It’s been a while since I updated my website with actual words, so I thought I’d enlighten the modestly increasing number of readers with what’s been happening here in Belgium over the past couple of weeks. *spoiler alert* It’s mainly involved bicycles and/or bicycle racing.
My most recent blog on Cycloport bought me up to The Twee Daagse Van Gaverstreek (http://www.cyclosport.org/11-Apr-2013/news/letters-home-racing-abroad-blog—the-ups-and-downs.html) , so I suppose there’s a good a place as any to pick up from.
My form has continued to follow a fairly steady upwards trajectory, and I’m past the stage where there could have been doubts about whether my early season form might have been a ‘fluke’. I’m fairly certain now that I had just physically a lot over the winter, and my base level was just a lot higher, which bodes well for the remainder of the season as I continue to get stronger into my planned peaks. I’ve taken a step back from the racing this month and cranked up the training to make sure I don’t blunt my sword too early, and encouragingly seem to be absorbing everything I’m doing on the bike. Managing to recover sufficiently enough for all the race days I’ve had over the past few weeks has been a bonus, so hopefully I can look forward to withdrawing some of the capital I’ve banked recently.
After Gaverstreek, I had a fairly anonymous couple of outings at both the Merelbeke and Bever kermesses, where I missed the break and had a mechanical respectively. Both were book ended by some pretty heavy training weeks though, and long term they would have been pretty beneficial. After a bit of a taper we then went to GP Affligem, where I was 22nd, at the front of the sprint from a largely diminished bunch, but 20 seconds behind the early escapees. In only the second ‘big race’ of the month it was again encouraging to be one of the hammers as opposed to one of the nails, but naturally that lead to more frustrations in that I only came out of it with 22nd place.
I then had another solid week on the bike, with motorpacing and interval sessions being bread to the filling of a 215km ride with the team mid week. (a sandwich that would put even the finest BLT to shame).
To finish the month off we went en masse to the Vilvoorde kermesse, and had quite the Anglophonic showing. After missing out on the original move, I managed to get in a counter and bridge up to the leaders after about 80km, which already contained my team mate Ryan and housemate Conor. Ryan chipped away to get 3rd, while Conor was 4th, and after naturally playing the “mate up the road” card, I sat on the back of the rest of them to then sprint for 12th.
Another month of the season has gone by then, and despite some very obvious increases in where I’m at in relation to my competitors, there’s also some clear room for improvements. On the plus side I am quite pleased, if not happily surprised, that I’m physically capable of being competitive at a new level this year. On the reverse side, my tactical nous must honestly be looked at if I’m to take advantage of that and fulfil my potential. Despite having it’s upsides, the fact I started riding at the relatively late age of 18 has meant that I’ve always been the underdog, gritting my teeth at the back. Now I’ve hauled myself up to a level where I can win races, the lack of experience of being in such a position I think becomes apparent. Whether its because of a lack of confidence, a lack of tactical knowledge, or a lack of sheer courage, something hasn’t been adding up. The only thing I can do is to keep putting myself at the business end of things to gain that experience, and learn from it. The other thing I is of course to not fret, and just get on with it. As the Belgians like to say “the season is long, eh”. That it is, and I’m sure by the end of it I’ll have done myself justice.
Coming up we have quite a busy May, starting this weekend at the next round of the TopCompetition at Circuit De Wallonie. It’s a UCI 1.2, and the 23% climb on the finishing circuit is included no less than 5 times. Last year’s winner now rides for Argos-Shimano, with 7 of the top 10 turning pro, so the fight for the dead turn that goes into the climb should be nice and relaxed…
Beyond that we venture to France for the Tour Du Loiret, before Pro Kermesses in Puivelde and Gullegem, and round 3 of the TopComp at Deux Acren. Good job I got the Ks in, then.