Racing Roundup

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I am back from sunny Scotland (really – it was actually sunny!) and I am glad to say I survived the Enduro World Series, with its long climbs and super-tech stages, it was a real challenge for me.  Below I will talk you through some of my thoughts on how I could better train and prep my body for an event like this.  If you have not read it already, then check out my report from the UKGE race the weekend before where I talk about my preparations for the EWS and how I felt coming into it: http://mtbstrengthfactory.com/racing-riding-racing/

Starting  on the Saturday morning I felt fresh and strong on the bike and I was certainly glad that I took the Friday off as a total recovery day.  The sun was out and the first long transition from Peebles all the way to Innerleithen was actually pretty relaxed, with 90 minutes allocated for the ride out.  I had about 15 minutes to spare to compose myself and sort myself out before the first stage.  I don’t know what was up but I had a shocker on the first stage and really struggled to find any rhythm and flow on the trail, having a couple of crashes and plenty of nearly moments.  Half way through the stage was a sickening 600m fire-road climb that was a total killer, especially in the sun with my full face on, and the best way to attack this was to get the Reverb up and spin up as quick as you could.  Even Jared Graves didn’t just sprint this!  I would have liked to put in a bit more gas into this climb feature, but held back a little partly due to the seriously steep drop in off the road at the end of it and partly because it was stage 1 of a 50km day.

Stage 2 was pretty similar for me with a comfortable transition followed by a really tricky stage where I had a big over the bars into a rock garden which was not cool.  I was just riding like a total loser and getting a bit frustrated to be honest.  Luckily, there was a long ride out to stage 3 and I took a little time to ride on my own and have a chat with myself about how my day was going.  I knew I was a better rider and that if I just chilled out I could get down the hill smoother and of course quicker.  Stage 3 is where things started to look up for me and despite it being the steepest and most tech of the whole event, I stayed on the bike and got a pretty clean and controlled run in that I actually enjoyed.  Knowing that I had that behind me and with only 1 climb to go and the last stage which I loved, I was starting to feel a lot happier and was actually pretty phsyched about hitting the last stage and getting a bit more flow and speed going.

Climbing up to stage 4 I realised that I was actually feeling pretty fresh as I spun up, and certainly felt better then I had at the UKGE event the previous Sunday.  I was well up for the last stage and rode it really well, getting my best result of the weekend of 168th in the male category, including all of the pro’s and 1 min 20 behind Nico Lau which was pretty good in my book!  As I spun back to Peebles and the end of the day I was thinking about how I felt on the bike and realised that the previous week of racing and practice had acted like a sort of training camp and I had gone into day 1 of the EWS feeling fitter and stronger on the bike then I had felt just 1 week before.  If you remember my write up about UKGE at Inners, I decided that more long distance rides were needed in my programme.  Well it seemed like the combination of a whole week of long, hilly Scottish riding and some proper rest and food had really paid off and I was feeling good.

Innerleithen Gravity Enduro

After eating as much as I could on the Sat night, I woke up on Sunday feeling a little stiff, but generally pretty good.  A lot of people were worried about the first transition to the top of Glentress, but me and the lads around me knocked it out without any real dramas and with time to spare, including the legendary ‘Spooky Wood’ climb.  I was surprised how good I felt and knew that the Sunday stages were more flowing and fun and I was really looking forward to the ‘shorter’ 38km day and hoping to get some better times in and stay on my bike.

The Sunday went really well and I rode the stages as fast as I could.  I felt smooth on the bike and strong on the pedals, and did not fall off all day which was a result!  These stages were so much fun and the crowds were amazing, cheering you on, and shouting ‘Get off the brakes!’  I finished the day buzzing, and feeling like I could have pedalled up for another go on stage 8.

I finished in 188th out of 223 in the Men’s 18-39 category, including all of the pro’s and EWS team riders.  In the end I was pretty happy with this result, and looking back critically I have the following thoughts on my training and preparation and what I can do to become a better rider and racer:

1. The bottom line is that I need to be a better rider and bike handler!  It is hard to admit to, but most of the guys around me on the race were just better riders.  I have come back from Scotland a better rider, but there is always room for improvement, so I will be getting some coaching to try and improve myself further.

2. I have grown stronger on the bike over the 9 days in Scotland, however I do need to put in a few more regular over-distance rides so that my all day endurance is better.

3. I need to do some more work on my anaerobic endurance, working on intervals from 2 to 5 minutes to improve my stage fitness and ability to really push myself on the inevitable fire-road climbs that seem to crop up at these events.

4. My upper body, back and posture always felt strong and able to cope with the stages, so I will work on maintaining that.  Interestingly over the course of the 9 days I did lose some muscle mass from my chest, shoulders and arms despite eating loads and all the technical riding.

5. My mental preparation could have been better.  I really think that the first 2 stages on the Saturday could have gone better if I was more relaxed and had gotten myself in a better mental and emotional state to race stages that I knew were super hard and at my technical limits.  Generally this is not much of a problem for me as I am a confident and positive person, but maybe the difficulty and the fact it was a ‘World Series’ event got to me a bit.

6.  I was happy with my nutrition, kit and bike prep and feel that none of these held me back.  As I said before, the Torq products were very good and kept me going all week.

Looking back it has been an amazing experience and I will certainly enter next year if it comes back to the UK.  I have learnt a lot and developed as a rider and head towards the UKGE at Afan in a couple of weeks feeling fit, fast and confident.

Stay Strong

Ben

Big thanks to Doc Ward for the photographs!