than keeping my head and feeding myself properly. Lesson learned for next time. Big thanks to John Owen, for being my feed and technical assistance too, I’ll maybe listen a bit harder to him next time when he tells me to take a bottle!
With half a lap to go I dropped back three places, which is my punishment for being a bit stupid, but great to see Richard Greenwood who’s not raced his MTB for 20 years back racing and putting in a sterling effort to pass me with half a lap to go!
So over the line in 14th place, and although dropping those three places on the last lap absolutely delighted with the overall outcome. The graft I’ve put in over the winter really paid dividends, and guys that have had the beating of me for the last two seasons all rolling in behind me, which has done wonders for the confidence, and morale going into what I hope can be a really positive season.
I always set out with a 5 year plan when I started this little project and last year (Year 2) I took a bit of a kicking, where the effort and results just weren’t there. I’m delighted to have taken another leap forward, and look forward to building on the form and fitness that I know is down to putting the effort in.
Big shout to my coach James McCallum for keeping me on the straight and narrow, and Scott for the ongoing support and assistance, it’s time I started paying that back, and finally have a bit of belief that I can.