Up’s & Down’s

by: Heath Blackgrove

Cycling’s a funny old sport, full of ups and downs, joy and disappointment. It can be a great example of you get out what you put in, but often it doesn’t just come down to form, as we all know a bit of luck, skill and cunning can go a long way.

This has been pretty evident already this year for myself and Elbowz Racing, especially on our California trip for Redlands Cycle Classic and San Dimas Stage Race.

The trip started off with the joy of Joe winning the road stage, finishing 2nd overall and winning the young riders jersey, and myself finishing in 8th after trying to help Joe take the overall win. This was a great race for us, in some pretty horrendous weather, showing up a lot of bigger and more fancied teams, with great riding from Joe and the whole Elbowz team

It was then onto Redlands Cycle Classic, the first race on the NRC (National Racing Calendar) and a race I had targeted as my early season goal. Its a race I have done well at in the past and knew I had the form to do well again. It all started great with a solid time trial, and keeping out of trouble (apart from a small unavoidable crash) in the next couple of stages before the decisive final stage. We had some great rides in those stages also with a podium to Sully and top ten for Mat. The other guys did a great job making sure I didn’t lose any time or too much excess energy also and Nick and Doren did a great job looking after us off the bike.
In the final stage things were looking great, I felt great and could follow all the decisive moves. I started the stage 5th overall and with the last lap of the circuit completed was 3rd overall on the road. By this stage there was less than ten guys left in the front group and two of the riders ahead of me on classiment had been dropped. Unfortunately a big storm had come in by then also changing it from perfect riding conditions to wet, slippery and freezing. With roughly 6km to go in the race this proved my undoing, slipping out completely and crashing on one of the corners coming into the finish in town. My hopes of a podium overall were gone in an instant, leaving only disappointment. Maybe the fatigue from the stage and cold had got to me, maybe I need to work on my cornering in the wet??, or maybe it was just bad luck. But it was very disappointing for myself and the team who had done such a great job and would’ve been another great result and show from us as a team.

After training and focusing so hard on a race how do I get over disappointment like this? First of all going home to my wife and 3 month old daughter help, but mostly I get back on my bike and take the frustration out on that and use it as motivation for upcoming races. This showed the following weekend where I raced the Gonzales Come and Take it road race. I was mainly using it for training and to open the body up after being a little sick since Redlands. But once I got in the race I couldn’t help myself and soon found myself in the winning break with my team mate Mat, who was driving it. With two of us in the 5 man move we used our numbers and a bit of cunning learnt over my years to take the win over a world class sprinter in Ivan Dominguez (also a former team mate of mine) who is on the comeback trail.

Now with that page turned we’re fully focused on building on the great start to the season and achieving our goals, I am sure with plenty of ups and downs along the way!!