When I last blogged, the mountain biking was still my focus and the climax of the season was still to come. I benefitted from some good technical coaching again from James Richards and having trained on the national championship course, at the Olympics track in Hadleigh, I approached the nationals with optimism. As it happened though, things didn't go my way. I was with the leaders Pete Harris and Kirby Bennett for a couple of laps, but then lost contact after being brought down by a lapped rider and then blew trying to chase back. I got back going but the race was by then lost and then finally had to abandon with a broken chain with a lap to go.
The final round of the National Trophy in Builth Wells, almost ended in disaster too, when my frame broke again in warm up and only due to the generosity of the event organiser, John Lloyd, who lent me his bike was I able to start. I managed a good start but lost a little ground on the leading 2 and came in 3rd behind Kirby Bennett and Pete Harris but picked up 3rd place too in the overall series. I was reasonably pleased with my first MTB CX season, as I had developed some good technical skills and built a good base fitness for the forthcoming cyclo cross season. In terms of results though, broken frames and chains marred the season and although winning silverware wasn't the main objective this summer, it is never nice to lose in these circumstances!
I have been very grateful for the mechanical support from Paul at Back on Track in Malvern, who has always found time at short notice to help me get my bikes back on the road!
Charlie Evans, my coach was in July given the chance of a fulltime contract with the Olympic games organisation, so suddenly with only 4 months to go until the world championships, I was without a coach! Thanks to an introduction from James Richards, I have now been very fortunate to have started working with Liam Killeen. Liam has been one of Britain's greatest off road riders over the last 20 years. Liam is a multi winner of the British MTB XC championship and has been national Cyclo cross champion too only 2 years ago. He was Commonwealth games champion in 2006 and then tragically broke his ankle when riding in the London Olympics. Liam is also local to me,living in Malvern, so in many ways this link up has been very fortuitous and I have already benefited hugely from his coaching and advice on nutrition etc. Being able to go out training with Liam too, has been hugely beneficial. Liam has got me training using a power meter and this dimensions, makes measuring my efforts more meaningful.
The cyclo cross season has now started and with 2 rounds of the West Midlands league already under my belt, I have made huge gains on last season. I made second place in the over 50's first round at Redditch, behind Steve Knight and was 4th in Coventry last week, but I feel I am now finally competitive. Bearing in mind I am nearly 60, I am comfortable with where I am but clearly there is still, work to be done!
Mick Shakespeare, my former mentor has kindly come back to support me at races this season and his loyal support and extensive knowledge will I am sure pay dividends in the weeks ahead.
Today is Wednesday 19th September and I am just back from 2 hours training with Liam. 4 x 5 + minute efforts of climbs over the Malvern Hills, with winds gusting at 70mph + it was not easy but I never expected it to be. the good thing is though that I am thoroughly enjoying feeling fit again. I have lost 10 kgs in weight and am loving the racing!
Even Wendy my wife has finally got use to the life of a biker's widow, but is still adamant I will be retiring again come the end of the season!
All packed up and ready to go. Even Lola is out there to wish me luck!