Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Redemption through the 'Cross

My 2011 cycling season has been, to be frank, crap. I missed a chunk of early season training through illness and never got anywhere near form again, fell into a deep rut, allowing PhD stuff to get on top of me in April & May. Bringing up the rear in the S1 races was the best I could manage on the mtb. I didn't even manage to finish Nationals, a real personal low moment for me. Lots of head scratching after that! Road racing was a little bit better, at least I enjoyed a few of the races I did, but no results of note. This was not the season I wanted after a strong 2010.
The only real highlight of the summer race season was taking 2nd mixed pair with Agata at Bontrager 24/12. This was something unexpected as neither of us had any form, but I got a good start and we held a good gap for the 12 hours. The atmosphere, the course, the company that weekend was fantastic and it was one of the few moments that made all the endless training in the rain seem worthwhile. Agata wrote about it here

Some time around August, I decided that I needed to do something to resurrect my season and hopefully raise my enthusiasm for the bike again. Cyclocross appears to be the answer...I rode a couple of 'cross seasons a few years back, it's something I love. Just the lack of a suitable bike kept me away for a while.
I spent countless hours looking for a bike, settled on a lovely carbon Focus Mares from Richie in Eurocycles and set about training again. After a few weeks, everything started to feel right again. Motivation was back, I looked forward to getting out and thrashing myself. Evening group sessions hinted at a modicum of good form was returning. I could dig deeper and push harder.

And with that, the 2011 'Cross season began, a 7th place in a muddy Lurgan was a good start and sparked the fire even more. Feeling like I was on the right track again, for the first time in over 12 months. Lethargy banished, hungry once more. In the following two races, I hopefully put any bad luck coming my way behind me - a puncture in Grange Castle cost me dearly and the best start of my life in Lady Dixon Park led to a crash, a loss of nerve and derailleur.
The following week I made amends in Swords, clawing my way from the back of the grid to 10th. Sometimes when I close my eyes, I can feel myself carving through those corners at the back end of the course..few experiences on a bike come close to it.
Another 10th place in Corcaigh Park, spending most of the hour in the big chase group. Wheel to wheel on the flat fast course, loving every moment of it. Feeling right again. Losing the sprint for 9th (damn!)