Since my last blog a lot has happened in my world.
First up was the Superprestige in Zonhoven. I rode really well on the uber tough sandy course and picked up another top 20, eventually finishing 16th. I was really pleased as I don’t get to race in sand much and it shows I have the needed skills to compete well in those conditions which until that race I hadn’t really believed I could. After such a hard race all I could think about was getting home to my bed and sleeping for a week but the race organisers this year thought it a good idea to hold the infamous Koppenberg cross the very next day. Renowned for being hard even in dry conditions my legs were screaming at the thought of having to get my body and bike to the top of the climb each lap.
This year to make things worse there was mud, mud and more mud. Not wet wet which you could splash through but thick sticky mud that dragged you down and eventually stopped you even on the flat sections let alone the steep uphill section nearing the top of the main climb. I only completed one sighting lap all day to try and save some energy for the race and went into the race with an unusual race plan of trying to ride well within myself for the first 40mins. I got a really good start and moved up really well on the cobbles I was nearing the top 15 just before the vital turn off the cobbles onto the off road section when I got pushed off the cobbles onto the grass at the side of the climb. I lost valuable time and places trying to get back on the course. I settled down and tried to put it behind me. I was cruising around in the late 20′s when my legs started to feel stronger and stronger. I don’t know if this was because I was catching people fast or I was actually going faster but either way I was starting to move up the placings. But the end of the race I had managed to get up to 21st and starting to wonder what I could have done without the mishap early on…..
A few easy days were needed now so I gladly took these! After this was a rare weekend off for me so I knuckled down and got some well needed hours in on the bike culminating in an epic 6hour ride on my own in the cold and eventually darkness of the Belgian countryside. There is a deep satisfaction you get from completing some hard training blocks and I felt this after the weekends exploits.
A few easy days and next was a mid week race in Niel. My day started badly and got worse. I woke up and got out of bed as usual only to nearly fall over while trying to make my way to the stairs. I didn’t think too much of it and carried on my day, maybe I got up too quickly, but started to feel worse and worse as the day went on. Never one to make excuses or want to pull out of a race I carried on and told no one how I was feeling. The race was a mudfest and really hard work, just what I needed feeling the way I did. I started but climbed off after 40mins, my head and legs were not in it! I got home and feeling pretty sorry for myself went straight to bed. With 2 more races coming up the following weekend I couldn’t afford to be ill right then so a good night’s sleep was well needed. I woke the next morning and felt even worse, a banging headache along with vertigo didn’t leave me feeling great.
To cut 12 days down into a few sentences, I had a banging headache and dizziness for this entire time. I tried lots of different old wives tales and medication prescribed to me by my confused doctor but none of it was working. After a trip to hospital to check for an ear or eye problem I came back none the wiser apart from ‘it could be something to do with my neck!’ Massage and acupuncture was tried in a desperate hope to try and loosen something off in time for the local race in Asper Gavere. I had already missed two races and was getting fed up so bit the bullet and turned up to race after nearly two weeks off the bike at least I was fresh! I got a cracking start and rode around in 6th for half a lap but that’s about as good as it got. I was having tunnel vision and my head was banging even harder on the cruel climb. To top things off I snapped my rear mech off on the 3rd lap so went home early.
By this stage I was really pissed off and feeling even worse. Finally I got a chiropractor appointment as my last hope!! Within 30secs of walking into his surgery the chiropractor had diagnosed the problems and a few minutes later had cured me of my headache! It was a nerve trapped in my neck from sleeping funny…… I could have been annoyed at it being such a stupid problem but I was just relieved and thankful that I was starting to feel better.
2 days later was the World Cup in Koksijde. Lots of British fans were making the trip over and I was really excited to be back racing without any head issues. I knew I wouldn’t;t be going great after the previous few weeks but thought with a bit of luck I might be able to blag it. No such luck one broken wheel after 250m then a broken saddle after a bike change led to me getting pulled on the 80% ruling with 2 laps to go. I was really really frustrated and was starting to wonder what I had done in a previous life that was so bad to have to endure this kind of luck.
I made my way back to the UK that evening and down to Southampton for the Hargroves National Trophy event. It was a great opportunity to pick up some valuable UCI points however I wasn’t that hopeful with my run of luck the way it was. I tried to put everything behind me and get on with the job I had to do. Somehow I pulled it out of the back and had one of those days when I couldn’t put a foot wrong. I won by 9secs and was super comfy throughout the race. 40UCI pointsthank you very much.
I have stayed in the UK since then and tried to do as much training as I could possible fit in around this Arctic weather the south east corner of the UK is experiencing. Hopefully the worst of it is over now and my turbo can cool down a bit!
Next up is the Bradford National Trophy, I am really looking forward to racing again in the UK and showing everyone back here what I can do. Another 40UCI points would be really nice and move me forward significantly on the grid at the World Cups which are coming up when I head back to Belgium.