So each season I sit down look at the calendar and work some sort of scheduled out. Pick the races I’d like to do and note the ones I can’t make. Obviously, life can affect this as we go, sickness, work and family life. It’s a good idea to look at the season, work out main goals and try to peak for them. It’s impossible to be on top form for the full cross season. This differs now as the cross season is 5 months with about 12 races as to 6 races a few years back.
Last year I came into the season with the mind set of doing a block of training the following week. This never happened and I focused too much on running the races than racing them. The year before that I came in too hot and didn’t last the full season. So there is a fine line to get it right.
In 2014 I rode the Cyclocross World Cup in Milton Keynes. The atmosphere was electric and I knew I wanted to race a cyclocross race in Belgium. The following year, 2015 I planned to do a weekend in Belgium with the club. 2 of us were to race, but at the last min, it was just me. I made the journey over and raced. Some mistakes were learned the hard way like never to get the Rosslare boat again. Practice sand and Belgium is colder than cold. Last year I picked 2 smaller races but again the sand was tough.
This year I am in a position to take Lee Harvey, first year junior. I’m not behind the door with running races to get to Belgium. There is no help from Cycling Ulster or Cycling Ireland. So any money the club makes goes back into the development of the sport. This can be reflected in our races, the standard of our courses reflects what we saw in Belgium. As Lee is first-year junior he is in at the deep end but I know he’s not out of his comfort zone. A few say we should be racing in the UK only, but why not spend that extra few quid and get to ride with the best riders in the world.
We are heading to Derby for the National Trophy Round one. Later we are away for 3 races, GP Neils Albert, Koksijde and Nacht Van Woerden. As this is a club outing it’s a great way to repay the guys for helping at the races. The guys have a tight squeeze in the van but the experience they get is worth it.
I’ve managed to race all over Europe over the years but at a slightly older age than Lee. This will be a great experience for him. I’ve never feared to race a race or to put a number on, as I’ve had the experience of World Cups, World Championships, Europeans, MTB stage races in blistering heat. I’ve also had the bad experiences like puncturing at the Commonwealth Games. We know we aren’t going to be at the thick end, but there to survive. This will stand by him. Also, we try to tick a few boxes for world championships. But that’s another story.