Well, here we are. Been in LA for the Paracycling Track World Championships for over a week now and still a few more days to go before the racing begins. We took the decision to fly over here early (compared to some of the teams that only arrived yesterday) so that we could have some extra time to get over the jetlag and have some extra training sessions on the track here. And...mission accomplished.
Everyone on the team has now adjusted to the 8 hour time difference and we've had daily sessions on the LA velodrome – getting used to the peculiarities of the track and getting a good feel for our surroundings. We've setting in nicely and found our way around a bit and met some of the 'locals'. But because we are racing in a few days, the amount of time we spend on our bikes is limited each day. And that leaves a LOT of free time to kill.
Personally, I'm OK with lots of time to kill. I am adept at surfing the internet and always have a laptop loaded with films and TV shows to keep my brain turned off. As race day approaches, I try not to stress too much about my performance and worry about things like lap times or what my competition will be doing. I have confidence in my training and know that I will put it all together when the starting bell rings and I come flying out of the blocks. So I try and spend my free time relaxing and letting my batteries recharge fully.
Some of my teammates find the downtime harder to deal with – especially when the sun is shining and we're in one of the biggest US cities. There is a lot to see and do here and it's very difficult to stay put in your hotel room when you could be out sight-seeing and having a good time. It's easier for me as I lived in the area when I was a child and have visited these parts many times. Plus, I simply remind myself that I'm here to work – and win medals – and anything that distracts me from my goals, or takes away vital energy isn't worth my time.
I would love to be seeing the sights or wandering on the beach, but being in the sun, or (in my case) spending any time at all walking around unnecessarily can hurt my chances of winning a medal here. And I have a very good chance of taking some silverware home, especially if I keep my head screwed on tight.
In these final few days before racing starts, we are fully into the 'taper' period. It's basically where we do an absolute minimal amount of work to keep the legs working to their full potential without expending too much energy. The efforts are short and intense and few in number. The afternoon road rides are cut out too, meaning there is even more time to kill. The body gets fresher, but the mind can get stale.
We are all ready to race. Chomping at the bit. Our tandems all start their racing on Thursday (it's Tuesday as I write this) whilst the solo bikes go on Friday. Which means I have an extra day to wait until it's my time to go. But I'm just going about my business as usual – and resting as much as possible. In a few days it will all be over and we'll all be able to relax, sit back and have a beer together and if we've done it right... enjoy our victories together.
And so... I'll see you in a few days. Hopefully with some hardware to share!