It’s all a balancing act and discipline is key! – the Pros and Cons of XC Bike Racing
The start to 2017 seemed to go pretty well. I was hitting goals set; I was feeling fresh and motivated. Racing was going well; I’m not saying I was hitting podiums however consistency and small gains in terms of overall GC position was better than the previous season which is exactly what I was aiming for!
Since my last blog I have raced the Midland XC series opener down at Sherwood Pines, The Nutcracker MTB XC series (North of England XC) and some of the HSBC National XC series.
The Midlands series was great race flat and fast. This is where I really come into my own. The course is long but not very technical and for those of us who are built and power machines it suits!
This brings me onto the Nutcracker series (North of England XC). These races are absolutely fantastic events. They are well organised and well attended and it’s great to turn up to local events and show solidarity and have a beasting around some of the toughest if not, the toughest courses in the UK!
Following the Midlands XC and Nutcracker XC series; I come onto the National Series. The national series saw me and Hamish Fletcher Cooney hit Reading for the second round of the series. The course was flat-ish with a fair amount of technical sections and nice drop offs. One thing for me was for once I was able to cope with the techy sections well; proves my skills and abilities are improving!
The Balancing act!
Following my early racing, things took a little turn for the worst!
Racing, training and working is a fine art. Balancing the work training and racing life is a skill and a half! Oh and on top of this farming virtually full time!
The past three + months have been a difficult one; at one point there was a situation in which I had over trained; Because of a good start to the season I went hell for leather too early and peaked way to soon in which had a negative effect on me post the National event. It got to a point in which I couldn’t bare looking at my bike nor getting on it and training, and this was a low point for me or for anyone in that matter as not doing what you enjoy has a massive effect on you. And certainly when you have put a lot of investment into it both time and financially!
If I have learnt anything from this situation, recovery and time away is key! Race logistics management plays a role in this; instead of racing every weekend taking your time can pay dividends by racing every other week. You become better and have a clearer focus; you may take a hit when it comes to national rankings however these can be clawed back.
Taking this time away allowed me to focus better, and get back into a routine.
When you have a full time career as a lecturer, a reserve forces job, and you are farming virtually full time; things toll up! A routine is paramount; you have to be disciplined in everything you do! Sitting down for a day and working out a timetable either with yourself and/or your coach will help you see clearly and train appropriately. My advice, you will become more efficient in everything you do and therefore you’ll see gains in cycling performance, whilst allowing you to get everything else around you done!
Saying this; after a hard few weeks with work, and having to focus a lot on my job. Things took a little turn again for the worse! Finally getting back onto my bike, and having two/three good consistent weeks of training and no loss in power output bar maybe roughly 5%. I came off my bike.
Damn…….right before the MTB TransAlp race in Europe, my major A race!!!
On the way back from a long ride, I decided to add on an extra half hour loop; why I thought this a good idea I do not know. Now I totally get the saying “stick to the plan, stick to the route!”
I came to a small village called Walton just outside of Wetherby. I took a left turn at a junction on a small back road and before I knew it……WHAM. I was down on the floor.
From what I can remember, the wheels just went from underneath me! Recently the local council have been chipping the roads and loose chipping leftovers which hadn’t been swept covered the whole corner at the junction. I couldn’t believe it.
Believe it or not I wasn’t going that fast but neither was I going slow however planned the corner supposedly well but wasn’t expecting the debris to be so loose and so much; I was down.
I picked myself up thinking all was ok, despite blood pouring from my left arm/elbow and my right hand/wrist a little painful; and rode home.
Having got home, my training partner decided to investigate my injuries a little more.
Turns out, I had cut deep into my elbow, right in the joint, and right to the bone! Great!
The palm to my right hand and my wrist, swollen twice the size.
“Yea… it’s a hospital trip mate”
The words I really didn’t want to hear. Don’t worry I won’t show any pictures.
So after spending basically two days in hospital, with essentially a whole night in surgery plus appointment after appointment; I’m finally home resting.
“So what’s the prognosis?”
To be really honest, I don’t know….
All I know to date is that I have no real feeling to my left elbow and hand due to severed nerves.
And I have potentially broken my right scaphoid, awaiting result of MRI!
Luckily I’m seeing a consultant on Monday!
However what I have been told by my surgeon was it will be at least two months before I’m back riding, possibly longer!
Following the initial prognosis; and further consultations things have been looking up for me on the injury front.
It’s been good to know that I haven’t fractured/broken my hand and wrist, but was has happened unfortunately is that there is still a considerable amount of foreign debris left in my right hand. Further to this I have got acute tendonitis and nerve damage. Yes that is never damage in both arms now!
The main thing is; I now have an idea what is going on and on my way to recovery. The minor operation will take place in the next week so I will be well and truly on the mend ready for any end of season races.
What I hate to admit is and more so to my team mates but most importantly to our team owner that the season for me compared to others has been a little disappointing. Especially with a relatively good start and a packed racing diary for the rest of the year; it just hasn’t worked out this time around!
So, the past few weeks have been a rocky ride. The time away from the bike has helped in many ways on the flip side of the biking spectrum. It’s given me a chance to focus on other areas which are important to cycling as well as other non-cycling related areas. In my book everything evolves around cycling whether it be farming, the armed forces; oh and my actual job!
With the final prognosis and the upcoming minor operation I’ll be back on my bike fingers crossed in the next month to six weeks.
The plan now being to have some end of season successes; there are few mountain bike marathon/endurance events coming up in September/October and in early November so my thoughts are to hit as many of these to make up for lost time. I can’t wait to load the van and get it moving around the country again!
Adam Hinchcliffe – All Terrain Cycles Ride in Peace Rider
Author: Tony Booth