2nd place – 1st loser

21 Sep

This weekend was pretty much the end of the season for me, kind of good as I have a lot of weddings
/stag party fun etc coming up, and after the last one a couple of weeks back it took me a good few days to feel normal again, not conducive to good performances on a bike!

This weekend promised a lot in terms of potential, there was a 10 mile TT on the Saturday on a quick A3 course, and then the Surrey League Handicap Championship on Sunday which I’d done the previous two years with mixed success.

First up was the 10, the weather looked freakishly good for both days over the weekend, almost no wind on the afternoon of the event, warm at around 20 deg, everything was looking promising. From this event I wanted one thing, to do an 18, I’d not managed to thus far this year, mainly as I don’t live near Hull, but I’d come close on Bentley and done a few other 19’s along the way. The other goals would be less important given I’d decided to go for a few beers the day before, but I’d want to try and keep my new found nemesis, James Boyman at bay, and win the event. Having seen the startsheet I figured I’d only really need to beat James to likely win, but there was a strong field with Kevin Tye, James Lowden, Liam Maybank and a few other fast men riding, so it would not be a cake walk.

While warming up I saw Liam first who said it was really fast and he had one a 19.20 or so, which was a great ride. I then saw James Lowden who yelled at me “you’re going to do a 17” – I was beginning to get nervous having had all these people say how fast it was! He had done 19 dead he thought, I was trying not to think about the usual gaps between us all and what I might do. Anyway I got down to the start, and got off to a steady start, annoyingly my legs felt a bit shit, maybe owing to riding the single speed most of that week on the commute, I think its a bit overgeared for hill starts etc, but they soon started to feel alright. It was indeed quick, my avg soon was north of 30 mph, I knew what I needed for an 18, so tried to keep the power as high as possible, I thought I should be able to do around 385W so was trying to hold it around there, but it was tough, at the first rbt I got a clear line from the right, but someone pulled out on me and then did not accelerate at all. My mum was actually standing on the rbt and snapped this photo of me gesturing the bloke to get a move on. It was pretty annoying, but on the way back I was back into good speed, but again at the same rbt on the way back almost the exact same thing happened, I again gestured they get going, but this almost certainly wasn’t an ideal way of going as quick as possible.


On the way back I really gave it my all up the long drag as the speed slowly dropped, my legs were gone, nothing left, I saw the avg power was below 380 and I knew when I crossed the line with 18.44 – a new PB by 2 secs that it would not be enough to beat James, my only surprise was that it was so close at only 7 seconds, with my normal power and a clear run it would have been a large PB, but these things happen, and it was a great ride by James who PB’s by a huge amount, though only because he only rides Bentley, he’d have managed a short 18 in Hull earlier in the year otherwise. Anyway, we were the only two who managed to go sub 19, which was nice. A fast course for sure, more to come on there if I can get it all right on another good day next year.


Next up was the road race, I knew that I would have good legs, I don’t have shit legs two days running usually, and though a ten is a deep effort, it does help open everything up (cycling cliche!). There was a big field of around 70-80, a 4 strong team from Pedal Heaven inc Lewis Atkins who has won it the last two years I think, I came 3rd in 2013 and was crap last year with 11th. The handicap format made it much more fun than a normal road race IMO, and in the last group it was a blast, flying round the lanes with 15 other strong riders, we were averaging well over 27 mph for the first ten mile lap. Race distance was 60 miles and the gap to the very front group is around 15 mins with many other groups in between them and us.

Its not an easy race as you have to ride or you will not catch the rest, with 2 laps left to go there was still a fair gap and people started attacking, bit odd, but I think it was a good thing as it gave the group a bit of impetus. It was clear that the only hill (which is where the finish is) on the final time through was going to be the point where something had to happen, sure enough Chris Mac of PH drilled it up there, Lewis on his wheel and Jamie on his, then me, then probably Tom Hargreaves not far behind. This came back together, and then I think Lewis went again, with Tom on his wheel and possibly another rider or two, I decided that this was the one given Lewis and Tom probably were best suited to the finish and looked strong. We started working well together but I found it hard to come through as Lewis was riding so strongly, though his surging through made it hard work, I tried to take as many turns as I could without totally burying myself and making sure we stayed clear. With maybe half a lap to go it looked like it might all come back together, but people carried o working and instead, another bunch of riders came over to make the group about ten strong, I couldn’t see the bunch behind and now Rob and Jamie were present, this was good as they would be working for Lewis. Other finishers now in the group were Declan who I used to race at KW with, and Rich Cartland also who I knew could get up a hill pretty quickly.

Rob led us into the foot of the hill, I was a bit boxed in at this point, but Tom decided to put a sting in early, I read this as “right, they’re sprinting already, you have to go” so I did, up the other side, straight past – initially I thought I had done it, I had got a gap and was still pushing the pedals, but I came round the corner to see Pat cheering, and the line about 50m further than I remembered haha! I looked back to see Tom with Lewis on his wheel, he opened it up again having played it perfectly and overtook me with enough room to get his hands up, as he did so I tried to go again but had nothing, only just holding off Lewis to retain 2nd. I was pretty annoyed with myself having done the hill 6 times in the race, but sometimes the heat of the moment gets the better. And the only way I thought I could beat Lewis or Tom was going long, like I had done at Palace to take a win from him in the summer. I think it was still the right option, but I went too early, no doubt. I managed around 840W for nearly 55 seconds, which is a fair bit more than I’ve managed previous. Still, 2nd wasn’t a terrible result in a good field of riders.


