Adventures of the Cotic - A Quick Release holidays mountain bike race team

Sunday, 28 April 2013

A day long adventure.

New AQR team recruit Martin looks ahead to his BIG event of the year...

In less than 2 weeks time I will embark on a new challenge, and I am really not sure what to expect. On Saturday 11th May at 12:00pm I’ll clip in and push off the start at 24 Hours of Exposure in Wasing and if all goes well, not stop turning those pedals until 12:00pm on Sunday 12th May. I’ve raced 24 hours before, but never alone – there has always been 1 or 3 more people helping me out, giving me the opportunity to sit in a comfortable chair, eat while relaxing, change my socks, and share stories of the last lap with the other riders in the pits. None of that this time I’m afraid.

Not just any solo race, this is the UK and European Championships
Not just any solo race, this is the UK and European Championships
Last season, there was never really any pressure. It’s fair to say I exceeded my own expectations in pretty much every race I entered – a 5th at 12 Hours of Exposure and 2nd at Torq 12:12 being the highlights. As I’ve never raced a 24hour solo event before – I should really be turning up with no expectations other than to learn and hopefully finish. Anything else should be a bonus.
So why over the past few weeks have I started to put pressure on myself for this race? I’ve been getting angry with myself when I’ve missed training sessions because of weather, work or illness. My DNF at Whinlatter last weekend did not help. I’ve been finding it hard to relax – always thinking there is something I could be doing to help my performance, whether that’s stretching and core work or tinkering (badly) with the bikes to get the optimum setup.
My mind tells me I can do well in this race. I don’t know whether “well” translates into podium, 5th or 10th – it all depended on who else turns up on the day. For me it’s not about position; it’s about putting all that training and hard work into being as fast as I know I can be. I know the riders that are faster than me – if I am close to them, or even ahead of them then mission accomplished. If I’m a long way from them or behind those that were slower than me last year – then in my mind that is failure and I will be disappointed, even if I finish.
The reality is that I have no idea how my body or mind will react after 12 hours. I’ve been to some dark places on a bike. I like to think that my head is strong and I can pull myself out even darker places should they come. I’ve got lucky with mechanicals and crashes last year – maybe this year I’ll not be so lucky.
At least if the course is a pad eater, I’ve got plenty of spares to slow me down
At least if the course is a pad eater, I’ve got plenty of spares to slow me down
So the aim over the precious few days leading up to the race is to nail every training session. Make sure the bikes are at 100%. Prepare all the equipment, clothes and food in time. Ensure all logistics are in place in the build up to the race. I’ll make time for relaxing and recovery. I’ll eat well. I’ll sleep well.
If I do all this, it will give me more confidence, it will cast away some of those doubts and I will begin to lift some of that self inflicted pressure.
Right now I’m 50% excited and 50% nervous. The aim for the start line is to be 90% excited, 10% nervous. And that little bit of nervousness can be transferred in to adrenaline to keep me pedalling and racing for 24 hours!
P.S. Just writing this has already made me 60% excited, 40% nervous. 24 hours…you’re mine!

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