That sinking feeling... All cyclists have been there. A disrupted winter of children being born, moving house and a fractured elbow in a crash.. it had to catch up some time. My racing had been slowly deteriorating. This had been coming for a while now if I am honest.
Even the summer had been inconsistent with key birthdays, holidays and time spent at home instead of in the saddle.
So when I clipped in and left home for the club 10 last night the detached feeling from my legs alarmed me. It isn’t the race of truth for nothing I suppose.
I knew it would be bad, I knew I had just run out of form. My training had been such that at some point the lost time would get me. And it did.
The time keeper counted me down and I headed off with a blustery wind pushing my right shoulder.
Once a motorist arrived at the first roundabout at the same time as me, causing me to yield and stop, my mind began to fail me to. It probably cost me 5 seconds but the mental damage probably more.
Don’t get me wrong, I gave it my absolute all for the full duration and my average heart rate of 168bpm was right on the money. I knew though that I was struggling and I knew the time would be behind my usual performance not by seconds but by minutes.
The previous week had seen me find something in the last mile which saw a near 30mph average keep me in the top 8 on scratch and leave me comfortable posting my time on Strava. This week I toyed with the laptop for ages before hitting “upload”.
As I crossed the line, I managed to hiss my number from the little breath I had before freewheeling away. I was pretty upset and was quickly into my arm and leg warmers before fitting my lights and heading off home (still doing 150bpm).
As I rode along across the fens watching the sun dipping down, I came up with a whole load of excuses. Top of mind was the recent bad cold and chesty cough.
Deep down though I knew it was just time for my legs to give out. I know the only thing to do now is ride through it. Accept a few uncomfortable training rides and focus on just getting through the last three tens and couple of sportives I have pencilled in.
The 100 is a key objective now so I have to think of ways of getting the hindering thoughts out of my mind and get motivated to ride.
For me I think cyclists always race and ride better and have higher levels of performances if they are puffing and panting through a smile!
So enjoyment is the next phase of training, starting with a some leisurely riding at the weekend... if the weather isn’t too shabby.