So jet lagged. Home after 7 weeks and it’s probably the worst I’ve ever had it. Probably because I’m so knackered anyway. Awful.
Racing Enduro is way more physical and taxing on your body, every race took me 3 days to get over it before I could ride anywhere near hard again. I’m still not fit and conditioned enough so it takes it out of me – the practises almost more than the race.
Being away for so long was good in that it’s easier to be more professional with no distractions around me (no digger!). I rest when I’m supposed to rest, train when I’m supposed to train… but it’s bad being by myself, I miss Gee and Rach and it’s not as much fun travelling. We’ve had this World Cup team going so long now, it’s a great crew where everybody knows their role, very smooth, I didn’t even notice how important it was to me until I stepped away from racing World Cups. Polish Pete came out for a while to mechanic for me which was good but it’s not the same as having the full pits and Dan Brown there to sort things out, the chefs, the whole team set up.
Doing so many races in so many different situations on such different tracks has given me a clear picture of what I need to do for training. I’ve been quite surprised in a positive way at some of things that I can do but now it’s fitness fitness fitness. Every race in that 7 weeks I looked forward to – that’s what tells me that I’ve made the right decision with this switch of discipline. It’s the first time really that I’ve looked forward to race day.
First one on the calendar was Mountain of Hell where I got 4th. I was pretty happy with that result because I’d had a couple of bike issues and there was a massive climb in there so, all in all, not bad. Mega Avalanche the week after though I got a 3rd and was less happy – I’d thought that I might get higher as it was a lot more Downhill based. Turns out that despite living on the Welsh borders I don’t much like snow – Nico was going a bout 70 km/h down the glacier and I was doing about 6km/h – with the brakes on. Too many winters in California! The British supporters were really great though, they helped a lot.
Next up was Enduro of Nations Round 1 – the tracks really suited me – not too much pedalling and quite technical, and it was at Alpi which is a home from home for me. On race day I definitely started out too slow, trying to gauge the pace which left me with too much ground to make up – those guys, you don’t really need to gauge the pace – just assume they go flat out – the whole time. There were some issues with the weather and with different riders going off in different conditions but through the day it evened up and I managed to pull back some time. I was riding as part of a GB team with Joe Barnes – a young Scottish rider who’s got loads of potential and Al Stock from Manchester – it was good to share lines and kind of weird to be racing and not just thinking about yourself – we took the lead as a team so that was pretty successful, with me in 4th overall. But thee next week was always going to be difficult. French rules don’t allow practise but I thought it would be a good try out for Trans Provence so I tipped up anyway. But the weather was atrocious. Well, no , the first day was hot, no excuses I just rode shit. I kept crashing, no fun at all. Then on the second day I went up for the first run and got stuck on a chair lift for 30 minutes in a thunderstorm and got soaked through and freezing. I was pretty tired and worried about flying to Vancouver for Crankworx the next day and getting sick so I sacked it off. Didn’t race anymore.
First week at Crankworx was just me and Pete, bed at 9pm every night, didn’t see anyone, just ate real good, rested up then as soon as the race was done the intention was to get some long rides in to start training for Trans Provence but the first ride I just wiped out so I started to take it a bit more easy, hanging out with Slugger (who got a 4th in the Canadian Open) and with Rach.
So what’s next? Well next year’s UCI involvement in Enduro should help to bring consistency to the events and from a personal angle I need to bring the professional structure that I love about how we race Downhill to my Enduro rides. My own set up with the same top standards for every race.
Watch this space!