I'd like to introduce a new rider to the world of XC racing. Andrew Kennedy is a XC newbie, with only one fun race under his bib shorts and a drive to see how far he can go in the sport, we thought it would be nice to follow his journey into 2015 and see what racing life looks like from a new perspective.
What we're also going to be doing - or should I say Andrew's going to be doing - is asking you for advice! We want to use Andrew's blog updates as an open forum for people to ask, advise and discuss the how's, what's and when's of XC MTB racing.
So without further ado, I'll leave it to Andrew to introduce himself and let you into his current set up...
"I am a 33 year old stay-at-home dad living in South Wiltshire. I have been a very keen mountain biker for 3 years having rediscovered something I enjoyed as a teenager. We moved out here from Surrey at the start of 2014 and my riding life has gone a bit quiet – I miss both the social side of Muddy Moles rides and the trails, which nothing here I've found compare to. I still get out most weekends for a few hours but I'm struggle with motivation, I also top up my riding hours with some Weeride outings during the week.
2015 will be my first year of racing, having been a keen rider since 2011. I hope to ride the entire Southern XC series, in the Sport class, and then fill out the rest of the year with mostly endurance races of varying length, maybe even a 12hr! I see racing as a way to get more out of my favourite pass-time, it will help me to discover new places and ride new trails with new people.
A broken shoulder at the end of July left me only able to ride on the turbo trainer and I decided quite soon that I would like to have a proper go at xc racing, which I'd never done before. In fact, aside from one London marathon, I have never trained for or tested myself in any athletic event, and I'm not getting any younger! As a trial I rode the first Endura Gorrick Autumn Classic in September which fortunately came round the week after the doctor cleared me to ride again – it was a lot of fun, helped by the great weather.
Elite turbo trainer + Trainer road subscription
Strength and mobility work from James Wilson
My training actually started in August. I had a broken collarbone and could not ride a real bike, so realisation that I could actually cope with the mix of suffering and boredom that the indoor training supplies was key to me deciding to have a real go at racing. I expect that it is common for riders in their 30's to struggle with fitting in rides around family commitments, and it is significantly easier to fit in an hour in the garage than a real ride so it is likely that I will keep at it, even after the winter. This means that I can ride outside for leisure and when it suits me, and not have to shoehorn training into a ride.
My training plan is as suggested by Trainer road:
Sweet spot base 1 (low volume): 3.5 hours per week x 6 weeks
Sweet spot base 2 (low volume): 4 hours per week x 6 weeks
Mountain bike (mid volume): 4.3 hours per week x 11 weeks
This will take me to mid-February which is a bit too early to peak, but since I don't plan to race a huge number of events in 2015 I should still be able to train effectively in between them (I think).
I'm currently feeling good about the training, I feel healthy and my legs are looking toned! I haven't seen huge power gains so far but my heart rate is recovering noticeably better and I can work more effectively at high cadences (though I don't really know how useful that is offroad).
140mm travel via Cane Creek shock
150mm X-Fusion Sweep fork
Hope hoops on flow rims
1x10 Shimano gears
This is my do-it-all bike and it is pretty handy up and down hills. Since I have shifted my focus to XC it has had a few subtle changes: a lightweight KCNC rotor on the front; the forks have been serviced and lowered 10mm by TFtuned; and the seat height is up. I also have an Absolute Black oval chainring on order – I'm not sure if this will be a rare or common sight on race bikes next year, I am making a bit of a gamble that I think it will be quicker. I have essentially no budget to make it any lighter so I will just race what I have, and look to add a race bike late next year if things are going well.
18% body fat
Approx 307w FTP
I only have access to virtual power and cheap bathroom scales, but the measurements are consistent and I can track my own progress with them. I have dropped 4kg of fat in 10 weeks of training and there is about 5kg more to go for my target of 12%. I should realistically be able to hit 4w/kg FTP early in 2015 which would be a good mental boost.
Challenges for 2015
There is an obvious doubt about whether I will be competitive in the sport class or will spend the year gaining experience at the back of the race. I am guessing that most racers fitness is based on riding a lot including a commute which is quite a contrast to my time limited power based training.
So, questions I have so far:
I know that you need a racing licence to gain ranking points but I don't know if it is expected otherwise?
What do people actually wear when the race day turns out to be cold and wet?
Is there a quicker way to improve your racing than entering lots of events? Any good books about it?
If you'd like to help Andrew with any pearls of wisdom as he preps for his first pop at XC racing, then you can either comment below or email your advice to info@UKXCNews.com and we'll forward it along.
Why not give Andrew a follow on Twitter - @MTB_akak