2013 started off by eating grapes, in fact 12 of them, one for each chime of the clock ringing in the New Year. I was in Majorca and this was a Spanish tradition to bring good luck. It was nice to get back into a routine of training and have no distractions. Also the weather was pretty good compared to back in the UK and I managed to get 10 quality days of training in, covering a good number of miles and a plenty of climbing to boot. Back in the UK I continued race in the Manchester Regional Track League, and enjoyed getting back into the competitive side of bike riding, although the endurance side of racing has never been my speciality.
Towards the end of January I attended the London Bike Show, and although there was quite a bit of snow disrupting travel I managed to get there and back in one piece and without too many delays. The show was good fun, signing autographs on the British Cycling stand, and then doing a half hour interview on the stage with Anthony McCrossen. The bike show was also a good chance to chat to manufacturers and distributers about the coming year and meet the industry insiders.
The start of February saw me heading north to Glasgow, to ride at the final round of the Revolution track series, and the first time the series had ventured away from Manchester. Once again I was riding for Face Partnership with the endurance riders. I didn’t quite get off to as good a start as in the first round as I finished 6th in the Flying Lap, an event I’d managed a 2nd in October. The Madison kilo was a much better ride than the 1st round though, riding with Jake Ragan we managed to post a sub 60 second kilo and good enough to take the lead at the halfway point. In the end we ended up 5th, but the time and placing was an improvement from previous rounds. The bunch races went pretty well this time around, although I didn’t make any of the top ten places I had much stronger rides than in the October rounds and was more aware of what was going on around me. However still need some more racing and training to properly get in the mix and contest the finish sprints.
With unsettled weather conditions and having spent 2 days straight on the turbo, I was online booking another camp out in Majorca, this time it was only for 7 days, but it was long enough to continue working on the base fitness, and clocking in the hours. I was staying in the Playa de Palma, and it was pretty much a cycling hotel, with the hotel filled with cyclists. I was joined on a number of rides by fellow Paralympic Colin Lynch, who was staying in the same hotel. I also bumped into one of my main rivals and good friend, Jiri Jezek, who was staying a few hundred metres away in another hotel, I joined him out on a big group ride where we discussed the issues we’re having in our sport at the moment. It was good to get out riding with these guys as I do a lot of my training on my own, and when you’re on longer road rides it’s good to have someone there with you going through the same miles and hours. My fitness was on the way up, and I set a few PB’s up some of the shorter climbs on the island I use to test myself.
The camp wasn’t without a few hiccups though, as on the 2nd day I was knocked off by a car, which in itself was pretty shocking, but I was incredibly lucky and managed to escape with a few cuts and bruises. Thankfully it didn’t affect my training and I was able to finish the week strongly.
Once back home it was off to another bike show, this time the Bike and Triathlon Show in Manchester. It was a smaller event than the one in London, but certainly felt like I signed more autographs this time around.
With my fitness going in the right direction, it was time to test myself out on the road, and I was set to race in the Eddie Soens Classic at Aintree Race Course. It was the first race of the season for most people and historically has been cold and wet, but with 250 riders from all categories of racing it was going to be organized chaos! The race set off at a good speed and I was off with the Cat 2 riders in the group just ahead of the Cat 1’s and Elites. It wasn’t long before we were caught and the bunch was 250riders strong and shortly after that the first crash happened, fortunately I managed to avoid it, but with the rider on the ground each lap the bunch would have to squeeze past before regrouping. A few more laps in and there was another crash, this time I wasn’t so lucky and got caught the wrong side of it. After not quite making it back on, I ended up riding to the end of the race in a small group, and with the peloton out of our range it turned into a strong training ride. Still it was pretty enjoyable, and my legs felt pretty good throughout.
Then it was back to Majorca again, this time with almost all the GB Para-Cycling Team. It was one of the most relaxed camps I’ve been on, although the craziest weather conditions. We had sun, rain, wind, snow, and hail, but all in all it didn’t stop me getting in all the training I had planned. This camp was about adding intensity to my rides, and working on specifics that’ll hopefully convert into more speed on the track during my kilo.
Well that’s spring done and dusted, off to race at the Good Friday Meet at Herne Hill Velodrome (weather permitting) and then it’s into the meaty part of my training block, as I aim to make the 2014 Commonwealth Team.
Catch you all soon, as I keep you updated on my progress