With a late finish to the 2012 season and a few big races left to come it seems like a good time to look back on what has been a rather turbulent year and look forward to the final push!
My first race of the year was way back in February, the Dyfi Winter Warmup and it got me off to a winning start, although even then I was struggling to cope with a leg injury that has blighted me all year. A strange sensation that happens whenever I give 100% effort my left leg goes numb. It was been difficult to race at times and shorter races in particular have been a problem.
The first major event, the UCI S2 category Andalucia Bike Race in Spain was quite successful, competing against some of the most talented riders in Europe I achieved 13th place with race partner Milton Ramos. The fitness built up from that race and immediately following served me well at the UK 12hr Championships, although despite leading for 6hrs a major mechanical cost me time, that despite my best efforts I was unable to regain, finishing 2nd just 2 minutes behind the winner. It was a cruel way to loose a race but I learnt some vital lessons from the event.
May was another busy month, but I was successful at the Dyfi Enduro, winning the event for the first time. I followed this up with a 7th place at the British Marathon Championships and 18th in Elite at the British XC Series at Kirroughtree.
The summer has been a rather wet one with many races suffering and none more so than Mountain Mayhem, yet despite arduous conditions together with my team mates Josh Ibbett, Richard Rothwell and Rickie Cotter we finished on the podium on the Elite Mixed category!
July was by far the busiest and most exciting month to date, a trip to the Alps with several big events all extremely close to each other.
La Marmotte, perhaps the most famous sportive of the all! 8Hrs is the Gold standard, yet I managed to achieve 6hrs 38minutes. Only a handful of British riders have ever got under the 7hr mark!
Etape Act 1 (Alps) was the following day! Another gruelling race and with tired legs, yet I managed to finish 39th out of 8000 riders!
Etape Act 2 (Pyrenees) was 6 days later and poor weather conditions made the tough course even harder, which were perhaps to my benefit! Finishing 34th out of the 8000 starters.
Not yet enough events in a month, it was on to IronBike, which is regarded as the toughest stage race in the World. A good first 5 days had me in 4th place, but after a crash heading down the Fenestrelle Fort I was unable to complete the 5th day and with it my chances of a top finish.
August was mostly a month of recovery, it wasn't until the end of the month that I raced again in ernest, joining forces with George Budd to take the win at the Torq 12:12. A tough race but some very consistent laps times left me with high hopes for the remainder of the season. A second place at a local event, the Brecon Beast was followed up with another win at the Coed y Brenin enduro held recently, a very tough 60km course was great fun and a superb final race in the UK.
So now it is time for the biggest events of the year, the Scott 24hr a return to Canberra where I will be racing against the current Solo World Champion, Jason English. In 2010 I had a disappointing race, struggling with the conditions. I hope I've learnt from mistakes made then and hope to challenge for the win. There will be live timing during the race (Oct 13/14th) and my team will be updating my Twitter (@mattpage24) throughout the race.
Just a week later, the Crocodile Trophy, a massive challenge in its own right. 9 days, averaging around 100 km per day in the stifling heat and humidity of Cairns and the surrounding area. Given the solo race the week before I am realistic about my chances, I simply want to finish!
I've had an incredible amount of support to date this year and I am extremely grateful for everything. I hope to finish what has been a pretty successful season to date on a big high!