Wednesday, February 19, 2014

New job, new team, new year

Soo, it's been quiet on my blog, but not for the lack of action, quite the opposite, I've just been too busy! Unfortunately Dublin rent is quite expensive and cycling too, so I had no option but to get a job. Luckily though my job is very flexible and can be carried out remotely. And it allows me to keep cycling. But it also requires a lot of mental energy - working concentrated on the computer for 20 hours a week is not always easy when you're tired from training. Anyhow, while my recovery may have suffered, it will pay for all the racing I will do this year (yes, I do have to pay for all of that myself). And I will get to do some really cool races in Europe this year with my new team. But first things first.

My own CX bike bought with my own money!
In October last year I was without a job, without money and without a plan. So in my off-season break Ryan and I started looking for a job that would allow us to keep training. While there were no leads for a while and I was getting fidgety, it all happened very quick in the end. Our company got a consulting stint in California with view to extension, so we flew over a week later and started setting things up. This was my 4th winter trip to California, but the first time to set up the consulting gig! We were still able to make use of the much better weather in California and get in our base miles like every year. We just had to be a lot more organized and had no time to do anything outside of work and training.

Sporting my new team kit in the CX Champs - photo credit: Toby Watson
Then another last minute offer came through - I had been hoping to get onto a team that would race mainly in Europe and give me opportunities for the next level of racing. I had already started on plan B, looking to join a local Belgian club team and race with them, when the offer from the Danish Team Rytger came through. Team Rytger is a first year UCI team full of young and promising riders and would race mainly in Europe, perfect for me! As a first year, the team are running on a shoe-string budget, but with two national road race champs (Denmark and Ireland), we already got lots of invites to races, including some of the biggest classics, like the Tour of Vlaanderen! I am really looking forward to be racing with them.

Start of last race in Bremen Six Days

Ryan and I returned from California just in time for Christmas. I spent most of my training on the turbo trainer, and a day or two in bed with a cold too. Christmas was really relaxing with family and friends, giving me a lot of mental energy. I also did a little bit of cyclo cross racing. I had picked up a second hand CX bike in the US from my first salary. Last year I raced the CX Champs on a borrowed bike and Ryan's too large bike, finishing 2nd (in what was my 2nd ever CX race). This year at least I would go into the champs a little more prepared: I had done 3 CX races on my own bike before going into the champs race and was in better form than same time last year. My biggest competitor was going to be Fran Meehan, who had beaten me into 2nd place last year. I knew Fran was in great form and had chance to improve her mud surfing skills by racing CX on the continent. I knew I was missing the high intensity training and my skills would be lacking, but I was happy to challenge her. I thought I might have a chance to win if the course wasn't too wet and it would be power over skills. Unfortunately for me the course was slippery as frig and I had trouble riding (or should I say sliding?) in a straight line. It helped a little that I got a bit of a head start when Fran got caught up in a crash at the start, but the Fran was catching up steadily every lap and I struggled more and more on the slippery ground. Eventually the inevitable happened and she passed me and kept increasing her lead. I finished behind her in 2nd, AGAIN! Ah well, there's always next year.

On top of the world in GC
After the CX Champs I took a 3 day holiday in Germany to visit a friend of mine in Bremen. Just at the same time the Bremen 6-days were on: A track cycling event with lots of entertainment, or rather lots of entertainment with some track racing. And oh the Germans know how to throw a good party, although we were there on the last and quietest day, where the people there were actually interested in watching the racing. A famous Bremen saying roughly translates as follows: "The Bremen 6-days are great craic, only the races are getting into the way!"

Our one and only beach trip in GC
Straight after returning from Bremen Ryan and I made off to our yearly warm weather winter training camp in Gran Canaria. We've come to the same place for 6 years now. People think we're going on a holiday, but in reality we just live a very simple life working and training hard like in Ireland, just with good weather and less distractions. Train, work, eat, sleep, repeat sums it up mostly. Our stay is usually punctuated by friends or family visiting when we are there, but for most of it it's a quiet life. Perfect for working and training and getting some Vitamin D in the winter :)

Time there has flown by as every year and while I'm writing this we're on our insanely early flight back to bad weather in Ireland. Thank goodness it's an easy week this week! And after this little breather in Ireland, I'm off to my first racing stint in Belgium and the Netherlands, then a training camp in Italy and then some more racing in Belgium. Have a look at www.team-rytger.com and follow us on Facebook to see what's in store for me!

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