Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Still Alive!

Well, as you may notice, this is the first time i've posted in quite a while. First of all, let me reassure you that i'm still on the bike - (I don't think you'll ever get me off it tbh!). I haven't been posting due to a secession of poor performances which kind of killed the enthusiasm to update you all. I guess I just found it hard to post up when i've not got too much good news for you, and it's tough when you are used to standing on the podium and all of a sudden you are half way down the field. I'll have to try and not let that get in the way of me posting from now on!

So, let me kind of summarise how things have been for the past while. The last few months has been quite an experience to say the least. Following the big crash at Sherwood pines, things just didn't go to plan at all. Firstly, I picked up some kind of virus which really took the life out of me. I had very little energy for weeks, and just couldn't seem to shake it, despite plenty of rest etc. Things went from being able to do normal training every day to feeling wiped out after an easy 20 miles on the bike. At one point I was literally just sleeping all the time. I'd get home for lunch - sleep. Finish work - sleep. Then head to bed at night, sleep for 10+ hrs and wake up the next day only for the whole cycle to continue once again. Anyhow, I managed to shake that after a while, but let me tell you, my cycling performance was very poor. I had a lingering cough/tight chest which just wouldn't shift and my ability to hold any sort of intensity on the bike was greatly impaired. A string of DNF's at races (should I even have been racing?) and poor finishes continued. Got a 7th place at SXC round 3, and 6th at the Scottish Champs - which was a struggle. The other rounds I felt so lifeless I couldn't finish.

Following that, I decided it was best to hang up the MTB season early and focus on getting back on track. A string of poor performances and training really starts to eat your mental enthusiasm for the sport, and I didn't think racing in that state was doing my mind or body any good. It's pretty hard to know what to do in that kind of situation given i'm self coached and don't have anyone at hand who is experienced enough to speak to for advice.

So, I decided to go back to basics and sit myself on the road bike for some nice steady mileage to allow recovery while maintaining some sort of fitness. Things started to pick up and so a few weeks ago I decided to enter the Scottish Road Race Championships for training. Things went a lot better - my aim was just to finish with the main peleton as the pace at the champs is pretty savage, and after 81miles of racing I crossed the line happy, and well into the top half of the field.
Following that race, my training has started to take a turn for the better. I started to feel like my old self once again (albeit a bit slower) and things have picked up. Last weekend I rode the 90 mile Bealach Mor Road Sportive (http://www.handsonevents.co.uk/) with fellow Island Cyclist Roddy Murray.

The conditions on the day turned out to be pretty windy with heavy rain. Ok - no problem, i'm a hardened roadie (erm..) from the Hebrides so used to that anyway, right? I set off from the race HQ with some great legs, and to be honest, the weather kind of urged my enthusiasm to hammer on. Myself and Roddy picked up a few riders during the first half of the race, but once we hit the 8km Bealach Na Bah climb I decided to go my own way. Being the longest Road climb in the UK, I expected it to be tough, and with 40-50mph gusts, 10m visibility and pouring rain that the top it certainly wasn't easy. But, I have to say, I climbed with an eagerness I haven't felt for some time. As I climbed, picking off riders, I thought of the once great and under-respected Robert Millar for a few moments, forced into using his unique climbing style as I pushed an unusually low cadence in the 39/25, seated and swaying my upper body from side to side. The enjoyment of suffering and usual twinges of cramp as I hit the top in 39mins and something seconds was more than worth it. Straight into the big ring and down the other side, trying to control the bike with the strong side winds. To my surprise, I found myself as lead man on the road by the bottom at Applecross. I thought it wrong not to try and hold it to the finish, but after another 10 miles I got caught by a small group of riders. 20 miles from the end, I struggled to hold the group as a marshal shouted to inform me of my current 4th position. Unfortunately things went a bit backward from there and I laboured back to the finish line, feeling pretty depleted in 5hrs dead, but in a respectable 20th position from 560 starters! Roddy crossed the line in little over 6 hours, beating his own P.B from previous years by a significant margin. I enjoyed the whole race, and what a cracking race route! A good race like that makes me realise why I enjoy cycling so much. Anyone who completed that deserves respect, it's a testing route, especially in those kind of conditions!

Well, that's about it for now. Some pics from the Bealach above. I've certainly learned a lot in the past few months, so i'll reflect on that as a good thing. Heres to some more good miles on the bike, and some better luck. I'm riding the Ullapool Beag Sportive in 3 weeks time so next update will be on that. Over and out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

stoked to find the blog back! was beggining to think you had abandoned us...