In this piece, I shall be delving into the mental side of cycling: It’s all in the head. *Apologies for being a bit behind in the blogs, this was written back in January but I’m useless and never posted it!
We were riding up Tudons, a famous 15km climb that snakes up into the mountains just inland from Benidorm. This was the third day of our first training block of the year. With my fitness still not where I wanted it, my legs were pretty sore. All I could focus on was holding onto the wheel in front of me. I won’t lie to you, I was in a box and not enjoying myself!
About halfway up, Flavio pulled up beside us in the car and started going crazy. Banging on the horn in excitement, I’ve never seen him so happy! He had just found out that we had got a place to ride the U23 Giro d’Italia, a 10 day stage race around Italy. Apart from the Tour de l’Avenir (the U23 Tour de France), this is the biggest stage race in the world of U23 cycling and for the team to get a place is a huge achievement. It’s times like this that you can see how passionate Flavio is about what he does. His excitement was infectious, the whole team knew how big this was and soon everyone was buzzing.
We still had more than 3 hours left to ride and my legs were still sore, but suddenly everything had changed. No longer did it feel like a chore to drag myself up the climbs. Don’t get me wrong, I was still crawling, but with this surge of motivation I could have ridden for hours!
It made me realise how much of training is in the head. Although 9/10 days I love going out and pushing myself as hard as I can go, there is the occasional day where for whatever reason, riding my bike is the last thing that I want to be doing. It’s on those days where having a source of motivation really helps me keep pushing and get the job done, knowing that what you are doing is for a reason.
Since I wrote the above, the route for the 2018 edition has been released. Racing over 1200km with 4 big summit finishes and no rest days, it’s going to be a very hard race! As well as the mountain stages, there are some flat stages that look set to finish in a bunch sprint, a few rolling stages that could be won by a break and two individual time trials (a short 5km prologue and a rolling 22km TT on the final day). Earning a place on the team will be one of my primary targets for this season. I would like to think that the rolling stages and the final time trial suit me well, however there is a long way between then and now and for the moment I need to focus on getting my head down and training hard!
In my next blog I’ll be telling you about how my racing and training has been getting on as my time out here in Spain comes to a close.
Until next time, ciao!
The 2018 U23 Giro d'Italia takes place in northern italy from the 9th to the 15th of June http://www.giroditaliau23.it