“Hey Angus, can you write up a blog post about West Head for me? Not a race report style of writing, but more along the lines of the general vibe of the race. What it means to you”
“yeah sure, that could work”
And just like that, Junior’s Journal came into the world.
I thought that for update #2 I would focus on bringing everyone up to speed with my year so far. This isn’t to try and plug my own agenda or talk myself up, but more to give an insight into what it’s like to ride your bike… a lot.
Starting off the year with Nationals, where it became apparent there is an abundance of good bike riders in Australia, and then after some time off, I started the season more motivated than ever. I’m not sure about others, but I seem to get that fire in the belly after a good head kickin’. After working out the season ahead with the team and my coach, I came into the year with one fairly vague overarching goal and a few specific boxes to tick. The main goal was simple. Be good at making my bike go fast. How hard can it be?
Evidently, it’s quite a challenge.
The first question after realising this is, how does one become a good bike rider? Time on the bike definitely helps, as do a few sessions a week of stretching and some core exercises. I’ve also tried to put on a few kilos to get a bit more strength and reduce susceptibility to illness and the like. So far, I’m up 4kg on last year, and healthier than ever. Consistent quality was the name of the game, and I’ve been a good boy, making sure there are green boxes aplenty on TrainingPeaks each week. This means I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I can count on one hand, the number of sessions I’ve skipped or cut short without a good reason.
This has led to a steady increase in fitness since I started back on the bike, with quite a linear rate of improvement so far. In terms of my role in the team, I’ve been riding in the service of others. Chris for the rolling and hilly races, and for the big sprinter dawg Toby Orchard (PK) when a fast finish is required. I’ve been pretty content doing this, as it really felt like a team win when one of these boys managed to get up. I also never felt like I was ready for the responsibility of having to get a result.
A situation arose during the Nowra to Sassafras road race, where I was in the breakaway with Chris and Toby part of the chase group. The decision was made that we had a greater chance of winning with Toby in the front group, even if it was a larger bunch, than we had with only myself in a smaller group of strong riders. Chris and Toby contributed to the chase to bring the break back and bring the groups together. We ended up with 2nd, which isn’t all that bad now that I think about it. It was a hard pill to swallow, being chased down by teammates, but I understand the reasoning behind the actions and I’m good with that.
What I’m trying to say here is that at this stage I was only just starting to prove myself. After being caught, I rode the front for most of the remainder of the race to try and keep the group together for a sprint. This was a turning point, as Chris began to realise that I was developing as a rider, and that my role within the team would develop as well. There was no doubt that I was not up to the task for the first half of the year, however I’ve developed physically and mentally and I’m now up to the challenge. I back myself.
Another thing that helped me was having someone to train with. More specifically someone who is on the same page as me in this regard. It makes time riding bikes much more enjoyable. Shout out to Tom Green for putting up with me so far, I don’t really want to get out and do 4 hours in the freezing rain on my own. Having a good mate to chat to about life is good for the mind, rather than just talking bikes.
Race reflections have also been a key aspect for me, as you need more than just brawn to win a race. One needs to be a bit crafty and make the right decisions under pressure to get there first. My tactical game is on the up, after making some rookie errorsand wasting many a kilojoule by doing something silly. I used to attack for the sake of attacking, with no real knowledge of why I was riding that way, and without any particular intention of what I sought to accomplish. Looking back, I’m not really sure why I was doing this, it just seems like a really dumb way to ride. It makes me feel a bit simple just thinking about it. However, I’ve learned, changed that tactic, and now I’ll only try and get off the front for a reason, with a specific target in mind.
I hope this gives everyone a good idea of what I’ve been up to in on the bike, let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like my opinion on.