One of the hardest things I find as a cyclist is being patient, even more so when I’m sick. One of the downsides to being really fit and in good form is your body is always on its limit. You try to control everything you can to keep yourself in the best shape possible, but sometimes it isn’t possible. After all the Christmas races I felt I had come out the other side in really good shape and my health miraculously had stayed pretty good for all of that period. One flight to Girona and bang - I was sick. It came out of nowhere, one day I was fine, 100% healthy, the next morning I woke up with a full-on head cold and virus. To a ‘normal’ person these sickness’ don’t really affect their normal day to day life but for a cyclist or any kind of sportsperson, it is pretty major. For a cross rider that races for 50 minutes at there absolute limit its nothing less than a disaster.
I’m not one for pushing myself when I’m sick, I learned that the hard way a few too many times. Instead of trying to push through training sessions I try to play it safe and go into shut down mode. So that planned block of good training in Girona ended up being a week of riding around slowly feeling sorry for myself, sleeping, collapsed on the sofa and trying not to be too negative.. I tried to stay focused and help my body recover as fast as possible. It was far from an ideal run-up to nationals and still by the time I stood on the start line to race I wasn’t healthy and hadn’t made any kind of effort since racing at Baal. However, I was there and I wasn’t going to just let that jersey slip off my back without a fight. I wanted to give the race everything I had in me on that day and I felt that’s what I did. The course for me was actually one of the best courses I’ve ridden in the UK and one of the most professional ‘cross races I’ve ridden in the UK. It was a really tough cookie cross, it had hills, technical sections, fun descents and lots of off cambers. Of course, I would have preferred a little more mud as I always do but that's another thing out of my control. I did think about stealing one of the huge great water tankers and dumping its load at the top of the decent :-). I ended up having a better race than I’d expected. It always helps to have mega support and that's usually something I can count on at the Nationals. I had a good battle with Helen, I tried to distance her a few times on the technical sections and vice versa on the climbs. In the end, she was that bit better than me on the day. I finished the race absolutely empty and feeling as though I had only ridden with 1 lung but I couldn’t have given anymore so 2nd place it was.
It was great to race in my new colours and although I won’t be in the National Jersey I’m pretty happy with what is replacing it :)
After nationals, I flew straight back to Girona and I’m happy to say that today is the first day I’m feeling myself. I’ve managed to do a good hard training session today so I’m happy. This weekend I travel to Nommay where I’m hoping the weather forecast is accurate (yes - rain = mud) and most of all to be feeling fit healthy on that startline.
I wanted to finish off by thanking all of the guys and girls at the Hetton Hawkes for doing such an amazing job on Sunday - I don’t envy next years organisers! As always thank you all so much for all your support at the weekend. It’s always a special moment to be home and to see all of my amazing fans, family and friends that support me through the season!