It’s now been a few months since my last blog entry, a few rather tough, crazy months in fact. I’ll try to give you a bit of an idea as to what happened!
I left you with the secret story behind the preparation for the ride at the national Time Trial championships and this was by a long way the highlight of the season. I found a discipline in which I find a huge amount of satisfaction from the efforts involved, and I turned out to be decent at it too, which is always a bonus!
If we ignore the national road race, which I had to pull out of with some pretty horrible stomach issues (despite being in some of the best form of my life), I went on to enjoy a couple of relaxed weeks in the French Alps to reset the head. This was something that always turns out to be incredibly valuable at this time of the season. To me, the ability to race your bike is 50% mental, especially in Northern Europe with its crosswinds and cobbles etc. You could be the strongest rider in the race but if you end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, your race is over. So having a fresh head for racing is essential.
Anyway, the months following can best be described as “rather unfortunate”. To make a long story short, I re-found my form on the bike pretty fast after my mini-holiday in July and could feel the body was quite a bit stronger for racing than any other point in my racing career. All these top level races have an effect on the body! However, my good shape came soon after what turned out to be my final UCI 1.2 race of the season, meaning that the only races I had remaining in the season were either pro races against the best, or regional races that can’t put me on the map so well. Essentially I could give everything I had in these high level races but I never made an impact, due to my lack of experience in the peloton and simply less power in the legs than some of these guys. So the season kind of fizzled out for me from a race-perspective.
Off the bike, the final months of the racing season were also rather challenging. With the combination of a terrible year for the market of professional riders in world cycling, a year somewhat under the radar for me, (I suspect) new requests from sponsors and an understanding between myself and the management at Leopard that racing another year with the calendar we had wouldn’t give me opportunity to show myself and to take the next step, I had to find a new team. This naturally creates a huge amount of stress. Knowing that at the end of the year I could be out of a job really put the pressure on in those final races in September and actually just made it that bit harder to perform when it mattered as my mind was often elsewhere. It was not a nice time, let’s put it this way… I was certainly ready for the end of the season when it came.
It’s amazing how much you can be affected by stress off the bike! But anyway, as I said, the season kind of fizzled out, despite the fact that I had actually started to get my positioning in the peloton sorted, which had held me back a lot throughout the year. I had some really good races in those final weeks in September but it felt to me that the performances were going unrecognised in these top races and it had started to become apparent that a change was actually necessary.
So! On to 2019. I feel already that I have put this past season behind me, taken lots of lessons, and I am ready to get going again and fight to move up in the cycling world. I’ve transferred to a team I know very well indeed; the Zappi Race team. I rode with them as a junior when I had some of my best results to date. Although it is officially a step down for me, the team has big plans for this coming season however, with a much bigger calendar, more riders, and more support. With under 23 races in Italy and Belgium combined with French and British racing, plus others, it really feels like a good place for me to be given where I am with cycling now. I can’t wait to get going! Just one more month of training in British weather to go too, before months of Spain then Italy, of course, helps the motivation.
Let’s see what we can do.