It's been six months since my initial post about my journey to the Trans-Provence race, and boy how time's flown. With almost four months still to go, I thought it was time to put fingers to keyboard and get another column done on what's been happening.
When the TP entry list was released I took a quick scan down it, and after the initial excitement subsided, I then wondered "what have I done?" as I checked out the heavy hitters in the group. Many of the names I've seen printed on pages of global magazines, pictured on websites and watched them in numerous videos as they rip across the screen. These are the guys I'll be lining up against in what is now only a matter of months. Um, yeah.
Every young male mountain biker has dreams of racing overseas, of experiencing trails all over the world, and of standing on podiums spraying champagne over throngs of women waiting to throw themselves at them. While lots of young Kiwis get out and live these dreams (well, maybe not the podium part) I somehow missed the boat. I was satisfied with racing and riding locally, while the wider world remained somewhat a far off fantasy. Fast forward a few (ok, a lot) of years and finally the stars aligned for some international racing, but the dream of podiums and champagne have faded and life has changed a lot.
Maybe it's something to do with getting old-ish, maybe it's not being able to ride a bike every day of the week from sunrise until sundown, maybe it's the lack of natural fitness and effortless skill, the onset of an entirely rational fear of injury, or simply that times have in fact changed and the goal posts have shifted, and success is not what it once was. Heading to the Trans Provence, it's all about doing as well as possible; as well as someone who works a full-time job, has responsibilities and is lucky to see dirt more than once a week can do. It's no longer champagne and podium dreams.
So, how does one achieve the goal of "being all you can be"? Simple; planning, and that word which until recently has been somewhat dirty, training. Not just going and riding a bike a few times a week with some sprints here and there to keep things interesting, not just trying to smash your mates on a road bike or simply riding trails with some friends on a Saturday morning, but solid, structured, well informed TRAINING. How do I know what structure to have and what work to do? Another dirty word, coach.
For the first time ever, I've now got a weekly schedule of training laid out before me, a diary to complete and heart rates to record. A few trips to the gym each week, involving a variety of exercises, weight tossing and jumping around, which generally leaves all the local meat heads wondering what the heck I'm up to, and why I'm not pushing 'man size' weights! Then there are the interval sessions at 6am in the garage, on the trainer, in the cold, while some sort of DH video plays on the laptop and the pool of sweat on the floor grows ever larger as I watch the seconds tick down on the phone.
Nothing is left to chance. I will arrive on the start line knowing that I've done everything possible that a 'part timer' can do. Even if the result is a solid mid-pack finish, at least there wont be any "should've, could've, would've, but didn't" moments!
More random pics up on Instagram/lesterperrynz