I feel like I have learnt a bit about myself in the last 12 months. It has been the most chaotic ride, the words steady and secure have been deleted from my life and that ‘play it by ear’ feeling has been a common theme ringing in the background. My last jaunt was no different. I found out about racing a Track World Cup in Mexico about 3 weeks before the preparation camp started, while I was standing in an airport line in Bangkok. Fitting. All of a sudden Christmas and New Years took on a very different look. With a new training schedule from my coach Simon, it was a sleeves-rolled-head-down-deep-dark-place training block. I crammed a huge amount of solid work into those two and a bit weeks . Into camp I went, on the new Avantidrome, which I could write a whole blog post about how much fun it was to do a camp on a brand new track so close to home.
Before I new it, off to Meixco it was. Despite overshooting Gaudalajara Airport and having to bus 4 hours through Mexico the trip was fairly straight forward…. The first day on the track, not so much. Freshly painted track = chaotic. Considering this was my first international track meet, it was a little assaulting on the senses to try and do a track warm up simply with all the other nationals whirling around, doing their own thing. Never mind a slippery track! Honestly my first couple of days racing carried a similar theme. All a brand new sensation and all a little bit rough but something quite fun happened on day 3 of racing.
Years since my last madison. 4
Training for madison during build up. 20mins
Races done with madison partner. 0
Result for the Madison at World Cup #3. 1st.
Bouncing off a couple of average performances and considering aforementioned stats, I was about as nervous as I have ever been prior to a bike race. Partnered up with Tom Scully we got it pretty right, from start to finish we were right in front of the action. Taking early points, taking a lap and then finishing it off was a spectrum of emotions was something that I will struggle to explain; from the raw nerves, to the rush of the first sling, to the absolute agony of the race itself (never mind being at altitude) to crossing the line with New Zealand at the top of the leader board. Its a day that I won’t forget for a while, it is a race quite unlike any other so it was kind of fitting just how dysfunctional our whole lead in was. My first international track meeting as a senior rider, I feel I can chalk that up to a success.
Well I made it! A winter & spring training in New Zealand…
November has rolled around and so did the Oceania Track Cycling Championships which signalled the end of my first block of training and simultaneously my first time back on the track for 4 years. After my early return I needed a change of goals, turning around to do the same program as I had for the last 3 years didn’t seem too tempting and more importantly I felt myself yearning to be back on the boards, something which had grown over the last couple of seasons but is quite hard to step back into. After spending 7 months away racing on the road, the prospect for a whole track dedicated block of training upon your return is mentally and physiologically challenging. The problem with racing track in New Zealand is that the level of racing is amazingly high and doing it justice means you have to turn up with an A game. So I set about finding an A game.
It started with acquiring a coach (which I did, working with Simon Finnel) setting a goal and getting to work. It has been an interesting few months, I feel like I have learnt more about myself as an athlete in the last 3 months than I have in the last 3 years! The Individual Pursuit at Oceania Championships was the goal, which of all the track events is fundamentally very simple; cover 4km as fast as you can. And if you make the final, cover it faster than the other guy… But that is really selling it short, there is a lot more than that. To be honest I had never ridden a 4km IP (let alone on an indoor track) so the whole process required a huge amount of imagination. As the training unfolded and I tapped into as much information from those around me as I could a fascination, respect and almost romantic notion for the event developed. This is endurance track racing in its purist form! Which for anyone who has been around my cycling will find interesting, it is quite far removed from the world of bar bashing, tactic changing, forever moving world of road sprinting. I can honestly say I have enjoyed every step of preparing for the Oceania Champs. I got plenty of time to reflect on this driving from Te Awamutu to Auckland twice a week for the last 6 weeks to be on the track, one of which was at 5.15am on a Sunday to be training at 7.
Before I end up on too much of a tangent, back to the Oceania Championships. I rode 4min 29seconds and ended up 4th in the Individual Pursuit. Respectable but showed some areas in which I can improve. I also raced a bunch of other events, the Omnium at the UCI Tier 1 Event & the Scratch/Points race at Oceanias – top 10 in all of them but a side show to what I had focused on. Overall I was content with the week in Invercargill. For a guy that came out of NZ winter, without any time on the boards and my lengthy gap from the sport, it was a good start! I feel like the most was made with the resources at my disposal and while of course I wanted more, some restrictions couldn’t be avoiding. Possibly more importantly than the results was two other factors came out of the week.
1. I loved being back on the track.
2. I came out of the week hungrier than I went in. There was an element of unknown going into this race. I had banked all my training on an event I had never done before in a different discipline of the sport. You cant fake confidence and it is really hard to be confident in an event you have never done. Now I have spent some time racing and added some strikes to my pursuit count I turn around chomping at the bit to lower that time. I know what it feels like and imagining turns into associating.
I have taken the first step and from here I plan to keep the momentum rolling. The purity of the pursuit is what is driving me, hard work plus attention to detail produces the best time. If I am to believe Malcolm Gladwell I am roughly 2 hours into my 10000 hours so will have to keep my head down for a while yet.
I am back.
It is time to fire up the blog but this time I am here for a whole different reason. Over the last few months I have wound down all my social media, not going into hiding but just getting rid of the useless white noise. Stuff that I really didnt want the world to see and I am sure most of the world didn’t want to see it. Funnily enough as I canned my twitter, instagram and facebook accounts (I actually kept Facebook open but blank as a personal internet address book. Amongst the fog of junk are still a lot of people I want to connect with. I am going to make an effort to get back into that too, small steps though…) not one comment. I stopped blogging on the other hand and I had people reach out to ask what had happened! People in the real world! Surprising to me but I feel a certain amount of pride to have people take an interest in what I am up to. So with this I decided that if I was going to have any written record of what I am doing, I wanted it to be thought out and communicated in a way that I feel gets my own message across.
So here we go again. I am not promising continuity of updates, training information, pictures of the water, mountains, food or cats. This is me writing about my journey for those who wish to take an interest.