Decisions and reflections

It was while I was in the middle of dragging myself out of bed at 4:30am again to go out in the rain to ride up a hill six times that I cracked. Apart from the occasional fortnight off here and there, it felt like I’d being doing this for years.

I paused and I realised that I HAD been doing this for years. Repeatedly training for a 24 hour solo race, no real variation apart from the changing weather and the availability of natural light. I need a break from this. Not a break from riding bikes or anything silly like that, just a change of routine. A chance to prepare properly for the big plans of next summer while also having the time and energy to finally tackle my list of non-cycling, mainly-domestic stuff I’ve been putting off for years.

I’d loved training for the world champs back in October but I knew that I was going to run out of enthusiasm sooner or later – luckily for me I had just enough to see me through my race preparation and the race itself. The motivational ‘dip’ kicked in just as I was tucking into my post-race meal(s).

The grown-up decision to abandon plans to race the Strathpuffer in 2016 wasn’t a particularly hard decision to make, in fairness. The prospect of sitting out a 24 hour bike race located 400 miles to the north of Manchester a month after Christmas sounded quite appealing, so I’ll leave the ice, darkness and mud to those who are bursting with enthusiasm for it. While it’s a brilliant event, if you’re going to miss a race, missing the Strathpuffer tends to make some sense.

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Just this one mind – I plan to be racing again in the spring and summer after a (hopefully) rejuvenating break.

In the past few weeks I’ve been doing what many ‘normal’ cyclists do. I’ve been lifting weights, running (it’s good for you to do things you’re not very good at!) and I’ve been riding bikes a lot less than I would normally. I’ve been worrying about my winter weight gain, while simultaneously telling myself that a bit of weight gain, while a bit unsightly, is actually good for the mind and body and it’ll somehow reduce the chances of me getting a cold. And the list of domestic jobs? Clobbered.

I’m ‘putting the miles in’ again now but racing, for me, starts next spring – short races, long races, running and cycling races, loads of stuff – and the next 24 hour mountain bike race is over six months away. That gives me just about enough time to put a big dent in my list of jobs around the house and for a few dozen more visits to the local tip….

So that’s that! 2015 ends in a bit of a flat note, but there’s no shortage of cool things to look back on. A good result (and a sore back) at the Strathpuffer, a win in the mixed pairs at Mayhem and another solo win at TwentyFour12. The main racing highlight was a dramatic but hugely enjoyable World Solo 24 Hour Championship, a race that I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to travel to and one that once again made me realise how lucky I am to have so many people in my corner, making stuff happen. You’re all The Best and I’m really chuffed to have the same team in my corner for 2016.

Here’s to a grand New Year and I hope you all have a fun, happy and successful one. Cheers.

 

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Kendal – it’s MINT.

It’s been a whole seven weeks since I last updated this blog – to be honest in that time there’s been very little to write about. Going to work, sleeping until 7:30am, eating to gain weight – I suppose I could make it sound interesting if I really tried but..well. It’s eating chips and drinking beer. It’s hardly the stuff of legend.

Things are starting to happen now though. As well as getting back into running again (I’ve got some running things planned for 2016 that I’d always said I’d never do, but I think I’ve had a road to Damascus moment… or something), I’ve been very gradually easing into “putting some hours in” on the bike. Good job as well, as I seem to be racing at the Strathpuffer again in January.

I’m not sure how committed I feel about the Strathpuffer this time, which can be a problem when faced with a six hour training ride in the driving sleet in mid-December but there you go. I’m on the list. It’ll be as fun as it normally is, which is always a surprise because it always sounds like it’s going to be horrible.

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As well as the usual diet of short races, long races, big rides and early mornings, In 2016 I plan to get right out of my comfort zone – I can’t go into masses of detail just yet because nothing about 2016 is 100% definite, but plans are getting there and in any case, the Big Thing that I’m doing  next year was sort of announced at the Kendal Mountain Festival last week.

All I’m saying here is that I’m going to be buying a new sleeping bag.

The Kendal Mountain Festival is a brilliant event, by the way. If you have chance to go next year you really should. Loads of cool films and events all about outdoorsy, epic and generally bloody impressive stuff. Not just mountain biking – if climbing, canoeing, skiing, camping out on mountains or just being outside is your thing you’ll love it. Kendal was buzzing last weekend.

There was a 10K run as well – Debbie and I braved the wintery conditions and took part – you can read about that on the Team JMC blog.

That’s all for now!