With the final round of the British XC Series only days away, my focus is starting to switch to keep myself moving and with some form, to keep me fit for that final round. The MTB season has been more about staying fit and working towards the cyclocross season once winter arrives. I've had a steady year with a handful of podiums in regional and national events, topping it all off with a win in the Regional XC Series and 2nd in the National XC Series.
My final race day eventually showed, and I felt quietly confident and relaxed going into the race optimistic, hoping good form and strong legs would show. Unfortunately, not quite as I'd hoped, I eventually came in 6th, sprinting to hold a place as high as possible to keep my overall hopes alive. With my closest rival finishing back in 10th I was able to secure 2nd overall. A pleasing result for the consistent season I've had.
After the race was done, it was time to take a break. I was going to spend some time with the family in the caravan near Bath, just on the outskirts of Longleat Safari Park. Fortunately, not in the same enclosure as some of its more dangerous inhabitants! The off-season, for me, will only be short - a week in-fact, stepping back from the athlete lifestyle and taking a more normal approach to life. Not thinking about my calorie intake for the next seven days will be bliss, while blowing off some steam and concentrating on family and enjoyment, rather than a flat stomach and a low-fat percentage. Luckily, with it only being a week not much damage can be caused and the hours on the bike will soon be around the corner.
From here it's train, train, train to be ready for the first CX races of the season. With it being mid-august the season is only a few weeks away, and preparations are already beginning.
After my break had finished, it was time to get back on the bike and start my progress to top form before the cyclocross season starts. Working on my strength and conditioning, while also adding running, overall mileage and some top end efforts to raise my power output.
I've so far managed four 5km runs, averaging around the 18-19 minute mark. A 20-minute session of core, leg and arm strengthening exercises, two to three times a week. And finally, a mix of power and endurance riding to help improve and work towards being faster for shorter bursts, while retaining form for the final laps of intense racing.
I've found myself two nice 7 – 8 minute CX loops, containing twists, turns, technical singletrack and some short and draggy climbs. I will incorporate a few runs and planks once the season draws nearer and add specific sessions focusing on planks, bank runs and bike lifts and mounts to help ease each area and save valuable time and effort.
As I am not a 100% full-time athlete (nearing more 50/50), I've continued working and making sure I find time for the family, with my son growing quicker by the day I make sure I get to see as much of his development as I can. I am hoping, one day; he may follow my footsteps and become a professional athlete himself.
I shall continue to work hard into the first race of the season and hopefully set myself up on a successful path in the coming winter.
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