The season has started, my sixth season as a professional.
The weather here has been brilliant (a little cold at 10-12ºC) but always sunny and it’s been fantastic training up for these races.
It’s such a pleasure getting out the in the hills working away, seeing all the beautiful views and interesting things, testing my form on the climbs. Of course for the Volta ao Algarve bad weather is forecast and I go badly in bad weather, but we’ll deal with that as it comes…
We had our season opening race yesterday, which was a bit poorly marshalled (I ended up doing an extra 1km!)
After going off course while bridging up to the lead group that won the race, I got a bit upset and just used the rest of the race to train, spending most of the race in no-man’s land, solo, eventually getting caught by the peloton with 10km to go.
I am going really well, something which comes as a relief to realise because I’m coaching myself this year. It isn’t easy, it takes another level of self discipline to head out and purposefully massacre myself up a climb.
Still I figured if I can do such a good job for others, why can’t I do the same for myself?
I think I’ve pulled it off – the big test is coming later this week, though I’m probably not going as well as last year when I did the Tour de San Luis in January.
The team – despite very, very tough times – has pulled together remarkably well. I think we’re going to have one of our best seasons ever, or at least most rewarding.
Season opening race
My goals for the season are simple ones, long breaks, intermediate classifications and whatever else fate grants me. A stage win would be nice too!
Plus do my domestiquing when necessary, although I’ve seen already that I’m going to have to step up to the mark in a different role, which leaves me feeling a bit nervous.
The ‘Volta ao Algarve’, is in a couple of days time, with about 10 pro tour teams. It’s got three beastly uppy downy 190km+ stages and a huge time trial; keep your eyes pealed for a suicide break by me on stage 2 or 3 and a (hopefully) better time trial than those I’ve done in the past, since I’ve had the odd chance to practice on the TT bike, although not in the last couple of weeks. I want to do the national TT champs this year if possible and do them well if possible.
I was looking at poster in a café of my team way back in 2008 and only about four of those guys still race and only two are still on this team. I miss them a lot.
We had good times on those mad adventures around Europe, staying in crazy places and having the best and the worse of everything. That’s what cycling is about. It’s about cycling in these great places like the Algarve, Asturias, Bulgaria, the Basque country, France in great company. It’s about being able to ride by side with Janek Tombak (a hero of mine along with Jimmy Casper – although I’m nothing like them as a cyclist) and ask him ‘hey Tombak, what’s the craic?‘
I will go well this season, I’m hoping there will be sufficient races to build up my form and do a good national championship followed by a good Volta and then get a good proposal to ride for an international team.
My top ambition would be to go to United HealthCare since they have just about the coolest calendar in the world (including Volta ao Algarve and Volta a Portugal) and have a great group of riders (Kai Reus was with them last year; also suffered a coma and recovered) and a racing style that would suit me. I certainly would not be out of my depth on a pro conti team.
Pro Tour is different – they like them young! That would be a dream I feel too detached from. I’m probably a bit too old to start out racing there, it would be like starting from zero and halfway through my career I don’t want to do that.
I’ve got past the difficulties of the past year and I’m really enjoy the cycling. Even my business is coming together (maybe it’s because of this is enjoying the cycling? Or vice-versa?)
I couldn’t be happier with the results. My cousin made a video actually promoting the business and his own excellent skills as a movie maker.
I hate ringing my own bell, self-publicity and the rest of it, but false modesty is a form dishonesty: there is nowhere better to train close to northern Europe than the Algarve (more than 300 days of sunshine, great roads, great people) and I’ve had unprecedented success coaching the few people that I coach; each and everyone has ‘done something’ at elite level or moved from amateur to elite.
If you want me to help you ride better, come and ride with me at my office 😉