Its been an interesting few weeks... As I sit here with a streaming nose and the first cold in a long, long time, with a day off work to look after my son, I have had a chance to reflect over the past few weeks that have been quite ‘eventful’.
So I thought something was going on yesterday on my hills session, when everything just seemed like a lot more effort than the last time I had the same training reps to do. Turns out that by the end of the day my face was full of snot and sneezes, so feet up for a few days... just as Jon (my E3C coach) was setting me up for a tough week – the first one in a while. This follows almost coming home early from work on Monday after a serious case of the shakes mid-afternoon just before a big meeting I was involved in for my current project. I guess this is the result of what has been a very stressful few days after my son suffered from his second spontaneous Pneumothorax (collapsed lung), and the subsequent surgery that went with it to remove the piece of lung that was causing the problem. His last one was just before his birthday and Christmas, and both resulted in stays in hospital – the first since he was born sixteen years ago.
On a more positive note, there was some enlightening conversations with Jon over the Christmas period after the let-down of my race at Relentless in October. It was also good to get out with some of the other E3C mountain bikers for some nice chilled rides, one in north Wales, and the other at Cannock – riding with like minded people without the pressure of competition, just enjoying the company and the surroundings was very relaxing. The conversations were based around my targets for 2017 and pinpointing areas to focus on in training where I feel I can make further improvements over those achieved in the last 2 years with E3Coach.com. Next years WEMBO race and UK 24-hour chaimpionships are going to be tough as WEMBO is closer to home (Italy) so there looks like a large UK contingent going, and the UK champs should be as competitive as last year with some young guns coming onto the scene too. This is all made tougher by the fact the E3Coach are now coaching a load more 24-hour mtb’ers – bugger!
Training has been ticking over nicely up until this week... It’s been odd though. Compared to last year, which was properly intense from November through to February to get me sorted for New Zealand, this year feels slack, with the focus being on maintaining base endurance. It feels slightly odd, but I am certainly looking forward to a lift in the intensity whenever it happens, and hitting the locals trails a lot harder than recently. There has been one intense hit at the Dyfi Winter Warm-up, which had forced me to reacquaint myself briefly with fast techy stuff, long climbs and the buzz of working hard for a couple of hours. It also reminded me of how good the Jersey Pocket Super Race Bars are... giving me enough of a kick to keep plugging up the Dyfi forest climbs in some very chilly conditions (thanks chaps).
The other big bonus has been travers bikes making me a singlespeed specific frame to see me through the Worlds and UK championship this year. I am so looking forward to this and being able to do away with a chain tensioner again – life with sliding drop-outs or an EBB is so much easier! The only thing I could ask travers to improve on over the RussTi was to add a second bottle cage so I can ditch the hydration pack on the long training rides. So a big thanks to Michael Travers, who has also been kind enough to supply a set of his lovely carbon XC Prong forks and RussTi rims. It feels great to jump back on a rigid bike every now and then and remember how accurate riding with good quality rigid forks is. Like the forks, the rims are really high quality finish, and the super wide section has allowed me to run up to a 3.25” tyre, which, when the ground not been soaked has simply been amazing regarding grip levels. And while we are talking tyres, I am so impressed with the VEE rubber I am running now, having not shredded one yet (unlike the Schwalbe’s I was having constant issues with in the last half of 2016).
Thanks to everyone that is helping me out at the moment, and here’s to a promising 2017!