On one side of my desk is radiator which is covered with wet riding kit. On the other side, next to my morning coffee, is my boarding card for Friday’s flight. As I prepare for next week’s race in the Spanish sunshine and take a break from the snow and rain, it seems a good time to review the winter’s training and look to the season ahead.
There have been a few changes for the Cotic – A Quick Release Holidays race team this year. We are joined this year by Ruth Owen-Evans and Martin Smith. Ruth is re-joining us after a season away. After her first year of Elite XC racing she’s aiming for some more top performances this year and she and I are racing together in the Tour of Andalucía next week. It’s the first time either of us has competed in a stage race, let alone a UCI Cat 1 event so we don’t really know what to expect or how we’ll get on. We’re hoping that my endurance and her XC abilities will complement the other; she can push me go fast at the beginning and I’ll chivvy her keep going towards the end.
Martin is based in Nottingham and has become a regular riding mate of James and mine. He had a successful 2012 coming 2nd at Torq 12 solo male race and 5th at Exposure in the 12 hour race. Martin joining the team as an endurance rider has been great for me, someone who is willing to set-off at stupid o’clock on a Sunday morning for a training ride in the snow and freezing temperatures.
|Martin showing off his snow-skills|
James, Katie, Emma, Kirsty, Matt, Ant and I will all be in Cotic – AQR colours again next year. James, Emma and Katie are again focusing on XC and team events, and Ant and I on endurance races. I might even try and beat last year’s total and race more than once this year. Kirsty and Matt are expanding the repertoire and have become regulars on the duathlon scene. Whilst the rest of us have been rigging up the TV in front of the turbo, they’ve been racing round freezing, muddy fields in their lycra. Kirsty in particular has had a storming winter with so many wins we’ve all lost count.
Ian and Kate continue to support the team with coaching, skills and bike advice to name a few. We had a great coaching day with them both last weekend although I wasn’t so chuffed to have my legs ripped off whilst practising XC race starts. The Potters are currently on their way out to Portugal for another year of spring-time guiding and coaching holidays before heading back to the UK in May to support the team at Exposure.
|It was 'this' big|
We do lose one team member this year, Anne has moved on from riding her bike round and round for 24 hours and instead is now focusing on racing a kayak in a straight line for 60 seconds with the British Para Canoe team. From the sublime to the ridiculous, or the ridiculous to the sublime, I’m not sure which. We’re all looking forward to seeing her in Rio at the 2016 and in the meantime as AQR physio.
Wi-fi allowing Ruth and I will send updates from Spain next week and show off our tan-lines when we’re back. Enjoy the rain whilst we're away!