Getting to the Start Line
Updated: Jun 8, 2021
A lot of people have been asking, when are you racing? What races are you doing? Why aren't you doing the cross-country races?
Whilst my competitors rack up the race days, 10, 15, or maybe 20 days already this year at Mediterranean Epic, Andalucia Bike Race, 4 Islands MTB and other UCI events I'm stuck at home in the UK. Fortunately, I love training hard putting huge blocks of training together workout after workout, epic ride after epic ride, I love these days.
My winter was focused on preparing well for Roc d'Ardenne and BeMC, I had podium ambitions. Fairly early on we learnt those events would be cancelled. My focus then switched to European Championships in Switzerland. After finishing seventh at Worlds last year and having ridden to a podium at the host event, Raid Evolenard in 2019, I was excited about what was possible. It would be tough being my first real race but I prepared the best I could to make sure my rhythm, race confidence and race pace trail speed was ready. Covid appears to be under control in the UK, the number of cases are low and borders are opening. Switzerland though is on the amber list meaning testing before travelling, testing once there, quarantining once home and two more negative tests before you're allowed back out of quarantine. I'm happy to pay for all of this and jump through the hoops. Switzerland has now decided that you can only enter the country for professional work reasons or family emergencies. My only route in is if British Cycling will select me to ride for the Great Britain Cycling Team. At Europeans you can ride for the national team or your trade team. GB don't normally send a team to Europeans but after a month of discussion they agree to send me. Hooray. British Airways aren't making things easy though, my original flights get cancelled, I transfer to different days. All good. Then the return flight gets cancelled again, I have to fly home to London City instead of Heathrow meaning 2 hours on public transport or a £150 taxi ride to get home. Ok if I have to, I want to do this race. Then Switzerland decides because the Indian variant is sweeping the UK the borders are completely closed to UK travellers and as there's no travel BA cancel my return flight all together with no alternative for days. Here we are, two weeks out from the event. I'm nearing the end of my prep for one of the biggest races on the calendar, I've done all the training, I'm just finishing up some of the hardest days of training I'll do all year, I'm overloading, ready to peak, my power metrics are some of the best they've ever been and now I don't know if I'm even able to get to the start line.
What's next? I'll keep training hard, all this training won't go to waste. I'll continue building until there's opportunities to race. With two weeks till Europeans we wait for news from the Swiss government, maybe they are going to allow an exemption for the event. If the answer is no I understand their reasons, the rules are there for a reason and they are just protecting their country. If I can't go to Switzerland I'll look at the calendar again to see what other races I can do in the UK or overseas where borders are open. There's plenty happening abroad with Sellaronda Hero next weekend in Italy, several more stage races in Spain, MB Race in France, to name a few. Next scheduled race for me in the UK is the Vittoria MTB Marathon and maybe National XC Championships in July, then National Marathon Championships in August. Hopefully see you at a race soon!