The Beyond MTB Spring Crits at Hillingdon are the sort of races I have to do – a test of attrition with the 2nd Cat boys hauling along as foolhardy 4th Cats like me try to cling on to the pace. The only way I’m going to get stronger is by getting out of my comfortable “pootling in the 4th Cats” box and pushing my limits in 2/3/4 races.
32 laps of Hillingdon goes by pretty quickly so I’m chuffed to report that I lasted 8 laps before getting shelled for the first time. That’s 3 more laps than last year’s equivalent race, most of which is down to better race craft and not allowing myself to drift to the back so quickly. The reason I went out the back was that I stopped concentrating on the wheel I was trying to follow and drifted. Had I stuck to my fellow Dynamo “Sneaky” Sneyd’s wheel I would probably have stayed in the bunch all the way.
I sat out a few more laps before being persuaded to get back in the back of the bunch and see how I went. I don’t usually do this but it turned out to be worthwhile as I managed to stay in for another 8 laps or so before coming off the back again. It adds up to two sessions blasting around at near the top end of my limits for 20 minutes and extending myself, which is the sort of training I really need to improve.
What I was careful about was ensuring I didn’t overdo it. It’s early in the year and I’m not fully fit so there’s no reason to put myself past my limit so much that I get ill in races where I’m not really going to stand a chance of a point. So far this year I’ve lost a few weeks of training to being too shredded after races to train properly during the week and it’s not getting me anywhere so I’ve decided to be more measured in my approach to what everyone else describes as “training races”.
I’ll be back on Saturday to have another crack at it with a single intention: not to get dropped for the duration of the race. It’s going to need a bit of application but I hope I can manage it.