National 10 Champs

2 Sep

After Hillingdon and the 19 on the club course the other week, I was feeling pretty confident about one of my big goals for the season, which was the CTT National 10 mile Champs.

I’ve ridden a fair few TT’s this year, and a slight tweak in position has meant I’ve gone pretty well, winning a fair few and breaking course bests most of the time I’ve been riding. The nationals this year was perhaps different to many others, mainly because it was being held on a slight variant of the V718 course, which is widely known as the fastest 10 course in the country. Many many people have gone there and found they went a lot quicker than their previous best. I’d not ridden it before, mainly as it was so far away (4-5 hour drive). But given this was the nationals, and it could be a chance to pb I thought it was worth a trip up there.

To make the trip a bit more of an occasion that just 8 hours in a car we went up to York on the Friday, staying till Monday, a nice town to visit, plenty to see and do. That said, I wouldn’t recommend walking up the tower in the Minster before a race! The day of the TT rolled round and I was keen to get there early to get a lay of the land, I got there some 3 hours before my start having driven the course to make sure I knew it.

My goal was to be top 15, with a stretch goal of top 10, I knew this would be a big ask, given it was on this course it attracted the highest quality field that any event has seen I think. The event closed on a mid 20, which means that the slowest riders PB that was riding was a mid 20, i.e. over 28mph avg ten mile time trial. And there were 150 riders, so that gives you an idea of the general standard. To further give perspective, in my own club which has a considerable amount of riders (500 or so ) only the top 10 or so ten mile times of ALL TIME dating right back to 1995 for one of the oldest times (i.e. decades of time trials), one of being me, would have got a ride in this event. So it was sort of a ‘who’s who’ of the UK TT scene. And the only notable exception was probably Dowsett or Wiggins.

At the sharp end it would likely be between 10 times champion, Michael Hutchinson, young pro, national road and TT champ of Ireland Ryan Mullen – An Post team, and of course the flying postman that is Matt Bottrill!

Other contenders for the podium would be former KOM winner in the Tour of Britain Russ Hampton (who battered me a month or two back), former National HC champion Matt Clinton who is somewhat the all-rounder smashing course records left right and center while still being pretty handy on a climb, Andy Jackson who riding a futuristic looking Falco bike has been flying this year doing numerous 18 minute times and generally going very quickly at any distance he attempts. Beyond that there was the usual raft of talent, many of which had done the sub 19 and sub 50 for a 25 thing many times over. So to get top 15 or ten was going to be a tough one, but I always thought it was possible.

I was off nearish the end of the field and by the time I was heading out the standout time was Cambridge Uni and Kingston local Ed Bradbury with 18.15. Lopping a minute or more off his PB, remarkable stuff, he should go on to be a VERY handy road rider with his light frame and big engine, watch this space. I got to the start and wait to be set off. There could be no denying that I had ‘tapered’ for this event, and I felt pretty fresh (despite the ache in my right calf from the stairs to the tower, but it felt fine on the bike), the idea was to pace the ride well, up the tempo near certain parts of the course and then totally destroy myself on the last mile after the final turn.

As I headed down the sliproad I felt good, I had in the back of my mind not to go too hard, but 380-390w felt so easy so early, so I pushed on with caution, it was a quick day, I was at 32-34mph at all times on the way out. I came to the turn with an average speed of just shy of 33mph, up the slip road, round the double roundabout without losing too much speed, I felt good. There was now a shortish stretch of slight drag before the final dogleg onto the last mile, I was really pushing on now, and was holding around 390-400w up the slight drag, I got to within sight of the dogleg and the average was still looking good, I was fairly sure I was at least going to do an 18 minute time which was a goal too.

I got to eh dogleg and noticed to my horror a caravan and a car behind it were coming round at snails pace, I slowed down, and was just behind the car, who thankfully moved over to let me up the inside, the caravan however crawled for a bit before deciding it was turning right. I was pretty pissed off, but nothing you can do, it probably didn’t cost me much time. And actually it spurred me on to really drill the last section. And I did. I was in fact joint fastest over the last 1 mile with Ed Bradbury (of who is on Strava, which includes most of the riders). I stopped the clock in 18.46, which I was pleased with but knew would be a fairly middling time given Ed had done 18.15!

