Published on 30th January 2015 | By Chris Walker

Never learnt so much in two months.

When you first start cycling as a young kid you learn an awful lot in a very short period of time especially when you start racing or go on the track for the first time. You have no choice you either learn quick or get out of the way. My Dad, who has a theory on most things, calls it the 80:20 rule; you learn 80% of everything there is to know in the first 20% of the time, you then learn the remaining 20% in the remaining 80% of the time which might be the rest of your life. I thought this was a reasonable theory until I started racing full time out here as an U23. I’ve never so much about bike racing than I have learnt in the last two months.

It’s the end of March and I’m now seven races into the season, the intensity is the first thing you learn to deal with, big races, 200 starters and up to 180k, sometimes two races in one weekend. The next thing you learn is the intensity of the race itself; the speed and pace is brutal but as each race goes by you can feel yourself forgetting about your old threshold and finding a new higher threshold that you didn’t even realise you had in you, this new threshold then becomes your norm until you lift it again. Of the seven races I’ve had five finishes, three of which have been around 30th place but this doesn’t even begin to explain how much I have learnt and developed in this short period of time. Somebody the other day asked me if I was a better rider compared with when I first came out, I can only answer by saying ‘miles better’, yet I can also see how much better I still need to be. It is almost as if I have started a whole new 80:20 rule. Have I any regrets? Absolutely not! This is the greatest fastest learning curve in bike racing.

Away from the racing; life in Belgium is getting better all the time, I’m settling in and finding my way around, I’m getting into routines, getting to know lots of new people and generally getting a feel for how things are done. No plans to come back home until the National Championships in June. Training wise I’m doing about 22 hours a week based exactly on what my coach back in the UK instructs me from the Train Sharp HQ. The weather can be grim but this can only get better and I am looking forward to the Belgium spring and summer.

My objectives for the rest of the year; keep learning, keep listening, keep working hard, keep raising the threshold.

James Shaw

Race results:

28/02 Ster Van Zwoller UCI 1.2 DNF
04/03 Gooik KMS 1.2b 116km 34th
07/03 Molenbeek Wersbeek KMS 1.2b 120km 30th
14/03 Ronde Van Zuid Holland 175km 48th
21/03 Omloop Van De Houtse Linies 1.12 180km 30th
28/0 Breezel Putt KMS 1.2b 116km 62nd
29/04 Meer Hoogstraten 1.2b DNF

Lotto Soudan Kit Collection.

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Monday 2nd Feb

Collecting all your new kit for the coming season is always one of the most exciting days of the year. I’d previously arranged to meet the team mechanic at 10am at the team Service Course; to my word I’m there dead on time. I’m a bit obsessive when it comes to cycling equipment as it can make a massive difference to how you perform. As I arrive he had just finished building my team training bike a beautiful Ridley Helium. He took it off the stand and lent it up against the wall. He then took me into the clothing room where he issued me with all my Vermac Lotto kit, Lazer helmet and Jako casual wear. As I take it all to the car he went and fetched my bike and helps me load up. As soon as I get home I try it on for size; it all fits comfy and snug. I pack it all away into my organized system and then go to the garage to work on the final set up of my bike. I start by getting my cleats set up, I’ve not ridden Keo for a couple of years but they were always easy to work on and super reliable. I molded my shoes back in England; shoes are a very personal thing that you spend many hours in them and for me Bont’s are the only choice to make. I slip into some cycling kit and get out my rollers. I get riding and within seconds I decide my bars need rotating to bring the hoods closer to me and allow my hands to sit with more comfort. After a bit of playing around I find the optimal position. I finish the bike off by rapping the handlebars in tape. All I need now is to take it out on the roads of Belgium to christen it.

James Shaw

Lotto Soudal

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