Race Report - FNSS Round 2 - Mallory Park

So the week of the race finally arrived, and I was so excited. I didn't get much training in the last week. A combination of reasons for this, coursework, resting my legs so that I was on good form for the race, and my bike was in the shop getting a new chainset (now running SLX Hollowtech II). So there isn't really much to say about my final week of training, I just kept up the diet, ended up weighing in about 64.5Kg for the race (my heaviest ever), then loaded up on carbs for the race for energy.

I was unfortunate with health, and don't think I'm making excuses, as I wrung my ankle the day before the race, and it was (is) still painful when it came to the race. I'd already decided I was doing this no matter what so strapped up my ankle in 10m of tesco bandage and carried on through the pain. It didn't hold me back too much, but there were times when I felt I was going easy where I would have liked to be absolutely thrashing it.

The weather has been lovely all month, so naturally an hour before we had to leave the heavens opened and it began chucking it down. This actually wasn't a bad thing. Sections of the track were waterlogged, but there were clear paths round it, and if anything the rain kept the dust at bay. There was also a lovely cooling shower on the 4th lap, but the rest of the race was dry, thankfully.

The race was laid out with laps of about 2.2 miles, starting and ending on a motocross track with sections of fire-track, open field, and woodland single track in between. The race was to last 50mins + 1lap based on the leader's position. The start was hectic as I was expecting. So I decided to hold off, assuming last position and wait for the hectic fight for position, and the crashes that go with it, to die down, and then I could settle into my own race.

Lap one felt pretty solid for me, I was just following the wheel in front of me, overtaking some of the slower ones who had gunned it at the start, and allowing the faster of the Vets and the machine the is Jessie Roberts filter through from the 2nd part of the start. I thought this was probably best seeing as I hadn't had time to put in a practice lap. I kept riding on through a pretty uneventful 2nd lap, doing much of the same, but benefitting from knowing the course now and not having quite as much traffic, completing it in 11:44. I was finding that mostly while I was being beaten by those fitter than me on the flat sections, when it came to the technical stuff I was holding my own well and gaining on people, sometimes leapfrogging with people a few times in a lap.

When it came to the third lap I really realised how unfit I am. It started to hurt, I started to question my ability to even complete the race. Sheer determination to not be defeated and a quick gulp of an energy gel pulled me onwards, as I dropped down a gear and tried to spin it out. I completed the lap in a slightly slower 11:50 and carried on spinning into lap 4. I carried on at a slower pace for the first half of the lap and then when it came to the more technical sections I decided to shift back up a gear and start going for it again. This was when I really noticed how bad my ankle was and I had to ease up when it came to the final section of motocross track because I couldn't handle the vibrations going through it. I finished lap 4 as my slowest lap in 12:04, though I didn't know it at the time.

Hearing the bell as I began my 5th and final lap really spurred me on. I decided that I would give it one final push, and overtook a couple of the people I had been hanging behind to allow myself to really open it up on the technical sections. I found that the best way to rest was to be in the air, and took great comfort and pleasure in hopping and pumping my way over some of the bumpier sections, even if this was using a lot more effort. I gave it my all, knowing that once I got the then end I could rest and celebrate, I even caught up and overtook one of the female racers who had slipped by me earlier on in the race. When I came round the final corner, I gave it a final bit of flare with a nice jump off the drop before the line and crossed it set my best lap of the race with 11:30, and a total time of 59:03.

I was really please with how the race went, and in the end it was all about having fun for me and experiencing my first race. I can tell you one thing, this certainly won't be the last race I enter, and now I have a benchmark, a gauntlet to myself. 52nd out of 77 in my class is not the best you'll see out of 204 this Summer.

Posted in Blog by Michael Strutt on 2011-05-15 21:34:23


2nd Week of Training

I've now completed my second week of training, which for the most part has gone really well. I only managed to ride 5 days out of the 7, but made up for this on the days that I did. I've been attempting to do some targeted sessions for riding at high effort for an hour without stopping. It's not quite the stuff of Boardman and Obree, but I've found it very beneficial (if not a bit of a killer). I've also been trying to introduce a few sprints into rides (usually on hill climbs or the last stint on the way home).

In terms of mileage this week has been bang on target, as you can see in the graph above I've stepped it up nicely from last week. A lot of this has been off road as planned, but with some more intense stints on my fixed gear road bike. I find this a really useful training tool as it forces me to attack hills and discourages me from slowing down afterwards. I've also been trying to replace lazy days with low intensity days, just spinning 15miles with friends and having a laugh. My legs have felt good throughout these, and only feel sore when I see a challenge and attempt to push myself and ride flat out.

My diet has been mostly good, still wishing I could afford some whey protein, but making sure I have at least one high protein meal a day, and keeping my fruit and veg intake up. It would seem my body is attempting to get a cold, but I just haven't been giving into it, and it hasn't gotten worse at all in the two weeks I've "had" it for, so hopefully this will just pass and let me crack on.

As for targets for next week I'm not entirely sure what to set. I would like to say step up the mileage to 150+ and keep pumping more effort into training, but I realise I actually have a fair bit of work on to do for my return to Uni. I'm probably going to set cycling as a reward for getting some work done, so maybe aim to get in ~120 miles from 6 x 20 miles rides, which will probably be evening, so may end up being more on the road than off it. I've got my workout bench setup in my room now, so I'm going to try and get on that for a while every other day, this can tie-in with work / revision quite well. As an addition to my diet, I'm now cutting alcohol out until after the race. This may prove difficult with all the parties coming up. But I'll let you know how it goes next week. Until then, ride safe.

Posted in Blog by Michael Strutt on 2011-04-17 14:55:18


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