U23 World Championships
With the season finished for me and a rather large gap in-between past blog postings, it seems I have left my avid readers somewhat behind in my adventures. I will try to round up September as concisely as possible but I cannot make any promises as it is a rather rainy monday morning outside and I’m not going anywhere fast.
I managed to finally get myself down to the Vercors region of the French Alps early in September, for a good 10 days training and a quality catch up with my uncle and aunt. They run a cycling holiday business in the beautiful town of St Jean en Royans, which is probably the most perfect place to start a bicycle ride ever. Check out their website here, you won’t regret it: www.velovercors.com.
I spent the 10 days riding solo in the mountains, trying to find inner peace and working on my climbing for the upcoming U23 Worlds in Spain which contained 3000m altitude gain. This is enough climbing to make a tall boy quite nervous I assure you, but I’ll come to that later. The Alps in the autumn are truly spectacular, I could go on to describe the way the mountains create stunning shadows, cut from the low autumnal light but my friends would only roll their eyes at me.
It was also great to catch up with my Uncle Roger, or Basil Faulty as he is affectionately known, (himself an ex-racer, riding for teams in Luxembourg, France and the UK back in the day). After so long apart it was awesome to just hang out in the living room each evening, feeling like we were both in the team digs, messing about in-between races. I also got to enjoy my Auntie’s amazing cooking which is in a completely different league/universe to my culinary skills.
From France I traveled back to Belgium for a couple of races to ‘tune up’ before heading straight out to Spain for the U23 Worlds.
Ponferrada is an interesting and welcoming town, but the fact that it was in the middle of absolutely nowhere was a definite minus point; It took a 12+ hour trip of flying, driving and walking aimlessly to arrive from Belgium.
Upon arrival at the Irish camp we were truly looked after like kings and the whole experience is something I won’t forget. We even had our own chef, Sean, cooking us up the tastiest, healthiest food I have ever eaten in my life. Luckily, our hotel was situated right next to the course so we really got to soak up the atmosphere before and after the event.
The Worlds race itself was pretty tough to be honest, with 10 laps of a circuit which basically just went up and down two climbs. It was a race of survival and keeping yourself in contention, which I did a good job of until about 2 laps to go when all the climbing began to take its toll and I felt the legs fading.
The first climb of the lap was this long, steady one on quite a main road. This climb felt relatively easy to begin with but by the end it was a complete and utter pain in the bottom. On the final lap I was still there in the front group but as we hit this long climb the springs completely came out. Crossing the line in 72nd position, I was content I’d given it everything but still disappointed that I couldn’t hang on that bit longer.
Upon finishing Worlds it was my season over and time to rest up and recover for 2015 with no races left on the programme.
The day post-Worlds me and my team mate Jack went out for a 3 hour ride into the mountains surrounding Ponferrada for a decent coffee spin. Then on the Sunday settled down in the grandstand at the 100m to go mark to watch the Elite race unfold, which was quite an inspiring watch!
It has been quite an up and down year for me I think its fair to say, something that has probably been conveyed through these blogs. I have learnt a lot but I think it has all made me stronger. Next season I will be doing something very similar to this year and I believe I can really step up with the experience I gained from my mistakes. Proof will be in the pudding but I’ll be blogging about it all as per usual!