It’s getting to me now. When something consumes you like this, it can’t be that healthy. Boxes ticked: Training, Weight Loss, Recce, Bike set-up, Clothing equipment, helpers briefed, food bought, pre-race meals planned… the list goes on. I just want the race to be here now. It’s adding to tension that is going to make the latter part of Saturday and the early part of Sunday almost unbearable. I can guarantee that I’m going to be feeling sick – very sick – by Sunday morning.
It’s frustrating. I’ve done it all before, so manay times now, but it doesn’t really get any less stressful. The more I tell myself I’ll be okay, the more I start thinking about the breadth of things that could go wrong. We can narrow down the chances of mechanical failure or fitness problems, but they are always still there in the background… nagging. It’s paranoia in no uncertain terms, but just because you’re not paranoid it doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you… as the saying goes.
And so the ritual gets deeper embedded. The more I feel not in control of how the race will turn out, the more I want to do to take control. I tamper with brakes, micro-adjust gears, double and triple-check bolts are tight (Are they right? Did I just over-tighten that straddle wire? Is it about to strip? Oh no… better check again).
At the same time, I seem to be unhealthily busy at work. Several strange events have meant that I’ve had to work late – very late – twice this week. In some ways it’s a welcome distraction so I won’t complain.
Last Sunday’s national trophy cyclocross in Abergavenny has been well documented by me as another unwelcome distraction but to be honest, looking at where I am now, I’m glad it was there really. Although in the cicumstances my rolled tub ruined things, I got an indicator of how I was going, speed wise. It was a pretty positive indicator; I’m no slower in events like that than I was two years ago, and probably have to admit that I’m actually marginally faster. Where I was getting by in the last Three Peaks on a diet of regular, fast commuting miles as a foundation, this year’s preparation (and last year’s wasted preparation) has been wildly different and has been bsed mainly around early morning hard off/on road combinations. Quite where that’ll put me on Sunday is yet to be seen.
That’s also one of the concerns – quite where I’ll be in terms of positions. There is a scenario that after 12 events I could post my fastest time but still be lower down in positions. That kind of thing is annoying; essentially, as with any race, you can only go on the opposition that’s there. Whilst there’s no Dave Collions or Paul Oldham to finish (guaranteed) ahead of me this year, there’s Mark Thwaites (first timer but an experienced all-rounder), a rejuvenated Noel Clough (flying last weekend), Alexander Forrester (former top ten) and a few more unknown knowns there. Que sera sera.