Here Comes the Sun

It’s Spring. Finally the long winter seems to have come to an end; it’s hot enough to wear shorts on the bike, the roads are clearing up and it’s nearly time for the racing season to begin. As always happens at this time of year I’m breathing a sigh of relief.

In comparison to the shambles that was last years off-season training this time round it couldn’t have gone much better. Getting the balance right is always a challenge, there’s a fine line between getting yourself fit enough for a season of competition and overdoing it to the point of burning out. In previous years I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum. The 2017 season didn’t get off to a fantastic start due to having spend most of the winter doing monotonous endurance rides that did very little for my speed or motivation. In 2018 I had the opposite issue, I’d have a strong start in races following a lot of high intensity work but crack later on due to a lack of stamina.

Finally I think I’ve found the right formula, aiming for four sessions per week. Two interval sessions, starting off with very short ones and building up the length plus an endurance ride lasting at least three hours. In order to help break up the structured training I try to make the 4th session a fun one; if I’m feeling good I’ll ride hard and try for some KOM’s, if not it can take the form of an easy cafe ride. Time permitting I do my best to get in a couple of weights sessions as well, keeping my upper body in decent shape and building core strength. That leaves one rest day on which to get other things done.

Off-road riding has become a key part of my training, it’s something that I couldn’t recommend enough. It’s inevitable that you’ll end 95% of rides covered in mud due to the condition of the roads anyway so why not hit the trails instead? Unfortunately I’ve had to sell my Mountain Bike but my homemade gravel machine is doing the job very well in it’s place. This bike is perfect for winter riding; big grippy tyres, disc brakes & decent mudguards make it fun and more importantly safe to ride in all weathers. Indoor riding just isn’t my thing. In previous years there’s often been no other option but to hop on the turbo trainer and put myself through hard interval workouts that I haven’t remotely enjoyed. Now I have a much better alternative.  From a mental perspective I find off-road sessions much easier to get through , time files when you have to keep your mind wholly on task for fear of falling afoul of a wet root or well hidden tree stump.

The question is what to do with this unexpectedly decent level of fitness. I haven’t completely given up on trying to qualify for the National 10 and TT’s will certainly be the big focus. Sadly the final year of University has to take priority for a while and I won’t be-able to fully commit to racing until early June when my exams will be over. Until then it’s going to be a matter of finding the time to do the occasional mid week club 10 and possibly a few crit races to keep things interesting. The thought of an impending trip to Mallorca in a few weeks time is currently what’s keeping me motivated. Whilst I loved riding over there last year my low fitness level made it impossible to make the most of the training opportunity, hopefully this time round I’ll be better prepared.

In short, it’s all going pretty well for a change. Hopefully I’ll finally manage to take it up a level this year.

Thanks for reading


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