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.

https://www.strava.com/activities/329407335

Redhill

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.

https://www.strava.com/activities/329721953

RP TT

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.

https://www.strava.com/activities/331539319

Palace

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 :)

https://www.strava.com/activities/314585374

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.

https://www.strava.com/activities/319608412

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.

https://www.strava.com/activities/322004259

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.

https://www.strava.com/activities/325083727

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!).

https://app.strava.com/activities/310110712/overview

Thames Velo RR

27 Apr

The next race was one I’ve done a few times, and the circuit is used for multiple races. Its a fairly forgiving one in Milton (Oxford) with one hill and a lot of fast but exposed roads. Similar story to yesterday in that there were again a fair few good riders, a few from Madison, NFTO, One pro again, Wheelbase, Sportgrub. I almost knew what was going to happen before it did, but just didn’t think I’d be able to deal with 75 miles going full on.

Anyway, 5 minutes in a couple of guys got off the front, then Tank from NFTO flew up the outside in pursuit, Ryan Visser went too, they were allowed to get out of sight and that was essentially the race winning move, mile 3 of a 75 mile race. Not much more to say on it really, there was a few Madison and One pro dude left in the bunch I tried to get away many times, I bridged over to two moves that looked really promising, both brought back. I then went again with the One guy and Justin from NFTO, looked promising, got a gap etc etc, but then brought back by Madison. Predictably just after that effort another group went over the top and it stuck, presumably because it didn’t have him in it, he was marked to hell, and I think I was perhaps a bit foolish in only thinking moves with him or the madison guys in it would stick, it wasn’t the case.

On the last lap I don’t even think we were fighting for points, but I saw a couple off the front and thought what the hell, I might as well have one more go, I bridged over to them again, they essentially sat up and we got caught, at that point I was pretty sick of the whole day, stuck it in the little ring and rolled over dead last, knowing I tried at least. The weekends racing was good for my legs though I think, I felt better today than at Hillingdon and with 5 hours at 330W NP in my legs I am hoping that I can get some results soon. These races certainly are getting harder, this race was on the same day as numerous other big ones and it still brought out a pretty strong field in the end. Oh well, there will be other chances :)

https://www.strava.com/activities/293068196

Archer GP

27 Apr

This weekend was a double header, I’ve been feeling better after the illness which is good, and got a bit of riding in over the week. The first of the two races I’d entered was a rare 1/2/3 event at Hillingdon. 50 miles of it no less!

I rocked up and didn’t expect to see the jerseys I did to be honest, Pedalheaven, One Pro, Sportgrub Kuota, all teams that will be battling it out in the Tour series this year, and indeed the premier uk elite races. Granted this was open to them as 1st cat riders (though certainly they won’t be for long!), however it would make the race interesting perhaps!

We got started the pace was alright, it was not a big field with only about 45-50 riders, but after about ten mins those somehow got going together, I think perhaps my position wasn’t great at this point as it was so soon in the race, I also questioned momentarily how they might look to stay out front for another 2 hours given the wind on the day. They hovered at around 20 seconds for a fairly long time, I tried to bridge over but couldn’t get away without a load following, a theme that would continue that whole race. It was clear at about the half way point that it was done, nobody was interested in getting something together to bring it back, my legs felt a bit pants too oddly, the only thing that helped was a prime that meant the bunch sped up, we got them back in sight, in hindsight after the prime I should have attacked again and tried for the bridge, but I genuinely thought that when back in sight we’d catch them. We didn’t. It was clear then it was going to be them and us, so in the last 10 laps a lot of attacks went and knowing I might be one of the better sprinters I closed the ones down that looked promising, I’m sure they hated me for it, but there we are.

