This one has stewing in the editor for a while, much like the experience stews in my head.
The final (and finale!) of the CX season is the National Champs in St Anne's Park, taking place a month after the last race in Ireland.
It's a chance to see who trained hard over Christmas and who over-indulged on the turkey and Roses. It's also a chance to see who has remained healthy over the cold, wet period, and that was where I fell down.
I arrived back from the UK trip the Monday previous with a dripping nose and woke on Tuesday feeling a bit peaky. Not properly sick, not sick enough to warrant a day in bed, but enough to go into full recovery mode - early nights, garlic, vitamin C and Lemsips and enough to stay off the bike, indoors and warm.
And so the week continued, energy levels were low, and with it, morale - as much as I had spent the previous month looking forward to nationals, I knew a decent performance at St Annes was looking increasingly unlikely.
The race itself wasn't anything to write home about, I did my usual routine of an adequate start, despite the blistering pace set by Robin & co up the front, but felt like I was pedalling squares for the rest of the hour and finished up in 13th - way below my expectations I had for myself and those UCI points elude me for another year. After the race, it was straight home to bed with a junk dinner and a nice beer (and more Lemsips)
The experience was ultimately very disappointing for me, I had put in a decent month of training and watching myself over Christmas, coupled with some CX racing in the UK to get the legs firing again should have put me in the running for a decent performance, but ultimately I spent the day just trying to make it through the race - I wasn't the only one.
As its the last CX-related post for a while, it's probably a good time to thank some people for their contributions to my season:
-Agata, for her support and cheerleading in many cold, windy parks over the months, and for putting up with my inane chatter about tyre pressure, cornering and whatever else
-Greg, for his guidance, scientific input, loan of a pit bike and many other things over the course of a season. It's a pity he never got into top form, as I think we'd have enjoyed racing each other.
-Arek, for keeping me honest and getting me out into the park at 6:30am
-Robin, Evan, Stuart and the rest of the Tuesday night crew for the hours of skills coaching, intervals and generally flogging ourselves silly.
As my first CX season for few years, I'm more than happy with how it worked out - sure there were a few low points, but that only makes the good days even sweeter. If you had offered me some of the results I got before the season started, I've have taken your hand off, and yet, I know I am capable of more. I know what I need to work on in the future, every year I gain a little more experience about what works best for me and how to apply myself, and small successes make me hungrier to push on to better things.
Next up: MissionGetAPhD