I knew it would happen at some point, it seems to happen every season, but the suddenness of falling out of love with cycling this time round has surprised even me.
Up until the end of May I’d been quietly pleased with how my season had been going, but it’s fair to say that June was a frustrating month for me. I picked up my first chest infection for a while at the end of May, which meant no training or racing whilst on antibiotics so I had to endure several days of sitting in traffic instead of bypassing the morning queues in the bike lane as per normal. I also got an extra dose of steroids to help with the usual fall out on my asthma which, coupled with the sudden drop in activity and not so corresponding drop in calorie intake, saw me add a frightening amount of weight in just over a week. With a trip down to Swizterland planned for the middle of the month, I was desperate to be in some sort of shape to be able to put in some decent miles in the Alps.
After 10 days or so of moping around, I was off the drugs so I decided it was kill or cure at the evening MTB crit. I normally like the summer crit series as it’s not as technical as the winter XC races and generally suits my lack of off road skills, but I’d heard the track wouldn’t be much fun on my ‘cross bike so wasn’t feeling overly motivated. It was also the first time I’d been on a proper off road ride since I’d trashed my wheels in the UK in April, but the joys of my flash pump meant that changing from my ruined winter tubeless tyres to my summer ones was painless. Alas, it turns out they weren’t particularly suited to the rutted earth of the local motoX track. I had a fairly sketchy couple of warm up laps where I felt my front wheel was about to wipe out at any moment as the lack of knobbles towards the side of the tyres left me with a distinct lack of grip everytime I leaned into a corner.
As ever, I got away to my usual poor start but gradually moved up through the field as my confidence and knowledge of the track grew – it turns out smashing it round rutted berms on a cross bike is a nerve-wracking but ultimately satisfying experience! All in all it was going quite well until I glanced over my shoulder to see where the guy behind was, took too much speed into the very final corner, my front wheel went from under me, and I stuck it on the deck in a cloud of dust and lost a place in the overall GC. No damage to the bike luckily, but I ended up with a bit of gravel rash down my shin, a nasty cut on my knee and a badly bruised ego.
Two days later my bike & I, both safely bubbled wrapped, duly arrived at Zurich airport for a week long *cough* business trip. The forecast was for heavy rain all week, so after catching the early train on the Sunday morning from the city down towards the Italian border it was a pleasant surprise to see a bit of blue sky overhead. The day started with a thoroughly enjoyable but chilly climb up the deserted cobbled road over the San Gotthard pass, followed by a brief coffee and cake stop in Altdorf overlooking the statue of William Tell. Despite the forecast, the next 2 hours were spent climbing the relentless Klausenpass in nearly 25C. By the time I reached the top though you could see the bad weather sweeping up the valley and, although the rain held off for the steepest part of the descent, the final 80km back to Zurich was a pretty unpleasant affair in ever increasing traffic and heavy rain. In truth I still hadn’t recovered fully from my chest infection, and I spent the rest of the week in meetings in a very soggy Zurich with what felt like a nasty head cold. I did manage a couple of shorter evening rides out of the city during the week – nothing mountainous, but enough to test the legs, before setting off early on the Friday for a damp lap of Lake Zurich and a short but steep climb through the clouds up the back roads of the Etzel. It was the first time I’ve seen anything of Switzerland other than Zurich and the scenery was truly breath taking, but a week of burning the candle at both ends left me feeling absolutely exhausted by the I time I got back to Guernsey late on Saturday evening and there was no way I was either a) well enough, or b) going to clean the bike, reassemble it and be signed on for a road race at 06:30 the next morning.
Luckily Monday was a scheduled rest day anyway, but I felt totally rock bottom and had no enthusiasm for getting back to training on the Tuesday – even that day’s short commute was an absolute grind. I’m not sure whether it was fact that the weather has been relentlessly shit this summer and that fact that I’d got wet on every ride for 2 weeks solid, or just the come down of being back from the alpine scenery of Switzerland the week before, but I was totally rock bottom and out of love with my bike. The final straw came when my turbo broke on the Wednesday – the resistance keep jumping up and down making it totally unusable so, after a tantrum my 5 year old would be proud of, my turbo was sent back to Tacx and I was back to training outside in the rain without any power data.
Everything pointed to last Sunday’s 10 mile TT being a bit of a disaster, and so it duly was. I hadn’t done any road racing for over a month, let alone sat on my TT bike, and my lack of race sharpness showed as it all unraveled in the headwind over the final mile or so. As if that wasn’t enough, I managed to pick up a stomach bug that day too which has totally floored me. On the plus side, I’ve dropped over 3kg in weight, but I’m still not over it nearly a week later. I’ve already written off this weekend’s 25 mile TT too, and I’m going to try and get back into some sort of form in time to head to France for a few road races next weekend.
I’m hoping this is where my coach earns his keep and picks me up off the floor, because at the moment I could quite happily jack it in for the season.