Up to date...finally!

A smart man said he read my blog and thought, "What's this crap, its out of date"

So, part 2 of "out of date, up to date"

I left you after I had somehow pulled a medal out of my backside and that's exactly how I feel. World Champ medals are hard to come by. I had the minimum amount of track time and a below average build up.  The only thing got me that medal was the desire to have it! 

Anyway, America! A word that I have used a lot. This year though the meaning of it has slightly changed, just slightly. I'll come back to that some other time. My road season started off in Taiwan with a stage race and after that I was a blow in, B string crit rider. UHC have an awesome team and it's pretty hard to even get a start with them in the first place.  Honestly I never really got going with the crit guys and I'm not really sure why. I know I have the engine to do the job but mentally I wasn't there. I was willing and able to do what the guys asked but if I wasn't asked I didn't do.  It's weird, a few years ago I would have snapped someone's arm off to get on the best crit team in the states. I owe a lot of thanks to everyone at UHC because they let me be part of their team, an awesome team with awesome sponsors. You can probably guess by my last sentence that I won't be riding with them next year...2015 is a work in progress.


A rare photo of me racing a crit in a United Healthcare kit!


With my season being spent in America and flying in and out of Colorado I found myself loving the lifestyle. Problem though, it was the more the social side of the lifestyle. Burgers, burritos and heaps of nice food. Beer, fountain drinks and free refills!! All very dangerous and for anyone that knows me, I don't need much convincing! There is just bigger, buttery-er and yummy-er food everywhere! However, on the flip side. There was easier access to healthy organic foods. There was a Natural grocers within walking distance from our apartment building and my banana smoothie ideas were born and bred in the shop. I bought hundreds of bananas, bags of berries and gallons of juice. Smoothies were my lunch 6 days out of 7. So, although I over indulged in some of the awesome bad food I also had the luxury of being super healthy when I wanted to.

Colorado itself was where I struggled. I loved the place but it took me 5-6 months to realize that I wasn't dealing that well with the altitude. When I'm training I'm a bit of a numbers buff. I know what my zones are and I go with it. I know at X power output my heart rate should be Y. I also knew that the lowest point of Colorado was 1500 metres high and on average I'd be training around 2000 metres so I would have to adjust things.  The problem was my heart rate was always a zone above my power and it never really adjusted.  I kept at it and listening to everyones advice that "altitude training is awesome"  For me though, it wasn't!


Halfway up Lookout mountain in Golden, Colorado. I found myself using this hill a lot for training. For the beer fans out there that is the Coors factory on my right shoulder, I passed it every day.


Although living away in Colorado I had one really big focus, the Commonwealth games.  They are as rare as the Olympics and for 25-30% of world they are just as important. I had good memories of the last games in Delhi, India. I won a Bronze medal in the team pursuit and got engaged to Grace at the same venue. This time around in Glasgow I wanted to make some new memories. My prep for the games followed a similar pattern that I have always used, one month before the event I headed to Mallorca to get on the Velodrome. I did a similar training plan only I added in some extra work on the mass start bike. I really busted myself in training, motivation is my biggest fuel when I'm on the bike and the thought of standing on a podium is the biggest incentive. My target was to get a medal from either the Points race or the Scratch race. Hind sight is an awesome thing and looking back I knew well that I wasn't where I should have been. Across the board my numbers were down but I just kept shaking it off, positive thinking and all that.

Next stop was Glasgow. I have to say I really enjoyed being part of the Northern Ireland team. When I turned up at the athletes village I met Terry Crothers (El Jefe) first, I hadn't seen her since Delhi! That was kind of the trend for the first day, I just keep meeting people I hadn't seen in years. It was great - friendly familiar faces everywhere. When the meeting and greeting was done I quickly got my bearings; where the track was, where the food hall was and where I would be living for the next 2-3 weeks.  I had the pleasure of rooming with Frazer Duncan. I know Fraz from the cycling scene back in NI and we get on pretty well. I think we're both reasonably low maintenance. The racing soon came around and this is where I was hit in the face with a big smack of reality. I wasn't going well! This is me being honest, I can't actually remember how the races went. Two things I can remember, losing laps in the races and being way out of my depth.  I don't even know where I finished in either of the races. In another way I feel really bad. I had let down the whole organization that had brought me here. I had wasted Brian Nugent's time in Mallorca and there is a long list of people that had helped me get everything I needed to be in Glasgow. For weeks I had a sick feeling in my stomach and even thinking back now I still have it. Yet again hind sight is great! The racing I was doing was different, I was one man from Northern Ireland and I was racing multiple 2 and 3 strong man teams. Now the dust has settled I think I wasn't going too bad, it was just the scenario I was in. The racing I'm used to is man vs man and its pretty head to head. The racing in Glasgow was unique and rare for me and let me tell ya, I learnt a lot!