On the last lap the usual melee of Hillingdon sprints came to the fore. I managed to get round the corner without issue, George Gori of Nuun jumped first, I jumped after him but got boxed in by a Handsling rider who moved ever so slightly (not his fault really) so that left George and his lead-out man just out of reach, I was 3rd in the sprint and 7th overall. Annoying. These mega early breaks seem to be common place now.

https://www.strava.com/activities/292365384

Les Ingman

21 Apr

The last two weeks have been a bit of a blip in the plan really. Albeit enjoyable at times…! I had a stag do in Chamonix a couple of weeks back, much drink was consumed and not a lot of cycling got done, had a fair few days off actually. I got back into it and then went down to Kent with the intention of racing the latest SERRL race, but not only was it cancelled but I got what I think was a tonsil infection, throat really swollen and just generally unpleasant. However I still thought I with a bit of riding with the sore throat I might be able to get round at the Les Ingman this last Sunday.

I’ve raced this race before and actually was 15th or something, so I wasn’t too scared by it knowing I’m stronger now, but probably heavier (! which needs to be sorted!), however the difference being this year that the race was chokka with race teams, and headlined by Yanto Barker, Chris Opie and a few other One Pro cycling racers. If you follow amateur racing then you’ll know that these boys are among the best on the UK pro scene. Chris Opie is someone I follow on Strava, and of course seen on the telly in the bigger UK races, as with Yanto, so without wanting to be a brown nose, I knew these boys would likely mean business and want this race won.

This years variant was different to the last one I did in that this year we were to race the full circuit which is basically either downhill, or uphill with not a lot of flat, the downhill is very fast, 50mph fast, and the uphill is hard work. There are 3 kicks, the first is pretty steep and leads into a false flat up to the finish line, the second is another awfully surfaced road (in fact half the circuit is totally awful surface, the council should look to fix it ASAP) and the third is a longer 4 minute double hill up to another false flat before flying back down the hill again. Last time I did it, the steep hill was not in the circuit, I vastly preferred it!

I had finally managed to sort the bike out with the new Enve wheels which thankfully do not rub on the frame, though I did notice after the race that the preload needed adjusting but that could have been the shite road surface, I had one team mate in Dom Clegg riding who’s race prep was not too different to mine, he wasn’t confident really, and I was beginning to wonder after a lap or so about my own legs, over 90 miles makes this about as hard as Nat B races get.

We got off to a start and the pace as always was pretty hot straight away, a Catford rider and someone else almost killed themselves on the downhill, speed wobbling well over 40mph with a car coming the other way, thank god he saved it as I really think that would have been a VERY serious accident. It was so fast in fact that I remember a few times spinning the 53/11 out down the hill to keep the wheels, it was flying! Up the hills and such the first few laps I felt ok, but even at the 40 mile point I knew it was not to be my day, legs were beginning to ache, a lot. I don’t recall ever being out of breath to any real extent but my legs were just full of acid, not good. On the 5th or 6th lap I noticed that Rhys Howells and myself were the last two up the hill in the group, a gap quickly formed and we had a situation on our hands…Rhys is a bit of a powerhouse, so not sure if he was on a bad day or he too was having a bit of a time with all the steep climbs being a big (tall!!) rider. Anyway, I followed his lead up the high street and then put in a pathetic turn and we just about got back on.

Next lap round I almost pulled into the car park as my legs were done. But I thought I should at least make it worthwhile and do a few more miles, I did another lap as the group slowly splintered and people got away solo or in small groups etc. This time with just over 70 miles on the clock the steep hill was really quite unpleasant, I slowed down and watched the following car and bike go by knowing that was the end of that and pulled in to the car. I was not that happy, but couldn’t expect much else.

I went to watch the finish with a lap to go, pleased to see some friendly faces in there with Rory Townsend and Wouter, along with Ash Cox, Lawrence Carpenter, Yanto and Chris Opie. I wondered to myself who might be able to challenge Opie if the race didn’t split by the line next lap, I wasn’t privvy to what happened but I hear Wouter did try to get away, and next time round there wasn’t many left, Rory, Yanto, Wouter, Opie and Cox. Opie launched a huge sprint properly early on, I think it caught everyone by surprise almost, anyway he was well clear for the win, and Rory managed to beat Yanto for 2nd step, another great ride.

