If You Do The Same Things…

…You’ll get the same results. Is a sporting trueism. It basically means that whilst performing to a certain level, you cannot just expect to improve consistently based on the same inputs.

For example, my best year on the bike was 2006. 3 or 4 good placings in road races and all on hard courses. 5th fastest in the Fred, good rides on Etape Du Dales, Polka Dot Challenge and the Marmotte and some good Hill Climb showings too. Those successes were based on training a 14 hour week minimum, commuting to and from work 3 days a week (thats a 40 mile round trip) and 2 long rides at the weekend. My only interval training came from Road Racing and Time Trialling and I bumbled through the season at a constant level and I was pretty pleased with the results. I can’t do that any more due to not being single and having a job that requires me to move around between sites, so I had to change it.

2007, 2008 and 2009 were not what I hoped and now it’s time to change again. One of the hardest things anyone can do is take themselves out of a comfort zone and risking a new approach. This year I’m planning to take in structured gym work (which seems to have worked miracles for Honister 92’s very own Schleck brothers) and approach my goals in a different fashion.

I’ve always picked out individual events and said “that one” building up to a peak for one day and then beating myself up if I didn’t measure up. I think this year I’m going to pick periods of a few weeks with decent races I can do well in and aim to perform right across them. Hedging my bets, if you will. I’m going to prepare differently too, by breaking my goals down in to physical characteristics required giving me something to hang my hat on while I’m training.

Likewise I need to amend my mental approach. I havbe a tendancy to think myself out of a race before I’ve left the house. I don’t know what it is, but I need to address it all the same.

Anyway, will update this later on following my first gym session and my goalsetting session with Coach Sam!

Reliability Rides Harder Than Racing… Official

Derwent Valley Wheelers Peter Taylor Memorial ride this morning, in memory of the gent who used to run Cockermouth’s long-established Derwent Valley Cycle Sport. The reliability format allows as many people as possible to get involved and also makes things much simpler insurance-wise. It’s basically a sportif kind of ride without the timing. About 5 of the local racing snakes turned up, meself included, so it was assured that the quick group was going to be pretty hardcore!

But i’ve never ridden a reliability like that… Usually they don’t go crazy until after the stop. Then the fast guys start competing for bragging rights. Today we rolled out at 20 mph and it never lifted off. There’s a big climb up to Overwater about 6 miles into the route and Garth and Sean attacked up it. On a reliaibility ride after 10km.

I assumed they were just testing each others legs, being brothers and all, and so didn’t respond. But no… On they went, quickly joined by Brian Payton (local king of the Time Trial scene) on a cobbled together bike with a 55 chain ring. So before we knew what had happened we were hurling ourselves down the other side at speeds of up to 65kph. I had closed the gap by the bottom but the front of the ride was down from 12 to 5.

All was calm for a couple of miles of gentle descent, then up a sharp little rise in Boltongate, Honister 92’s answer to the Schlecks gave it another almighty dig. This was about 20 miles into a 60 mile ride. I really cannot express how much a serious breach of reliability etiquette this was (etiquette rule no. 3490 No dropping PD Malcolm.), joined by Payton, they started to sail down towards the A595 with me and one of the local triathletes chasing hard. Their gap increased further after we got stuck at a junction they had just crossed and after that me and the Tri-Guy rode the first half together trying to keep them in sight, and failing. This despite riding the first 50km at 32.5 kph with a headwind for the last 20.

At the cafe, something marvellous happened and it had nothing to do with my caramel shortbread or double espresso. Me and Tri-Guy arrived to find we were the first there. The three who had gone shooting off up the road had missed a turning, arriving 15 minutes after us. You can be as fast as you like, you know, but you have to get round the course. They had evidently failed on the “reliability” part of the day.

Second half saw the five of us and traning buddy Mike leave together (he had forgotten to put his clock forward. Most funny) to ride down the Cumbrian coast towards Allonby, into the teeth of an evil headwind. Down there, the wind doesn’t just force you to grind your way along, it blows sand in your face too. Horrible riding. Payton’s 55, my brute force and ignorance and Sean looking disgracefully smooth powered the group along before we turned back in land to climb over the bank of hills that lie just inland. A good pace was set here too, passing people who’s left the cafe before us, rolling along in conversation, trying to attack 25 miles from home (hem hem hem). Mike pulled off at this juncture, sensible man, and Brian had punctured, leaving myself and the Schlecks.

If I do say so myself, we worked fairly steadily over the last 20 miles. Partly due to recognising we were pretty evenly matched, partly due to being knackered. Grinding into a headwind was really tough and I could feel cramp starting on all the little steep climbs that dotted the end of the course. The final rise saw me try to use what little I had left to get away (see? These always degenerate into a race). Sean got dropped, but Garth steamed away for the “victory”, leaving me “second”. Pleasing ride on a good course.

I am, however, destroyed. I’ve cramped 3 times whilst writing this, which is what motivated the title. Seriously, if those boys ever get it into their heads to pin on a number, they could do some real damage. I plan to take tomorrow to recover and then get into the Sportif training plan I outlined on Friday.

Cdnw round 3- Cockermouth

There are many reasons why I started this blog. I’m an inveterate attention seeker, I wanted to write again, I crave the approval of strangers and so on… However, a major concern was to be able to do the textual version of the continental pro’s post race interview. “Today was very hard, but it was a beautiful win. I dedicate this to my team” and so on and so forth.

This was my hometown race, so naturally I wanted to do well. Ever since I saw it on the calender back in October, it’s been this race I’ve been training for. The course has a 1km climb with the finish line at the top, a fast run down to the turn onto the back of the course and is then run on lumpy and rutted roads with 3 or 4 sharp sprinter hills. Five laps for 90km.

I quite enjoyed the first time up the climb, was at the front and threw myself at the first of the sprinter hills into a headwind, just checking how people would respond. Badly as it turned out, attacks started to come from everywhere and the first 2 laps were very fast, I was relegated to about 2/3s of the way down the bunch of 70 and was concerned, especially given the extremely fast weaving between parked cars and having to really push hard to bridge a gap up to the front as the bunch started to split on the big climb.

Fortunately, lap 3 calmed down a bit and I was able to recover from my exertions before instigating my plan… now, I like to think of P D Malcolm as a rider with panache, I don’t mind not winning, I do mind not trying. Were my fevered imaginings ever to become reality, I would be the pro that wins very little, but gives TV audiences what they crave… drama.

So it was with this sense of responsibility to French housewives and David Duffield weighing on me that I cast off my fear of manouvering around a fast bunch to move up on the run in to the back part of the course and gave it some stick. My aim wasn’t to escape, it was to see who wanted to hurt themselves over the hills and get rid of some of the bulky sprinters, my plan was then to attack. So I went hard, pulled all the way round the back of the course into the wind, if anyone tried to come past me, I dug again, this was my house and nobody was going to muscle me off the front. A look back at one point revealed the depleted field in one long line and elicited a shout of “that’s enough” one more kick up the last sprinter then a look to see who was left with me… everyone. A 30 strong group. And I was dead. Balls

Last lap saw me drift to the back of the bunch and struggle round with cramp. My last act was to try and pull Mike up for the sprint but he was shot too and couldn’t follow. I was popped off the back just as thee sprint started to wind up.

All in, I have to be pleased, I animated the race over a hard course and even fitted in some team work. Slight downer was bending my mech hanger in a touch of wheels… that’s my type of course and I have to learn to relax and take my time before acting, as well as saving energy over the whole race. But my bunch skills were a big improvement on last week and I’m gaining in confidence.

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