Just about holding it together….Just about…

Any big plan for any big race occasionally and somewhat inevitably, takes a bit of a ‘detour’ –factors such as tiredness, fatigue, illness or just plain-old everyday life constantly threaten to upset ‘The Plan’ and if the disruption is significant enough, throw it into chaos.

I’d been doing quite well this time. I’m can sometimes be pretty flaky when it comes to following any kind of training plan but my prep for 24 Hours of Finale Ligure had been pretty much spot-on right up until I started to feel a bit ropey immediately prior to UK12…I did the race anyway and then ‘feeling a bit ropey’ suddenly turned into ‘I’m just ILL so leave me alone’ which was a shame because last week should have been a big, hairy-chested, overload week.

I did a few hours during the week, but nowhere near what I should have done. My plan thrown into chaos. I did attempt to ride the Peak 100 sportive though; a nice leg-stretcher, for a damn good cause, on some familiar hills and in a handy spot so that I could tie it in with some Family and Friends Time. After riding the 30 miles to the start in Macclesfield I set off in the leading group of riders and whilst I wasn’t finding the pace overwhelming, I knew that I was going to find out quite soon if I’d recovered well in the last week or if I was still a bit on the weak side.

Unfortunately, 40 miles into the ride my legs started to scream. I slowed down. In fact, I stopped and took in the view. Spotted a road sign that I knew would give me a downhill shortcut to the finish so that I could bail out. Went that way, probably confusing the other riders in the small group but to be honest they could probably sense my weakness as I probably had a face like a slapped arse by then….

Back to the start/finish, hand in my number and then a gentle-ish ride home and a massage.

This week’s going to be much better 🙂


12 Hours Of Exposure

Following a nice relaxing week in Newcastleton I lined up at the start of this year’s 12 (not 24 this time, remember) Hours of Exposure. Somewhat nervous for some reason, maybe because I knew that soon after the start and the incredibly slow trundle through the village, the crazed sprint up the first climb would no doubt have me gasping for breath with 11 hours and 55 minutes of the race remaining.

Yep, here we go. 12 and 24 hour racers all caning it up a dusty hill trying to get as close to the front as possible before the first climb of the “Twisty Muddy Bit Up Through The Trees” as I think the section is called. (I’ve worked out that I’ve ridden that horrible section of roots and ruts around 52 times now – yay).

I was feeling pretty rough. I’m not one for moaning or even dropping out of a race if I think I’ve got a cold (I didn’t whinge too much, honest!) but I was a bit concerned when I was coughing up ‘matter’ in the few mornings preceding the race. I was definitely less than bob-on but decided that I’d take my chances on kicking whatever bug I had in the goolies by riding really really fast 😉

After a couple of laps of riding really really slowly and whatever bug I had kicking me in the goolies I decided that my best course of action would be to moan about it to the poor people in the Team JMC pit.

When this didn’t seem to do the trick I decided to switch to my lighter rigid bike – the very hilly course and the large number of relatively smooth fireroads meant that it wasn’t too much of a gamble and after all, I’ve been racing on rigid bikes for years now.

I immediately started to get faster. Still dribbling quite a bit and quite glad I’d not bothered to wear a HR monitor (cos I felt like my heart rate was approaching 3 million bpm) I spent a few laps overtaking people who had earlier ridden away from me, apparently quite effortlessly.

“You don’t look very well”, Debbie said to me during one brief pit stop, which wasn’t at all surprising.

And that was pretty much that for the next few hours. Riding somewhat half-arsed for most of the race I struggled to keep abject boredom at bay and also found it really hard to ride at a reasonably quick pace. I’ve absolutely no idea what was wrong – whether it was the course, my (admittedly mild) cold, my apparent lack of any kind of strength to challenge anyone in front of me…I didn’t even know, or had any desire to find out, what position I was in. It was a good 8 hours into the race when I learned that I was in 5th place in the vets category, which was 7th overall. I suspect I spent most of the race in this position, and that’s where I finished.

I also had no idea until very late on in the race that Dave was winning. And then the next thing I knew the race ended and he’d won. A National and European 12 Hour title for a friend and team-mate was a real tonic and more than made up for my race of snot and grumpiness.

So rather than a pic of me looking surly, here’s a pic of Dave, wasting good alcohol.

Results here

Oh, and I’ve got a proper stinker of a cold now. What are the chances eh?

Staging post

This year’s 12 and 24 hour solo MTB championships take place around a month earlier than usual, perhaps due to the fact that the Worlds (the one in Italy, not the one in Canada :-/) are in May. For perhaps the first time ever, I’ve planned my training and races around that event in May rather than trying to peak repeatedly for every endurance event I enter. It’s costing a bloody fortune to get to Finale Ligure for the World Champs in terms of planning, training effort and money so I want to be absolutely certain that I did everything right and my result, whatever it turns out to be, would be free from “if only’s”.

So…this means that I’m racing this weekend in the 12 Hour UK race. Racing a 24 now would mean another mammoth recovery period and a likely adverse effect on my preparation for Finale Ligure. Apparently most of the rest of the endurance racing community have decided to do the same, so it looks like it’s going to be a very, very competitive race.

Racing for 12 hours will give me a good idea of where I am fitness-wise and hopefully leave me in a reasonable state to carry on with my planned training next week (my plan basically says ‘2 x 6 hour rides’ for the coming weekend so that’s good then). I’ve been training as normal this week while everyone else appears to be (understandably) tapering and I’m going to be quite careful to arrive at the end of the race with nothing left in the tank, but not to have buried myself either. You never know, I might even find time for a mid-race cuppa…depending on how things are working out. *

As a wise man once said to me, “choose your battles”.

*I reserve the right to sack that off completely shortly after the start of the race and immediately commence turning myself inside out in the name of glory

Helping me fight the good fight as ever are a whole host of ace people, sorting me out with ace kit. 2Pure have topped up my tank and sent me a box of assorted CLIF nutrition goodies

…and Ant has sent over some Mt Zoom and Alligator loveliness  – a pair of superlight disc rotors, some bar ends (I trashed the last pair), the lightest seatclamp I’ve ever seen (or felt) and a cool Mt Zoom Handy Strap. It’s a strap. It’s got rubber on it. It’s well handy for securing stuff to your seatpost, such as a tube...or some mackerel.