Monday, 10 January 2011
All photos: Joolze Dymond (from British Cycling website)
It had been a while since I had ridden a Nationals - 19 years to be exact.
I placed 25th (if I remember rightly) in 1992 at Harlow - got a mention on Grandstand, live, from (Sir) Hughie Porter and then disappeared off the radar, not riding another again.
Until last Saturday. I won't bore you with an in depth account - grab me at a race and I'll happily do that face to face. Suffice to say, I had a superb day riding the National Veteran 40+ race, shaperoned and looked after by Dave Haygarth and those very nice people at Wheelbase Cycles. Being helped with bikes, preparation and pitting makes a big difference at any race, but particularly at a race of that standard.
I had a solid race, complete with minor mechanical and pitched up 35th out of a field of 90 or so. Season long colleagues at League level were behind me, including a couple of other riders whom I measure myself against. It was all in all, a brilliant way to round off a season, one in which I have made some big advances in technique and fitness, and consequently produced some much better results.
Get a training partner for regular outdoor cross intervals - Dave is much quicker than me (he placed 12th at the Nationals), but shared lunchtime enthusiasm, skills and pain on our local circuits, in all weathers. Cue massive jump in fitness. Many thanks.
Practice your offroad skills - time and time again. Unless you are Nick Craig (Vets National Champ), but even he probably practices them from time to time.
Learn how to race - this is harder to explain, but in effect get the 'mindset'. Know when to relax, when to push, how to hold it together if you crash or bobble. No matter where you race within the field, ride with insight and self-knowledge and make the most of your skills, equipment and fitness.
Have fun - I had more fun, with less races, than ever before. I'm happy to finish the season on a high. It only makes the anticipation for a new season all the greater.