That pretty much sums up the year, I think I need around 15 points for my 1st cat, but I’m not sure I can be bothered now. But I have the option to go to some late season races if I have a change of heart.


National 10

31 Aug

Been a while since I updated, I think the last one was when I had won at Crystal Palace, good times! Since then I’ve done a few bits here and there, couple of crits where I was fairly average, a couple of TT’s where I did alright and won both, though I was later relegated to 2nd in one after timekeeping mix up (damn you Boyman!). Nothing massively noteworthy, though the two TT’s were good in that I ticked the sub 50 on Bentley box doing a 49.24 (Boyman had same time initially then later got given 49.20) and then doing a fairly good ride (in my opinion) on G10/42 which is the club ten course, I’ve ridden it many times, but never in 31 degrees! I managed to win by over a minute and land a course PB with 19.33, so second faster of all time on that course behind Hutch who has the record with 19.04 which I may be able to trouble at some point…

The National 10 – though the 25 is described as the blue ribband event, I personally prefer the ten, and this years course was sure to be a bit more friendly to me than Hull last year. As you will know my main aim for National events this year was a top 10 in both, I managed joint 6th in the 25 though probably would have been 7th had Steve Irwin bothered finishing ;) – there were a few exceptions on the entry to the 10, Steve being one, and Topham who had tied me in the 25 being another, but in their place were 2 others which certainly could upset the apple cart, Rich Bussell who Xav has been telling me about for a little while now, and Edmund Bradbury who now as a full time pro with NFTO has been working his way around Surrey and anywhere else he fancies destroying the best times up any and all climbs, he also came 2nd to only Dowsett in the BC TT champs, so these were two riders who could well make it that bit harder to get in the top ten, along with all the other talent that enters these events.

Predictably despite feeling ok health wise since the 25 earlier in the week I picked up a bit of a sore throat, but thankfully with a massive over indulgence in vitamins, salt water to gargle and sleep I managed to just about get back to normal for Sundays race. It wasn’t too far away, but not on the doorstep either, just outside Rugby.

The course was great as far as I was concerned, not a lot of traffic, no stupid gift hills, and only one turn, the surface was a bit rough, but nothing like as bad as I’d been warned, the only thing that let the day down was the rain, it was pretty wet by the time I started warming up, but given it wasn’t like I would be flying around any bits of it at 40mph, I wasn’t that bothered, just hoped my tyres would hold out…!

I had not concerned myself with any early times, and got myself to the start, I had a game plan in terms of when and where to push on a bit, and where the time could be made and lost, I was going to try and ride at 390W for the main, and then push on at a couple of sections where it got a bit draggy, I started and my legs felt good, the speed wasn’t super high, I knew that I would likely need to do a 19 to be anywhere near the sharp end and that was always in the back of my mind, however when I got to the turn at around 29mph I was wondering if it was a crap day vs when Clinton had set his 19.43 CR, anyway, pwoer was good till that point, I took the turn a bit too slowly in hindsight, that and having to tilt my visor every few minutes were the two things I felt I did wrong in this race, bit annoying to be honest when you see how tight the results were. Anyway, approaching the 7 mile point I was pushing on up the hill, 400w+ felt pretty hard but sustainable, which at least tells me that the taper had worked as that was not possible in the heat last week, I got to the top of that drag with an avg of around 395W for 17 mins or so which is the best I’ve done, the last two miles were quick and I knew not much time could be made up there, having emptied myself a bit up the climb I did ride the last couple of minutes under that figure, but still dragged the speed up a fair bit. I finished with 20.11, I was skeptical it was going to be enough to get anywhere near the dizzy heights of 6th like the 25, but I decided I was pleased with the ride, best power of the year, and bar the visor, no mechanical issues or anything to speak of.

I got up to the HQ and was immediately a bit annoyed, James Boyman had gone 10 seconds faster (5th on the day, great ride!), after being so close on Bentley, and of course beating him in the 25, I thought it may be a smaller gap than 10 seconds, anyway, the really irritating thing was that there were 4 people within 5 seconds of my time (in front of me) and someone on the same time, if I had just not been a girl around the turn, or had had some foresight around the visor I could have dramatically improved my placing, but as it was I tied 10th with 25 mile Bronze Medal winner Kieron Davies, so not terrible given how strong he is, but when there is a 5-6 second difference between 6th and tenth it always makes you think back to what you could have done differently. Ah well, there were plenty of very strong riders behind me, so it wasn’t a bad showing by any stretch.

Rich Bussell had done the business, a last minute aero session with Xav had seen him able to make the most of the engine he clearly has and he clocked a stupidly fast 19.36 to win from Matt Clinton who bettered his own CR with 19.41 with Bottrill in 3rd a further 4 seconds back with 19.45. So this year I was 35 seconds from the winner, last year I was 58, I’ve got better, but I hope there is more to come! I don’t know when, or which event, but I want to have won a medal (individual non age related) in a CTT champs before I am satisfied. I think its an ambitious goal, but if you don’ set these goals, you don’t have anything to work to, there is a lot I can do to improve, so I think its not a total moonshot! Not a lot left this year, F11 today (Monday cancelled due to weather, one last chance to do an 18 comes in the shape of P881R in a couple of weeks, then probably my last road race of the year with the Handicap champs, which I would love to win after podium-ing a couple of years back.

