… master of none?
A very nicely calculated saying, that. And I suspect sums up quite neatly how 2012 has been for me on the racing front. My targets for the year were: win a road race, top 30 at the ABSA Cape Epic, podium at Mayhem 24hr solo, and qualify for the marathon worlds. Well I haven’t done the latter, but that was always going to be a bit of a longshot, if we’re honest – I know my limits. And Mike and I didn’t make that Epic target, but would have been fairly close if we’d managed to finish together. And I hit the other two objectives; one of my most enjoyable days on a bike this year was winning a local 2nd-category race on a hard course south of London, solo by a decent distance from a race-long break. Contrast that though with the abject misery of riding through rivers of mud for 24 hours, at the end of the wettest May and June Britain has ever seen, which is saying something. The only good thing about that race was the result (3rd).
Along with those various races, I seem to have done some early-season cross racing, a few other road races and crits, the UK national championships in both XCM and XCO, plus taken several minutes off my personal best in a 40k TT. I seem to have done a lot of different things, and done OK in quite a lot of them.
But maybe, just maybe, if I’d devoted myself a bit more to one or two disciplines, I’d have done better in those. Maybe.
On the other hand, clearly I’m no pro. Very clearly! Which means the riding and racing is all about having fun. If I’d flogged myself purely on one type of racing all year, would I have had as much fun? If I’d done all the marathons I could, I would have really enjoyed the riding, but I’d have clocked up a lot of less enjoyable miles in the car and in the air. If I’d just done road races, I’d have been longing for time on the dirt. And if I’d just done time trials? Well, I might just be getting a bit obsessed about aero helmets, forearm positions and lactate threshold power outputs. And that’s not healthy for anyone.
Instead, I’ve done a lot of very varied and very cool events, spent time with lots of different riding mates, seen various different parts of the UK and the world, and at least done OK in the odd event that I wanted to do well in. Some people will revel in the pure focus of one branch of cycling; I think for my part I like the variety. Self-awareness of racing strengths and weaknesses is good; but just as much, I figure, is really knowing what it is we each enjoy about this great sport that we’re all part of, however different the various strands of it may be.
All in all, it’s been a good 2012. And it’s not done yet; let’s see, what am I doing in the next few weeks? Well, a couple of cross races, a hill climb time trial, an 8hr lapped MTB race, my club’s road championships, an MTB marathon, plus riding up Mont Ventoux a few times. Hmm, there’s that lack of focus again! Ah well, plus ca change…