Thursday, 21 February 2013

Cross Over

Out riding with Di - snow on the hills
This is my cross season round up. It was a bit of a bittersweet season with a couple of high moments and plenty of lows, but that is bike racing . I did not start my cross season on quite the right pedal stroke.... cue loads of excuses as to why I didn't become national champion. I don't want to write one of those blogs that details every little reason why I didnt win a race but at the same time a big part of my season is trying to balance work and cycling (so that's probably what it will sound like). The gist of it is I'm not very good and I need to do more training. During the first half of the cross season I was working in A&E. Most you will who know me (or follow my rants on twitter) will know that this wasn't an overly pleasant time. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the fast pace and a challenging medical shizzle, the hours where absolutely crippling. 70hours a week, night shifts, 4 full proper weekends off in 4 months - not ideal for trying to turn yourself into a decent cx racer. However I did try and that's what counts. There were times I was shattered; my feet hurt and my back ached but my trusty friend Di would drag me out on that cx bike and beast me round the park. I would get in from a friday night at work at 5am sleep a few hours and then try to race. All of this has hightlighted to me the importance of rest and having a proper sleep pattern to get the best out of yourself on the bike. It soon became apparent that rest days are not 12hours in the emergency department refereeing jeremy kyle style disagreements.

racing at thornbridge
in my previous cross season I was able race myself fit because we have a good selection of local races every weekend. With these shifts I was missing most of those and then I would put a great deal of presure on myself to perform on my one weekend off - needless to say it occasionally ended in tears. It was at these points I felt like just giving up, why bother with the training when I couldn't even race well. Why not just collapse on the sofa when I got home rather than on the turbo? Thankfully chris and Di kept being really patient and encougraging and things improved.

my trusty running companion
Once I changed jobs and started in the GP surgery things turned a bit of a corner. I was no longer noctural, I could sit down most of the day and most importantly I could have my weekends back. It amazing what a change 7 or 8 hours sleep a night is compared to 5, I felt superb. It was all abit too little too late but it did allow me a small glimmer of hope. I had a great race at thornbridge in our local league in really deep mud and tricky conditions and this form carried me through to the national trophy at derby. Things didn't go quite so well for me at the national champs, i think nerves got to me a bit. The course was brutal and you needed to have a really strong mindset to suceed there, I think a few of my insecurities crept in and I really struggled with the cold. However I did really enjoy seeing everyone else riding so well, especially seeing the look on Pete Harris's face when his daughter Nikki became national champ.

carb loading on pancake day
So I still maybe down in the ranks of rubbish wannabe bike racer but I have learnt a great deal from this cross season. I know I need to dedicate time to working on skills as well as strength and fitness. I need a good nights sleep. I know you can be mentally and physically exhausted and I know now when to recognise exhaustion - end of 7 night shifts in a row usually resulting in strange halluncinations involing medical equipment - rather than just feeling like I can't really be arsed. I also know now that not giving up was worth it because although it hasnt been the best winter of training I'm stronger this year than I was last year and I can't ask for much more than that. I have had a bit of a break after the season finished and I did manage to let off some steam and drown my sorrows with jaeger. 

end of season ski/jaeger tasting trip
PS I also learned a great deal about the power of social media! I realised that constantly seeing people tweeting about how much training they had done and how strong they were was really demoralising. On the flip side as we neared the end of the season and riders started tweeting about how tired they felt and I was starting to feel fresh this gave me a boost. Those of us who are avid tweeters/facebookers could take a few mins to reflect on the effect other peoples updates have on you and how not to let that disadvantage you.

PPS the mule bar girls tricked me, I thought my cross season was over but Ive some how been entered for the Morvelo City Cross. Hopefully see you there.