With my final mountain bike race of 2018 over and a new training plan in the works, my 2018 season is done!
This season has been my most successful season to date. Following my first full season in 2017 I started to break into the top ten after the recruitment of Nate Parsons SC as my coach. We worked hard over the off-season and coming into 2018 I was the fittest I had ever been and I was looking forward to getting stuck in.
I had some good goals for this season; I wanted a top 3 overall placing in the Midlands XC series, a top 3 placing at the National Championships and to be ranked highly enough in the BC rankings to be promoted to expert for 2019.
To get an early view of my form I took part in a couple of preseason races, the first round of the Merida Brass Monkey XC series and the Cannock Chase Winter Classic XC, placing 5th and 1st respectively. This was a real confidence boost and demonstrated the off-season hours were worth it and were paying off.
Before the season really kicked off I headed abroad for the first time ever to train in Mallorca, Spain. This was amazing and training abroad will definitely take place this winter! The weather was spot on and the roads and routes were amazing with some super tough climbs perfect for that final training push. Oh and the views weren’t too bad either!
A few weeks after that was the first round of the National Series at Sherwood Pines. This was a critical race as a good result here would place me high in the national rankings, giving me a good place at the first round of the Midlands series a week later. I was gridded right at the back for this one so I had my work cut out but the race went reasonably well. The course didn’t suit my strengths and I was still slightly fatigued from the off season but I managed to come away with 11th place.
This secured me a front row spot at the first round of the Midlands XC series a few weeks later, just as I had hoped for. Coming into form from my training camp and with very tough wet and muddy conditions, I was targeting a good result there and I got one, placing 3rd. This was the start of a successful series campaign, achieving multiple top 5 placings and winning the final round and regional championships. The series overall was very tight at the top with only 2 points separating me and 1st overall but I could manage 2nd. Still I was very happy with the result and it was a big tick in the goal box.
The highlights of the year for me though was my 2nd place results at both the Malverns Classic XC and HSBC National Cross Country Championships. These events were the two I had specifically targeted my training around in order to get big results. The Malverns were a target because a lot of my sponsors were exhibiting there so I really wanted to put on a good show for them. I was stoked I could land a podium place and get their brand on the podium for the day!
The National Championships is the biggest event on the domestic calendar so nearly every athlete would be targeting this event. It comes with the most amount of exposure and also offers a higher amount of BC points so a good result here would be a big help to achieving my goal of category promotion. This year it would be held at Hadleigh Park, the 2012 Olympic venue during the UK’s heat wave. The combination of Hadleigh’s open plains and the heat wave made for some very testing conditions, ones I am not very used to racing in. I had been training for a good month or so in the heat though so had acclimatised a little and learnt that hydration would be very important. I was on the front row and managed to break away with the top five after a bit of panic at the start. I focused on pacing and keeping well nourished so I could keep up, and as the laps ticked by a few of the 5 began to fade and one had an unfortunate mechanical so I crossed the line in 2nd place. My first podium a National Level XC race and it was at the National Championships, I couldn’t have been happier…. Well maybe a little if I had won haha! Regardless it was another one of my goals achieved and a lot of points in the bag towards my other.
I have very recently received the email from BC which confirms my category upgrade which is really the cherry on the top for me. There is nothing more satisfying than setting a goal and achieving it, especially when you have dedicated so much time to working towards it.
It’s not all achieved alone though, there are a lot of people and companies who have supported to me this year along my journey. To Halo Wheels, ODI Grips, HT Components & Ison-Distribution my sponsors for this year, I would like to say a bit thank you to them for supplying me with the highest level of product and support you could ask for and I really excited to maintain their support for 2019. I would also like to say thank you to my family and friends, for coming along to the races to support me, cheer me on and hand me bottles. It’s been a blast!
So, as I mentioned at the start of this blog, its been a successful season in my eyes. I have achieved my goals and learnt a lot along the way which I hope will help me as I move forwards. My form towards the end of the year was promising for 2019; however, there is still work to be done and I very much looking forward to process of getting there over the coming months as I work with my new coach in conjunction with TORQ Fitness.
What’s to come in 2019…. Well firstly I would like to welcome on board some new partners in TORQ Fitness, Schwalbe Tyres and Dynamic-Rides which I feel very privileged and excited about. They will compliment my continuing partnerships with Halo Wheels, ODI Grips, HT Components & Ison-Distribution to make to best package going! Find out more about these awesome companies by clicking onto my partners page.
Racing wise, my focus will be switching from the regional events over to the national series as I am to continue my journey toward the elite ranks.
For now though as 2018 draws to an end, it’s time to enjoy the off season and the upcoming festive holidays whilst trying not to devour to many pigs in blankets!
2018 you’ve been a blast and I can’t wait for next one…..