I've finally wrapped things up at work and for the next 12 months I'll be living life as a full time mountain bike rider. Gulp!
Since my last race (Roc D'Azur) at the beginning of October, I had about two weeks off the bike and for the last 3 weeks I've been riding off road with friends and generally just playing around on my bike. Tea rooms have been a frequent feature of my social rides :-) The only road miles I've been putting in have been in the car while driving to lots of different places to ride. I've spent time in Wales (Cwmcarn, Llandegla, Machen Mountain), Forest of Dean, Cannock Chase, Dalby, and Eastridge. I've also spent an afternoon playing at the pump track at Lee Quarry, which was fun, fun, fun :-))) I found myself saying "one last time" until it got dark! It's very addictive ;-)
I'm temporarily based in The Peak District which is home to some well known trails including Jacob's Ladder, the Beast, and Cut Gate path, as well as some lesser known trails around Goyt Valley and Macclesfield Forest. The Peaks will provide the perfect playground for me for the next 6 weeks, providing the snow stays away!
This week marked my return to structured training (overseen by Matt Hart at Torq), which seems to have coincided perfectly with the cold snap. Yesterday the temperature barely got above freezing and despite wearing two pairs of socks and neoprene overshoes my feet froze. I spent an hour walking around like a penguin waiting for them to defrost before I could venture into the shower, and even then I still got chilblains.
Over the next few months I'll be spending a lot of time riding my MTB on the road (complete with knobbly tyres) in order to build up my endurance base. This will involve lots of easy to moderate pace 3-6 hour rides. I choose to ride my MTB on the road rather than a road bike because: 1. I am training in the position that I race in, 2. it makes it harder, 3. I don't go as far so I don't have to figure out even longer routes to ride, and 4. it means that Dave can ride his road bike and sometimes keep up ;-)
In addition to road riding, I'll also be spending time working on MTB skills, something that I want to focus on over the next year. This will be divided into low intensity sessions where I'll work on core skills e.g. manuals, pumping, bunny hops (flat pedals), and cornering etc. and higher intensity sessions where I'll put the core skills into practice (e.g. working on technical climbs).
As well as endurance and skills sessions on the bike, I'll also be spending time working on flexibility and core strength. Finally, and most importantly, I'll be able to spend time recovering, which is something that I’ve previously been unable to find time to do. So although I won't be going to the office for the next year, I certainly won't have time that needs filling!
At the moment my recovery time is spent in front of the computer (something I thought I'd largely escaped for the year!). It seems to take forever to plan training holidays, races, travel and accommodation. It's all exciting stuff though so I'm not complaining. One trip that I am particularly excited about is a race and training camp at Club La Santa in Lanzarote. I'll be racing in the two stage off-road MTB race on 29th and 30th January and I'll also be helping out with their Cape Epic training week (28th until 3rd February).
Ok, so now it’s back to planning flights!