So. Here we go again, then.
I've ponied up for another ten weeks of pain from that Dave Smith to get me ready for the race season. In fact I have nine weeks before my first target race, the Castle Combe Easter Classic. In fact it's eight weeks, because I'll be skiing in Sweden for one of the nine and, best will in the world, I'm unlikely to be out on my bike. Although skiing is good exercise too, I guess.
The story so far is that I tried racing and was rubbish, so I asked Dave for help and he duly delivered me a cunning plan, which worked: I got fitter, and then I went back to the 4th cats and finished in the bunch, and then I scored my first points, and then, what do you know, I moved up to third cat. All in the space of about six months. And then? I pretty much voted myself the rest of the year off, if I'm honest. I didn't really think I'd be competitive in the thirds.
But I know that I can be, if I commit to it. If I want to score some points in the 3s I'll need to be better. Better than I am. Fitter, and lighter, and stronger. So it's back to the routine. And back off the biscuits.
I don't have my plan yet, so I don't know exactly what I'll be doing. I could just do more of the stuff that I got told to do last time, and the time before. And realistically, I will be covering some of the same ground.
But you know what? It isn't the same. I've set myself stuff before and I can't really stick to it. Why? Maybe because I don't trust myself to know exactly what it is I need to do. Maybe because if I don't do it, I haven't lost anything. But if you've paid someone to tell you how to train, you expect them to know what they're talking about. And if you don't do what they say, you might as well have taken the money and stuck it in the shredder. It's certainly an incentive.
My season goals? Well, win at Castle Combe. Come on, how hard can it be? After that I'll be taking on a few more, flatter, road races after cutting my teeth on the much-too-hilly-for-me Roman Road Race last September. And doing some more crits too. All the racings. Should be fun.
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.