Journals Riders

Joe Evans journal: why can’t I concentrate?

Rider journals: Joe Evans #2

Joe Evans and three other riders are keeping rider journals for The British Continental this season. Joe, 22, is a former Madison Genesis rider who now rides for Cornish-based elite-level team Saint Piran. This is Joe’s second journal entry…

Photo: Saint Piran

This week I’ve just stared at a blank screen with the cursor blinking away at me like a slow, monotonous drip on my forehead

Mental blocks…

Mental blocks are funny things. It’s almost like the more you try and focus on something the more distracted you become. Everything and anything suddenly becomes much more interesting and significant than the actual task you’re trying to complete. It’s pretty transferable to training at times. I’ve had countless occasions when I know I have to go out training, but suddenly I definitely need another coffee before I can go out, or I desperately need to check Instagram one more time before kitting up.

I know everyone has these moments in time when the motivation to crack on with things just isn’t there. I’ve struggled a lot with this journal post for instance. I’ve just got back from France where I had my first block of racing and know that I should be able to write a very insightful piece about early season form, racing abroad and eating croissants. But in all honesty for the majority of the past week I’ve barely been able to string a sentence together. I’ve sat down at my laptop a bunch of times determined to write something brilliant and profound. I lost count of the amount of times I wrote a paragraph, decided I sounded like a pretentious bore and deleted the entire thing.

Normally when I write, whether it be a journal posts or essays, I can get into a zone where the words just flow and I can articulate exactly what I’m feeling. This week, however, I’ve just stared at a blank screen with the cursor blinking away at me like a slow, monotonous drip on my forehead. A constant reminder that I hadn’t written a single word.  Part of the problem I think is that I have been particularly tired in the week post racing. I can literally feel the collective eye roll of people scoffing at how a University student/bike rider can complain about being tired, because all I do all day is sleep and drink, right? But it’s the truth I’m afraid. Admittedly it is somewhat self-inflicted.

Saint Piran line up for the Circuit des Plages Vendéenes Photo: Jean-Pierre Giraud

Once I start pinning a number on and line up with 150 other guys I’m pretty switched on and ready to go

First races…

The block of races me and my Saint Piran team mates competed in are called the ‘Circuit des Plages Vendéennes’, a series of six one-day races held over 10 days. Now, being the diligent and dedicated student that I am, I decided that I couldn’t take that long off Uni and so I would just race at the weekends and fly back to Sheffield for lectures during the week. In theory, this was a brilliant idea, but in practice, it meant driving from Sheffield to Southampton and back twice in the space of a week, as Southampton is seemingly the only airport that flies to Nantes at this time of year! 

I didn’t really feel like the excessive travel affected my racing that much. Once I start pinning a number on and line up with 150 other guys I’m pretty switched on and ready to go! It was nice having a feeling of picking up from where I left off last year, I felt pretty comfortable diving straight into racing again after a decent break for the winter. Early season form can be a bit of a curious thing, regardless of how well training is going you’re always a little bit unsure of how you’re going to measure up against everyone else. During the winter it’s sometimes easy to switch off from racing and allow yourself that extra beer or to skip that final hour of a training ride but eventually the time comes when you have to show what you’ve got – and racing in February makes you face up to that a little sooner than you’d maybe like.

Overall the Saint Piran boys did a bloody good job of showing what we’re capable of, the most stand out result of the week being Ollie Maxwell’s 4th place. Personally I was very encouraged by where my form is at, plenty still to build on but beings as my whole winter has been completely different from any other year I was pleasantly surprised with how I was going!

Photo: Jean-Pierre Giraud

Eventually if you persevere enough all of a sudden the work gets done, the training is completed and all is well in the world again

Zombie for a week…

Although my racing didn’t really suffer this week the other part of the equation did take a bit of a nose dive. Sitting in lectures when I knew the boys were racing was the worst! I’d gone from battling with 150 Frenchmen for a small bit of road to sitting in a stuffy lecture theatre learning about neurons for the 5th time this year. It was a pretty flat week in all honesty but knowing that all I had to do was get through the week and I’d be back in the mix again was the only thing I could focus on. I don’t want to complain too much because firstly that isn’t what this post is about, but more importantly I don’t want to complain because it was a personal choice to come to Uni and race at the same time. I knew it would be challenging, and so it has proven to be, but it beats the hell out of washing dishes I can tell you that!

So, yes, I was a bit of a zombie for a week or so and I may have sat in some lectures and not really been mentally present but I was no worse than those that had frequented the Students Union the previous evening! However, one bonus of not being in France for the entire ten days was that I escaped a dodgy improvised haircut from one of the boys. I arrived back for the second weekend of racing to some very questionable lids. They looked like the most uncoordinated boy band out there. Moral of that story being don’t let a group of lads, who only have French TV to entertain themselves, loose with the clippers!

As I said at the start, mental blocks are funny things. Sometimes it’s so hard to concentrate and think of something good to say. But eventually if you persevere enough all of a sudden the work gets done, the training is completed and all is well in the world again. If you’re particularly lucky you can have an entire journal post written about how you had nothing to write!

Read more

Rider journals: Joe Evans #1

Rider journals: introducing Joe Evans

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