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.
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.