A year older, a year wiser! What a road race season it’s been, some good results, some objectives met, some lessons learnt.
It started way back in March, a blustery bright day, the first National Vets series race somewhere south of Leicester, narrow country lanes, grippy roads and steep hills. I got in a break of about 5 riders and spent 2 hours turning myself inside out to drive the pace line. It all ended with 5km to go, the final, the bit that matters. Cramp hit me hard in both legs, I had to back off and ascend the steep climb to the line desperately trying to hold off a marauding bunch which I just about did through gritted teeth. The first race is a stark reminder of what you have to go through to be competitive and despite a long hard winter grinding out the miles, hammering the turbo, strength and core training, nothing really compares to the extreme effort of that first race.
Equipment & Nutrition I need to race
In a 90 km race I would usually have x2 500ml bidons of carbs and electrolytes. Without somebody to hand up a bottle mid race this is as much as you can carry. After that first race someone who knew a thing or two about sports science suggested I try High 5 4:1 carbs and protein mix. Apparently some people have trouble absorbing electrolyte based drinks and maybe this would help give me energy and offset the cramping. So I gave it a go and as my condition improved and the race season got properly underway the cramping improved. I think it’s fair to say that I am now converted to High 5 4:1 and have used it all season.
The vets scene is uber competitive, guys well into their 50’s showing the form and aggression of juniors, the racing is hard and the best guys always win on the day. There is no hiding place, if you are not on a good day you will get found out. The kit on show is pretty impressive too, a good bike is important and if you have bad legs on race day at least look good! I’ve been racing on my beloved Colnago C50 with Zipp 404’s for 10 years, a thing of rare beauty, built for speed.
The secret to my success
I keep an old school training diary, 20 odd years I’ve been religiously filling it in. It sits by my bed and I’ll log the miles and sessions as the months tick by. Yes I have a Strava Premium account, I even use the Wattbike Hub app but nothing motivates me more than my trusty diary. I will return to the topic of my dairy at some point, it is a secret that needs to be shared. I mention it because on January 1st every year I write down 10 objectives that punctuate my cycling year. Some specific race goals, some adventures, some social rides. This year a key objective was a top 10 place in the LVRC National Vets Road Race.
I built up to the event nicely with form coming on and I managed a gentle taper into the race. On the day I got stuck in, tried to make the break, tried to create a break but nothing would stick. After a few laps of super active racing a group of 3 got away with the bunch chasing. It came down to a sprint for the minor places with the final 1km on a twisty, uphill finish. I held a good wheel and with a final, eye watering lunge to the line I managed 7th. A good day for me and reward for a lot of effort this year.
I also competed in the North Midlands Road Race League, a long established league in my area run on Thursday evenings from May through to August. 12 races and a compulsory marshalling stint every few weeks. The league is split into 3 separate race groups based on ability. Somehow I am still hanging on to my spot in the fast group with the young guns. This year I managed some good placings, lying 9th overall until the final few weeks where a family bereavement interrupted my late season. On balance it was my best year in the NMRRL and I think frequency of racing and consistency of form was the key. Hopefully I can survive a few more years in that fast group.
Summing up the season
So the season came to an end in September with the final of the National Vets series and a front wheel blow out - it was a disappointment but these things happen. Overall though it’s been a great year, I have had some good rides and enjoyed some great days out on the bike. I am hoping that 2018, with the nutrition support from Dynamic Supplements will be even better. Winter training is just getting started and I am looking forward to planning the sessions and monitoring progress with a steady build towards that daunting first race in March.
Keep your eyes peeled...
Over the coming weeks I hope to share how my training goes, how I plan it out as well as a sneak peak at my training diary and how it helps me to log and review progress.