Me trying to salvage something from one of the races!


I even had the honor of being the flag bearer for Northern Ireland, an unreal experience.

This is where a lot was about to change for me. With the help off Neenan travel I got out of Glasgow in record time. Once I racked my brains and chatted to a few people to help me decide what to do I was gone, almost instantly. Selfish me, but my head was done. I watched the rest of the team compete from Denver.

Back home in Denver was weird. I was back with Grace and enjoying just floating about. I had a few crits with the team and was half training but my head was going around in circles. With the track season approaching I had to hurry up and make some decisions.  The main decision was that I was in America and 3 out of the 4 major track races I was going to do this season were that side of the globe. The turmoil was that I couldn't be arsed training in Denver. It goes back to the numbers again, I just wasn't getting any positive feedback from the numbers and I literally couldn't do my maximal efforts without going cross eyed and struggling to breath. My mental state was like this for a good three weeks then we pulled the trigger, big style!

Bang! With me being the main instigator we decided to leave America. With no contract next year and lack of motivation I had to do something.  Its actually amazing what you can get done in a short amount of time. From being pretty rooted in Denver to leaving it took us 10 days. Grace handed in her notice, we sold the car, we sold anything we could from the apartment, bed, tv, appliances etc. We scraped together the money to break our lease ('Merica!) and got the ball rolling with Cycling Ireland to expect me back in the program full time.  I heard through the grapevine that the only reason I returned to the track program was the lack of contract for 2015, that couldn't be further from the truth! My mind was well made up before I got the news from the team. I’m a good road rider at best and the best track rider on my day, it just makes sense, I love the track. Its actually funny how things just happen for the right reasons, everything is linked, its all meant to be.

David McHugh and Brian Nugent are the 2 people that helped us take the plunge.  They probably won't thank me for saying this but it’s true. Grace, myself and these two had a few Skype calls and numerous emails just shooting the shit. Why, how, when and what if were common words and although our decision was fast it wasn't rushed. Andy Sparks, Sarah Hammer and some staff at S.I.N.I were all people we looked to for advice. In the end though we had to bite the bullet and go with our gut.
Traveling light!

All of a sudden we were in Ireland! We didn't spend that long at home because there was so much to do. I did meet up with people from the Irish Institute of sport, Cycling Ireland and SINI with the goals of getting our heads sorted out and fixing my body at the same time, dodgy hip and all that! I feel bad for Breda (Grace’s mum.)  We turned up out of the blue and stayed at her house, ate, slept then left. Hopefully she doesn't hate us for it but we have an awesome time at her place. She’s so accommodating and we would be lost without her help.  

Finally we got where we were going, Mallorca! I’m kinda back full circle from the first blog, only so much I can say but my Omnium training is going well. It’s only just hit me that it’s only just over 4 weeks ago that we left Denver, slightly scary! I’m well settled into Mallorca, I’ve been collecting some quality miles and put in some good work on the track.  There’s no doubt now that getting out of Colorado was right for me, everything just happens so much easier now. I'm looking forward to getting stuck into the track season.


This is how current this blog is;)


Next up for me is the 3 days of Aigle in Switzerland. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

M




Comments

  1. A great read Martyn and a most honest and well written account of a champion cyclist. Most folk think it's all medals, awards and winning.
    There's a career for you after cycling! SteveD

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  2. Having been to Colorado for skiing I can see how it could prove to be a distraction its an amazing place! Good post and good luck with your new focus. The world champ stripes make for a pretty bad blog background, as a computer person I think I need to design you a better world champ one haha.

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  3. Thanks guys, just saying it as it is.

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