Since my last blog we’ve been lucky enough to have experienced a pretty good summer – it feels like we’ve had a good amount of sunshine, and hot dry weather is definitely the best conditions for racing on the grass tracks of the UK.
A non cycling related injury sustained to my knee at work looked like putting my season in doubt, however, luckily the body is a remarkable thing and having been told to stay off the bike for 6-8 weeks, I was able to resume training after 6-8 days – not necessarily advisable, but I got away with it.
I’ve managed to up my points haul to 153 in my season-long quest to gain the 200 points needed for a 1st Category licence, but as I’m unlikely to race again before December 1st when points reset my ambitions to ride as a 1st Cat will have to be achieved in 2017.
To gain the points I’ve got since my last blog I’ve mainly been racing track – both indoors and out. I love the variety of races you get during a track programme, from sprints to endurance scratch races – and even a team pursuit! I’ve also been able to step on a podium a couple of times – something I thought might be behind me when I retired from running – it’s a nice feeling – and especially nice when you get to share it with team mates.
I finished a pleasing 5th in the National Grass track 8km, and managed a win in the final round of the National grass track endurance series (a series I plan to target next season) with a solo break away in a wet and treacherous 5km at Mildenhall, staying clear of a last lap multiple rider crash, which left the National Grass track 8km champ, John McClelland nursing a fractured pelvis.
I also competed in my first cycling World champs, riding the points race in the 35-40 age category at the World masters championships in Manchester (Yes – I’m officially old!). It was an amazing experience, getting to ride with athletes who are still competing on the international cycling stage, and I was pleased to both survive and come 8th in the 120 lap points race.
Prior to the World masters I squeezed in a win at the interclub hill climb (the only time you get to ride without a helmet), bettering my course record on the climb by 2 seconds (I also got to ride my new 2017 Giant TCR – and what a bike it is!)
My last race of the season was the Finsbury park road race, a do or die attempt at gaining enough points to keep the 1st Cat dream alive – and it couldn’t have come any closer….attacking on my own from the field of 50+ into the last 4 miles of a 62 mile road race, I gained a 15 second lead, and entering the last half mile I even allowed myself to believe the win (plus 30 points) might be on. The final hill was in two parts, a short sharp climb with a small plateau and an even shorter dig into the finish line. At the bottom of the first hill I was overtaken by the following motorbike giving me a clue riders were approaching and try as I might I could not hold them off, being overtaken literally metres from the line by a charging pack of 12 riders. I rolled across the line 13th taking 3 rather than 30 points and practically making 1st Cat a mathematical impossibly this year.
Rather than be disappointed, I was actually really happy. I’ve ridden an entire season of cycling, with only a couple of small spills, came closer than I think many thought I could to getting my 1st Cat, and showed even at 38 it’s possible to improve and learn a new sport.
I’m now taking a small break from training to refresh the body, and am hoping I can make 2017 an even more successful year, continuing to work with my sponsors Contour Cycles in the hope of chasing cycling glory next season. And to answer my question, the point is to enjoy sport, stay healthy and do something you love with your time whilst you can.