The blog post where...Dad takes over
This is a bit of a long one. I recorded and wrote out a conversation with my Dad. We discussed this past year. Enjoy.
Dad: OK, so this is the interview where I take over. OK, so why don't I start and ask you to look back on 2020 and review the year.
Me: OK, Yeah.
Dad: What were the low lights?
Me: Um, so yeah, most obviously the biggest disappointment was not having any bunch racing. I was looking forward to getting stuck into Junior racing, potentially going abroad and doing some UCI races, but also racing in the UK, getting some track racing in. And none of that's happened. So that was disappointing. Because racing is one of the most enjoyable things about cycling.
Dad: So what racing did you get in last year? You had some before and after lockdown.
Me: Yeah, so I had one or two races before lockdown kicked in. Regional races. I had one at Cyclopark. I think that was the only one.
Dad: You went to Bristol. It was ‘rained off’. You also had track Nationals. That was January last year - Senior Track Nationals.
Me: Yeah, yeah, that's true. And I did have time trialing, which is good. I haven't done that before.
Dad: Ok, we’ll come back to that.
Dad: I guess you had you got some bunch racing at the end of the season, didn't you.
Me: Yeah, well I got some racing at Track League.
Dad: And Abingdon?
Me: Exactly. Yeah, so I went to Abingdon Crits around the airfield, and then I had Herne Hill Track League. Which was exciting. I liked that.
Dad: Yeah, it's a good but truncated season. So instead you were forced to discover time trialing.
Dad: What do you make of that?
Me: I knew that I would have to get into time trialing as a Junior. But with no alternative, it kind of was my season pretty much. There was lots to learn. It was a new thing for me. I hadn't done it before. It was exciting and I did get into it. There's still stuff that I’ll do differently next year. I think a lot of it's about how to race. So obviously in a bunch my competitive drive kicks in a bit more. I'm there ‘in the moment’ with the other riders. And I don't have to necessarily think about pushing myself because it just comes with me wanting to win. But when you're on your own in a time trial you have to think a bit more about pushing yourself on, constantly. And that's not something that comes naturally to me. So it was probably a good thing that I got practice doing that this year.
Dad: And so apart from it as a discrete discipline and needing to develop that anyway, as a Junior, how do you think time trialing will impact or has impacted either your track racing or road racing?
Me: I can see parallels with road racing more immediately. So you have time trials in stage racing. But also, when I’m in a road race and I want to attack, I will know how to gauge the effort more. I’ve learned to ride a consistently hard effort, at threshold. Which I guess can transfer to the track as well when you're on an attack. But it's a bit more intense on the track. You’re not trying to hold it for as long, at least at this age. Yeah, I think also it just made me an overall stronger ride. I can ride at higher intensities for longer so...that's a good thing.
Dad: You had some success with time trialing and a good season given that that's what the options were. Would you go as far as to say that time trialing was a highlight of the 2020 season? Or is that overstating it?
Me: Yeah, I think that's overstating it a bit. It's not something that I naturally enjoy. I did enjoy figuring out this new thing. I enjoyed the challenge of it and obviously it was great when you could see your friends who you don’t get to see at racing otherwise. But it was a bit of a mixed bag. There were some that I did enjoy. And some that I didn't so much. And I think that was more related to my own response. How I felt it had gone, you know.
Dad: So, you tend to enjoy the ones in which you did well?!
Me: Um, not necessarily that I did well, but ones where I felt I’d given my best. Where I’d given a good effort.
Dad: Tell us about your time trial stuff. Tell us about your equipment. There will be some people who are interested in that kind of thing.
Me: Well, so I got my bike from my friend, Eva. It was her old bike. It's a Ribble.
Dad: Made from?
Dad: You have no idea, do you?
Me: No. It's carbon, right?
Dad: Yes it is. And are you one of those people who obsess over how to save extra watts?
Me: Well no. And I probably should be more interested, and I know that. And my coach knows that.
Dad: Despite the number of informal tutorials you've had from a variety of very successful cyclists!
Me: Yeah, but I get it to an extent. I just find it hard to motivate myself to then actually play around with it because it’s time-consuming and if you're not naturally interested in it, it's tough.
