Fine tuning for the Nationals

Given that my chances of finishing much higher than 30th position in next Sunday’s national cyclocross championships are as slim as a cigarette paper, an outside may think I’m a bit obsessive trying to hone my training down for a one-hour race. I maybe am, but it’s the only way I know.

Christmas and New Year went fairly well for me in terms of fitness and wellbeing. I got tired a couple of times and ate a bit much a couple of times, but I managed to keep ticking over and seem to have repaired any form-damage before it took hold. I also managed to dispense with a cold just before Christmas meaning that (hopefully) my immune system is that bit more robust now.

Sunday’s race is a double whammy for me in some ways. Obviously it’s the nationals, and at the nationals eveyone is that bit more psyched. It’s also in the north of England; something that hasn’t happened for many a year. And with it being at Peel Park in Bradford, a venue I’ve put in my best rides at during national trophy events in 2006 and 2007, I’m bubbling over with excitement. All we need now is shed loads of rain to make it muddy and nasty, and I should be in my element. Not only that, but I’d be made up if Rob Jebb could do a ride at Peel Park – he does tend to excel on the muddier courses and won there in 2006. Fingers crossed for a ‘home’ victory (well – nearly).

Having the Todmorden Cyclocross last Sunday was a great bonus. Whilst I didn’t give it my everything, I gave it pretty near to everything for most of the race. It’s a perfect time for a good race – one week before – in that it blows away any cobwebs and allows you to get some proper intensity through your body in a way that you can never do in training. I was pretty pleased to be quite far from being lapped at the end of the hour over a relatively short course. I also found my bike handling fine after three weeks off racing. On Monday I had the day off work and squeezed in a fantastic ride over some great hilly roads – including Cragg Vale – technically the longest climb in England at 5.1 miles of undisturbed ‘upness’ see profile below or view ride in Google Earth here. Tonight is an hour on the Turbo, with an hour fell running on Wednesday then some cycling hill reps on Thursday… it’s all a bit focused and serious at the mo. That’s how I like it.

Train for pain

I’ve spent the last few weeks getting myself back into off-road cycling in readiness for the cyclocross season.

It’s slightly strange this year as there’s a National Trophy race the weekend before the Three Peaks cyclocross. As some of you will know, I’m a bit nuts about the Three Peaks race and whilst I don’t mind a shorter, faster, flatter training event or two before the biggie, having a National Trophy race before is a bit of an unwanted distraction. There’s a bit more at stake in the national series and I can’t afford to do a dreadful ride, so it’s been a bit odd trying to combine training for the two very different events.

Whilst I’ve been trying to get in the odd fell race this summer (three shorties since my break after Elsie was born) I’ve also been trying to get back into crit racing on the road bike (hard to dip in and out of – it’s a ‘speed’ versus ‘fitness’ thing). Also, for the last few Sundays, Lewis (Craven) and I have been meeting up at 6:30am nearby and getting some long off-road ‘cross bike rides in to get ourselves ready for the Three Peaks. (this is the usual training route – when mechanical issues allow me to complete it!)

I’ve also been on the scales again and decided that I’m fast running out of time to lose those 6 extra pounds I really want shot of, so it’s no more booze and (fairly) strict dieting for September.

The upshot of all this is that I’m a bit wasted… but it’s nice thinking in the back of my mind that somehow, there’s a plan coming together, that may just work. Whilst I’ll be very happy not to get lapped at the first round of the National Trophy at Abergavenny like last year, I want to do all in my power to do the very best I can do in the Three Peaks. I don’t want to look back in a few years and wish I’d tried harder when I was younger.