Journals Riders

James Jenkins journal: laying the ground for the season ahead

Rider journals 2021: James Jenkins #05

James Jenkins and nine other cyclists kept rider journals for The British Continental in 2021. Richardsons-Trek‘s talented James Jenkins reviews his winter training and looks ahead to 2022

For me, like many, 2021 felt like a year of missed opportunities. I mentioned in my previous article that I had a fairly serious crash in August which put an end to any chances of getting results domestically at a national level – purely because I was injured for the few weeks in which they took place. I spent September on the turbo in preparation for the Irish Nationals which ended with results I am very proud of. 

I aim to enter 2022 more motivated than ever before – with a desire to right the wrongs in my head of 2021

In a usual year, by the time it gets to October I am very ready for a rest. I’d have spent the previous seven months or so away from home almost every weekend at races. I often end up counting down until I can put my feet up and not ride my bike. Due to the limited number of races in 2021 and the shortened season, however, for the first time in quite a long time, I did not feel this way at all. I finished my season at the beginning of October and was fortunate to have the opportunity to head to Mallorca where I swapped finishing my Masters degree for helping out at a masters race. I used the week to chill out and relax, not necessarily from cycling, but from the stresses of daily life. 

St Ives CC National B road race, 25th July 2021. Photo: Gildergoth Photography

I have scheduled a few mini breaks over the winter, just three or four days at a time, to break up the training and let the mind rest just as much as the body. After a pretty consistent two months or so I was hoping to head out to the States to celebrate Christmas with my girlfriend and her family in Austin, Texas. The weather out there is reliably in the low to mid-20s through the ‘winter’ i.e., perfect weather for cycling. I had built up a bike, borrowed a bike box and negotiated the hurdles airlines love to throw in the way of cyclists. To say I was excited about it is an understatement.

Perhaps inevitably, things didn’t turn out like that. We both caught Covid the day before our flight and spent Christmas quarantining in our London flat. Remarkably, I was very fortunate to stay completely asymptomatic and was, therefore, able to train on the turbo for a couple of hours each day, completing the Rapha #Festive500 the easy way for a change!

To try and combat this lack of parity with the rest of Europe I’ll try to race as many National Bs as possible in the lead up to Lincoln

If British Cycling is to be believed, the UK season, at a national level, is set to start in early May at the Rapha Lincoln GP – unbelievably late compared to the continent, where riders will have been racing at a very high level almost certainly from February. I’ll be trying to get 15 to 20 hours in a week through January and February, then try to get out to Spain with the Richardsons-Trek DAS lads for a week. To try and combat this lack of parity with the rest of Europe I’ll try to race as many National Bs as possible in the lead up to Lincoln. 

Now that the ‘professional’ scene in the UK is not as strong as it was three to four years ago, the ‘elite’ teams are not at quite as much of a disadvantage as they used to be. Previously the ‘pro’ teams were away racing UCI stage races each week, while all we had was an hour crit; that’s not going to be the case next year. They will still have access to more racing than us though, so the only way to combat this is trying to replicate it ourselves. It doesn’t matter how hard the training is, nothing beats racing for genuinely getting that top end. If restrictions allow it will be great to get back out to Belgium for some hardcore racing once more – it’s been too long. 

Photo: Rikdee Photography

The state of racing in the UK is quite dismal. Much of the season is bunched together in just a few weeks and a long way from home; it can make it really hard to keep motivation for the whole year for these prestigious events which have become so scarce.  Also, I am doubly aware that if you are unfortunate enough to get injured for those four weeks or so, like I was last year, then your only chances of stepping up a level are gone.

That said, I aim to enter 2022 more motivated than ever before – with a desire to right the wrongs in my head of 2021. I always try to stay rather pragmatic when it comes to setbacks and start looking forward to seeing what I can do to make sure that I get back to my best in the quickest, safest way. Being only 18 seconds (under 10w) away from a medal in the Irish National TT Championships has fueled a lot of my desire to hit 2022 hard and see if I can sneak onto the podium. 

Featured photo: Ian Wrightson

Find out more

James Jenkins journal #4: from the Tour Series to the Irish nationals

James Jenkins journal #3: trial and error

James Jenkins journal #2: Crash

James Jenkins journal #1: A not-so-bleak winter

Rider journals 2021: introducing James Jenkins

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