Ride is here – https://www.strava.com/activities/381070380

1 Richard Bussell RST Sport/Aero-Coach 19:36
2 Matt Clinton Mike Vaughan Cycles 19:41
3 Matthew Bottrill http://www.drag2zero.com 19:45
4 Edmund Bradbury NFTO Pro Cycling 19:50
5 James Boyman Farnham RC 20:01
6 Brett Harwood Terry Wright Cycles RC 20:04
7 Andy Jackson Team Swift 20:05
8 Joshua Williams Revolutions Racing 20:08
9 Dan Evans Team Elite/Paul Bethall Electrical 20:10
10 Rob Sharland Paceline RT 20:11
11 Kieron Davies http://www.drag2zero.com 20:11
12 John Dewey Dorking CC 20:18
13 Ashley Cox CC Luton 20:18
14 David Kiernan Lutterworth 20:21
15 Alexander Royle Army Cycling Union 20:22
16 David Crawley Fibrax-Wrexham RC 20:24
17 Adam Duggleby SportGrub Kuota Cycling 20:26
18 Daniel Northover Finsbury Park CC 20:28
19 Matthew Smith Team Velovelocity.co.uk 20:30
20 Ben Mcintosh Crewe Clarion Whs 20:31


5 Aug

25 months.

No, I’m not trying to outdo a trapped rock-climber, rather that is how long its been since I won a race of any sort on my roadbike. For a rider who won his first two ever races and then went and won a few other races/stages of races etc that seems like a bloody long time to me. I get my fix for winning I suppose from time trials, but even still, the feeling of winning on the road, or a crit circuit as it was is still every bit as sweet as doing a personal best or winning an event by 3 minutes on the time trial bike.

People have always asked what I might concentrate more on next year in terms of road/TT, and I usually say the same thing, I’ll mix it up and see how I get on, I don’t feel like one has to suffer at the hands of the other, the only thing that perhaps changes is driving miles and miles for a road race when there is a TT nearby starts to look like a waste of a weekend, but there are times when it comes together and you know why you still do both, even if like me you’ve had quite bad luck on the road due to various things…

People far more eloquent and edgy than I have written blogs on Crystal Palace and its racing, what with references to the sun breaking through the dense tree cover to illuminate the last bastion of true crit racing the SE has to offer, so I’ll skip all that – basically its really fucking hard; and reasons for this are two fold, one: it has a selection of corners that require nerve and skill (or a lot of sprinting if you have neither), and two, even the most sedate people seem to turn into raging bulls when in SE19, attacking left right and center like their lives depend on it. All that coupled with a fairly decent and competitive field most weeks make it a hard but enjoyable Tuesday evening pursuit.

I’ve been going along most weeks this year, mainly as I felt like getting in a 4 hour day and 1 hour at race pace was good training, and also because the guys that race there are a decent bunch and riding there doesn’t push me to go all Michael Douglas in Falling Down, which I’m afraid traversing West London out to Hillingdon does seem to. This year most races have either been won by Ethan Hayter (who is on the UK national squad), Tom Hargreaves (who has won lots of races) or Rob Moore (who usually bulldozes his way to victory if he can), and a smattering of others. I feel like racing at palace is not really easy points, and that is what makes it a bit more special than Hillingdon and such. This week I really couldn’t be arsed to be fair, got to about 5pm and I raided the work coffee supplies for some enthusiasm and pulled myself together, I’d still got fairly achey legs from pushing on a bit on the Sunday, so was unsure of how I’d be to be honest.

We got started and it felt ok, I continued to feel ok, my back didn’t even ache that much (maybe that £200 saddle did the trick?), a lot of moves came and went, mainly with Ian Paine of Dynamo, Kendall Noctor of Feather, Tom or James Lowden of Neon Velo being the perps. I got away with James towards the end and forgot how strong he was, really wasn’t that pleasant getting over to him and coming through. We were brought back however, it was getting to the point where I thought it would likely be a sprint situation, thankfully it was up the hill which I don’t mind, and Ethan was frying bigger fish somewhere, so this was my best chance of winning. Tom had Ray from Dynamo lining it out up the hill and I saw a gap and just smacked it, I knew that if I got a gap then nobody would catch me, I looked back after a good 10 second or so effort and there was daylight, wonderful. I stuck one hand in the air (didn’t want to do an Armitstead after all) and crossed the line. Happy days. (maybe a pic out there somewhere of the finish – I’ve yet to find it).

Meanwhile there was this pre race pensive glance – credit to Alex Hewson – more from him here  https://www.flickr.com/photos/35420541@N05/sets/72157656425234408 

National 25 and other stuff

3 Aug

Been super busy recently so not so many updates, but in the last few weeks I’ve done quite a mixture of events, culminating in the first really big one just this Sunday in the National 25 (the blue ribband event, cliche it may be, but its probably true for the CTT)!

In terms of the other stuff, I’ve done a few crits, and a road race and another TT or two, I won the second Richmond Park TT which was nice, makes it 5 in a row, this despite getting in from my holiday just 3 hours before my start time! I then had a spate of punctures, some far more irritating than others, the first was at Palace where I punctured my own wheel then punctured the spare I got given on the last lap. I then drove a fairly long way into Kent to do a road race that suits me well, it didn’t have a really strong field, and I thought I had a chance of a very good result, same old story though, 30 miles in I hit a huge hole and blew out my rear tub, really annoying!

