(Not from anywhere it shouldn't have been I hasten to add.)
I've been riding and racing bikes for a fair few years. I've always done ok. Particularly considering how much effort I've traditionally put in the results have had a tendency to be surprisingly above average. A naturally beneficial strength to weight ratio and having a fondness of riding hard meant that I've historically been able to punch above my weight, getting the better of guys that clearly take things a lot more seriously than I do and drink less than I do.
That may well be about to change. I had a really encouraging cross season, definitely upped the ante on myself and pulled off some good, consistent results. I thoroughly enjoyed being involved in the sharp(ish) end of the races. I've also increased the miles I do. Since changing jobs I'm able to rack up a healthy amount of time on the bike with the additional commuting. Those two factors got me thinking about making a concerted effort to get faster - if I used my time on the bike more effectively and efficiently I should become quicker shouldn't I?
So that's the plan this year; race more and try harder. The wheels are in motion. I had a fitness test (which also came out with some encouraging results) to establish my starting point & I've called in a few favours to come up with a training plan that suits the time I have. I even snuck off to the Algarve for a spot of warm weather training. Although to be fair the training:beers ratio slipped a touch out of kilter. My first XC race is only two weekends away now & to make things even more challenging I'll be jumping in at the deep end by racing masters; the most unnecessarily competitive category going. I'm certainly not expecting to get anywhere near the podium, but the goal is to enjoy being in the mix of things, feeling competitive at the heart of the racing. Let's see how it goes. First things first, I'd better buy an XC bike to race on.