With 2016 beginning to draw to a close, by October I began to look at the 2017 race calendar, qualifying races and major Champs and begin planning Annual Leave at work, hotel bookings, travel, race fees and slowly mounting up the costs. I had decided to take on Powerman Mallorca in February as a good build up to European Championships 2017 and a chance to get in some cycling up to Lluc and the tough climbs in the Ballearics. I also wanted to race Stockton Sprint Duathlon in April as this was a favourite course of mine and had some unfinished business here after retiring with a mechanical in a previous World Champs Qualifying race.
The change to Sprint racing making it Draft legal meant that I need to upgrade the Merida to something with more power, more aerodynamic and more aggressive and thanks to my coach Barron Mendlessohn and Stophe at Contour Cycles I opted for a Giant Propel Pro Advanced 2 with Di2. So order placed for March 2017 and time to get into some Winter training. The Team at Contour have been outstanding in supporting me in my races over the past year and both the Trinity and Propel have been set up and serviced by the guys here.
If anyone is looking for a new machine speak to Stophe and the guys here first. Yes Stevenage isn’t exactly on my doorstep but the service and expertise is fantastic and the guys are all riders themselves.
Like everything else in our sport it’s self funding and the new bike meant selling an arm and a leg or working as much overtime as possible and selling some shares.
November and the build up to Christmas in Royal Mail can be pretty demanding sometimes working 4:50am to 7pm, okay it’s not compulsory but the overtime is there so you’ll take it while you can. Trying to squeeze training sessions in and family time are tough at the best of times but you seem to get stuck into a routine. You don’t notice the stress on your body or your mind and eventually when Christmas Eve approaches all you want to do is sleep.
I won’t be doing the same this year !!!
January bought around a new training base for me. While the Basildon Sporting Village offered Olympic Performance facilities, the time travelling to and from the Village was as much as the training sessions themselves. This coincided with Fit4Less or Energie Basildon opening just on the edge of town and with 2 Wattbike Pros it made sense to switch training venues and maximise the training time available and at £15.99 a month was and still is an absolute bargain.
2017 had the makings of being a great year, I began to increase the training and build a solid base ready for Powerman Mallorca. But towards the middle of January my home life took an unwelcome change.
Without going into the situation in too much detail Wendy and I split up, no one else was involved it was just one of things were work for both of us was demanding, training and family life weren’t mixing and I was asked to go. I spent a few weeks on the sofa, lined up a flat which fell through causing more issues and eventually had another lined up after I came back from racing in Mallorca.
The race itself went well, although on the final run I had a little wobble as it sank in that when I returned to the UK I was moving out.
When I returned It was a tough few months, mentally I felt crushed and tried to focus on training to take mind off things but I found it hard to cope. Some nights I’d sit in the flat alone while Wendy and the kids were at home. We both agreed it was what we needed and she helped me move in and the kids even chose the decor as they wanted something like Centre Parcs for when they came and stayed over.
Ironically I had done enough in Mallorca to qualify for the European Long Distance Championships in Germany.
Stockton soon approached and I picked up the new bike from Stophe at Contour Cycles
Stockton soon came round in April and with Wendy, Cameron, Emelia my Mum, Sister and family all in support I felt I was going to do well, the sun was shining it was a prefect Spring day for racing and i was up for it. I knew what I had to do on the first run to put some time and distance between myself and others in my Age Group and hit the bike equally hard. The Propel is a fast bike to ride and having the power to accelerate out of corners and off of roundabouts is a massive bonus in sprint racing now that drafting is legal.
I have to say wearing the new bike shoes, the Mavic Tri Heliums was a delight as it never feels like you have anything on your feet, they are so airy, light and stiff soled they make a great difference on your feet especially on longer rides too, big thanks to Contour Cycles.
As usual in qualifying races it’s a case of waiting for the official results to be accumulated and emails to be sent out and a nervous few days waiting. I raced well, had great support and there wasn’t much else I could do.
I spent the next few weeks trying to sort out my home life when the news came through I had a place in the Team for the World Champs in Canada in August on top of the European Long Distance Team I was relieved. Some might think I couldn’t be happier but far from the truth all I wanted was to be back in the family home. It took at lot of self-reflection, some honest talking and sacrifices and looking back now it’s so easy to get caught up in work, training, work, training, work and so on although you don’t realise it at the time. I couldn’t do any of the things I have done without the full support of Wendy, Cameron and Emelia and I wanted it to continue.
Several weeks later and just two weeks from the European Long Distance Champs I had to make some easy and tough decisions. The easy one was to move back home despite the money spent on furniture, rent and bills the time apart has probably bought us closer together. I had to withdraw from Sankt Wendel as financially it just wasn’t possible at that time but somethings were more important than another race.
Then came the decision about Canada and the World Champs. The flights, accommodation and race fee were going to cost around £2k but could I justify the cost. I had pout in the time the training the qualifying and the new bike were all part of the build up and planning. Would I get the chance to race another World Champs ? I guess only time will tell but if the opportunity is here and now I’ve gt to take it so I am going to embrace the chance flights and hotel is booked and the training continues.
Now the Football season has finished and Sundays mornings are free of Cameron’s matches I have had the opportunity to get some mileage in on the Propel with some rides to Richmond Park then Windsor to the Cinnamon Cafe and back with fellow Outcast Cyclists pictured below and a Sportive in France involving a 4am alarm call, a return ferry from Dover to Calais some heat hills and wind with Neil Dobson and fellow East Essex Tri Club members.
The build up to Canada is going to be tough having not really having a rest all year but August is going to be awesome. Plus there’s some exciting news to come in my next blog.
Watch this space.