Pain, Points and Pizza

It’s been a while since my last post and, in that short space of time, many things have happened. Some good, some bad and some rather amusing. I’ll do my best not to waffle on too much and bore any readers with dull details.

One week after the Tour of Wessex┬«, I returned to the world of racing. My first proper Criterium, down in Winchester – it was to prove I had much to learn. Having seen that the race was 4th Cat only, I was lulled into a false sense of security regarding how difficult it would turn out to be. Memories of that afternoon will stay with me for life, following a poor start I immediately found myself on the back foot.

My lack of racing experience soon started to show, whilst I could maintain the pace on the straights, on the bends it was a different matter. The best way I can describe it is with a motoring analogy: Others tackled the many tight corners with apparent ease, much like F1 drivers – my own attempts more closely resembled those of a 4×4 on a wet motorway. I soon found myself lapped, and lapped again – my goal soon became simply to avoid last place, this I did manage (oweing in part to a few others crashing out).

Thereafter it was time to go back to the drawing board, in other words get my hands on every training manual I could find and attempt to come up with a program that would result in non-annihilation come my next big event – a local road race. It was quite a shock to the system, instead of long endurance rides my training now consisted mainly of lung busting interval sessions. The sudden change to a higher intensity was not something my legs took kindly, upon returning from these sessions I would often have to lie down in a darkened room. My appetite rapidly ascended through the roof, my healthy meal plan would go out the window and I would simply eat anything I could get my hands on once I returned through the door (after one particularly tough workout I consumed 4 slices of chocolate cake and an entire pizza in the course of one afternoon).

The upshot of this hard work was a rapid increase in race performance, after three weeks of my new regime I finished in the points for the first time – taking 6th in a bunch sprint. A week later I came was able to make up eight places in the final straight (though this only resulted in 10th oweing to the woeful line I took through the last corner so as to end up right at the back of the group). I dared to dream – one day the title of this blog may have to be changed, ‘Chronicles of a 3rd cat’ – has a nice ring to it if I say so myself.

After six weeks, my body was crying out for a rest – the tough regimen had taken its toll. This time I had overcooked it, the day before my first road race I truly had the legs of a Mamil. The day itself, luckily went better than expected – as per usual I found myself right at the back of the main bunch, having to chase back on several times. Yet I was not dropped, that is until getting caught behind a nasty crash in the last kilometre, for years to come this will serve as my excuse for not finishing higher up the order (in reality I wouldn’t have had the legs to make a move anyway, having forgotten to refuel during the latter half of the race). I finished a respectable 32nd place, 8th in my category – not spectacular but still within the top half of the field. The experience gave me a renewed respect for the professionals, one race of 50 miles was enough to bring me to my knees – how one can even complete a race such as the Tour de France I will never know.

In my typical impulsive manner, I had entered another race due to take place two days later – fortunately this was a short, closed circuit event – after which I would be taking a week off (having realised its been six months since I had a break that long from exercise). Once again my bad cornering let me down, this time, thanks to a headwind, I was unable to make up enough places in the final sprint to obtain any more points.

It is now that I find myself refocusing once again. Realising that I have a trip to the Alpes in two months time and haven’t ridden a distance of over 100km in training for the last month. Time for an endurance bootcamp – coupled with improved eating habits (i.e. exerting some self control) – a little extra body fat hasn’t done any harm in races on the flat but won’t help when it comes to ascending French mountains.

That is where I leave things, my evening coffee is calling and it will soon be time to turn to ITV4 for the daily dose of Tour De France. Stay tuned for more if, by some miracle, you haven’t already become bored of my two-wheel themed ramblings.

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