Going forward there are quite a few races pencilled in, I notice that the free food at work has seen me (wasn’t my willpower, honest) put on nearly 1 stone since this time last year, quite worrying, so I need to get myself sorted out and get back to it! Anyway, the next few races are flat, so not too worried about that! The good news is that I think I’m fitter than I’ve been previous, this race was pretty easy if you look at the average power of 265-270w for 3 hours, but my NP was almost 340w for that duration which is pretty high!!

https://www.strava.com/activities/288555635

Pete Young Memorial

17 Mar

First road race of the season came in the shape of the Peter Young Memorial. Good two main reasons (for me) – its pretty flat, and its pretty local – ideal! What was not ideal however is the weather forecast, for the last week it had not rained and had been mild, that particular Sunday however was meant to be cold and raining for the duration of the race.

I woke up and it sure enough had rained, and it was chilly, I was half thinking of staying in bed, a nice brand new shiny bike that I’d just made, I wasn’t overly keen to get it covered in crap! But I pulled myself together and made my way. It did get a bit brighter, and it wasn’t too bad when I got down there and started warming up. It was a pretty decent field with good representation from a number of teams inc Pedalheaven, Catford, Richardsons Trek, Corely Cycles and a few smaller ones too. Owing to the Paceline training camp I was the only rider from our lot riding, and there wasn’t anyone from Kingston either, so today would be about riding smart and getting into things that were well represented by those teams.

The race got off to a fast start as always and the first big lap we averaged around 27mph, given the course is pretty easy it didn’t really feel difficult and my legs felt pretty good. A few people tried things and a half decent looking move got away for a while, but I thought with none of the big teams represented it would likely not work out, it was also pretty early doors so I thought best not to commit to that. The laps ticked on and nothing much looked like sticking with a few little digs here and there, sadly the first crash of the year was soon upon us as a few people got tangled and hit the deck on one of the main roads. I think this was down to pothole dodging, but not a nice thing to see, I don’t think anyone was too badly beaten up, and the bunch slowed to let everyone re-join.

At around mile 50 things were getting a little twitchy and more people looked to fancy pinging off the front, I was not ideally positioned when I saw a move I liked the look of, Wouter Sybrandy, Ash Cox, two from Corley and two from Trek along with one PH and another rider I can’t quite remember all got away and it looked good. Knowing Ash and Wouter (both winners in their time of the well fought North Road Hardriders) were strong testers I thought this was a good prospect, with representation from three of the big teams it had most of the ingredients people look for in a winning break! I sprinted up the outside and made my way over to them, it took around a minute of drilling it at 500w which isn’t difficult, but when you’re going downhill its not easy to keep that power/cadence going, but I got over and the bunch were miles behind and nobody had come with me, ideal.

That break formed at around mile 57 or 87, so it was always going to be a hard rider to make it stick, but I thought we had a good shot. We got into a half decent through and off and the gap quite quickly was out to over 30 seconds. However it wasn’t long before people started skipping turns and not coming through, strange really, I did notice that the PH rider was being told to keep it calm by his team manager, and he was just soft tapping through, I had a feeling that didn’t bode too well! We were away probably for around 25-30 mins and the bunch were almost back on us, a shame because I think if we made it to the finishing circuit with a half decent lead it would have been much more possible to make it stick. As we were caught I wondered whether I’d got the legs to do much up the final finish hill. Sadly the choice was made for me as I noticed my front tyre was going down, the pace was quite quick and I thought if I dropped back to get service that would be the last I saw of the bunch so with 2 or 3 laps of the finish circuit to go I pulled over with a very soft front tyre. I watched as a Twickenham and PH rider got away together and almost made it stick only to be swallowed by the bunch near the end. The final gallop was mopped up by in form Rory Townsend and the PH from the break in second, obviously still had plenty in his legs ;-)

All in all it was a bit annoying but confirmed at least that I had the legs, even though the course was pretty easy I don’t think I was really properly hurting at any point so maybe this winter has been a good one. Touch wood I’ve not been ill since November and have not really had much time off the bike. That coupled with some decent early season TT’s has got me into half decent shape!

One slightly irritating discovery was that Zipp 303 Firecrests do not compute with SL4 Tarmac frames as they’re too wide on the rear and rub on the stays. The good news is that I’ve just about done a deal on some Enve 6.7 to replace with, every cloud ;-)


https://www.strava.com/activities/268657842

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