Redbridge Spring Warmup 2/3/4 (Hog Hill)

4 Mar
Poor on the blog front from me, had to delay this update by 48 hours as was a bit busy!
This weekend was a toss up between doing another club ride, or biting the bullet and opening the seasons account with a crit at the Redbridge Cycling Center, or as its known to most people, Hog Hill. For a few reasons I opted for the race. The plan was always to treat this as a training exercise to see where I was at. I knew from the time trials I’d done (well, the one I’ve done) that I was in good shape generally, but what I haven’t trained too much on is the short efforts and recovery which are often highlights the difference between being a good tester from a good road racer so was keen to put myself to the test in that respect.
As it was not a race I particularly minded about with regards to placing etc (I always say this, and always care much more when it comes to it), I opted to ride there with a clubmate (who was racing the 4ths race before me) from Kingston, which is a 30 mile ride through London and out the other side. It didn’t feel too bad, but the seemingly endless road out of the East End through some nice and less nice areas did feel like a bit of a slog. But then as if by magic you turn off at a roundabout and you’re in the middle of nowhere again after trawling through Ilford, it was most welcome.
First impressions of the circuit were good, I have not raced it before, and I was keen to try a circuit somewhat more selective than Hillingdon, and although I didn’t get to ride the track till the 4ths had finished, you could tell it was certainly selective. As I watched Aaron race the 4ths I could see how much of a toll the hill was taking on people, every lap there were people dropping out or getting spat out, it was mad. I think over 50 started and the bunch at the end was certainly less than 30. This was perfect.
When it came to our turn I was keen to have a look round the track, and first thing that strikes you is how fast some of the corners are, they are mostly corners you can take flat out, but it took a few laps to get to that stage, there was one corner which was a hairpin that caught Aaron out as his pedal hit the floor as he leaned over, it later almost ended the chances of one Dynamo rider as he did the same and got away with it! The Hill isn’t too bad, but the thing that gets you is that the steepest part is right near the top, so the gear that feels fine half way up, might not feel so fine 5 seconds later!
So we got going, a decent field, 40 riders maybe more, which I’m told is a lot over there, but obviously nothing on Hillingdon’s 80 strong fields at times. The pace was quite quick, but mainly because there were two downhills that you really got speed up going down, up to 40mph into fast flowing corners, good fun! About half an hour had passed and I was feeling pretty good, never out of the front few, never blowing up the hill, and never willing to do any work on the front ;-). Two riders got away for a few laps, but it was not going to last, when the bunch started working gaps came down dramatically. However with about 5 laps to go on Dynamo (James Local) escaped, and it looked like we could reel him in at any time, but a combination of things including the bunch slowing right down when we hit the ever so slight headwind before the hill meant he stayed out front, and was getting more time. I was in a good position with 2 to go, and it was one of those times where it looked like we could get him if people rode together, we hit the hill for the penultimate time and the bell lap ensued, however after the quick downhill, I think this was the slowest lap we had done around the tight corners, and it meant that he could get a gap that wasn’t coming back, a great gutsy ride by him. Coming into the hill I was in the top few, and one rider jumped, he had been fairly active all race so I followed along with a few others, and as we started going up hill there was about 8 or so riders in and around the front, I was probably 4th wheel or something. I was going well as we started to really go for it, but sadly the wheel I had picked ran out of gas about 2/3rds of the way up the hill and I had to stop pedaling pretty much for a second or so, and having looked at the data I can see I never got back on top of my gear after that, I kept grinding away, and was pulling and pulling but just wished I had another gear as my cadence was down in the low 80’s.
But as a mate pointed out, you cannot change gear when you’re doing over 1000w at 85 rpm as it would have spat my chain somewhere without a doubt. I could see across to my right that I was about level with two others, I lunged for the line, and was told I’d got 4th, which initially I wasn’t too pleased with, but having thought about what happened I know how I can do better there in future, and I know how to sort it for next time, so for a first race it was a good result. Looking through the numbers I wasn’t lacking in punch up the final hill, but its those 10% drags where some of the lighter guys really have the edge, in power/weight. It was a nice first race at Hog Hill with a positive outcome all told. And I certainly will be back for more.
You can see the ride here – http://app.strava.com/activities/42819687
Next weekend I’ve maybe foolishly signed up for our club road race on the Saturday then the East Surrey Hardriders 30 mile TT on the Sunday, so we will see how I cope with that, my hamstrings are still feeling the hard effort on Saturday, so its clear its something I’ve not done in a while! But onwards and upwards.
Finally – thoughts are with family and friends of Junior Heffernan who sadly passed away during the Severn Bridge Road Race yesterday after a collision with another vehicle, terrible news. RIP
Cheers

Thanks to Nick White for the pic below, and many more –

Twitter@rubbishjumperImage

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