I’ve also been on holiday, so was nice to visit Montenegro and see some fantastic landscapes, and go somewhere not ruined by tourists (well, cruise ships were plentiful, but they didn’t stay long). It also had some fantastic roads, especially the climb from Kotor to Lovcen, 22 miles of climbing at 5% avg, here is a view from half way up said climb :


Beyond that its been about trying to balance everything out, its warm outside and there are lots of social events going on, so I’ve had to try and balance that, I’ve also soon got a spate of weddings and stag parties to attend, so August was to be a fairly important month, it had both of the national TT events I had entered, and some of the last road races I’ll do, its currently looking like I’ll slip back to 2nd cat, which I have mixed feelings about but we’ll see how I get on in the next few weeks.. Onto the Nat 25 then…

I’d had a bit of time on the TT bike recently, I had a crack at doing a sub 50 on Bentley a week prior, goals were simple, go sub 50, and ideally not get beaten, James Boyman was riding and I knew he was better than when we met at the ten where I managed to beat him by 25 secs, and possibly I was worse, it was in hindsight the beginning of getting sick, I felt ok during the race but was still down on best power, and on a windy day James clocked a superb winning time of 49.33 and I could only manage 50.04, annoyingly close to my target, I’ll have to go back..

What that really meant, however, was that there was now a fairly real threat of me not being able to do what I wanted at the Nationals, which I’ve always said for this year was to be in the top 10 in both 25 and 10 mile events, but already a few people I knew full well I wouldn’t beat, adding folk like James into that list started to make for depressing reading! Amusingly I’ve just read his blog and his section on tapering could have come from my own mouth, the only thing that made mine easier to follow was that I was snotty and coughing most of the week, up to around Thursday, so doing short rides suited me fine! But when the day came round it was quickly obvious what shape I’d be in!

As usual I got about 3 hours sleep on Saturday night, I’d gone to a mates birthday that day and not touched a drink despite everyone else tucking in so was annoyed not to be able to sleep. Over time I’ve got less of a ribbing about shunning social events in favour of cycling as I think people (friends) have managed to make the distinction between a cyclist in someone who does a few Wiggle events, and one who wants to do half decent in a national level event, they still think I’m odd for shaving my legs mind you! Anyway, Lucy and I drove up to Marlow pretty early, I wanted to make sure I knew what the turns looked like and wanted to scout the roads for marshalls to make sure I wasn’t going to waste it all by going the wrong way, something I’ve managed before after a long drive. I warmed up after having had a solid prep talk from Xav who’d just got in from his effort on fixed gear, he gave me the lowdown, and we talked over how I was going to ride the course and what should and should not be done in order to get the best result possible!

I felt pretty average while warming up, dull legs, but not too bad, I got up to the startpoint and had a natter with Matt Clinton and Andy Jackson who surely would both be contenders, took my mind off the world of hurt I’d be about to put myself in. I was one of the last few to start, and at 9.02 AM I was pushed off. I settled down into position and began to think about the task at hand. As usual the first minute I could probably ride at 700w and feel no pain, but you must hold back in these situations, in fact I spent the first 20 minutes riding fairly within myself, or comfortably hard (snigger), I knew this race was to be won or lost on the 25 minute single carriageway section. One bit of info I’d retained among a wash of forgotten knwoledge was Bob Tobin (Bottrills coach) saying he thought it would be won with a 48 and you’d need a 49 to be in the top 10 (bang on as we later found out), so when I got to the turn with a middling 29mph average I wasn’t quite sure what to think. I’d done just over 350w and wanted to ensure that I did the second half a fair bit higher. This is something I’ve managed to do quite naturally in races but its resulted in me never overcooking myself and always likely getting nearly the best result possible. My split time was actually noticeably slow for my finish time, so maybe I went just a bit too easy!

At the turn here, credit to Ian Sherriffs


Into the second half I began to push on, I was debating hitting the lap button so I knew not to let myself slack off, but I decided to just crack on and push as hard as possible. The first half had seen me make it through 6 or so roundabouts without issue, but on the way back twice people under-estimated my closing speed (only human I suppose) and pulled out on me and then proceeded to forget where the accelerator was located and twice I was out of the bars motioning at them to put their foot down, not optimal. Just before the turn back onto the main road and the last five miles I threw up in my mouth, and then over my stem, so that was at least a fairly reliable acid test of my effort, stomach acid mixed with SIS gel in this case.

With 5 miles left to go I started to really wind it up, it was hurting, and with the last possible hold up point done without having to slow down too much I was into the last 3 minutes or so of the race, avg speed was now over 30mph which pleased me somewhat, I pushed as hard as I could, only remembering how irritated I was by such a small margin keeping me out of the top 10 in the National 10 last year (it was actually a fair bit, but 5 secs would have bought a few places). I pushed all the way to the line and stopped my garmin on 49.32, which usually means you’ve done about 49.30 given I start it about 1.5 secs early and stop it about 1 sec after the line.

Aside from his books, which I enjoyed, I’ve not really paid too much attention to Hutch of late, mainly as he isn’t racing anymore, but he did say something I really liked the other day in a podcast with Mark Florence – “I would decide upon finishing a TT whether I was happy with my time/performance before getting to the HQ to find out what everyone else had done” – so often I’ve been happy until I’ve seen what others have done, I decided today I wasn’t going to carry on with that theme. I decided that I was happy with the ride, I’d managed 357W which is about 6w down on what I managed in a recent 25 if you take out the ski slope start, and you’d hope probably more like 10w down on what a proper taper should have yielded. I put this down to me not being well that week, so I was pleased to be within 1% of my best despite all of that – but Xav said if I had done 11w more, or just 6w more than I have done before I could have been within spitting distance of a 48…

Another from Ian here


I got up to the hall to find myself with an official 49.33 which I found a touch odd, but wasn’t too worried about, though I was tied with Adam Topham for 6th place (last time we raced he beat me by 13 or so secs in a ten), so perhaps in hindsight I’d have liked to have been given my 1 or 2 seconds! So all in all I was happy, 6th was better than I’d have hoped for leading up to it, a couple of non finishers may have changed that slightly, but that’s racing sadly, you gotta finish first to have a chance of finishing first and all that.

