Racing in Europe, my experiences – Monthly Column.

by | Mar 25, 2019 | Blog, Blog Posts, My Racing | 0 comments

For the past 3 years between the months of February and July i’ve been basing myself in the south of France in the Carcassonne area. Over a series of posts, i’ll share my experiences from this current year and previous years within these blog posts, both from a racers point of view and a coaches. So stayed tuned! – Oli.

What i’ve learned so far:

  • European racing is hard
    • The level is generally higher. 2nd cat races in France are harder than those in the UK.
    • The terrain makes a much bigger difference to how the races unfold.
    • Races are a lot more aerobically based (compared to the UK). What I mean by this is there is a lots less surging in the races (in my experience). Its much more a war of attrition and more about the size of your “aerobic tank”.
    • There is much more competition. More riders at similar levels who are willing to take bigger risks to win. Which leads to my next point…
    • The field of riders is usually much bigger. In the UK you may have a race limited to 60/80 riders. Here I have raced 2nd cat races with over 200 riders. This, naturally means there are more riders capable of winning.
  • You can have too much of a good thing (time)
    • When you struggle to speak the language, live in the middle of nowhere etc, there is much less happening around you.
    • Naturally you ride your bike more. Which can lead to overtraining or simply getting bored of full time riding if you’re not used to it.
    • I was lucky in the sense that I had the opportunity to work part time with an English family to fund my living out here, which made for a nice change from riding and resting all the time.
    • You really have to do more than just ride your bike, too much of one thing and you risk burning out or loosing motivation when things don’t go your way, as you dedicate all of your time to cycling. Unless you’re being paid to do it, then its a bit different.
  • There is a stigma about European racing
    • My first year out here was frightning to be honest.
    • You always hear stories about riders traveling to Europe to race. That the races are hard, the riders are aggressive and expectation is high.
    • I got destroyed in my first year racing in France. It did knock my confidence a bit, but you have to remember that cycling is all about enjoyment and take every opportunity as part of the process.
    • This doesn’t apply to everyone who comes out here, some riders are just better than others and it seems easy for them to get results.
  • What to do if things aren’t going your way
    • Don’t try too hard to find the problem. Because sometimes, you just don’t hit form when you want to, or you have a bad day, or week, or month.
      • I’m very guilty of this, and when i’m not going well i find it hard not to look too deep into everything and find a problem. Sometimes there is a problem (allergies, underlying illness etc.) but sometimes, you’re just having a bad day.
    • Surround yourself with positive people. These people will always remind you of why you’re out here in the first place, which is for experience and because you were lucky enough to have the opportunity. And sometimes you just can’t see that yourself, but having someome to remind you of that does help, massively.

Thats all for this first short post. I’ll be aiming to post a little collum like this once a month or so, so follow my Facebook page and you shouldn’t miss any updates!

Feel free to leave a comment below about your own experiences.

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