First-year under-23 Mattie Dodd is one of our journal contributors in 2023. Riding for the UCI Continental Tirol-KTM development team, he is supported by the Rayner Foundation. In his latest post, he recalls his final race of the season the Chrono des Nations and looks ahead to not quite giving the bike a rest in the off-season.
That’s my 2023 season now finito. It came to a close in the small French town of Les Herbiers, located in the typically Northern French landscape of the Pays de la Loire. The race in question was the Chrono des Nations, the only one-day UCI time trial in Europe outside of major championship races. It attracts youths up to seasoned elites from all over Europe who think they have a decent time trial in their arsenal.
As I warmed up in a secluded corner by the rear of our family car, 100 metres away, Remco Evenepoel, Josh Tarling, and Stefan Bissegger did the same outside enormous team buses with scores of people watching
The variety of ages and teams leads to a fairly interesting disparity in the level of support for each rider. As I warmed up in a secluded corner by the rear of our family car, 100 metres away, Remco Evenepoel, Josh Tarling, and Stefan Bissegger did the same outside enormous team buses with scores of people watching as they rode on the turbo. The nature of the race being a time trial meant there were some pretty incredible bikes on display. The race put the tech show on offer at many a CTT event to shame.
The best way to describe my feeling after I finished my 27-kilometer effort around the rolling, and fairly badly surfaced French roads, was “content”. Finishing 13th in the U23s, I felt I had executed the pacing and the effort well – giving me confidence for the discipline next year after a fairly appalling National Champs TT. The fact I was only 8 seconds off the top 10 (and coveted UCI points) and I felt my ability to hold my position during the race wasn’t good left a slight sense of what could have been. That being said, I’m sure the whole field has a range of reasons why they didn’t go 10 seconds faster, so my performance was what it was, and there were clear positives and clear negatives – learn and move on.
We also learned that there is very little future for my dad as a DS
We also learned that there is very little future for my dad as a DS. I gave him the task of talking to me over the radio from the follow car. I wrote down key course notes for him to give me, telling him to speak slowly, loudly and clearly. I also gave the advice that less was often more on the radio – a personal fan club in your ear for half an hour isn’t always helpful. None of this advice was heeded and within 10 minutes I had a muffled shouting of encouragement crackling through my ear every few minutes. Nevertheless, it was nice to have him in my ear and helping me at the race, even if he’s not got a future as a WorldTour DS.
The end of the racing season also triggers the start of my off-season. This being yearly period where for a few weeks I bear some resemblance to a normal person, who doesn’t take huge amounts of pleasure from kicking the living daylights out of themselves for multiple hours a day on a bike. There seems to be a very large variation in what riders do in their time off the bike. For some it involves sitting on a beach somewhere and doing diddly-squat, for many it involves fitting a year’s worth of missed nights out into three weeks, while others take a more active approach and dabble in other sport off the bike, like hiking and running. The latter leading to a few weeks every year where my Strava becomes filled with “Morning Run”, rather than “Morning Ride” – and a large difference in riders’ running abilities being displayed.
As for me, I can safely say that the two-hour marathon record is secure until I don’t feel like I’ve been hit by a bus the day after a run. That often being the same experience of many a cyclist, who have the aerobic engines to be decent distance runners, but severely lack the patience to let the different muscle groups used for running adapt. The result often being one reasonably fast 5k, before a week spent limping around.
Some also fail miserably at taking time totally off the bike. My experience of this has led to me now being in the preliminary stages of planning a short bike-packing trip (check my Strava to see if it materialises, or the obituaries to see if I make it through). That all being planned for after I return from a rare family holiday, where I spend a week getting bizarre looks from strangers who question how on earth I’ve managed to get these tan lines.
Featured image: Emma Wilcock/The British Continental
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