Hoping to get back into my best shape for the 10 in 4 weeks time which is on a course that should do me a favour with it being so quiet and traffic free, hopefully I can get up into the top 10 again, should be a similar field I suspect, though I have heard a rumour about Wiggins riding, so that may scupper things somewhat!


Top ten here :

1 Ryan Perry Langdale Lightweights R T 00:48:04
2 Matthew Bottrill http://www.drag2zero.com 00:48:24
3 Kieron Davies http://www.drag2zero.com 00:48:36
4 Joshua Williams Revolutions Racing 00:48:45
5 Matt Clinton Mike Vaughan Cycles 00:49:03
6 Rob Sharland Paceline RT 00:49:33
6 Adam Topham High Wycombe CC 00:49:33
8 James Boyman Farnham RC 00:49:39
9 Matthew Smith Team Velovelocity.co.uk 00:50:01
10 Brett Harwood Terry Wright Cycles RC 00:50:15

From Redhill to Gipsy Hill

25 Jun

Been an eventful couple of weekends race wise, I was really happy with how I was coming along, and had a couple of events I was keen to test myself on.

In time order then, the first thing after my 4th place at palace the other week was the annual Redhill CC road race, 82 miles of mostly quick road with a small rise each lap. The previous year was eventful for the wrong reasons sadly, firstly I got a puncture at the 30 mile point and couldn’t get back on as the weather was so bad the neutral car couldn’t pace me back quick enough through the corners! And secondly because some pratt scattered drawing pins all over the finish area which ended a lot riders day and could have been really dangerous.

Anyway, this year promised to hopefully be a good edition, a stronger field to be fair, full showing from Pedal Heaven, Trek Richardsons, and a smattering from other teams like Catford, (us, we had 3 riders! and a few other individuals who were ones to watch, Tom Bayliss from One Pro being a good example of that. We had myself, Dom (former Redhill club member) and Cameron who had been racing down under and was looking in good shape. The idea was generally to make sure that if something was well represented by the big teams, it would be worth following.

As is common in these races, 10 riders went up the road from the gun, but it wasn’t that well represented by PH, and it was an 85 mile race, so I was happy to let the race go on for a bit before making any choices. It didn’t take long before the usual suspects got a bit restless and around 20 miles in I followed Rob Moore and a Trek rider up the climb ( I really hammered it up there, the fastest anyone has done it apparently!) to go over the top as a 3 up, sadly this didn’t come to much for one reason or another. I was a bit worried about burning too many matches early doors so sat in and only followed things that looked worth doing so for the next lap or two. At around the 35 mile point again another move went which looked good, before coming back, this time I thought it would be worth a dig as though maybe I’m not quite as unknown as before owing to my TT times, I still don’t get chased down like a PH or One Pro rider would be, so I nailed it off the front, and started regretting it straight away as it hurt haha! However, I kept at it and soon enough I was joined by a familiar face in Rob from PH, to be honest, there are not many better people to join a move than Rob, he’s stupidly strong, and offers decent draft, I waved him through after a bit and he drilled it. I think I gave him a couple of turns over the next 5-6 minutes as he was going so hard.

It didn’t take long before we were well out of sight and there were specs up the road,which were the remnants of the early doors break, at first we caught a chap from Danny Shane (Phillip Peters I think) and Rob McCarthy of PH, we then were joined not too much later afterwards by a few more from PH, Mitch Webber, Chris Mac and Lewis Atkins, how they all got away I don’t know, but it was a welcome sight as I knew it would bode well for the chances of this break having them all involved. We shortly after got a Trek rider and another from Nuun (perhaps?) and were around 8 strong, but not everyone was coming through, some people were totally frazzled and I was conscious that though I felt good, there was still 35-40 miles remaining of this race. I did a bit of work but it was so disjointed that we never really got a through and off going for more than a few minutes.

Fast forward to around 20 miles to go and we could see the last riders up the road, we now had 2 Trek, the One Pro dude and most of PH and a couple of others, around 11 riders. However just as things started to look up, the bunch was on us, it was quite a quick turnaround given apparently we had two mins at one point. Certainly our reluctance to work properly as a unit contributed to the gap falling but we later learned a few riders from Catford had been drilling it on the front to bring the move back to stop another PH domination…

With one lap to go things got really dicey, and George Wood looked like he wanted to make something happen, he actually got away with Dom from Paceline for a bit and Dom later said he thought George was struggling as he would come through then drop off and generally wasn’t that smooth, George then went on his own, we didn’t see him again, crazy strong ride from the dude, he is showing his talent for sure, his Prem Cal results obviously making these races a walk in the park for him. Into the last lap I was quite keen on my position and the finish suited me, as ever with 1km to go the pace went mental and people were everywhere, I really don’t like it when its like that but I was still keen to get a result given the hard day out, I was in a fairly decent position when two riders crashed in front of me sending on of the Trek boys into the ditch (to smash his bike to bits, he was ok though), then I was well back, I sprinted through and still thought I could salvage something, and crossed the line for 12th. Not the result I feel like I could have got, but not bad considering.