Dad: Can you think of any time trials last year where a couple of seconds might have made a big difference?
Me: Yeah. Yeah. Most of them
Dad: Funny that. It’s OK. Next year.
Me: Development. An area for improvement.
Dad: Most definitely. What were your favorite time trials?
Me: I would probably say the last one was my favourite. Yeah, my favourite was the 25 mile open National Circuit Champs. Not a whole lot of people pitched up to that one. But it was me against Eva, and she was enough competition. I really felt like I gave a good account myself on that day. Even though I didn't win. And what other days did I enjoy?
Dad: You did an early season one, down in um...Surrey?
Dad: Yeah, Dorking. Yeah, that was good.
Me:I found it helpful that I had someone to chase in that one. It was one of my first time trials and I haven't really gotten used to the idea of pushing yourself purely by yourself, racing against yourself. I found it helpful that there was a rider, maybe 30 seconds ahead of me. And to have her to focus on. To kind of hunt down a bit. That was useful. And it was on roads I sort of knew as well.
Dad: Quite lumpy, wasn't it?
Me: Yeah, but I’ve found that with most TT’s this year, none of them are going to be pan flat. No, a little bit up and a little bit down.
Dad: No, what I mean is could you settle into a position and stay in that position?
Me: Yeah, yeah. There wasn't a big hill in it. The one with a big hill was the one in Portsmouth.
Dad: no, Chichester.
Me: Maybe. Southampton?
Me: Okay. I don’t know where it was. You're probably right.
Dad: On the dual carriageway where you go along it a couple of times.
Me: Near where Mum went to study? The GHS.
Dad: Oh, the GHS. Ok yeah with that big hill going up.
Me: So, not Chichester
Dad: Okay yeah. Not Chichester. That’s Portsmouth.
Me: Yeah, exactly!
Dad: OK, but the Chichester one. Do you remember the one with the dual carriageway? You lost out to a Storey Racing rider Lucy Gadd. Is that right?
Me: Yeah. And a few other women.
Dad: Yeah, but she was behind you and overtook you. It's 25 miles, wasn’t it?
Me: My first 25.
Dad: That had a climb in it, didn't it?
Me: Yeah, it did. It did. You descended down before the turnaround and there was a climb up out of it. But in the GHS that was flat and then you do a steep climb at halfway.
Dad: Yeah, a monster.
Me: I can’t remember what we were talking about now.
Dad: A favorite?
Me: Okay yeah.
Dad: So, racing. What did you do? I mean in terms of bunch racing. Track Nationals.
Me: That feels like ages ago now.
Dad: Herne Hill Track League. The race at Cyclopark. And then Abingdon Crit. That was horrendous wasn’t it. Blowy. Yeah, it's not really what you're after, any of those races.
Me: No. But Track League was fun.
Dad: Track League was brilliant.
Me: And it felt, as much as it could be, like normality. You got to see people. And there was a good atmosphere in racing.
Dad: Great. OK. So if you were giving yourself a mark for last year in terms of effort, what would your effort mark be out of 10. 10 being outstanding. 1 being shocking.
Me: 6 or 7.
Dad: No way. Get out of here.
Me: Why? More or less?
Me: No, but you can always have considerable improvement.
Dad: Sure, well. No. I’m not sure you can always have considerable improvement, there comes a point where the law of diminishing returns kicks in. But you stayed motivated throughout the entire year. I mean in one sense it was a pretty depressing year, not having anything to train for.
Me: Mmm I guess, but I don't think that's how I train. I don’t train with goals in mind and being like, ‘oh, I really want to win that race’ and that's how I get through the session. I mean yes, I do have long term goals. But when I train day to day, it's because I just enjoy training. I don't think ‘I want to win such and such race so I'm gonna work harder on these intervals’. I enjoy the intervals, as much as you can. I enjoy working hard in day-to-day training.
Dad: Throughout lockdown though, in July and August, there was no indication that there was any sort of racing that was going to happen. I guess there was time trialing. You were training for those. Gave you something to aim at.
Dad: Otherwise, you could've just done stuff all and eaten chocolate and watched Netflix.
Me: Yeah. I did that as well.
