A Season Over – The Importance of Self-Review

No matter what type of sporting discipline you participate in, it is always important to review your season once you have stopped racing.

For those of you who read my beginners’ guide to racing earlier this year, you may remember that I talked about the importance of having goals to aim for during the season (and also beyond),  in order to achieve what you want to achieve – it is incredibly difficult to feel satisfied and contented if you don’t know what you want out of the season.

So for those of you who set goals this season, whether those were distance related, time related, or just getting on your bike more, it is important to revisit the aims that you set yourself at the beginning of the season and to compare them to what you did actually achieve.

Original Goals – Realistic or Unattainable?

At the start of the season, you would have had an idea, whether you wrote it down or not, as to what you wanted to achieve.  Nobody can tell what the future holds and nobody can tell you that you can’t achieve what you want to achieve, as everybody has to have a dream, but it is important to be true to yourself.  This means that you have to be honest with yourself too.  For example, there is nothing wrong with wanting to win a Premier Calendar or a National Series event this season, but if you only started racing this season and were a fourth category rider at the start of the season, the likelihood is that you will struggle to get a ride in a National Series event, and if you are a male fourth category rider, then you can’t even enter a Premier Calendar.  Don’t get me wrong, being honest with yourself is not easy – everybody wants to feel that they are better than they are, it’s only natural, but you have to have a reality check at some point, if only for your own sanity.  Otherwise you will spend your spare time dwelling on the fact that you have failed in your mission, wondering where you went wrong and basically mentally beating yourself up.

 

(c) Martin Holden Photography

 

Achieving Targets

If you achieved your targets, congratulations!  And, if so, the next port of call for you is to ask yourself how you can build on what you have achieved this season, and whether you feel that you pushed yourself in achieving those goals, so that you set some more SMART goals for next season.

Missing Targets Is Not The End of the World

Sometimes life gets in the way.  Sometimes you get ill.  For the majority of people (and that will include most readers of this article), cycling (or any sport in actual fact) is a hobby that you do in your spare time.  It is important that you remember that fact.  Cycling is fun, a way of keeping healthy and fit and making friends.  Even if you are competing, you still should always remember that you are doing it because you enjoy it, not because your life depends on it.  And if you feel that it is the latter, and your whole sense of being in life is dependent on the results you get, then you need to have a word with yourself, my friend, because getting depressed about what you haven’t achieved is not healthy.  And if your “team mates” are not supportive enough, you do not have to stay with that team or club.  Your mental well-being is paramount – without that basis you cannot prepare yourself mentally for the challenges that life throws at you.

(c) Ed Rollason Photography

Evaluating the Season

If you haven’t achieved what you thought were reasonable goals, ask yourself why that might be.  Maybe you have had a stressful time at work, or a member of your family has been ill, or you just haven’t had the spare time to dedicate to training.  Some things are out of our control and as an adult you just have to accept that fact and move on.  Instead, look at what you have achieved this season in spite of all the other issues you have had to deal with and take those achievements as a positive.  Don’t beat yourself up about not getting the results that you thought you were capable of, but use them as a stepping stone for what you want to achieve next season.  Don’t underestimate the British weather either – if you wanted to go under the hour on a 25 mile time trial but every single time you rode an event it was horrendously windy, that is something out of your control, so just deal with it and move on.

In Conclusion

If you have missed some of your targets this season, do yourself a favour and list the goals that you wanted to achieve at the beginning of the season in one column, then in a second column list how you did in reality – you will probably find that you were not too far wide of the target, and if there were things that appear to be out of reach, think about why that might be and how you might be able to change things to achieve those goals next season.  If you use a training diary, or an on-line tool such as Garmin Connect or Strava, have a look back at all of that data you will have created and try and evaluate it to see whether you might have done too much leading up to the event where you didn’t hit the target, or you might have not done enough.

In the grand scheme of things, life is incredibly short.  This isn’t a dress rehearsal and you have to take the best out of the challenges that life throws at you.  Be honest with yourself, think about what you could have done to make things better and then you can start thinking about what you might want to achieve next season!

So until next time, enjoy riding and keep safe!

 

 

“STOP! Cyclists!” An Alternative View of the Cheshire Classic

Andy Wood of Weaver Valley Cycling Club has achieved many things in his first year as organiser of arguably the biggest and most hotly contested women’s race on the domestic calendar – the Cheshire Classic.  Not only did he source amazing sponsors in Epic Cycles, Delamere Dairy, De Vere Hotels and Roberts Bakery, as well as support from the Breeze Network and Halfords, but he also managed to persuade British Cycling to get their act together with the Accredited Marshals Scheme that has been promised for so long.

(c) Ed Rollason Photography

Closed roads for a road race are pretty much unheard of – for a start it costs too much, and when, as an organiser, you are often pushed to the limit financially to put your event on, then road closures are the last thing on your list.  It also depends on where your course goes too – and the Cheshire Classic goes up and down a bypass, so the local council are never going to go for that.  However, with Accredited Marshals comes a new concept – stopping the traffic with lollipop signs but instead of them saying “Stop! Children!” the say “Stop! Cyclists!”

 

The first thing that I noticed on the way to the headquarters, was the large number of “Caution! Cycle Event!” signs on your approach to the bypass.  This meant that drivers had warning from an early stage that there was an event on – not a small side hiding in a grass verge – but a sign on every lamp post in the couple of hundred metres leading up to the area where the accredited marshals were going to be in place, so drivers had no excuse.  The next tell tale sign was “Traffic Control Ahead” which is probably what the drivers didn’t want to see!

 

(c) Ed Rollason Photography

 

How did it affect the race?  Well there were two main sticking points on the course – firstly the entry on to the bypass – this is a single carriageway bypass, with no central reservation and cars will speed down that section of road so it is very dangerous.  The presence of the accredited marshals meant that the bunch was able to enter the main road from the sweeping left-hand bend without worrying about oncoming traffic.  The second tricky place was the main climb, where the finish is, “The Cliff” on Acton Lane, where the gradient gets steeper towards the top.  Again, the presence of the accredited marshals meant that cars had to stop at the top of the climb whilst the riders came through, which also meant that all of the road was used (until you came around the bend to find the stopped car!)

 

(c) Ed Rollason Photography

© Ed Rollason Photography

It was a classic Cheshire Classic, with Karla Boddy of MG Maxifuel taking the win in a tight sprint finish with Emma Grant of Matrix Fitness.  A superb ride by Karla, who was understandably emotional at the finish!  But, in my humble opinion, there was another star in the making – it was Andy Wood’s first solo attempt at organising a bike race, which was one of the most well-organised events I have been able to attend.  I only hope that the riders appreciate all the hard work and effort he put into the event to make it such a great success.

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