My legs felt really good and they still had a bit of zipp towards the end of the race which was great, the NP for the race at 345W was higher than any I’ve done, which is more evidence to me that I am stronger this year than I’ve ever been.



Next up perhaps foolishly was less than 15 hours after this race, and it was the first of 2 Richmond Park TT’s this year, I’d won the last 4 in a row, so was keen to try and continue with that trend. I knew the field was of similar quality to last year and though I thought I would still likely be the one to beat, its never a given, and with a really tough RR in my legs it would change everything as I’d always previously done this event on fresher legs.

I was last man off which for this event means 7am, I knew it takes about 16 mins from my front door to the startline as I ride it most days on the way to work, so I set the alarm for 5.25am and was on the turbo by 5.45 warming up, I was off the turbo by 6.15, got some last bits together and set off for the park, got there too early still but I hate not allowing room for error… As I came in I saw 3 Paceline roadies in a row all going well, it was set to be a good event!

As any of you that frequent the park will know, the wind is basically the determinator of fast/slow times, today was a medium strength SW wind, not good (despite the twaddle Cycling Weekly posted this week). But it was warm and the pressure (we are all pressure experts since Sir Brad’s hour attempt!!) was low, it would be OK. I knew that generally I was around 10-15W up on my TT bike over last year, and amusingly I had done this event 3 times previous and averaged 364W every time. With the legs the way they were I was going to set off at around 25 mile power, which is just below that and see how it went…

I got down to the start and in my haste realised I’d not reset my Garmin so instead of having all the info I usually do, speed, NP, AP etc etc, I only had the lap field which had nothing on speed, just watts and time…! Panick set in, but soon I didn’t care, I actually caught my minute man after about 3 minutes, which gave me a mental boost (sorry Craig if you read this), the hill was slow as predicted as headwind, but I got up there and back down into position, I then passed a few more riders, and clocked Stu Spies who I thought would be my main competition, I passed him and noted the gap between when he went by that tree and when I did, he was my 2 minute man, and from that fag packet calculation at the half way point there was nothing in it…Stu was going well!

I got up to the long downhill where the wind would push me along, and I flew down there, over 40mph at nearly all times, it felt odd to be going down there so fast, I got to the penultimate turn and I thought a quick time would be on the cards so proceeded to push my achey legs as hard as they would go, and then drilled it up the final climb. I pressed lap at 22.49 but possibly started it 1 or 2 secs late, I knew it wasn’t enough to take the course record from Hutch (22.38) but I though I would be close, I’d managed to do 368W despite the legs, so I was pleased, looked like I would be between 25-30 secs faster than before that again proved to me I’d make big aero improvements to add to a small increase in power.

I got given an official 22.58 which I think is probably a few secs out, but it was enough to win from London Phoenix rider Gunther Zechmanng who was around 15 seconds back, really strong ride, and then Stu Spies in 3rd around a further 20 secs back.



Lastly just a couple of days back I did another Crystal Palace crit, Xav had said not to expect too much from my legs after a hard weekend, but I was still keen to have a go, not least because I knew Rob Moore wasn’t riding and thought I might be able to get a look in. Xav was proved right as I found it quite a bit harder than previous weeks and the numbers were down, but I felt OK. A few moves came and went and I put in a big effort at one point to get over to a move that was then brought back. Lots of attacks and as usual Dulwich and Dynamo had numbers, and Kendal Noctor was looking lively as were the usual culprits from VCL in Ethan Hayter and Fred Wright.

My plan for this race was to attack around 20 mins from the end and try and go alone, got to that point in the race and my legs said no haha. So with one lap to go I noted two riders in Paul Sewell and later Ben Knapp go for a last ditch attack, they got the gap and it looked promising. Knowing I was pretty pants at sprinting from slow speeds (hair pin corner just before the line) I thought my best bet would be to attack around 45 secs from the finish, so out out of the bottom corner I gave it a big effort “up up up” is all you hear when you do that as everyone tried to jump on. I got it a bit wrong as no sooner had I got up to 30mph or so I had to go wide to get round Ben who was still out front, but instead of going round I sat on his wheel for a short rest before the final corner, looking at the photo’s I think that kick had created enough of a split in the bunch and I think it was just me, the two VCL boys and Tom Hargreaves of Dynamo, we we dived into the last corner I thought my only chance to beat Ethan was to go first, so I drilled it out of the corner, all was well, I then needed another gear, as I changed down Ethan came by me at comical speed, some kick that boy has, and on the other side Fred just pipped me to 2nd! So I had to settle for 3rd, my best result but still a bit annoying, it was the closest I had come but was beaten on the day.



Another sub 49!

15 Jun

I’ve done a few events since my last update, I’m wary to talk about them all every time as it would make for pretty dull reading, and would mean I was writing a hell of a lot given the midweek racing over the summer!

So starting from the top, the weekend following my PB on the Bentley course I had a real early start for the Bec CC 10. Bit of a rush of blood to the head on my part entering this one as it was first man off at 6am, and 40 min drive away, but there was a massive lack of anything else on that weekend so I entered, thinking that at least I might be able to do another 19 if I rode well!

The course has loads of rbts, I think 12 in the 10 miles, I’d not ridden it before so was pretty nervous about missing a turn given my previous form for such mistakes. For a fairly small field of 70 riders or so it had some quick guys, most of the Yates family were there, Jesse and Connall both quick riders, then Pete Tadros, and also John Dewey, I feel like I write these names down every week, but in my area there is a core set of guys that race most events, so its good to see how you’re going vs them.

