Tick tock… I’ve talked about the inevitable march of time before, but even then Trans Provence has seemed like an extremely distant blur on the horizon, usually accompanied by the passing thought of “got plenty of time…“. Well, that thought has started to get flushed down the dirty toilet here at HQ, as we just hit the ‘one month to go until flying to Europe’ mark, which is quickly followed by the ‘6 weeks to go until Trans Provence starts‘ milestone.

These two dates have brought everything into sharp focus and by everything, I mean preparation. For those of you that diligently combed through all the DM2 posts, super effort if so, then you’ll recall there was a common theme to my bitching:

Fitness

Yes, 6 weeks probably wasn’t sufficient before heading into DM2 and EWS, but I was pretty motivated post getting smashed there to leverage the small amount of capital I had built up to conduct a hostile take over on my pathetic chassis.

This promptly kicked off with getting the flu for 10 days, thus cunting the previously mentioned capital. Not all was lost though, as a rest was in order after DM2, but as the contagion wore off, it was time to start getting some quality work done…

Three weeks later, behold the first high quality/volume block in a long time… In fact, probably the most resolute block of training since September last year?

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Life behind bars

I would love to say that 80% of this was on the MTB… Indeed it should have been, but circumstance would dictate otherwise and instead I have been desperately trying to top up the dirt form so preciously accrued in March with the odd weekend foray into the cunthole jungle. So yes, the bulk of that 967km’s was on the road:

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Everyone finally cracks the absolute shits with me not turning up in team kit…

But as anyone who has bullshitted their way through a business case presentation knows only too well, the numbers don’t tell the full story… Obviously accountability is a quaint old fashioned concept these days, but I think for this update its important to reconcile back to the original plan to see how progress is tracking, with a smattering of self loathing assessment to determine if commitments are being met or not. As some may recall, the goal was clear:

To become the best Mountain Biker that I can possibly be

So, how’s that working out then? And importantly, have I been able to stick to the agenda that I mapped out to turn the vision into reality? We won’t know for sure until I am sitting on that golden sand beach in Menton on the French coast getting drunk on one beer on the 26th of June, but what does the mid term report card look like? Here’s how its mapped out against the, vomit, key deliverables:

1. Laser eyes – Pretty easy to mark this one, all I had to do was lie still as my eyeballs were lasered back to awesomeness. And how has that been? Well, fucking insanely awesome is probably the best summary. Aside from the better vision, the reduced faff has direct benefits for the 5am training starts and riding in muddy terrain.

Was this an awesome move? Absolutely… If I wanted to describe it in a corporate zombie way I would probably outlined that its a key pillar in our transformational road map and journey to becoming a market leading mountain biker… Meh. Its just fucking great. It also has direct linkage to my new favourite tip: Look down the trail

Report card: A+

2. Core Melt down – A partial success, but admittedly the first session that goes by the wayside when tiredness or laziness takes a grip. Aside from specific sessions designed to just smash the core, throwing in the regular Yoga core session to double team the mid section has been a good approach.

Have to say though, it can be a bit boring and easy to let the technique go to shit on a lot of these exercises, but worth persisting with as the benefits are awesome when you’re on the bike. Still not a 6 pack in sight mind you…

Report card: B-

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The scene of many collapsing planks

3. Yoga master

I must be fucking close to be asked to lead classes by this stage… I suspect the time I farted (possibly twice) in a session the main thing that has held me back, which seems massively unfair to me. Fair to say I’ve taken to Yoga like a PM to a ponytail, with much zest. Managing to smash out 3 or even 4 sessions per week, it turns out its the ultimate way to get a post ride stretch in, as long as you haven’t had a gel, for obvious reasons.

Ignoring the fact the mat next to me is strangely left vacant by the locals more often than not, my crow stance is something to behold and whilst some of my flows still look like a drunk dolphin trying to have a wank, at least I can whip out a few warriors with less shaking, grunting and invading my neighbours mat than how it was rolling a few months ago.

