Ok, so it is a few days early to publish this post. However with a very busy first couple of weeks of the new year planned, I doubt I’d have time to write it. Here goes.

It all began with a desire to dig myself out of a hole – I was injured, unfit and unsure of exactly what to do with the rest of my life. I’ve written about this enough times so won’t go into too much detail; essentially I decided to start racing and in the process of teaching myself about how to properly train I discovered a new interest – Sports Science.

It’s fair to say that my first few races weren’t exactly a success. I was forced to pull out of my very first one with a mechanical problem and the second ended in a fall that left me with a sprained wrist. At least I managed to finish number three, albeit having learned my lesson that starting a race when highly fatigued from an event the week before is not the most sensible idea. More on this here.

It was after this particularly disastrous episode that I came up with the idea for this blog, nowadays it serves a few purposes. Chief among which is providing (hopefully) useful information for anyone looking to race for the first time s0 as to avoid having a similar experience to me. I have also enjoyed writing about my own Cycling adventures, talking about failiures and setbacks in a humorous context helps me to put them in perspective and move on.

Anyway – eventually things did begin to improve. A lucky finish got me my first points, convincing me that I wasn’t a completely useless rider. I managed to finish my first Road Race, pushing myself harder than I ever thought possible in order to do so. Unfortunately this was followed by a bout of overtraining, leading to some more bad results. If nothing else it has taught me that I really do need to listen to my body and that learn to analyse my own performance objectively, without letting emotions (i.e. compulsion to train) get in the way.

Thereafter came a week that I will never forget. Starting with a disastrous race; there is nothing worse than being able to easily stay with the bunch for the full duration of the event, only to enter the last lap in a bad position and finish right at the back of the pack. Next came my first TT, I was very happy with a top ten finish considering I was one of only two people riding a standard road bike – nothing like overtaking someone on a full TT rig with all the expensive gear. I now had two races coming up over the course of the next four days, two chances to achieve my season goal of getting out of 4th Cat. With nothing to lose I rode to win, had I not miscalculated the location of the finish line in the first race I’d have finished third – in reality it was 6th but points are points. It all boiled down to one last attempt, I decided to attack with four laps to go. This time it worked, I managed to hold off all but one rider – finishing in a respectable second place. I was gutted not to get the win but moving up to 3rd Cat was the best consolation prize I could have hoped for.

Thoughts of starting University for the second time soon began to dominate. A trip to the Alps briefly took my mind off it, I managed to tick something on my Cycling bucket list in the process, completing the Ventoux Cingles challenge. It was soon time to pack everything up and embark on a new chapter. Fortunately it has worked out well so far; I’ve made good friends, enjoyed my new degree course immensely and Cycled up many, many hills. The Devon terrain is often a cruel mistress but has been very good for maintaining a degree of fitness.

My last race came at the beginning of October, truth be told it may have been a bad idea to enter it. Having already achieved my season goal it was difficult to fully invest in my performance, I started off at the back and was caught behind a crash. Suffice to say that it wasn’t exactly the end to the season that I had hoped for, but that’s life. In a way I have taken it to be a positive, I’m now more motivated than ever to improve on my result and try to redeem myself during 2017.

During the off-season I sat down with myself and worked out what my goals for the coming year would be. Truth be told I don’t enjoy closed circuit racing, lacking the fearlessness that is often required to do really well. To that end my focus will be on Road Races and Time Trials only, I’d like to think that it’s easier for the strongest man to win when racing against the clock – no tactics, just watts and aerodynamics.

During these last couple of months I have started training again. In all honesty I haven’t much enjoyed my regime of long steady rides coupled with short turbo sessions, I live in hope that it will all pay off come the Summer. I know that there is much work to be done in order to turn myself into a true contender, results are harder to come by in open TT’s and road races – a big step up from 4th Cat closed circuit races. Now it is time to step-up the training, soon it will be back to hard interval sessions and long rides out on Dartmoor (i.e. typically 6000+ feet of climbing).

What to say about the year? I think it’s fair to state that it’s encompassed both highs and lows in equal measure. I will remember it as the year when I took the plunge into competitive Cycling for the first time and realised that I wasn’t a terrible rider, being able to at least hold my own. Perhaps more importantly in the long term, I’ve finally stumbled across a field in which I would like to have a career. Of course, the ultimate highlight has to be the new bike.

At this moment I’m unsure if there will be anymore posts written until January. To that end I’ll take the opportunity to wish all readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you to all those who have commented on my posts – it’s nice to know that the writing is up to standard (some of the time anyway). Goodbye from me – happy riding.

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