I got there nice and early, weather was really nice, I set off as last man which seems to be the way recently in most events I’ve entered, its quite nice to come back to clubhouse without having to wait for times to come in! I got started and knew that the course was pretty fast and the second half was really quick, so I took it pretty easy on the outleg, managed to get all the rbts nailed, then set about burying myself on the way back, I crossed the line in 19:50 which is not bad for the course, slightly down on Chris McNamara’s time of 19.42 a few weeks prior mind you. It was enough to win by about 30 seconds from John, who was 1 sec in front of Connall. Interestingly the org said that at the turn we were all within a few seconds of each other, but obviously ramping it up on the way back helped me a lot! Big neg split of 375w out and about 400w back! I got home and decided doing a 5 hour ride was a good idea, so went ahead and rode to my mums and back at 20 mph, felt like a solid day of training :)


Next up was another 10 miler on the old club ten course, not that interesting to be honest, it was a really small field of around 60 people and many of them women as part of the womans series. I did a good ride but couldn’t quite get under 20 and clocked a win in 20.15, some way down on my pb of 19.49 but best power I’ve done in a 10 ever at around 385W.


Then it was a welcome return to the most mental midweek racing in London, outside of the Tour Series of course, Crystal Palace crits! I’ve missed the first few and was favouring Hillingdon, but I hated the ride to Hillingdon so much that I have signed up for the next few CP events instead, plus they’re harder which means its not as controlled as Hillingdon has been at times.

As usual it was a field of around 40 guys, E12 only, a smattering of 1/E riders this week inc Rob Moore who had won the week previously with a trademark smashing of the field riding off the front solo, others like Rhys Howells of Trek who remarked on twitter prior that it was a bit of a bogey course for him due to being a bigger guy, I can understand that, sprinting out of corners every 20 secs hurts when you’re a bigger rider. And the other person to watch likely was Tom Hargreaves of Dynamo who has been winning most things he’s entered of late, including the support race at the Nocturne, so he was clearly going well, and I think is now also 1st cat, then others from Dulwich and Dynamo, VCL etc that are always up there and can make moves stick etc.

We got off to a quick start and straight away I could tell it felt easier than it did last year where I was really struggling at all times, not sure why really as I’m not a lot fitter this year, but I think the new bike is helping as the other one was a bit flexy and it was the main reason I changed it. A few moves looked good and I made sure to follow Rob and Rhys if they went, then in a moment of foolishness I saw a move go from a few wheels back, too far back really, it had Rob, Ethan and Tom in it. Arguably 3 of the strongest in the race, I was kicking myself. I let it establish a bit for a lap and then on the finish straight the next lap I went hard to try and get over, I chased for about 4 minutes and got within probably a handful of seconds, but it was too much, I couldn’t do it, I drifted back and almost straight out the back of the front group! Not quite though, got it back together and with about 30 mins racing remaining and it clear that the front 3 were not coming back (probably!) I made sure to recover, with maybe 15 mins left to race Rhys attacked hard, I went with but the group wasn’t about to let anyone away just yet. Then shortly after Stu Spies from Dynamo went, I followed and the bunch didn’t chase, we pretty quickly got a decent gap and were well ahead, we had 5 laps left which was about 10 mins or so racing, we were sharing the work well and going pretty hard, it was dog slow along the finish straight as a two up though!

I could see ahead with a lap to go that Rob and Ethan were now not far ahead and Tom had slipped away, Rob clocked us in the rear view and jumped into action, we were already on the limit and couldn’t close the gap down much more, with half a lap to go it was clear that we were not being brought back, I led into the last corner knowing I probably had a better sprint than Stu, I gave it a big dig and got clear to take 4th. My best result at palace, but still annoyed not to make that front move as I know I’ve got the legs for it. Turned out Rob didn’t want to drag Ethan to the finish so when Tom attacked he did nothing and they both basically rode a lap at walking pace meaning Tom got a huge gap and they nearly got caught by us.


Next up was another TT, my first 25 of the year in fact, it was on a course I’d done this time last year down on the A3 by Liss, its an early start as its obviously a fairly busy road!! However, that makes it a fairly quick course. Not known as one of the super fast ones, but with a course record of 49.05 from Kevin Tye it wasn’t ‘slow’. I’d won the same event the year prior with 51.10 and a fairly early start. A clubmate at the time who was last man off had said that the extra hour was worth a fair bit with more traffic on the course, and again, this time round I was last man off!

There was a fairly strong field but my main concern wasn’t actually about winning, it was about trying to get that course record, the temp was good, the wind was low, and my legs felt great. I’d also just got back from the newport velodrome on the Friday with Xav for one of his Aerocoach sessions and we thought we had found some free speed, I was hoping that the 10W extra I had been doing in tens would translate for a 25. I had a plan, about 355-360 on the way out and then 365-370 on the 2nd half. That would give me around a 360 average which is around 10w higher than what I did last year and would be in line with my 10 performance and hopefully mean I would go fast but not blow up!

I got warmed up and to my dismay it began to rain, I HATE riding in the rain, I actually generally don’t ride in the rain. But it was only light drizzle and I knew if I could safely get down the first bit of the course which is a downhill, then the main road would be fine as its warmer and there aren’t many technical corners to worry about. Anyway, it was time to go, I felt good, I got down to the first turn at around 6 miles with an average over 30 mph, I basically needed 30.6 mph or more to break the course record…I felt good, my avg speed never dropped below 30 mph the entire time, and at the last turn with 8 faster miles to do I was around 30.3 but pulling it up. I had paced it pretty well and into the last rbt which was now downhill and with about 2.5 miles remaining I nailed myself as hard as I could, I saw 30.6 and then 30.7 and the finish was in sight, still travelling nearly 40 mph I knew I had done it, the next question was by how much! I could see the clock ticking and as I reached the line and stopped the garmin I had 48.44 which translated into 48.43 back in the HQ.