Dad: And got some GCSEs at the same time. Well done.
Dad: OK, so I think we disagree about how much effort you put in. I think my effort mark is higher.
Me: What would you say?
Dad: Oh, 8/9. Yeah, lots of effort. I think time trialing has forced you to dig deeper. For you, your effort has often been shaped by what's going on around you. And I think this time trialing is forcing you to go deep and to make your own ability the marker of what you're going to do. I'm hoping it makes you less of a risk-averse rider. So that actually, you know, you're willing to take some risks and perhaps even blow up. It may all go pear-shaped but you at least had a crack. OK, so what about attainment? 10 being outstanding, 1 being..
Dad: Attainment is a word that means how well you've done. Flora, you're an A-level English student!
Me: OK. Ok. Well, I didn't win much, so it can't be that high.
Dad: Very few people do.
Me: I know, true. But I did get some close calls and some podiums.
Dad: There were some strong fields.
Me: Yeah, and being a first year as well I guess.
Dad: I thought the Senior Track Nationals was impressive. You looked comfortable. You looked like you belonged there. You weren't out of your depth. In one sense no one was expecting anything in the first year of doing that. But to go and not to get spat out of the back. To actually be in the mix when stuff happened, to be on the front a couple of times. That was good. Good for confidence.
Me: Yeah, so pretty high attainment. Wasn’t rubbish.
Dad: No, it was good. OK, so if you had one highlight of the year, one thing, one standout ‘yay’ moment. It doesn't have to be a race, it does not have to be a result. It could be, you know, breaking off the front or catching someone in a time trial. What are you thinking?
Me: Can do one for training and one for racing?
Dad: OK. What, you have a high moment for training?!
Me: Yeah, well I don't know. Earlier in the year. I did some longer rides when you could still go on group rides, and they were quite fun. There are a few rides I did.
Dad: The Brighton one?
Me: The one with Fred and Tom and that lot? Yeah, that was fun. Fast. I meant the one I did on a really hot day in June/July. With a few of the VCL lot. It was just a really good ride. Dunno why, just remember it being good.
Dad: So that's your training highlight. Racing?
Me: Let me think.
Dad: You don't have any do you?
Me: No, I have, I have a few good ones.
Dad: Mention them.
Me: So I've mentioned already the last TT I did. That was satisfying.
Dad: Where you lost to Eva? That's a standout moment? What was it? 2 seconds? 5 seconds?
Me: Well, if I discount every race that I lost to someone then I would have any races left.
Dad: Was it 2 seconds? 5 seconds? What was it? It was two seconds over 25 miles.
Me: 2 seconds, two or three.
Dad: Maybe if you had a skin suit that fitted.
Me: If only.
Dad: If only you pedaled a bit harder.
Me: Yeah, OK, thanks Dad. Well, right, Herne Hill Track League. Definitely highlight. I really enjoyed Abingdon. I actually quite liked that. Even though it was pouring down with rain, I think sometimes that that weather actually suits me a bit more. I didn’t know anyone there but that was OK. I just went to race and people were up for trying things. I felt quite strong that day.
Dad: So what were they? Three 15 minute rides? Three different races, yeah?
Me: A bit like track in that way. Going round a loop.
Dad: I mean that Abingdon Airport is a lot like Herne Hill Velodrome.
Me: Mmm. Without banking. I did quite enjoy being asked to go and guest at the BC camp in Manchester. That was exciting and felt a bit weird being back there in the BC system again.
Me: Yeah, a bit nervous but. In a good way. I wasn't overly nervous. It didn't mean everything. You know it was just training. Got to go out on group rides. I enjoyed the road ride the most. But I did actually really enjoy the track as well. Even though I wasn't quite as used to it as the others, and they were strong in the TP. Just doing those kinds of efforts, being fast on the track bike, that's exciting. Even the simple stuff like riding on banking. A change in a Madison.
Dad: It's hard to know when you'll be back on back indoors. Full Gas Track League?
Me: Who knows?
Dad: Cool, great. Good review.
Dad: End of part one
Me: End of part one. How many parts are there going to be?
Dad: Oh, we can ‘look forward’ in Part 2.