First, a tiny bit of background context - I'm not podium material - let's get that straight - my best ever position in nine finishes is 20th - and beating that is this year's priority. I'd love to have time for more training, but with a young family and a 9-5 job, I've got to be realistic about just how good I can actually get at all of this.
The basic pattern of my year, (the new year always starts the day after the Three Peaks) is:
- Ride the 'cross season until end of Jan
- Just ride the bike and a bit of running until the clocks change
- Start fell running in the spring (including the Three Peaks fell race the last two years)
- Add a few crits on the bike in summer
- Three Peaks specific training and longer hours on the bike in August and September
I did my back in in mid August - gardening - felt like a total idiot having to go to see an osteopath and hobbling around when I was supposed to be honing my form. But I was lucky and the six days I ended up doing with no exercise acted as both a rest and a wake-up call. The Yorkshire CCA day was the first ride I'd done after that - straight into six hours mostly off road - but I was - thankfully - fine.
Bank holiday weekend saw me ride up to Ingleton through Bowland on the Saturday, run Whernside on the Sunday, then ride home on the Monday. Good training and good psychological stuff getting out on Whernside.
My brother Phil - another experienced 'Peaks rider came up from Devon to ride the and I rode Cumberland Cycle Challenge in early September - a good solid training ride - and a rare opportunity to spend some quality time with Phil.
Last weekend I rode the first cyclo-cross in the NW league - at Northwich - I thought it was time I shocked my body with some racing. I won that in a field of 65 riders - so felt good - and still do.
Experienced riders will know that it's much more than being fit or experienced - so I've also been trying to reduce the risks and leave as little as possible to chance. This has meant some recces of the course - despite how familiar I am after nine races - to see how I can improve some lines on the trickier, slower bits of the course. Don't worry - I've not broken any race rules (practiocing on the course) and only ridden my bike on the bridleway section between Ribblehead and Blea Moor. The rest of the recces have been on foot with my dog. They've hopefully been helpful and what's the sacrifice of a few hours recce-ing if it saves you a minute in the race, eh?
More next week, then more after the race.