I wandered into the hall and indeed it was the only sub 50 on the board, the next best time was that of Simon McNamara who actually had the same start time I had last year and did the exact time I did last year too! 51.10. I think that is the biggest winning margin I have had in a 25, I was really pleased.


Next up is a few more crits in the week, Redhill Road Race next weekend followed by a 7am start at the first of the Richmond Park TT’s….onwards and upwards hopefully. Then on holiday for a week, but I’ll be taking the bike for a bit of fun up the mountains in Montenegro ;-)

Elite 10

Another target ticked!

29 May

As ever, I have done a couple of events since the last update. Its been quite a good period of training and no illness of late, I’ve managed to get some solid weeks in and am feeling pretty good.

The Divisional champs were on a decent course for me this year in that the finish wasn’t up a hill, and there weren’t any hills, the weather was bang on and the field was actually pretty reasonable, i.e. not littered with big teams. However after just 1.5 laps of feeling really good, for some unknown reason my Di2 stopped working. Nothing I tried would bring it back to life. I did another 15 miles stuck in the 53-13, which was really quite unpleasant before I called it a day. It ended up being a PedalHeaven team time trial in the end with them taking most of the top 10, and Rob Moore taking a fine solo win, well deserved.

I’ve also got back into some midweek racing, rocked up at Hillingdon a couple of weeks back, again a couple from PH and a few other notable riders made it quite aggressive, I managed to get into the winning move with Rob and Jamie Pine, managed to get 2nd there after feeling really good. I then had something that was a target of mine this year, so it was going to be a bit more of a priority for me…

If you look back then you’ll see a lot of my goals were around certain times on certain courses, naturally I want to do as well in the road racing as I can but its hard to set targets there as its so changeable, I think the best is still to come as I’m feeling like its all coming together fitness wise, just I’ve not done many races this year due to cancellations and weddings and such.

The goal in question was for the 10 mile time trial course at Bentley, H10/8 to those in the know. Its a pretty quick course as they go, I’d have to go pretty badly not to go under 21 mins on here, and indeed the idea for this year was for me to break 19.30 on there, my previous best last summer was 20.02, but with me managing 20.13 in the cold of December I was pretty confident I was going to get that 19 this year to join a fairly small group of riders who’ve also done it.

Sub 19.30 on the other hand was something that very few people have done, 3 I think and they’re all pros, and one of those is Alex Dowsett. (Hutch and Russ Hampton being the others). So its fair to say it was a fairly punchy target, and to beat my best on there by 30 secs minimum is not a cake walk. Anyway, the day in question was Saturday gone, I came into the weekend after that crit 2nd place, and riding fairly steady the rest of the week, I knew my legs were going to be good, not sure how, just knew.

I was warming up on the turbo and some days you just know, I had a day like that at the Kingston event, when you’re turning over on the turbo at 280-300w and it’s barely even registering, its a good sign, I did my usual warmup and made my way over to the start. Today was a good wind, gentle tailwind out and slight head on the way back but it being downhill towards the end it wouldn’t be too bad. There were of course other riders too, John Dewey who has run me close in every event I’ve done with him this year, Liam Maybank who also has been consistently there also then others such as Nick English who did almost same time as me at the nationals, and then a fairly unknown quantity in James Boyman, I say unknown as he was returning to the sport after time out, but I’d seen he was winning most events he was entering, including the Tour of the Milburys 2 stage race, which I also won a couple of years ago.

Anyway, I got up to the line and set off steadily, the plan was to stick to a sensible number on the way out, 370 ish, and then begin to open it up on the way back where I’d not have a helpful tailwind. I got to the turn at just over 370w and an average of around 31.6 mph, it was looking good. I got round the turn ok and overtook another rider, I think I overtook around 4 riders! I began to empty myself and I noticed annoyingly that I wasn’t able to use the 11t, there were times I wanted it. I approached the finish and did the usual calculation, I had exactly 1 mile left to go, was riding around 30 mph and was only just over 17 mins or so, I thought for a minute an 18 was on the cards…

However, I crossed the line in 19.13 having dragged the average watts up to around 385 which is as good as I’ve managed in a ten, which bodes well given I’ve not ridden the TT bike in two months! Hopefully I can really do a ride at the big events this year. I knew that time would be pretty difficult to beat, and indeed only 2 others have done faster on there, Alex Dowsett and Hutch, and I wasn’t far from Hutch’s time really, I was really happy to be honest. I got back to the HQ and there was many of those awkward conversations where you talk about everything BUT the only bit of info you care about, the time, however the organiser eventually put the last two times in, mine and Boyman, I thought he had delayed it as we had done the same time for a minute, but no, he had managed a very impressive 19.38 for second place, Dewey, and Herbert also managed to scrape under 20 mins.

Felt pretty happy with the ride, but then that part of me that always wants better came out and I decided I would now need to do an 18 on there! Going to still make it to some midweek crits, got a few TT events, a holiday, and various other bits coming up, so hopefully I’ll get some results worth talking about for the next entry.

If you have a copy of cycling weekly from the last week or two you’ll now see I’m 3rd fastest over 10 miles so far this year, just behind some random called Bradley (though my time was miles from his of course!).



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 35 other followers