Well it's another month down and yet another closer to the start of the XC season.

It's been a whole 7 months without a race, I guess it puts into perspective just how bad my injury was. It only felt like yesterday that I began my long road to recovery, and having what felt like plenty of time to get back to full fitness... the season soon creeps up on you. Fortunately things are now rolling along very nicely. I've been riding my mountain bike at Sherwood Pines and Cannock Chase and so far so good, I couldn't have had a bigger smile on my face when I got on the bike and pedaled my heart out; railing berms and floating over roots like I'd not had any time off at all. My shoulder seems to be taking the hammering quite well. I'm still holding back a little, but when I say a little it's not full tilt big drops and descents that a world cup downhiller might look twice about. I'm really happy with the way my form is progressing. Feeling better each week, and going through all the stages of my recovery like a dream.

Last time I had some news to reveal and I'm now, thankfully, able to let it out. For this year, one of the all time classic mountain bike components are being shown on my bike. Known more for downhill and enduro, an update in their XC products have shown huge promise. The company I'm talking about is Marzocchi, a brand I'm sure everyone knows, or has at least heard of. This year I'll be using their 320 LCR fork, a cross-country thoroughbred fork made to beat the rest. I've been able to test this new fork over the past few weeks and really rate it up there with the best. Light, stiff, responsive and it works perfectly, exactly what you want when competing against the best. So keep a look out for them in the future, it may just be one to take a look at.

So race wise whats the calendar currently looking like you may ask? The first race I'm down for is a road race. Darley moor has been a good kick off for me and with hard fast racing it sure does make your legs hurt. Up after that, a training camp to get some mountain bike race pace conditioning with a good friend of mine on the tough slopes of Dalby Forest. Always a good place to go for a sure fire winner when it comes to testing the legs. After this its down South for a round of the Mud, Sweat and Gears, my first true mtb race of the season, and then the first big one of the year; a race that is pretty much in my back garden. The first national round at Sherwood is one I want to do well in. Last years 50 yard dash with a broken chain didn't quite give me the result I hoped for, but with a new team, coach and perspective on my career I think if it all comes together this could be my best to date. Granted, the competition will be fierce; Grant 'the frog' Ferguson is storming at the moment with wins under his belt already, the 2 academy boys, Mike Thompson and Iain Paton, 2 riders with talent to show for their hard work. Other Brits like Jason Bouttell, Steven James and Paul Oldham, and not forgetting Liam Killeen, always up there no matter the course. Theres also a likely threat from further afield but all shall be revealed on the line come race day. I've got the kit, the backing, the experience and the prep all I need to do is pedal like a mad man till that checkered flag, and hope its me on that top step. It sure would be a great start to a new year!
So that's it for this months update. Not much but a taster again into my life.
Next time I'll hopefully have good news, and at least one win under my belt... maybe even 3! So keep a look out for me on the trails and don't be offended or hurt if I don't wait up for you. I'll be having too much fun!

Happy times and better riding!