2012 has been an interesting year. Near hypothermia during a snowstorm in March. A couple of classic time trials in April. A blood clot in May and a heart scare in July. In summer, a 31.5mph ride in a 10 mile TT, some epic Lake District hill rides and a memorable preview of the Olympic road race circuit and Box hill. Sept and Oct was a very successful hill climb season, apart from the National championships – a reminder of beautiful unpredictability of sport.
(full Results 2012)
In the real world of pro-cycling, it’s been a real tumultuous year, even by cycling’s standards. The first British winner of the Tour de France ever and a rider you can believe in to boot. The Olympics was simply amazing – showing the power of sport to offer inspiration. But, 2012 was also the year, the cycling gods caught up with its past misdemeanour’s. The higher you rise, the further you fall. I never thought I’d end up with the same number of Tour de France victories as he who shall not be named…
Summary of my Season
At the end of the season, one of my most vivid memories is the excruciating pain of nearly freezing to death (OK, I exaggerate a bit) during the Banbury Star 23 mile hilly time trial. Despite the cold and rain, I started off OK, but on the return leg, I could feel my body temperature dropping as the rain turned to a wet snow. I was just praying a) not to puncture b) to make it home. I’ve never been so relieved to get to the finish line. I was glad to jump in my car and turn the heater on. But, defrosting the extremities was very painful. All, I can say is I won’t be riding wet and cold events in a skinsuit again.
After Banbury Star, I did two events which were a real revelation. The 50 mile Circuit of the Dales, and the 35 mile Buxton Mountain Time Trial. I finished 5th / 120 and 2nd out of 100 – beating some good riders. It wasn’t just the good position which I enjoyed – they are epic races, and I really enjoyed them. Very challenging races, run in beautiful countryside – half way in between a cyclo-sportive and bog-standard 10 mile Time trial. These two races, are a real motivation for my current winter training miles. I want to have another go at the Circuit of the Dales, but this time not run out of steam on the last drag up to Ribblehead.
At Buxton, the route was even hillier and was run with large snow drifts on the side of the road. Another epic race I finished only a minute behind Matt Bottrill (now a deserving National 100 mile TT Champion) In great form, the season promised to be good. But, off to New York the next day, I just went out for a ‘gentle spin’ before the flight to NY. Alas, I came off the bike with a nasty fall, and to cut a long story short after the long haul flight ended up with a blood clot, and plenty of hopping around on one foot.
My season didn’t really restart until the end of May, though it could really have been much worse. Five weeks off the bike is not a disaster, though it meant I missed all the major national championships.
Personal Best at 25 Miles and 10 Miles
For many years, I’ve eyed a 19 minute 10 mile TT. I came close on a very windy day on the new Aston Clifton bypass course – setting 20.00. But, it was at a later event on the super-fast Hull V718, that I hit a float day, and ended up with a 19.07. A massive pb – a reflection on the course, as much as my own improvements. But, whatever the vagaries of timetrialling on busy roads, it still sounds good to have done a 31.5 mph plus ride.
Also, in July I did another 49 minute 25 mile TT. Not quite a pb, but my last 49 was on the ‘downhill’ Welsh 25 mile TT course. I think having a cycle race which starts at the top of the hill and finishes at the bottom, just isn’t cricket. So it was nice to do a real 49 (though purists may argue the traffic flow of the Cirencester bypass is just as much an advantage as going downhill)
Away from racing on dual carriageways, I became seriously in love with cycle touring around the hills of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales. When I say cycle touring, I actually mean more racing up the longest and steepest hills in the country. After many years of skirting around the lower valleys of the Lake District, it felt no mean achievement to tackle all the major climbs of the Lake District - Hardknott pass, Whinlater pass, Wrynose Pass, Honister Pass, Kirkstone pass, and others in the same day. (hills of the Fred Whitton challenge)
Hill Climb Season
After a break in August, I came back to a hill climb season, competing in 11 hill climbs. I won nine, including four course records. But, struggled on the two short hill climbs of Streatley and the Rake. I particularly enjoyed Snake Pass, averaging nearly 18mph on a climb which averaged 6-7%. Other highlights were going under 7 minutes at Jubilee Tower, which earned a very nice prize. The Cat & Fiddle 6.66 miles was also another good experience – despite racing into a cold headwind. I’m hoping to come back to the Cat & Fiddle next year with a big tailwind.
Preview of 2013
Already I’m looking forward to 2013. I always seem to miss national championships, but in 2013 I will make more of an effort to do the 100 mile and possibly even 12 hour. The hill climb season is obviously a big target. The 2013 course suits me very well, so I’ll be aiming to be in peak condition for 28th October. But, that still feels a long way off. At the moment, I’m looking forward to those early season hilly time trials and the 3,850 miles of winter training I have in mind before the seasons starts.