I got back to the HQ and the long wait continued, the times started to come in, as the tail-end of the field came in I was nudged out of the top 10, and slowly but surely started slipping towards the top 15, then Steve Irwin came in and had beaten me by one second haha! He took 15th in the end, and I was 16th. To be honest I was initially a bit annoyed, I’d been beating Steve by some margin all year, but I think likely on less flat and fast courses than this, so perhaps his superior aerodynamics really showed themselves today in what was a great ride on the back of his 18.19 last week!

I’d only have needed to find around 16 seconds to move from 16th to 8th, due to the closeness of the field, 16 seconds on a course like that is probably not all that much pending the traffic you get come by you, without the momentary caravan hold up, and a few more vehicles I think I’d have been in spitting distance, which really is all I can ask for at this point. Beyond 8th the class begand to shine and the times were a fair bit quicker, 17.40 took the win for Bottrill, with Mullen just 2 seconds back for Silver, and Vet Hutchinson came in with 17.53 to take the Bronze. Russ Hampton beat me by almost the exact same margin as he did at Bentley to take 4th with a stonking 17.58. Most people class doing a 19 as the golden stamp of ten mile time trialing, but in this event doing a 19 would have got you 86th place. No doubt this course was quick, but it wasn’t as quick as the regular version, I think the times speak for themselves, the scene has come on and the talent is exceptional.

Goals for next year I am unsure of, but I think I can improve on this, the road stuff will still be a focus next year, I think with a few tweaks, a bit more power, I can cement myself into that top 10 level. Maybe I should be happy with my ride, but part of what keeps me motivated is always seeking improvement.

http://www.strava.com/activities/187943725

Hillingdon

2 Sep

I won’t go on for too long about this, it was just a 1 hour crit afterall. However it was slightly noteable as I felt like I rode better than usual, and maybe a sign of racing a bit smarter than I previously have.

I actually didn’t expect there to be much of a field as there was another few larger races the following day. But on arrival I noticed a couple of lads from Pedalheaven, Rob Moore and rapid finisher Lewis Atkins who has got the better of me in two other occasions in the last year in a sprint. Also Wouter Sybrandy who is fast on the road to recovery after his crash in the TOB some time back, Lawrence Carpenter of Catford, Chris Morrison from Cadence, a couple of the CSE racing lot, and a load of other clubs with ones and twos. I think the total field was around 35 riders, perhaps a bit more. But clearly not short of strong riders, so I was skeptical of my chances a bit.

We got off to a quick start and it was obvious that this was not going to stay together, a few attacks came and went, I followed all the ones I thought looked good. Then about 20 mins in a few of us went away, it was initially3 or so riders, but soon Lewis and Rob came over, and we were 7 I think. We worked fairly well (with a few people dropping turns/pace here and there) and kept it going for the next 40 or so minutes, eventually we had a minute gap on the bunch so it was going to be between us. A few attacks started to happen at this point, literally everyone had a go at some point I think, I chased over to Wouter on one occasion and thought we might get away with Lewis in tow, but no. I then attacked with 4 to go, Lewis again came with but to no avail, Lawrence then had a dig but was brought back with 3 to go. Eventually it came to the last lap, Rob Moore led it out, I was 4th wheel behind Wouter with Lewis in Rob’s wheel, onto the final straight I waited for Lewis to launch and when he did I was hot in pursuit, I passed Wouter, but was never gaining or losing ground on Lewis and he took the win and me 2nd. I think next time I am in that situation I will jump first, that is likely my only shot at beating him in a sprint. I think I only need 4 points more to retain first category, which is something I would like to do, got a few races left so shouldn’t be an issue really, that said I have kept an eye on the October races just incase it doesn’t pan out, I’ve had to miss a few races to concentrate on TT’s in Aug/Sept so we’ll see!

http://app.strava.com/activities/184341720

SERRL – Chillham

20 Aug

With a couple of road races under my belt I was starting to think that I might be able to get competitive again in the longer stuff after a spate of crits and time trials over the last few months. This circuit is one that I have mixed feelings about to be honest. While the main circuit is fairly rolling and suits my sort of rider, the finish is far from ideal, a 2.5km climb with a few sharp ramps over 10%! Previously I’d done a couple of variations, one of which involved going up the finish climb 3 times in 45 mins! That hurt, a lot. Today thankfully was just the once.