Only downside is I’m getting a bit tired of the chick instructors gently pulling my hips up when in downward dog… yeah, we all know what thats’ about…

Report card: B

4. Dirt Addiction 

This one is definitely a quarter of two halves… If that even makes sense… I’m not going to dress it up any more than it needs to be: Getting up every day to ride the Mountain Bike in Dirty Mega March was utterly sensational. It had been a long time since I got to binge on dirt like that and there is something uniquely special about only riding the MTB day in and out. Due to unique personality characteristics, I literally couldn’t get enough and if the option had been available, I would have simply rocked on with MTB adventures endlessly. This is probably exacerbated by being surrounded by legions of people doing just that.

If I’m being picky about March, it was my rampant inconsistency that was annoying… From some days of being genuinely faster than ever before and hitting stuff I had never ridden, to fucking up stuff I should have murdered, it was more confusing on what to do than that time I was introduced to someone at work who had the surname ‘Rimmer’… Work that one out.

And then, there was the return to the Global cHub… The sweet dryness of Jan/Feb had been replaced by the daily rain dump and with it, a direct hit on my motivation battleship. To be fair, as Wolf highlights for us in the header pic, the trails here don’t exactly A) inspire mud motivation or B) replicate what is to come in the Maritime Alps. Add in some key trails being used and the ever present cuntery of some of the other trail users and its a stark contrast to running laps on Coronet Peak obviously.

Renewed effort and focus will be needed in the next 4 weeks… And upon arrival in Europe, the key will be to turn inconsistent speed into flowing race pace. Gulp.

Report card: A- for March, C- for post March

5. Holistic fitness

Ah ha! Well, running can totally get fucked to be blunt, so don’t look here for any bricks or reports that I’ve been punching out 10km runs with a Garmin watch strapped to my wrist.

Instead, in a geographically poor mans attempt to replicate hiking up mountain sides in transitional stages, its been into the stairwell/oven at the Condom to grind out 25 flights of stairs X as many times as I can manage before melting into a pile of human tissue that is predominantly made up of sweat… Fuck its about as gross as it gets:

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The Sunday roasting

BUT… Its fucken hard. Yes, its not quite trekking up the side of a beautiful mountain in the French Alps enroute to the next stage to race from a views perspective, but its better than rocking up with zero activity on this front under the belt.

Is it hideous? Absolutely. Is it good training? Fuck I hope so…

Report card: B

6. The gear

Well, mainly turns out that the more you ride the less gear you need… Which is to say that assuming your equipment is set, you soon realise you just want to ride the utter fuck out of what you have as opposed to acquiring new kit. Sure, there is more spent on ‘disposables’ like tires and chains, but generally the equipment noise fades into the background when you’re busy tucking into a high volume of good times.

One point that I kept frowning about while on DM2 was the annoying question of: “Full face or open face helmet?” I know right, we have it pretty tough in this game and have to deal with such horrendous conundrums, but every time there was an event there was far too much time spent going Hum and Fucking Ha about which option worked best. The protection and confidence of a full face, with its inherent temperature drawbacks and weight on transitions, versus the exact opposite for the open face.

The solution? The lightest full face helmet on the market… I’m unable to disclose if this has been specifically designed and marketed around a discipline starting with the letter ‘E’, but lets just say that this thing hits the mark on ticking boxes for the upcoming Euro ENDURO action:

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How dare you accuse me of only buying this as it matched the DN Jersey colours…

So, with just a few tweaks to go to make the Nomad ready for the MOUNTAINS, its pretty much locked down on the equipment front, and rightly so – By this stage it should be all about refining the riding and not chasing the magic kit dragon with the hope you can buy your way to greatness (Lets ignore me buying the Enve wheels…). Unless of course you’re talking about kneepads

Report card: B- for not spending on shit. C for innovation

SO then… With all the mememememememe almost done, its into the next 3 weeks of hard training, avoiding tea cakes, not getting sick and managing that oh so fine balance (for me) of getting fit without burning myself to a crisp and ending up in a fatigue hole.

Stay tuned to see how it rolls before the throbbing unveiling of EuroENDURO!

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