Updated: Dec 16, 2019
Sport can provide the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Often there's a lot more lows than highs, the lows can be poor race results or events you didn't finish, struggles in training, mistakes you made... the list goes on. Think back through the difficult times you faced whilst chasing your sporting goals and most people would hang up their cycling shoes. Think back to that big euphoric moment this year through where you did achieve your sporting goals, where you won that race, you beat that time, you dropped your mates, you finished that training route or race and all the suffering becomes worthwhile. Here's my top 5 moments of 2019.
National Marathon Champion 2019
Since winning the title back in 2015 and 2016 the event moved to the Isle of Man in 2017, the event has been a tricky nut to crack with 2 near misses finishing a close second on both occasions. The first year my preparation was exceptional, the second year even better until a week before the event where a big crash caused a knee injury which kept me off the bike until race day. This year I struggled in the weeks before the event, I’d set the May and June races as a big goal and after that success I then tried to maintain the momentum into early July for European Champs and onto National Championships end of July. European Championships I punctured out off after 10km, I’d tapered for the event and on returning home didn’t feel great on the bike, despite the short race I needed another recovery week. My fitness was slipping away and I was failing a few training session, I’d lost the wave I’d been riding, confidence was low.
But hard work pays off and won back the stripes. Great news followed again shortly after with coaching client Ruth Miller taking the ladies National title, proud coach, well done Ruth!!
World Marathon Championships
Since 2012 I've been wearing Great Britain team colours at World Championships with only one absence when the race went to South Africa. This crazy race has been a nemesis for me, never before had I finished the race satisfied with my performance, until this year. 27th place was a massive personal best beating many Pro or Factory team athletes once again. If the race had kept heading up that mountain I probably could have finished even higher up the results sheet, I was flying! I was very proud to have a coaching client also racing the event, I hope this can inspire the rest of my coaching clients and everyone reading my race reports and articles.
First UCI World Marathon Series podium
I spent years chasing my first podium at the UCI World Marathon Series, the equivalent marathon series to the cross country UCI World Cup. It was a magical moment after a truly brutal day on the bike. 30 seconds before the start of the race the snow began to pour from the sky, freezing conditions and slippery mud made it one of the most challenging races I'd ever ridden. After more than 5 hours I was just a few seconds behind the leader going into the final singletrack climb, the steep technical trail was testing when fresh but now I was suffering on the verge of cramping but the screams from the legs didn't matter because I was fighting for the win. Unable to pull back Konny Looser he took the win just ahead of myself in second and Matthias Alberti in third. An epic battle which inspired the rest of my season.
Racing in the UK.
A last minute decision to race Brighton Big Dog was rewarded with a 7th win at our favourite UK mountain bike event. It was a busy month, winning National Marathon Championships, getting married, winning Big Dog and the heading off on honeymoon. The event always has a great atmosphere and some fantastic fun trails that can be ridden by all abilities but reward those with confidence and supreme skills. Even after the weather threatened to blow away the event it was a day that everyone enjoyed. It was great to catch up with the UK racing friends and be on the race track with so many coaching clients.
Gran Canaria Training Camp
Each year I head to Gran Canaria for a 3 week trip to kick start my season, after a long winter at home its the ideal location to log some big miles and increase the workload on the mountain climbs. Joined by a selection of clients and guests over the 3 weeks its not only a fantastic training camp but a great social. I spend most of my time at home training alone so to ride for 3 weeks with a group of friends means the big days in the saddle almost seem effortless. The training camp is road based but this year we ventured offroad for the final couple of days, we walked some of the rockier trails and got lost quite a lot but we did find some absolutely fantastic trails, beautiful unspoilt scenery and even a cross country race which was happening that weekend in the village we were staying in. I've been to Gran Canaria 4 times now and each year we're discovering new routes, I can't wait to be back on the island again in February. With the coaching clients it's great to see the huge improvements they can make in a week long stay, to see the confidence and motivation rise, and see how much knowledge they're soaking up ahead of the season. As a cycling coach this Road Training Camp and the BeMC Pro Race Camp are the most rewarding weeks of the year.