August is a funny time of year really, its late enough in the season that many have lost interest, its peak holiday time, and generally it usually means fields are smaller. All of those factors meant that we had 50 riders in this race vs the usual 70-80. I wasn’t complaining, there were still plenty of decent guys so it was not going to be easy by any stretch. I thought the winner would likely come from Richardsons Trek as they had 4 or 5 guys riding, and I know from the Lee Valley races that they’re pretty strong guys.

Anyway, we got off to a start, and the first 20-30 mins was almost comical, it was so easy, I think people were wary and reluctant to show their hand. The course was a tail of two halves (sorry), half of it was super fast downhill/flat where you were always over 30mph, the other half was not only uphill, but it was into a disgusting headwind. Getting away today was going to require some hard riding, for sure.

After a lap or so I recall a coming together, which sadly put Rhys Howells out of action, he is one of the strongest blokes about so I guess he will have been a bit annoyed about that. While normally in these races a fairly large move goes clear, in this race it was actually a couple of ones and twos that attacked and got away, a Trek guy, Harold Evans from Cadence, and a couple of others in ones and twos. It was clear that the bunch had little interest in chasing this back, and a couple of attacks were the only thing that spurred the group into going a bit quicker. At about the half way point I thought I would chance my arm, the lead bunch probably had a minute or so at this point, and they were barely in sight at any point on the course despite a few long straights. Anyway, I thought it was worth a go, worst case was that I got brought back, but I was hoping to get away and have a few come over to me to help try and join the front group. I attacked on one of the faster sections as it happens. I got a decent gap then set about drilling it to extend the lead. Some 15 mins later I was well clear and was just about out of sight of the bunch at most points…then I hit the headwind section. Wow. It was horrid, properly slow, even pushing out 400w barely saw me break 20 mph and I wasn’t really even climbing! After another 5 mins of grinding away the bunch had picked up their pace and were coming back to me, I knew it wasn’t to be this time. I eased off so I didn’t go straight out of the back!

At this point the bunch had thinned a fair bit and there were probably 30 guys left. A few attacks went and I followed the wheels, nothing stuck initially. Then back on the fast section a chap from Trek and James from Dynamo went, it looked good I was still getting my legs back at this point, another couple then went from Meudon, Rich from Southdowns (who I went to Ireland with) and Brixton and I thought I may as well try my luck again, then carried on through a straggler and carried on alone again, it was not long before a chap from 34 Nomads came over to me, we got a decent gap and started working well togther to start to reel in the VCM and Brixton and Southdowns guys. After probably 10 mins we got him back and were now 5, we now looked good, gap was decent and everyone was pulling through. Probably another 15 mins passed and Colin Parry of Solidor joined us and was also straight into the through and off routine, at this point we saw that James Local had punctured, so up the road were 5 in the front group and the lone Trek rider James was with. Probably 25 mins had passed since we got away and then I notice a shot of yellow, Will Pratt from Cadence had ridden over solo on the headwind section and was quite vocal in getting things moving. I didn’t disagree with him, we needed to ensure the gap was good enough to stick. We had 1.5 laps left and I didn’t want to be back in the bunch. It must be said that Will was very strong. So much so that with a little effort on one of the drags we lost I think 3 guys which whittled out group down to 5 as we had caught the lone trek rider.

It was now a case for me of getting to the finish as part of this group, Will tried a few more digs and I ensured I stayed with it. When we were within 5 miles of the end my legs were pretty wrecked, I’d done the last 2hrs 15 over 300w with a hard 20 min effort on my own, it was hurting. We got to the foot of the climb, and even trying to keep Wills pace was cramping me, so I tapped up at my own pace to take 10th? Or 11th maybe? Unsurprisingly Will had ridden away from our group to take 5th or 6th. And I understand one of the trek boys won from the front group.

