Published on 2nd April 2015 | By Chris Walker

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

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Images courtesy and copyright of Kurt Vermeerbergen/