I've said it many times, sport gives you the highest of highs and lowest of lows, my 2022 season saw plenty of both extremes. At points in the year I didn't know where I was going but the key events quickly gave me focus again. Winning the National Marathon title, another year competing for GB at World Marathon Champs, racing for the win till the final kilometre at the Houffalize round of the UCI World Gravel Series and finishing third at National Gravel Champs are days I’ll remember for a long time. The highs make everything else worthwhile.
For 2023 the focus is quite different, I'm not turning my back on marathon, I just don't want to do the same old races week after week, I want to go to a race because it excites me, not just because it’s part of a series or because its UCI. Then there's the gravel race calendar, a whole load of new events and locations to visit and get excited about. I’m also excited for lots of big adventure rides on the new gravel bike. I’ll start my race season in one of my favourite cycling destinations, Girona, then be at Battle on the Beach and Dirty Reiver, before Gravel Fondo Limburg and Belgian Mountainbike Challenge. Big objectives for the year will be European Marathon Champs in France, World Marathon Champs in Scotland, National Marathon Champs, Gravel National Champs and Gravel World Champs in Italy. What’s great with many of these events is that for the most part I’ll be there with coaching clients and friends, being able to share the experience with coaching clients who’ve worked super hard to be there is incredibly rewarding. We are hosting a big group of coaching clients at BeMC in 2023, if you’re interested follow the link for more information.
I've got some great new sponsors and products for 2023. Lauf come on board as the new bike sponsor, I’ve been logging the miles on the Seigla and loving every minute. You are probably wondering what mountain bikes I’ll be using, last years frames with new parts from sponsors, they were quick enough last year so no reason they can’t be this year. Schwalbe step up their sponsorship, I have them and Lauf to thanks for making the 2023 calendar possible. The only other change is to Squirt sealant, I’ve been using their other products for over a year so using the whole range make sense, after a couple of months rolling their sealant I’m impressed. Rotor, Wahoo, Magura, SR Suntour, Kalas, Bike Ribbon, Abus, Rapid Racer Products, Tubolito and Mount Zoom all continue. More sponsor news soon… The bikes are going to be absolutely insane this year! It's amazing how much confidence the Seigla gives, it's like a mountain bike with gravel bike speed!
After a several weeks off to reset from the 2022 season I restarted training 1st of November, I had a fantastic start, three big weeks, then I small tumble saw me pick up a concussion. It was a completely inconspicuous crash, riding up a steep climb I toppled sideways and backwards bumping me head. I got up pretty much immediately, thought nothing of it, not a single scratch on me. I rode the same climb again, successfully. Then completed the five hour ride, still feeling fine. The crash was on a Monday, I trained and worked hard the rest of the week. Only on Sunday did the first symptom appear, a cripplingly painful headache. This continued for three days before I went to hospital in agony. I was sent home, told I had mild concussion and to rest. I rested but two days later I was back at hospital after crying in pain for hours and hour. Luckily a scan revealed nothing. Some stronger painkillers were prescribed and this was enough to tackle the pain and get some sleep. After nearly a week of these headaches the symptoms disappeared in two days, sleep does miracles! I’d managed clients through concussion previously but all of those times the symptoms came much sooner and it was a much more obvious result of a crash. Stay safe people and wear an ABUS helmet!
After recovering I had a big December logging the miles before taking another week off around Christmas for a throat infection, the joys of having a child who attends nursery! January has been productive though and I’m matching my numbers from this time last year so can be excited about the potential for the year ahead.
Now it’s five weeks till the race season begins, the weathers been completely disgusting but the big miles are happening, the adventures rides are on the horizon and I’m excited for many more hours training hard alongside local coaching clients and friends. See you on the gravel roads, trails or race track soon!