It was a good race in that I think I probably spent the least time in a bunch during a road race that I ever have, and I felt pretty good. And of course we stayed away which is always good. Bad in that I had utterly nothing to give when I got to the end. But I think there are finishes that I will be competitive on, and there are others where its not all that likely. This is bordering on the latter. Had this ended on the Gimber finish I’d have likely had the legs to be well into the top ten from our group, but that’s life.

A few more road races remain, its looking like I’ll probably at least retain my 1st cat this year despite racing very few RR and being off for that period (and having one race cancelled, flatting in another, etc etc, not been my year in that sense) with the injury. I am confident that I can go on and get a proper result in a Nat b, but it will be likely next year now, rather than this.

http://www.strava.com/activities/181466993

In pursuit of 19

20 Aug

As anyone who has any interest in time trialing will know, the holy grail (or one of) of the ten mile time trial is that first time you break the 20 minute barrier. Its mainly a milestone because in order to go under 20 minutes you will have to average over 30 mph. And of course 19 sounds better than 20!

Anyone who has followed this blog will know that I actually broke the 20 minute barrier in my first or second ten mile time trial last year with a time of 19.13 on the Tring course F11/10. But certainly since I bought my time trial bike two years ago I have always had another 19 in the back of my mind – the club ten course, G10/42. Anyone who has ridden this course will know its certainly not a gift course, it doesn’t have a huge hill that you only go down and not back up, its not packed with lorries from the nearest port to suck you along. And its not on some pan flat airfield style drag strip. In fact, its actually quite a rolling out and back with not a vast amount of flat ground at all. Probably two years ago now was my first time on the course using my road bike with just a skin suit and some zipp wheels to help cut through the air. I managed a 22.17 that night, which wasn’t bad going, but was some way from being a fast time vs my club mates past and present best times. At that point I think the best time from a Kingston rider had been Steve Irwin with a long 20, this seemed a long long way from the level I was at!

Anyway, after buying the time trial bike I thought I would set myself the goal of doing a 19 on said course, the only person else I can see that has done that is Hutch, back in 2002! I rode this course probably 10-15 times on my TT bike in total with varying conditions and times. The best was last year with 20.18 and the worst was well over 21 mins in a gale! However last week it seemed like everything came together, good conditions, decent legs, and a bit of luck. I managed to make it to a club ten for the first time this year, arrived with a few mins to spare, had no warm up of note and then went and clocked 19.49. I think I could have gone quicker if I had not come out of position to see if I had a puncture. The point of this post really though is to show that with the right equipment, training, persistence, you can actually go a lot faster than what you may think. I never thought I would take nearly 2.5 mins off my time from 2012, but various changes to positions and what not (and a decent night) all added up finally.

My next post on time trialing hopefully will be titled ‘in pursuit of 18′ because that is what I am hoping I might be able to do this weekend coming, or possibly at the National ten champs in two weeks time…

http://www.strava.com/activities/179798549

Python RR

4 Aug

This Sunday was my annual trip to Drift Road circuit which is near Bray. Nice part of the world, early start at 9.30. Got there nice and early and predictably the entire car park was already full even though I was an hour before the start time!

A decent field today, 88 riders on the sheet, couple of big powerhouses, the ‘tank’ from NFTO and Sybrandy of Sigma, this sort of course probably perfect for that type of rider. Being a similar kind of rider, but much less talented, I always liked racing the circuit. Though this version of the course is a little less pleasant than the John Walker which has its finish line on the course. This version means you take a left onto a straight road with 400m to go. Its pretty hectic.

Anyway, the weather was decent, I managed to get pole position in the car park behind lead car, clearly a minor victory in itself. Soon we were out of the village and onto the course, what awaited was 88 miles of racing. Towards the beginning legs felt great, and I tried to stay near the front and follow the wheels, this worked fine and while nothing of note stuck, I was near the front and not in any trouble. However, at about half way distance, I was stuck to the left of a rider who wasn’t interested in moving when everyone jumped, and I think this put me out of position somewhat. Next thing I knew, I looked up the road and there were about 5 guys away…!

