A new team in the creation of SSLL Racing Team with sub sponsors NoPinz and OTE Nutrition left me excited for the 2016 racing season.
Additionally a first for me in my 25 years of cycle racing was letting a renowned cycle coach take control of me!
Set in my ways, old school but open to suggestion Bob Tobin’s role was to turn a 42 year old ‘has been’ into a 42 year old ‘will be’ come the start of the my first race of 2016.
So October 2015 Bob took charge of things.
Doing it my way , man of routine and all that bollocks would be me riding solo and straight in at the deep end at the start of December with a 200 mile weekend after just riding a few hours tempo during the months of October and November.
Not this time though . Things started steady with Bob’s weekly plans, all power specific which was also relatively new to me but apart from the very top end efforts I was coping with my instructions.
So , first race of the season arrives , a comforting 10 miler in February .There I sat on the start line resembling a Bernard Mathews Christmas reject with my freshly plucked skimmed milk legs and boney zero fat percent arse!
As expected the effort made me consider my decision to race a push bike at this time of the year at this effort , there must be some kind of mental derangement occurring and a urgent appointment with the medication station is required I thought after only 5 minutes into the race.
The result was a bad one , well off the pace and a worry that my normalized power for the race was only mid L2!!!
OK, lets try and take some positives out of the result , 1 , I didn’t puncture (actually think I would have preferred it) , 2 , I didn’t get caught (It was only a 10 ffs!) , 3 , I achieved a top 10 result (9th place , borderline!).
OK there were no positives apart from it being cold and training in warm clothing is quite different to racing in just a skin suit and a Death Star operator helmet.
The next few races were inconsistent and the power still lacked when it needed to count but I plodded on and longed for the warmer weather to come along and pleasure my 62kg frame and encourage a sweaty brow!
As the season progressed (or ‘continued’) the odd thump of bad luck arose with 3 50 mile races being cancelled , races I was to use in preparation for the National 100 mile Champs.
I wasn’t contesting the BBAR this year as the 12 hours just left me physically unwell for weeks afterwards and I never felt naturally well during them.I was just too fragile for the respect they deserve so the 100 was to be my longest distance this year.
So National 100 day and I rode a controlled race , picking the pace up in the latter half to achieve a creditable 10th place out of the 100 plus starters beating riders I hadn’t beat all season and being the fastest SSLL rider which I didn’t expect. I had also changed my position radically before the start which may have had an impact on my time after recalling a conversation with Xav of Aerocoach.
Mid August and the continued inconsistent form prompted my decision to part company with Bob. It was an amicable parting and he gave me some pointers for future training.
He accepted that I may well be at or beyond my peak fitness and my training may be optimized due to what I have been doing on my own for so long.
OK , now riding back to my own regime , no pressure and rides back to how they used to be which is basically several hours @L2 / Sweet Spot going into L5 up the hills with the sensation of totally smashed legs once home.
I’ll admit the power didn’t increase once back to my old unchangeable self but I was popping in the occasional win even with low power . Some wins were sub 270NP for 62kg which I’m putting down to my probable improved position and aero clothing from NoPinz.
Before I could get excited to notice it my last race had arrived , a 25 miler on the A46 near Stoke. A killer of a headwind on the outward leg and speeds over 46mph on the return netted me a 3rd place with 50.58 only 38 seconds behind top star Brett Harwood and 30 seconds down on Matt Sinclair who has had his best season to date.
Just this one race gave me hope and encouragement to carry on and remain keen to hurt myself for yet another year.
I must also take this opportunity to mention Simon and Keith of SSLL for supporting a team of riders who have had a mixture of fortune this year . Our charity 10 organised by Si Beldon was a great success and the team has had countless wins.
Thanks for reading and look forward to seeing you back at the result board in 2017 whinging about how the early starters got less wind and more Stobarts!!