After qualifying for GB at Tour Of Cambridgeshire last year I received an invite to have cycling coaching with Matt Bottrill Performance Coaching and responded and set up a meeting. I met Matt and Gareth who asked me my goals of which I had many and I was pleased to hear them say 'that’s a great start' as with no goals you have not as much motivation when you are training. I always like training as I feel I’m achieving something rather than riding for no reason and wasting valuable time where you can improve.
I had a goal of doing well in another 24 hr race as earlier this year I had ridden over 400 miles in 24 hours at my first 24hour event, with a standard bike, in February and also planned to see if I could set a record for the fastest 1000km ridden. I did every training session and did the gran fondo worlds in August but used this as training, unfortunately on my return I was hit by a car while out training and broke my collarbone, finger and ribs so training stopped for 6 days.
The messages from the coaches were spot on and I could tell the experience coming out of the words said were not just get well soon but showing an understanding of how I felt. I trained indoors with a sling on initially and only got onto my TT bike a week before the 24 hour race at the beginning of November, I completed it but my mileage was down mainly due to not getting enough miles in.
I had a week or so off and winter training started, I did every session and only focused on one at a time. By February my FTP was nearly 80 watts higher than the year earlier (same again next year would be fine by me). I did less hours riding but a lot more intensity just resting enough to recover and train again.
My next goal was the Malta national TT champs where I had finished 2nd in my age category a year earlier. I felt fitter and more confident however my wife fell ill and was house bound and her mother was seriously ill in hospital so I had to cancel my flight. Unfortunately her mother passed away in April and the funeral was in May, at this point relatives were going to stay and look after my wife while I was away.
I had booked a flight to the USA to attempt to break the fastest 100km road record solo and had to re-book my flight only arriving a day before the attempt. Fortunately I broke the record with Gareth giving me specific guidance which was invaluable and I kept to. Next up was TOC again, prior to this I had a review meeting and picked up some more great tips and had an adjustment to my bike position. I didn’t qualify in the TT but rode with the lead group all the way around in the road race finishing 30 seconds off first and knocking 17 minutes off my time a year earlier qualifying for GB again.
Next up was the Malta national road race championships. Each lap I was surprised I was off the front nearly out of sight but there was a big climb at the end of each lap and I kept on being caught on it, I finished fourth. At this point Gareth kept tweaking the training for each new event. I did some crits and finished in the top 10 in an E/1/2/3 and 11th or so a few times.
I did the national masters crit champs at Rockingham and rode off the front with four laps to go, nobody came with me so I was solo for a lap and when I was caught a four man break went which I didn’t get on. I finished in the following bunch. I went to Varese for the uci worlds this was only going to be training again unfortunately at the top of the first climb I had a tyre blowout so my race was finished.
Next I wanted to go back to the U.S. to set all road records up to 6 hrs, my wife had an operation in the summer and now was able to fly so I set off! Unfortunately hurricane Florence had flooded the certified course and a bridge was impassable on the course. Fortunately there was another course an hour away which we changed to, the roads were clear but flooding was all around. I did ride that course and reset my 100km record but also set the 6 hr distance record, 100 mile record and 200km record in my age category.
Gareth’s training was spot on, a lot of work on positioning and I did feel tired up to the day but as usual on the day he knew where I should be at. Next up were the world 6 hr TT championships in California and I only had 4 weeks to go, my training went on but I had an offshore yacht race to do, training for the first week and then 4 to 5 days at sea. During sailing training I did a bit of cycling but was way off, I think mainly due to tiredness from sailing.
I flew for 15 hours and drove for 4 hrs to get to the TT champs with only a few hours to spare. I pushed on the first hour or two and had a top three position at this point but dramatically tailed off, it was full sun and 95 degrees. I made many mistakes this year with wheel choice, timing of events too close together, going too early in breaks etc however one mistake I didn’t make was getting fantastic coaching with varied sessions and great feedback. I did every training session set until the last two weeks of the season. Only once did Gareth advise me to miss a session in the summer due to possible tiredness at that time.