They seemed to hover not too far ahead for sometime, I thought that this was likely a race winning move, I waited a couple of mins and on the long straight Drift Road, where sadly there was a headwind today Jake Martin jumped to go with a move of a few guys, I went with him, then went round, and went to the front of the small group away, I might have been a bit keen as I looked round and suddenly I was on my own about 30m clear of the bunch and probably 50 or so behind the group. If there was ever a place that it was tough to get away on, its this road, dead straight for about a mile, and a crap wind. I grinded away and it looked like I was making a bit of progress, but it didn’t take long to get reeled back in. This was the chance to get over, had I had a few takers it might have worked.

A lap or so later Henry Latimer of Catford jumped, and got a gap, a chap went with him, I didn’t know whether they would make it over or not, but I had probably not go the legs to go with. I think this was the 2nd or third ride over 3 hours I’d done since March, and certainly the first race. So it made sense my legs were feeling it at the 75 mile mark. A few other people tried to get away, Lawrence of Catford gave it a good go, and I did try to get over but the bunch came with (sorry Lawrence). Into the last lap and the hectic run in was playing out. for the last couple of miles we averaged well over 30 mph, and into the left turn I was probably a bit too far back, despite trying, the teams bustling for lead outs etc was quite hard to find a way through. I sprinted out of the corner and then saw how far the finish was haha! I rolled in having burned myself out. 28th apparently!

James ‘Tank’ Lewis from NFTO won, he got away 2 up with Roy Chamberlain of Corley – respect to Roy, he is always up there, and shows no sign of slowing. I heard one of the other lads say to him “you’re the best vet I know” he deflected it by saying he’d get eaten alive on the continent, but still some rider.

Got about 10 races left including some midweek stuff, if I want to retain 1st category then I need to get myself into the points at some point. Not been a great year on the road, bad luck, injury, and just tough races have meant that mostly I’ve got points in crits. I’m confident I’ll manage it though.

Next up there is a couple of mid week crits, then a SERRL race in the depths of Kent, and then the national 10, where I’d like to get into the top 10/15 if possible – but will be tough with the current crop of testers out there going so well!

http://app.strava.com/activities/174849388

TT’s, Crits & punctures!

8 Jul

Rather than do individual entries for every single little event I think its likely better to roll a few into one!

Redhill RR

Since I did my last update I’ve done a few events, Redhill Road race was the first of those. Sadly the day ended early for me with a puncture, but the race was perhaps notable for the wrong reasons. Drawing pins dumped on the road by a drive near the end of the race! This didn’t effect me, as I got a flat much earlier in the race. A bit of a shame as I felt pretty good, and the chance of a result would have been on the cards given the parcours. After tweeting a photo of a riders tyre full of pins attention from the ‘media’ was drawn. I ended up doing a short bit on BBC Radio Surrey talking about potential risk and public attitude towards racing.

Crit

The day following Redhill I trekked down the M3 to Winchester Park and Ride car park, VC Venta have been running events in this large carpark, its a cool place. Plenty of parking, easy access, and 40 second laps mean its very spectator friendly! There were about 30 of us in the E12 race, its basically a big oval, with one very fast corner and one slightly harder to negotiate. It quite quickly split up, and shortly later 3 riders were away, not long after, Rob McCarthy from Pedal Heaven and a VC Raphael rider got away too, I was keen to get into this move, and when I put an effort in the bunch let me go, so I spent the next 7 or so laps soloing over to this break, it was pretty painful! I’d been getting a sore back a lot in races, notably Palace, and it was repeating itself here, I’ll explain what was happening a bit later on that front…

Anyway, I got over and we started working well together and quickly pulled out a big gap, we were shortly joined by 2 others, we kept working together and eventually we lapped the field, but not long after the 3 off the front lapped us! They were flying. Anyway, I was quite confident I could perhaps bag a result from this group, and as we came into the last lap that was to all go out the window. Before the last tricky corner we were all playing cat and house before the VCR rider jumped pre corner and took it at great speed, suddenly I was in a shit position, last into the corner, I was never able to get the momentum back to get anywhere in the sprint. I came last out of the break haha. Not ideal. 8th.

