Time for another blog update, and this time it’s a round up of the remainder of my 2015 season, which has now come to an end. I’ll pick up where I left off back in May, which was at the Tour of Norway. This was certainly a very memorable race. It was my first time in Norway, and it was a great experience. I fell in love with the fascinating scenery and amazing food. Over 5 days the route took us through the beautiful countryside including snowy mountain passes, which was grueling at the time (we had to buy neoprene diving gloves to stay warm) but made for some spectacular photos!
Next up was another five day stage race in Canada at the Tour de Beauce. Due to some last minute visa issues I ended up arriving the night before the race began which meant I was a little bit concerned about how my legs would perform just hours after landing, however I pleasantly surprised myself and all went well.
This marked the beginning of a short mid-season break with no racing. Family came to visit and I had a few days on the beach with a relaxed approach to training. As a result, I was unsure of how my form would be leading into the Irish National Championships in Omagh at the end of June. Regardless, it was nice to fly home to catch up with everyone again. For the third year in a row, I made it into the winning breakaway on the day and finished up 7th, which made for a good day.
From there, I travelled to Livigno in Italy for an altitude training camp. The last time I had been there was to go skiing so it was interesting to see it in the summer and how it transforms into a cycling destination. The training was intense (including climbing famous mountains over one hour long) and the nutrition ensured we shed any excess kilos in order to be lean and fit for the second half of the season.
Following camp, another trip to Scandinavia was in store for me, this time to the Arctic Race of Norway. Interestingly, this is the most northerly bike race on the calendar as it takes place above the Arctic Circle. Consequently I was expecting cold conditions, but it was actually warm due to a record-breaking week of weather. The racing was excellent with huge support from the locals. The organizers put on a great show, with multiple firework displays, a fighter jet flyover and even a stage through a military facility where the route was lined by army personnel and I had the opportunity to take on a tank in a drag race! Unfortunately he beat me, but it’s something I will never forget. I was laughing so hard at the time that I had difficulty breathing for the last 3km!
I then came back to Ireland to get my visa for China and catch up with family and friends. After a quick stop in Italy for two one-day races, it was time to travel to China for three weeks to finish off the last races of the season at the Tour of China I & II. The two races were separated by one day in-between, consisting of a total of 12 stages. The transfers to the hotels between the stages were huge. We had to take one flight mid race, a total of 62 hours on a bus including a 13-hour 1000 kilometer transfer. I don’t know if the travelling or the racing was more tiring!
All ended well for me and the team, as I achieved my career best result with 4th place on Stage 3 of Tour of China I and 19th overall in Tour of China II.
I am very happy to finish the season on such a high note and I’m pleased to have signed a contract with Team Novo Nordisk for 2016. I’m looking forward to improving on my results from the past season and continuing to inspire, educate and empower people affected by diabetes all over the world.
For those interested in the statistics, it will be approximately 30,000-km on the bike this year (7,400-km over 51 race days) and 65 flights (250 hours in an airplane).
Now it’s time for some mental and physical rest before I start preparing for next year. However after travelling 30 hours to get home, I only had one day in Ireland before travelling to Denmark for a meeting with the team sponsor and then onto Slovenia to meet my girlfriend. From there I will head to Australia for a bit of training before going directly to our first team camp in the US in November. In the meantime I’m going to eat and sleep a lot, and will check back in again once I come out of hibernation for the 2016 season. Until then! Ciao.