Whilst i might not be an expert on riding really really fast, and i mean the super quick rapid national top ten, people want to be your friend in the hope some magic lycra sparkle might brush off on them type of quick, i think i’m in a position to say how you can make considerably gains over a relatively short period of time. this, in no real order, is how i went from a 22.40 to a 20.47, and a 1.01 to a 52 for 25 miles.
1. my first season was a learning curve – or rather, a sort of undulating wave of errors with the odd glimpse of something more. it had one key effect, it built up the base and i gained crucial experience in pacing and so on, meant that i learnt a lot to carry over into this season.
2. i started training regularly much earlier in the year, before christmas, although steadily at first, building up the base, before focusing it down.
3. i raced a lot. and then i raced some more. i regularly did two races over a weekend, ideally the shorter distance on the saturday. in april i did two mountain time trials in 3 days, with an ascent of the rosedale chimney thrown in for good measure.
4. linked to number 3, i did 8 hilly time trials in march and april. this made an absolutely enormous difference to my fitness and power, as well as my ability to suffer.
5. i ate less, conspicuously, throughout the year. i still have a tendency to gorge on chocolate, it’s a problem in fact, but most of the time i eat a heck of lot less than i used to, and i never ate a lot anyway. the same applies to alcohol. drinking and racing are pretty much incompatible. i had a shitty weekend in march where i did really badly at the severn hardrider. this was simply because i fell right off the cakes and ale wagon.
6. i rode 15 miles to work and 15 miles home, over a really massive hill or two. i hurt myself on the hills, almost without fail, and worried less about the flat.
7. i learnt to ride much harder than i had been. i was no longer obsessed with pace and rhythm, even though these are important. instead i came to revel in riding on the edge, really pushing it as much as i dared at all times, and worrying less about cracking.
8. once the season got going i can honestly say i hardly ever rode further than 15 miles in one session. the only exception were the odd recovery rides of 30-40 miles, or the slow grind of the club run. i rode hard and fast for one hour, essentially, twice a day. a rest day meant i rode slightly more softly.
9. i really enjoyed every aspect of racing, but primarily the following aspects: riding as part of a club, wearing the jersey; the social aspect of the open time trial, meeting the same faces and chatting about the arcane and esoteric madness of time trialling; the hilly courses were beautiful, sometimes breathtaking; i relished being a part of a sport that centred around my favourite activity, riding a bike, which is something i see as entirely enjoyable (apart from the WCA 100).
10. finally, i guess, i started the season with some serious aeroporn; a giro TT helmet, a stealth TT, disc wheel, etc. over the season i slightly upgraded. next season i have a new frame and a new helmet. we shall see if it gets me anywhere quicker.
the caveat is always the same – what works for me might not work for you. but if you eat less, cycle more and cycle harder, get some decent equipment, then good stuff is going to happen.