Training through the off-season, preparing for the races ahead is a tough time for all riders, no matter where you are. There are many many hours on the bike riding along at at a tempo on your own, lots of uncertainties about where you are with the fitness, and you will get numb hands and feet out on a ride at some point, it’s only a matter of time.
This has been the first winter away for me. Having only finished at school in June last year, it’s the first time that I’ve had the opportunity to get away and use the more reliable weather conditions in Spain, Girona more specifically.
The big glamour of being in Spain amongst lots of WorldTour, Pro Continental, and Continental riders is something that wore off fairly quickly for me. However, that wasn’t the reason for being down here, it was for the smooth and safe roads, for the mountains, the consistent weather, and to be in a beautiful and social city. So training conditions have been pretty ideal and I have been able to learn a lot from other people around the place whilst looking after myself, always preparing for the next day of training. I have also found that just being away from home has led me to be much more focussed on what I am doing, and that makes a big difference. Even being back home for a four days at Christmas led me to feel like I’d dropped the ball a bit.
Now, however perfect I feel the set-up I have had down in Girona for the winter is, it doesn’t take away from the hard work and suffering that is required on the bike. It doesn’t matter how good the tan-lines are, if you’re doing this stuff right, there will be times when you finish an interval unable to move your legs any longer. The thing about this work in the winter is that there are no real tests against other people, no race-summary videos, no fancy photos of you doing the final sprint etc… It’s an ugly time.