It's been a busy few weeks but I thought I should do a quick post to tell people what I've been up to. The last month has seen me on a lot of airplanes and a lot of start lines. As the road race/time trial season starts to heat up, so has my training.
I have started racing locally on a regular basis. Tuesday nights see me doing local road races. Mostly in a series that I ride in every year (TLI - The League International). They run a series on a local circuit. All TLI races are run in age brackets rather than by how many points you have on your licence (like British Cycling). So it means I can race against people my own age instead of youngsters who tend to be a lot faster than me. Still, the seasoned veterans are not exactly walkovers either! These race usually last about an hour and a half and are great for testing your race skills and getting in some early season experience.
Wednesday nights mean I'm off to my cycling club's weekly 10 mile time trial. I like doing these because they are a good test of my form. I've done the course dozens of times over the past several years so I can easily judge how well I'm riding based on the times that I do. The weather in general this year has been pretty shocking though, and it's been hard to get a good, dry ride in! Coupled with equipment problems, I haven't had many fast times yet this year on the course, but it's all good experience and good training. Today looks to be dry for a change so maybe I'll do well tonight!
I flew out to Spain for a weekend to ride in a mini-stage race in Bilbao. It is basically two time trials on the first day followed by a road race on the following day. It rained horribly on the first day making the twisting and steep descent on the time trial course a huge challenge. I hadn't seen the course before racing it and the wet roads and terrain meant that I should have used my road bike instead of my time trial bike. It was basically a hill climb and doing it on a TT bike wasn't the smartest choice. I swapped to my road bike for the second TT stage which certainly helped a fit bit! In the road race the following day, I failed to clip into my pedals at the start fast enough, and by the time I had, most of the pack had already sped off up the road! My race was over before it started. Overall a poor weekend for me.
I flew home from Bilbao on Sunday night, giving me just enough time to pack up again for my flight the next day to Majorca with the rest of the squad. We spent a week there at a training camp. Our time (as usual) was split between the road and the track. We had glorious weather for the whole week, which made the road miles fun and took our minds off the fatigue that built up over the course of the week. It was also really great to be back on the track and the whole team was putting in consistent and superbly fast times. No one has lost anything on the track since Los Angeles and the Track Worlds.
The return from Majorca brought me back to more wet weather and more racing. In addition to the mid-week races, there are also now events each weekend. For instance, last weekend I had a road race on the Saturday morning, the hopped on a plane in the evening, flew to Belfast and participated in the Celtic Chrono (a 22-mile time trial around the streets of Belfast and surrounding areas) on Sunday morning. And then flew home that night!
And of course, in addition to all the racing, I still have to fit my training in. Most days I actually have to train in the morning before racing in the evening. Unless there isn't time (like weekends when you race in the morning or when it's an important race that you want to be fresh for). I find myself tired quite a lot, but I also am feeling stronger and fitter by the day. My races are improving and my TT times are coming down. Everything is on schedule.
Next up (of major importance) is the first World Cup of the year. Next week we fly out to Rome for 2 days of racing. First up is a flat the trial followed by a road race only 500m from the Coloseum! The TT will be my first major target of the year and I aim to show my competitors that I am still the man to beat. It's perfectly flat and mostly straight – my kind of TT – so I won't have any excuses if I don't put in a good performance. All the Paralympic medal contenders will be there and it will give us all a chance to check each other out and see who is riding well.
So that's it for me. I'm off to get some training in now before my race tonight. Will be back soon as I have some new equipment to write about!