The Legs Have Returned
July has been full of racing but has also been rough as I've continued to struggle with my form throughout. After Stockton however, we found the cause of the problem to be too much racing with not enough training in between which made me a weird combination of fatigued but also stale. The constant racing and then wanting to be fresh for the next race had put me on this downward trajectory since my exams in June. However after fixing this and getting some training done, the legs began to feel much better at the end of the month.
On the first of the month it was the Ilkley town centre race. If there was a crit that was going to suit me it would be this one. However, 3 days of rest post crash at nationals and coming into the race not knowing whether my knee would hold up, I hadn't had ideal preparation. I felt ok on the night, if a bit stale and managed 30 mins before my lungs couldn't hack another all out minute effort. A bit disappointing but to be expected after the week prior.
Legs weren't there again at Stockton. I felt ok for the first hour to hour and a half but then the wheels came off and I was struggling to hold position. There was a split that I could see coming at 1:15 but I was too far out of position and I missed it by a bike length when one final rider lost the wheel and I no longer had the legs to go round them. Then after that I lasted another 55 mins before pulling over and calling it a day.
After looking at why this was happening with my coach, it was clear I needed some time to reset and get some training done to get my legs back. Luckily, there was 2 weeks before Lancaster.
One of the sponsors of the team, Pina, host rides from their restaurant in Kelham Island and what a day for it. About 30 degrees, sun and an excellent route round the peaks. Loads of the local lads turned out for it and it was a great 4 hours followed by some tacos and nachos.
Ideally, I would've looked for a decent result at this race but also in an ideal world it wouldn't be 30+ degrees and blazing sun all day. I really don't know how my legs were this day because the extreme conditions reeked a bit of havoc with my body's core temperature. My heart rate was a good 20 beats higher than normal for the power I was putting out just because my body was trying to pump as much blood to my extremities as possible to keep me as cool as I could be during the race. This meant that power was down since whenever I'd hit one of the hills, my heart rate would go straight to max and I'd then be at my limit. I was also getting cold after the hills which was a strange sensation so after 2 hours again, I pulled out and went looking for some shade and water. Another disappointing weekend but with it being an anomalous day, not much could be learnt except that I need to do some heat adapting.
Manx International Stage Race
Thankfully Manx was much cooler, and wetter... and windier... but the legs were excellent. Had a tough time in the first crit which meant I lost some time but the second and third day turned around after over a month of difficulties.
The second day began with another crit round some airfield overlooked by the islands only prison (think isle of man's darley moor). It was crosswinds galore and there was plenty of gutter action. So much so, that I had to bunnyhop a bush, lost my bottle in the process and collected some of the islands flora in my front wheel. Not to worry though because we all came home safe in the main group. I also clocked a 2nd best ever 10 minute power.
The third stage was a 10 mile road bike TT up and down a very flat road. I came in with a time of 21:30, good enough for 24th, but I was more happy with the power that I did. A new 20 min pb for the whole ride and a new 10 min pb on the return leg. Not bad after a hard race in the morning. This gave me the confidence that I could do a good ride on the queen stage the next day.
Lots of rice and pasta was consumed in preparation for the final stage which would take us from outside the tt grandstand in Douglas, around the TT course to Ramsay, over the mountain (9km at 4.6%) and then a final climb up Injebreck (2km at 11%, max 25%) before returning to Douglas where there would be 6 laps of a 7km finishing circuit to complete.
The mountain had a huge headwind on it that day so it was ridden fairly steady and everyone knew the race was going to split up Injebreck so I tried to conserve as much energy as possible for that part of the race. I was at the front going up Injebreck and I could hear everyone's breathing which was reassuring because then I knew everyone was suffering but after the climb there was about 5km of crosswind false flat before the mountain descent. I was well placed over the top, in the front group of about 15 but clearly not well placed enough as a couple of people got blown onto the grass, leaving me to close some gaps and then some more lost the wheel by which time I was on the limit. I managed to catch a few riders that were also distanced but the front group was gone by that point. We were joined by a couple of groups from behind and I was still feeling good so with about 30km to go, I attacked and was joined by Matthew Teggart of WiV Sungod. When he realised that we weren't going to catch the front group (containing 5 of his teammates) he started to work with me. With a lap and a half to go my legs were really starting to fade so on the final time up the finish circuit hill, he rode away and we both came in solo ahead of the chasing group. I was 13th on the stage which is my best result in a National A event so far and I'm very happy to have finally had some good sensations.
Up next is Ryedale on the 21st August, maybe the second round of the U23 National Series and then the team is off the Italy for Giro Friuli which is going to be a mega 4 days of racing.