Whew. Finally a chance to catch my breath and relax a little. It's been a tough and intense few months but the hard work has paid off.
The Paracycling Track World Championships finished up for me just over a week ago in Italy and it was something of a bittersweet experience. But before I recap the competition itself, I would just like to outline some of the preparations that went into it on my part.
I started preparing for this competition almost 6 months ago. After a good month off the bike due to injury, I started back training – just building my base fitness over the winter and trying to lose some of the weight that I had gained while not riding. If you've read some of my previous posts, you'll recall my winter rides (even Christmas Day!).
|Taking a break from training in Majorca|
As the calendar changed to the new year, myself and the rest of my squad met up for the first of several training camps in Majorca (Spain). As I arrived at camp in decent condition, I was expecting things to go smoothly. But as I hadn't been on a track bike for almost a year – this couldn't be further from the truth!
The excitement of sunny skies and warm temperatures quickly turned to concern and a touch of desperation as I hit the track for the first few sessions. I had high hopes and expected to go fast. I did not. In fact, I was downright slow. The short, sharp efforts unique to track racing were a shock to my system. Furthermore, I was riding a new bike and was unable to get comfortable on it – meaning I just couldn't get the power out that I needed.
But I stuck with it. Day in and day out. Adjusting to the feel of the boards and getting used to contorting my body into the low aero position on the bike that aids speed. We split our days between long rides on the road and daily sessions on the track. It was a very tiring trip – designed to wear us out but build our fitness for the months that would follow.
After 2 weeks away at the first training camp I went home with a glimmer of things to come. Once home, I was able to make many adjustments to the bike – new bars, saddle, position, gearing, etc. And suddenly things started to fall into place.
I spent the next few weeks training at the velodrome in Manchester – fine tuning my position on the bike. Session after session my lap times began to drop – split second by split second. By the time the next training camp started in mid-February (back in Majorca again) I had regained some of my confidence and was ready to work hard once again.
The second training camp was easier on the body – focusing on specific efforts rather than general fitness. My lap times continued to tumble and while I was still a long way off my target times, I wholeheartedly believed that when the competition eventually began (still several weeks off at this point), I would be able to achieve my goals.
Back home again and many more track sessions in Manchester – just focussing on my event. Normally I would show up at the track, do a warm up, then a maximum of 3 efforts of 8 laps each. Not bad for a day's work!
Mixed in with all these track sessions, were daily road rides, gym sessions, core work, turbo sessions and just trying to recover! Had some excellent guidance from my coach, constantly monitoring my performances and pushing me to improve. And so... the foundations were laid and it was finally time to head off to Italy to compete.
But that's a story for another time...