Thursday, 28 April 2011

Thunder Down Under

Just a quick update. 

I have been training HARD. And the results are starting to show. My weight is down, power is up, fitness reaching new highs and TT times are reaching new lows. I have been testing and using all sorts of new equipment (from bikes to a new leg) and everything is working perfectly.

Tomorrow I am making the VERY long journey to Australia to race in the first Paracylcing World Cup road race and time trial of the year. Vital Olympic qualification points are on offer - and a chance for me to throw down an early season marker on my rivals. Time to see if I've improved since the Road Worlds last summer and if I have a chance of beating any of these guys on the road!

So - with high hopes I will be boarding the plane for the 23 hour flight to Sydney. And in less than a week start my International Road Racing season! When I get back, will have some great updates - reviews of new equipment, my new bike and my new leg!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Back on the road and back to racing

It's been a few weeks now since the Track World Championships ended and so my focus has once again shifted back to the road for the next several months. With a very busy race schedule ahead, it's important that I get into the swing of things as soon as possible. Time to stretch the short workouts of track racing into the long hours on the road needed for road racing and time trials.

Fortunately I have a good base of training from all the work done over the winter months, but need to get used to the demands of longer road races and time trials. This means building my threshold power – and means lots of hours in the saddle. Fortunately the weather is starting to heat up a bit (as much as it does in the UK) and daylight is sticking around longer each day!

Rides of up to 5 hours are not unheard of at this time of year, although it's often hard to beat the boredom when you're grinding away for that many hours in a row. But it also means blocks of harder work (up to 20 minutes at a time and 3 or 4 repeats per ride) are thrown in the train specific aspects of my riding.

Since getting back on the road, I've managed to compete in several local races to see where my fitness is. These races have been on closed circuits – usually meaning the entire bunch rides from one hairpin corner to the next, sprinting out of the corners – over and over and over...

These races are also all able-bodied – meaning I'm competing against riders who are younger, fitter and adorned with all their limbs! Still – not making excuses for any poor performances and no matter what happens, I always try my best and aim to get as much out of each race as I can.

The first race didn't go well at all. I showed up at the start line (on the wrong side of the fence) as the riders were pulling away! By the time I managed to get onto the race circuit, the bunch had already taken off up the road and I was left to chase onto the back. Takes a lot of effort to catch up and not the best way to start a race.

The circuit is a short one (under 1KM long) with hairpin bends at either end. It means that the bunch cruises up to the corner, goes round it slowly and then everyone sprints on the exit. This is repeats dozens of time. For me - it's an exercise in futility. I simply don't have the power and speed to keep up, so end up getting dropped and lapped. Each time though, I try and stick with the group as long as I can. The highlight of this particular race, was when one of the girls in the race who had also been dropped rode up to me and asked if I was Colin. "Yes" I replied. To which she said, "I love your blog!". So Katie - if you're reading this - you made my day.

The following week I raced in a 25 mile time trial. I finished in what I consider to be a slow time, but managed to go faster than a fair number of people so was pleased. First one of the year and lots of time to improve.

Last weekend I really went for it – racing on both the Saturday and the Sunday. The Saturday race was quite good (for me). Although the pace was high, the course suited me and I was able to keep up with everyone the entire way. In the end I found myself sprinting for the finish line, finishing 7th from the bunch.

The following day I raced on another circuit, but this time with some VERY fast (compared to me) riders. Didn't take long before I once again found myself dropped of the back of the main group. However, there was also a few other riders that had managed to get left behind. I spent the entire race riding with them, and although we got lapped a few times by the main field, it was still a valuable exercise for me. Vast improvement from previous years int he same type of race where I would either have pulled out early and gone home, or simply been lapped over and over and over.

In the coming weeks I will be concentrating on improving my time trialing abilities as I prepare for my next international competition. I have a brand new bike that I am trying to get set up perfectly as well as testing out prototypes of a new leg – all designed to make me go faster!

And now I'm off to Ireland for a few days to train on the road with the squad again. And spend the weekend with the entire Irish Paralympic Team (across all sports) - preparing everyone for London 2012.