For all those older cyclists with aspirations of grandeur (a.k.a achieving our personal best)

A post for all my older friends and acquaintances who wrestle with the age old question, ‘what the hell am I doing?’

I frequently sit down and have a think about things I do. Should I still be racing?

Racing in a former life

Racing in a former life

Am I making the improvements I’d like? Is the amount of time I spend pursing goals justify the end product? Does the training time and competing have a detrimental effect on those around me? Can I make the switch from long MTB endurance racing, to a short sharp cross race?

So what do I do? I read inspirational race reports, about veteran riders achieving amazing things and training articles to keep me going during those moments of self doubt. They pep me up and keep me going. It gets tough when the majority of people around you can live a life of inactivity, think you’re totally nuts and really ought to bow out gracefully. Well people like me can’t! We love that feeling of being alive, pushing ourselves and feeling fit and healthy. So my fellow obsessives, nutters etc……. This article in Cycling Weekly is for you. Read, enjoy and may it feed your soul with determination and possibilities.

Don’t let age slow you down
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The 3 Peaks Cyclocross Race Through Rose Coloured Specs’

Steady girl!

Steady girl!  Photo by Alan Dorrington

Crawling my way up Pen y Ghent , a well meaning spectator shouted,’ Think about the retrospective enjoyment!’. I remember thinking, ‘ Oh shut up!’ at the time, but now it makes me giggle. Yep it is very much about the joy of completion and all those carries and dodgy descents are pictured through rose coloured spectacles. That’s the quirky thing about this cross race. The remembering is better than the ‘doing’!

Covering a total of 38 miles, the 3 Peaks Cyclocross Race, ascends the three highest peaks in Yorkshire, Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen y Ghent. The hills are connected by 18 miles of road and the rest of it consists of long carries and rocky descents.

The joy of Simon Fell

The joy of Simon Fell

This year a staggering 650 eager souls all lined on the start. For the majority of riders, getting the body and bike round is enough of a challenge. But of course, the front runners are chasing winning times, usually around the 3 hour mark.

For me, it’s about doing my personal best and if that results in a good position it’s a bonus. Having the benefit of already completed one event in 2012, I had made a few tweaks to my preparation and ride on the day. Rather than take a Camelbak I carried small bottles, ate and drank mainly on the road, rode the descents quicker and pedalled harder on the road. Prior to the event, I spent a lot of time on very rocky tracks. Trained on the Monkey Trail at Birches Valley Trail Centre, on a cross bike  and moved my saddle forward which seemed to improve bike control.

Shaken but not stirred at the finish

Shaken but not stirred at the finish

Having finished 4th in my age category, despite having a raging sore throat 2 days before, it’s an ok result. It’s spurred me on to make plans for next year. What has happened to thoughts like ‘I can’t possibly carry this bike anymore’ and ‘what the hell has this race got to do with cycling?’ I couldn’t tell you, but all I do know, is that it’s an amazing thing to do and is strangely additive. Am I going to be one of those riders who tells tales about their 10th, 11th, 12th ……  3 Peaks? I think I know the answer and that does make me laugh!