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Last weekend was my first BC XC race with ranking points. Whilst packing the car on the morning of the race I was nervous, last year I had a bad race at Coed-y-Brenin and finished the last placed elite.
On arrival at the course I was apprehensive but had more confidence than normal after making sure I put in a very good winters training with Dig Deep Coaching watching my every pedal stroke. The numbers don’t lie on my online training account provided by Dig Deep Coaching through Training Peaks.
So off I went for a pre ride, it was pretty much exactly the same as the previous time. This is a technical XC race course which suits my style, in particular the technical climb, very on/off the gas. After finishing the pre ride I knew Dig Deep Coaching had brought me on…I felt good. Before I knew it we were being gridded, due to not racing in Round 1 I was on the second row. The butterflies kick in as the pre race briefing finishes and then onto "riders I'll start you sometime in the next 10 seconds".
BOOM we were off straight onto the climb. Here I kept it calm and followed wheels whilst remaining seated as I wanted to use my explosive effort when everyone around me blew from the required effort at the start. At this point two riders were about 10 seconds in front and we were almost at the top of the climb and about to enter a technical descent. This is where I jumped out of the group of riders I was in instantly giving me a gap which I extended down the descent and to my surprise I rolled up to the back wheel of the second placed rider Rich Jones of XCracer. Now I've never been at his level before but for the next couple of laps we rode together until the elastic snapped and he made a gap from me on a climb, but this filled me with confidence as at this point I knew I had put my demons to bed with this course and that my form was at the best it has ever been thanks to my commitment to the coaching.
The next couple of laps were pretty uneventful I just kept the chain tight as the 4th placed rider was only 30 seconds off my back wheel and putting pressure on but every time we got to the technical climb, which is followed with the notorious pins and needles descent, I opened up the gap again. Onto the last lap I knew all I had to do was hold the rider behind off to finish on the podium, up the last climb I kept an eye on the power figure, I kept it around the 300w mark knowing I could hold this power without going too deep.
Into the arena and I was confirmed as 3rd placed elite rider. I was buzzing as it is my first ever Elite XC podium. Since being coached by Dig Deep I have moved up another level. This team of coaches are really at the forefront of modern coaching with the most up to date techniques to get the best out of me by the use of a power meter. The confidence I have gained knowing the level and experience they give me is priceless.
It’s now onto the Midlands XC and then the British XC series.
See you at a race soon. Neil