So, the major target is set, the long winter of base training and preparation has been followed through with only minor diversions, and the shock of switching back to some serious hard work has been confronted.
Now, like any good cyclist, it’s time to start thinking seriously about the races that i’ll be taking on as I build up to the main event on 29th April. Just as Wiggo and Cav might ride the Giro as warm up for le Tour, or the Vuelta to fine tune their legs for the Worlds, I need to find some events that will act as stepping stones to the mountain.
The whole principle of training and preparation hinges around the principle that replicating any given action and repeating it over and over is the way to improve it. Practice makes perfect. Logical therefore dictates that the best preparation for the Little Mountain Time Trial will be participation in other events with terrain that bear a passing resemblance to the parcours that will face me in the Malvern Hills. Given the fixation in a large chunk of the time-trial fraternity with dual carriageway based courses and quicker and quicker personal bests over standard distances of 10, 25 or 50 miles, and the needs of event promoters to respond to this demand to attract entrants to their races, it is therefore no mean feat to construct a calendar of events that builds towards the crescendo of a 39.5 mile race through rolling countryside and incorporating at least 3 savage climbs that could easily stand-alone as hill climb events in their own right…
Thankfully I am not alone in my quest to race in challenging terrain. Within the niche of time-trialling a masochistic subculture exists, riders and event promoters who delight and revel in the kudos that comes from taking on a race that is perversely difficult. The moniker ‘Mountain Time Trial’, albeit slightly duplicitous a label when the altitudes are compared to the Alpine or Pyrennean mountain stages of the Grand Tours, lays the cards on the table fairly clearly. Elsewhere the slightly subtler, but equally intimidating, ‘Hardriders’ tag indicates that this won’t be racing for the fainthearted. Equally so the prefix ‘Hilly’ almost certainly indicates an event which, in comparison to the usual fare, will leave legs stinging and lungs heaving to an inordinate degree.
Mountaineering, therefore, is out there for the cyclists who wish to take it on, there’s just the small matter of finding it. This is where geography begins to play an important role. The wilds of North Essex, where I usually grind my pedals, is not noted for its altitude but thankfully the Essex/Suffolk border is slightly lumpier than one might expect and, as such, hosts a handful of events which will have to form the basis of my preparation. Thankfully I can also justify some trips further afield to visit family which can be neatly timed to coincide with races in the Peak District and in Wales.
And so, the grand plan leading to April 29th 2012 is as follows:
4th March: Sudbury CC Mad March Hilly 35km TT
10th March: West Suffolk Wheelers Hilly 21 mile TT
11th March: Lea Valley CC 25 Mile TT
18th March: Maldon CC 18 Mile Hilly TT
24th March: Plomesgate CC 10 Mile TT
25th March: Chelmer CC 25 Mile Hardriders TT
31st March/1st April: A light hearted club Peak District ‘Training Camp’ (Not competitive but ascents of Holme Moss and Snake Pass along with other less well known climbs should help hone the legs…)
6th April: Buxton CC Mountain Time Trial
9th April: Bishops Stortford 28 Mile Hilly TT
15th April: Fibrax Wrexham Road Club Mountain TT
All leading to M-Day…
29th April: Beacon Roads CC Little Mountain Time Trial….
And so, after some initial posts which have constituted vague ruminating about what i’ve been up to on a sporadic basis, there’s a very real danger that updates of this blog will start to pick up some regularity and begin to reflect the ups and downs of my performances, rather than just waxing lyrical about the ethos of cycling. Now I just need to dig out the cheque book and some envelopes and get those entries posted off!