12 September 2010 will be a date I will remember forever.
It will be the date of one of my greatest achievements, racing in the UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships in Brazil. But maybe in truth it shouldn't be remembered for just that one day. In truth everything that day is about will stretch back over a year beforehand when I first decided to take part in this challenge.
My 2009 season was intended to be the year I raced out over in Praloup, France, but inconsistency and what seemed like constant illness prevented me from taking part, making it a non-event year. It wasn't until September 2009, while returning from holiday that I found the energy, health and drive enough to say yes to Brazil. Which was exactly one year away.
My winter months passed pretty quickly as I got back into the routine of training in October, but it wasn't until January that I realised the size of the task I've set myself in getting my condition ready for the race. The thought of it has been pushing me on when thinking about the meals I eat, the long rides in the rain, or getting to bed early for the following days training. The more time goes on the more the thought of it occupies my mind and I seek out those tiny improvements in all aspects which, when combined, add up to better results. It's safe to say I dream about the race every night.
Why am I doing it? What would make one want to go out and race a world championship? Well I would say who wouldn't want to be part of an event of that size and importance? Racing alongside an international field of other worthy athletes has got to be a great feeling and something I've always wanted to do.
But its more than that. It's setting out a goal and working towards it with a spirit of no limitations. I just love the routine of an athletic lifestyle, the feeling of arriving at a race, all the nervous tension floating round just before the gun goes off and we seek to define ourselves through suffering out on the track. I like this probably more so than a great result, although that feels pretty good too!
I'm hoping one of the results of documenting my preparation is that it will inspire others to get out and chase their dreams. Seeing riders compete only goes so far in relating the hard work and determination involved in just getting yourself up to a decent standard enough to race, let alone win. For me that means combining my training with working in a very busy advertising agency. This job alone is a tough one, and one you need to love as the burnout rate will testify. So I have to pretty much grab all the time I can get around the working day to train.
As it stands now there are five months left to go. I have competed in a few mountain bike races already this year, learning a great deal from them. Actually, I've learnt more from the 'bad' results than the good days, those just seem to happen easily. But the bad results have actually benefitted me more as I've been able to analyse the processes I go through and iron out any problems.
I'll continue updating you all here on the Bikemagic Guest Blog, giving you further insight into the preparation for the race, how I am breaking down the challenge into something achievable, and one that I can look back on with full satisfaction.
Until then, happy trails Neil Macleod