Malliot Blanc Column by Toby Miles - Dealing with defeat

PUBLISHED: 14:01 05 June 2018

CometSport cycling columnist Toby Miles in competitive action on the continent

CometSport cycling columnist Toby Miles in competitive action on the continent

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Read Toby Miles’ Malliot Blanc Column as the 18-year-old aspiring professional cyclist explains how he analyses a loss.

Toby in action during Stage 1A of the Arad Tour early in the stage. Credit: rent-a-bike-israel.comToby in action during Stage 1A of the Arad Tour early in the stage. Credit: rent-a-bike-israel.com

After the finish line, there can be more than 79 losers. However, a literal defeat can be a personal victory. An eighth place can be a triumph for one where it’s a disaster for another.

I entered a race on Sunday which may have been the strongest competition I’ve ever raced against. It included British professionals from third tier teams in the best form they’ll see this season.

I was hoping for a personal victory - which would have been a top-20 - as realistically the win outright was highly unlikely, especially as I was four weekends without a race beforehand.

However, Sunday saw both a literal loss and a relative one, as I couldn’t finish the 80-mile race. The pace was electric, the course punishing and the road surface energy sapping and though I’d felt positive sensations on the circuit’s only climb, I ran out of power on a flat section as the largest team who had missed the eventual winning move put the hammer down.

I pulled out of line in an effort not to ruin the races of the riders behind me, and watched the speeding bunch continue at the infernal 28 mph average speed, as the gap between my screaming legs and their still surviving ones rapidly increased.

Once you lose contact it’s over and the mental inquest into why you didn’t perform begins the moment you get your breathing under control.

My mind flooded with negativity as I rode past the finish area and towards the car-park, hating every second of the condescending applause from other parents and helpers. Irrationally, I questioned the point in all this, whether I’d ever be able to compete against this type of competition.

It’s pointless to immediately indulge in negative thoughts, and after I’d cooled off it was time to think critically and have a chat with my coach.

The first thing my thoughts turn to is what the feeling was like. It wasn’t a lack of fuel, as I didn’t feel the empty sensation in the legs. It felt more like my legs were desperate for recovery, and I couldn’t shift the lactic acid fast enough while still riding at the pace we were.

We decided the performance was down to a lack of hours in the saddle in the last three weeks, as I’d only been able to train indoors on the turbo trainer while waiting for my new forks, so I’d lost some short term fitness. Also, the supersonic pace in the early laps was too much of a shock to my legs after 3 weeks without an effort like it.

I’ve got two races coming up to bounce back in after a quality training week, and this time I’ll be gunning for the win.

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