Palace

The next thing was back to Palace on the Tuesday, a decent field in place, and this week we were promised the full distance as there was no threat of rain. We got going and initially I felt pretty much fine, and then the back started to really ache, and I do mean really ache. I wasn’t helping my cause by poor cornering, we were going the opposite way round this week, and it was clear I was not as good cornering to the right as I am the left. Each corner I was letting the wheel go slightly, which meant that I was having to sprint hard each lap to latch back on.

With about 40 mins gone and various attempts by Mike Debney and James Walsby among others to get clear, it was still together, by now I was debating pulling out as it was very painful. But I thought I’d ridden this hard, so I might as well finish the job. With about 15 mins left to go, James and Mike got clear, they were the strongest in the race IMO, and they got a good gap, sadly James rolled a tub on the penultimate lap, and Mike had to put a foot down, and as such their winning move was brought back. Into the last lap I felt ok, but I didn’t have the ability to get into the top 5 into the last corner, I was probably 10th into the last corner, I kicked hard out of it and managed to pass a couple of guys but the lead 4 were a good 10 bikes ahead, I got 7th. Shortly after I looked at the bike and tried to figure out what was happening with my back, I put the saddle up around 1cm, as I had a suspicion it was too low, and it was taking a lot of the pressure when I was pushing on. I got home and measured up against my retul fit, and as if by magic my adjustment had brought it bang in line with what it should have been, so I am hoping that I will have no further issues of that nature. I am back at palace tonight rain permitting, so I will know soon!

Belper 25

The rest of that week was meant to be a gradual taper off to get some freshness for my attempt at the 25 mile club record, and to get a place on the ‘all time fastest list’ which requires a sub 50 minute time. The course was a bit of a hike, up near Derby, but I was of the opinion that if I could go up there, do the business and get on the list, then I wouldn’t have to do a long drive to a course for a while.

I got there very early, and warmed up as per usual, the field was very good, inc Matt Bottrill, I had no illusions that I was going to win here, but I was confident I would do a good time all being well… I’d switched to super light tyres,bought new overshoes, and had made sure I had every chance to do it.

I got in a good warm up and trundled down to the start, it was time! I was fairly confident I knew the course, it wasn’t totally straight forward, but I thought it would be fine. I started well, and was holding the sort of power I was expecting, and going pretty quickly off it! I went through the first rbt onto the main road, and it was quick, there was much time above 30mph, over the first rbt, and I was feeling good. I then saw I was approaching the half way point and the next rbt was in sight, I went round it as normal setting off for the return leg… I then did a quick double take and looked back, I couldn’t see a McDonalds, or Little Chef, and I couldn’t se any other riders, AND the Garmin said I was under half way, and given the end was a bit closer than the finish the crushing reality of the situation was apparent (it was crushing after 3 hours in the car!). I’d turned one rbt too early, the actual turn was a further half a mile up the road. I was furious, there was nothing I could do, I debated crossing the main road and jumping over the central reservation, but it would have been too dangerous. As it was, I sat up, and cursed at my own stupidity as I headed back to the car. As if to make matters worse, the very odd and not intuitive signage used to indicate (I also missed the marshall who was at the junction) the junction for Etwall meant I missed the junction on the way back too! I ended up going about 5 miles too far before realising. I got back to the car eventually with 30 miles on the clock .Despite not trying for 20 miles my avg speed was still around 27 mph. It was a fast course.

I left in a massive mood, spoke to nobody. I got back and looked at the splits, it was probably not the best thing to do straight away, but I thought I may as well see how I was looking. Steve Irwin did 49.46, a bit short of his best of 49.20 (which is the club record), and by the time I went wrong I was 23 seconds up on him, having had Xav (coach) look through the numbers, it looks like if I had kept at the power I was doing, which would have been fine as I was going to push harder on the way back then I’d have done a short 49 possible 48. Very irritating to go that far, be on pace, and then mess it all up! Oh well. There is another event there soon, I will be back. Bottrill won with 46.56.

