30 July 2008

The countdown begins...

... feeling a bit guilty that I haven't really blogged here for a while and looking at the old analytics there's a zillion people turning up expecting to find something new that aint here.

It's been a bit of an odd year for me so far. Whilst my love for cyclocross in general (and my love for the Three Peaks specifically) grows boundlessly, I've had a load of other stuff pulling at my focus for the race.

In late May, I became a dad for the second time. Equally mind-blowing as the first time, things have consumed me somewhat. I'm sure you'll forgive me.

Two days before Elsie was born, I found myself on the ashphalt in pain at one of the Science in Sport criterium races in Preston. I rode a lot of the SIS crits last year - almost weekly turnout - and they did a great job of keeping me in tune with racing efforts in general. This year's were going well but there did seem to be a few too many crashes and, inevitably, my turn came and I couldn't get a line between two people on the floor in front of me at 32mph, so went straight over them. Not a good choice, but the only one. When I sat up, one of my fingers had tried to stay on the handlebars and was very very painfully pointing in a different direction to its neighbours.

After 20 years of racing bikes, it was my first crash that took me to casualty, so no real complaints, and given the circumstances and speed, I wasn't that bothered. Until Katie grabbed the strapped up finger two days later in the throes of labour. That one really hit home.

Keeping your finger in
So for the last nine weeks or so, I've been trying to just "stay fit" rather than "train". It's been successful. The changes in sleep patterns and general 'daddy duties' would have been a good excuse for letting go a bit, but I can't deny I'm in pretty good shape really. The aim of summer for me, in Three Peaks terms, is to do just that - keep the weight off, stay fit, keep illnesses at bay - that's it all really.

Uphill battle
I broke my duck in terms of hard effort this summer with a fairly spontaneous turning up for the start of the Waugh's Well fell race. Whilst I wasn't sure what sort of result I'd get, I can't help but be very chuffed with the Garmin 305's stats of my short effort. An average heart rate of 178bpm for the 4 miles meant that no-one could argue I was slacking. Mini-mission accomplished. I'm back in the real world!

Nine weeks and counting
So the time has come to stop "keeping fit" and to try and catch up with those competitors who've been racing full on all year. Come on down Robert Jebb, Nick Craig, David Collins, Stuart Bowers, et al. I've been enjoying seeing how the usual suspects are coming on and wondering how I'll fare against the full timers. I'm not fazed. I've been here before and have a habit of being under-raced. I'll get there through a combination science, industry, and hopefully a dash of luck.

Once more, to battle
So, the training has started. I went out with the 'cross bike shouldered on Monday morning, 6:58 am and dished it out to myself. It was a start, nothing more. But given the lean period I've been enjoying, it felt good. I'm racing the crits again tomorrow night at Preston and whatever the outcome I'm looking forward to the pain. I'm ready for that feeling slightly sick feeling that only the efforts of racing can give you.

More to follow as the event gets nearer. As always, would love to have all your own stories. Let me know...