New (bigger) bike, more food, more racing, the giant returns…

Not this big...

After a month of recovering from illness and building my training back up I am happy to say… I am back racing!

After getting sick for the fourth time in April I felt the best course to regain my fitness was to cut my losses, take a proper rest and build back up again gradually. It was a difficult time, morale was at a complete all time low, and I was so frustrated. In my opinion, sport is most difficult in those moments than the physical ones. Thanks to a lot of people who stood by me, even when it would have been far easier for them not to for pulling me through.

I’ve spent 4 weeks putting in good training at home and then in Belgium getting back in a good routine. I have also been paying greater attention to my diet during this time, working with Kjell de Potter, a nutritionist based in Zottegem, Belgium. Hopefully I can gain some good results from this approach but it will take hard work over time, like anything.

My first race back was the Ronde van Zeeland Seaports (uci 1.1) this Saturday. I have never felt more relief or excitement to be racing and I loved ever second. The race was actually pretty easy with Belkin and Giant-Shimano controlling the whole day for a big bunch kick. I helped position Shane as much as I could for the sprint and he got 11th. Unfortunately we lost Doull in the last 10km to a crash, in which he somehow managed to lose a shoe!

The next day I raced Memorial van Conningsloo, part of the Belgium ‘topcompetition’, a series similar to the British premier calendar. Always pretty fiercely contested, this one was no different and with slightly heavy legs I suffered more than the previous day. The 5 finishing laps included a 1.2km cobbled section complete with 0.5m of gutter on the left hand side. In my opinion cobbled sections with a gutter are always harder. It means the race is guaranteed to be lined out in the gutter and you have to concentrate so hard to hold your line whilst on the limit. No one wants to be the guy that ploughs straight into a bollard with their head down. I finished the day 1min 49sec down on the winner, not a great result but with a good weekend of racing back in the legs I now feel positive about pushing forward and hopefully gaining some momentum over the coming month.

The weekend also marked my racing debut on my new size 62cm Vitus Evo, the biggest bike I have ever ridden! Being 6ft 9in presents many challenges, having to explain to everyone that you are not a basketball player being one. However finding a bike that fits properly is also tricky. I am subsequently very grateful to Vitus who have designed and built an extra big frame for me to use whilst racing this season. The frame will also be available to buy via www.chainreactioncycles.com, so any fellow giants out there stay tuned. The bike rode fantastically and my position now feels so much better.

My comeback to racing will continue at the Ronde van de L’Oise which runs this Thursday to Sunday. There have been some epic thunderstorms floating around recently so hopefully I’ll get through it without getting struck by lightning. I do tend to stick out from the bunch a bit. I’ll let you know how it goes!