Richmond Park TT

Last update of this one then, it was the second Richmond Park TT of the year, this year there were two events, and as you might have read in the last update I managed to win the first one by around 20 seconds.

The field was different for this one, it was the day after the 25 mile TT I mucked up, but my legs felt ok, Steve from my club was riding, also a few others I recognised. I thought it would be perhaps a slightly easier field than the first event. But you can never tell. And when I got up to head up there it just started to rain. Tight turns, slick tyres, and racing often end badly! Upon getting to Kingston gate, I was just in time to see a rider fall off at the rbt turn due to slippery conditions, not ideal! I gave a few friendly shouts to people I knew riding the road category and I was ready to go.

Annoyingly Steve was starting 30 secs behind me, which I never like, I always prefer to see people ahead. Anyway, I got off to a good start and rode much in the same fashion as I did first time round, the wind was not as good up the hill as it was before, but it still felt quick. I took it VERY slowly round the turns. I got to the half way point and I couldn’t see Steve as I came back up the other side, I estimated at this point he was maybe 30-40 secs behind me, so I was feeling confident! I soon caught Gabriel from Dynamo who was going quickly down the hill, however at each rbt he was catching me again as I was taking them so slowly.

Anyway, I gave it a good effort up the finish hill and did almost the exact same time I did last time (23.19). It was enough to win over Gabriel by just under 40 seconds in the end.

Season probably half way at least now, need to get my act together unless I want to be sent back to 2nd cat!

All rides on Strava!

Crystal Palace

25 Jun

In the spirit of getting back into midweek racing, I thought I’d give Palace another go. I’d done it twice last year, managed to get round just about the first time and would have been top ten but our last lap was called early (long story), and then the second time my bike was mucking about. Either way, there is no doubt that both times showed me that this is a hard circuit.

 
A lap of the circuit is about 2 mins, maybe a bit less when going fast, it has one sharp left turn, nearly a u-turn, one off camber right turn, one very hard to get right sweeping left turn which is blind, and covered by bushes around the apex which leads straight into ‘the climb’ which is about 25 seconds slightly uphill, but your legs know about it when you get there. There are normally a good 100 people on the track but split between e12 / 3/4 and womens. The e12 set off first, and it doesn’t take long usually before the race splinters as you’re sprinting as hard as you can 3 times a lap!
 
There were a few faces I knew riding in our race, Jake from Pedalheaven who is very successful at palace, a few of the guys form the newly formed Cadence Team who’s shop is the HQ for signing on etc. Then the usual smattering of Dynamo/Dulwich/Bigfoot/VCL etc. We got started and it was hard, but it wasn’t quite as mental as it was the last time I did it. It didn’t take long for the bunch to line out and thin a bit. I was finding it fairly easy to keep the pace, which was good, though it did take a while for me to dial in to the corners and putting trust in my tyres…
 
As the race progressed, numerous people tried to get away, but nothing was sticking, my legs were feeling ok, but I never thought they felt good enough to attack really, I was having to work a bit harder to keep pace in the corners so attacking was not on my agenda last night, maybe in future weeks, though.
 
With the clouds looking ominous it looked like the race might be cut short, and spits of rain began to fall, the nature of the course means that if its wet prior to the race then they call it off, but if it rains while racing is happening they just chop the laps. And that is what happened, we went from 15 to go, to 10 to go, to 5 to go, and suddenly all was to play for…
 
Round the sweeping bend by the finish and  I heard a lot of clashing and commotion, Jake had come off quite hard, still to this point we don’t know why, but his frame had snapped, perhaps this was the cause of the crash? Either way, not good and hopefully he can recover for the nationals tomorrow…
 
The bell rang, and my positioning at this point was not ideal, I tried to claw my way forward, and by the last time up the hill I was making progress up the outside, until a mystery wheel stopped riding and caused me to slow a touch, at this point 4 or so riders who had positioned themselves well got a small gap, I sprinted up the outside and managed to just pip Stu Spies for 5th but the gap to the front 4 was a it too big to close down, I was a bit annoyed at myself as I could have won that sprint had I thought about it a bit more, but it was a good first race back. I enjoyed it and will be back!
 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 27 other followers