At the time of putting this piece of article together, I am actually in the French Alps enjoying the final week of my off-season after a fairly hefty and tiring racing / riding 2017 season. This is the time where I look back at my year, check if I’ve ticked all the boxes needed, learn from my mistakes as well as build on the stuff that has worked well in the past year. Every cyclist will need time off every year, as this prevents over-training as well as fatigue, and this is also particularly beneficial to the mental state of an athlete.
Looking back at the goals I’ve set early in the year, I can gladly say that the 2017 season has been good as I was hitting all sorts of personal bests (PBs) throughout the season, which included power PBs, individual time trial distance PBs, personal set PBs (up the full Alpe D’Huez sub-hour!) as well as managed to clinch a win and a couple podiums. Some things have worked really well for me this year, I have also made quite a few mistakes that I will remember not to make the next time around and all this is going into a log book that I keep track off, with the hope that one day this information will be useful somehow, possibly in an article or a book.
In my opinion, the off-season is just as important as the racing season. Everyone needs some sort of balance (and some form of vice) in life. I like to spend my off-season having a couple more pizzas and pints than usual, and I would normally spend at least 2 weeks somewhere in the French / Austrian Alps or Italian Dolomites enjoying some skiing and après-ski.
Also, holding my Malaysian roots quite closely, I do play quite a bit of badminton during my off-season, and I think this helps me maintain the fitness levels, control my body weight and boost a little fast twitch muscles. It can be very refreshing turning to a couple other forms of activities having spent nearly 7 tough months on the bike. My TrainingPeaks stats tell me that I’ve ridden just over 10,000km and spent 365 hours in total in 2017, with most of the hours spent on the turbo trainer in my garage (sad soul I know), which is why putting on a pair of skis keeps me happy again.
The off-season is also a great time to evaluate the training plan, and look at the future upgrades / updates to be done to the bike. During my off-season, I do all sorts of kit testing and also write down the wish list (and hope that Santa is nice to me because I’ve been a good boy) that I will be tweaking my bike(s) with. Unfortunately, my coach has decided to use me as a guinea pig to test out new intervals, they do not look fun so far but I’m sure it will benefit me at the end of the day.
Looking forward to the 2018 racing season, I’ve already penned down some important dates for important races that I would want to peak. Since my last race of this upcoming season will be in late September, I’ve opted not to start racing too early so will only start riding time trials from late April / May onwards. This is a good way to ensure that I do not burn out too early and will hopefully have my fitness peak at the right time, also an excuse to stay on my pizza diet for a little longer.
I have also semi-planned my off-season (bit eager but hey), two weeks after my final race in Poland, I will be heading to Tuscany in Italy to ride the L’Eroica Gaiole in Chianti so will be dressed as a vintage racer riding a pre-1987 road bike while having some cheese and wine at the feed stations!
As for now, the off-season has been refreshing and looking at the goals I’ve set for the 2018 season, it’s time to get back on the bike and train. There’s a saying – “excuses don’t win races” and although it would be nice to come up with more excuses during this time of the year – e.g. the weather is bad, it’s too windy etc, the bike won’t pedal itself and I want to win more races and smash more PBs this season! If I have any good advice to give myself and all other cyclists out there, it’s to use Velominati’s rule number 5 as a life motto (Google this).
Chris Yip is a Malaysian living in the United Kingdom. He is usually found riding his bike in a skinsuit with a pointy helmet around Warwickshire or skiing the groomed pistes in the Dolomites during winter when he’s away from his day job as a Mechanical Engineering Lecturer in Coventry University, UK. He is still actively racing as an amateur for his local bike shop team, The Nuneaton Cyclery – Klin Cut Apparel. Chris is hoping to enlighten and inspire other young cyclists to keep the pedal turning, passion burning and improve their riding without losing the love for the sport.