The future belongs to those who prepare for it today - Malcolm X

Two weeks of full on school-work have meant that racing has been put on hold until June 28th. School’s alright but I totally get what Dan Atherton meant when he said he couldn’t wait for school to finish so that he “… could get on with life.” I have one more year at school to finish my Abitur (German equivalent to A-levels) and although I know that the year is going to go quickly, I get frustrated sometimes by just how much time is wasted in lessons which simply aren’t necessary. I could or should be out on my bike instead of watching dubbed DVDs or suffering though presentations on the history of the multi-storey car-park.

Training for the National Championships:

Generally speaking, I follow Joe Friel’s training phases, Base, Build, Peak & Transition.

I’m aiming to peak in the middle of July for the British National Championships which means I’m currently at the beginning of a Build 2 phase and therefore doing sprints, hill intervals and cruise intervals. Additionally I have a set of exercises for core strength and recently my dad has introduced a 30 minute run three times a week into my training, I think mainly to get me out of bed earlier but also because he knows I don’t like running.

This year I’ve got a few more rest days in my plan and I can definitely feel a difference. I’m not suffering from the deep fatigue which got to me last season.

Train hard, rest well.

Facing my fears:

One of my limiting aspects is descending; I tend to lose time on the downhill sections. I didn’t come into XCO through BMX or Downhill and this puts me at a disadvantage to a lot of the top juniors in Europe. Consequently, we’ve been focussing on technique and body position. A good example for me to follow has been Grant Ferguson. Take a look at him on the descents.

In addition to the technique, we’ve also been working on the old ‘It’s all in the head’ aspect of descending.

My dad has been busy challenging me on the bike with jumps, gaps and drops and off the bike with my fear of heights. Basically, I’ve been facing up to my fears and when this mental training is combined with the correct descending techniques, the result is growing self-confidence.

Tyres, clothes and Nicole Cooke’s book:

Since John Owen from Vee Tire Co. recommend the Trax XC, I’ve had no other tyres on. The Trax XC is a fantastic all-rounder, it’s quick, stable, hard-wearing and offers enough grip for most conditions. Check out Vee Tire Co.

Hoshi Yoshida and Christoph Bösl from SRSuntour must have known that I needed cheering up this week (two weeks no racing makes me grumpy). They sent me some cool t-shirts and an extremely natty cap. SRSuntour provide me with forks and servicing. If you saw my Field Cycles hardtail last month in UKXCNews, you will have seen that I am very lucky to be using the Axon Werx Julie Bresset edition, a really, really, amazing fork. Super light, super simple and super reliable; it has to be one of the best forks around.

A couple of weeks ago I recommended Phil Gaimon’s wonderful book ‘Pro Cycling on $10 a Day’ and this week I would like to recommend Nicole Cooke’s book, ‘Breakaway.’ The book inspires, provokes and entertains all in one. There is so much in this book that a ‘normal’ racer can relate to. This season has been a real eye-opener for me and my family in terms of the money and resources which go into racing at the highest junior XCO level, and we sometimes feel like we’re fighting a losing battle against big trade teams and federations. We are simply unable to compete as often as we would like due to a lack of money and it’s really frustrating. Nicole Cooke talks about this ‘arms race’ quite a bit and how potentially damaging it is for the sport. If you haven’t already read it, I suggest you get your hands on a copy.

Next up:

From next week onwards it’s back to racing. Next weekend we’re off to Oberlengenhardt for an LBS Cup race against some very fast German juniors including the aptly named Simon Schneller. July 12th is Bundesliga (it doesn’t come much harder) and then of course it’s Nationals at Hadleigh Farm.

Ride on!

Words: Lomas Wefing