September and the start of October are always a crazy-busy time of the year for me, in a bicycle racing sense. There seems to be a number of really enjoyable and ‘special’ races at this time of year, a time of year when many of my bike racing friends are getting ready to have a bit of a break, or in the case of the cyclocross crowd, are just getting started.
I’m torn at the moment, as I was this time last year, between a need to continue to train hard in preparation for Relentless 24, the totally ace 24 hour race in Fort William – and taking it easy with a proper taper in preparation for this weekend’s 3 Peaks Cyclocross race. A little voice in my head (and a few voices on Twitter) tell me that I should taper now and prepare properly for the 3 Peaks… give the race the utmost respect that it undoubtedly deserves and perhaps do a bit better in it.
I certainly don’t want to appear so churlish as to claim that the 3 Peaks is some kind of training ride, because as a training ride it would be really really horrible, quite mad and put most people off training altogether – but the more I think about where my priorities lie, the easier the decision to NOT take things easy just yet becomes.
Relentless is a race that I hit the podium at last year. It made a big impression on me, partly due to the unseasonably warm and sunny weather of last year’s event and partly due to the incredible course (coming home with a trophy helped too). Obviously, I’d love to finish as well (or better) than I did last year so to achieve that I need to carry on with the hard miles right now, just to get mind and body in the right place for the immense sustained effort that a 24 hour solo race demands.
Meanwhile, everyone I know that is taking part in the 3 Peaks this weekend has been tapering and enjoying a rest for the last few days and will no doubt continue to do so until the start of the race. After the race, they’ll all be pouring celebratory beer down their necks and feasting on cake and chips. And who can blame them?
I, on the other hand, apart from a couple of easier days late this week will be very much ‘pressing on’ and after the 3 Peaks I’ll be thinking about the number of training hours I have planned for the following few days before I can start to taper for Relentless.
As for beers at the pub in Helwith Bridge, well, I’ll be maintaining a sensible pre-race diet and focussing on the 24 hour race in 2 weeks’ time (oh…maybe just the one though).
Last year I rode the 60 hilly miles back home after riding the 3 Peaks race for the same reason. That looked a bit of a weird thing to do…but for some of us, the work isn’t quite done yet.
…but when the work is done, I’m definitely going to treat myself to one of these bad boys-