Archive | April, 2013

Les Ingman Memorial Road Race

21 Apr

After my foray into the sharp end of amateur racing last week at the Toachim GP, this was more of the same, a tough national b course and a field to match. The race is held on the Bletchingley Course, the exact same one that the Surrey League races are run, which is good as I know it well having been there recently. Only difference being that the finish is down the bottom of the circuit for the Les Ingman rather than at the top of the hill and suits more of a sprinter.

I felt pretty good after last weeks stage race, and I really did feel like it sharpened me up a bit, the sessions I got done in the week were good, and I was going well even managed to get within reach of the club ten club record having beaten the nearest rival by nearly 1 min 30. I was keen to get stuck into this one to see if I could at least stay with it after a rude awakening last week with the wind, holding a wheel and nutrition issues all playing a part in my downfall! I had sorted the nutrition side of things this week as a matter of priority, my pockets were loaded with gels ūüėÄ

Thankfully the weather was exceptional this morning, and driving over I knew it wasn’t going to be a bad day weather wise, so that was one box ticked. There was a healthy field, almost full, and plenty of strong riders, many of the riders from last week were present, including a few others. I think this race would have had a stronger field still had it not been for the Rutland Classic also happening today, but I certainly wasn’t complaining!

We got off to a start and the pace was high, I felt comfortable, and I found that I could get a good position on the downhill as I go downhill well being a lump, so for the first lap or so I made sure I was near the front on the climb expecting to slide back a bit and then would make sure I moved up where I could. We were to do 10 laps today, which would make the total race distance around 90 miles. A few laps in the first match was burned, I had picked a poor wheel up the hill, he was going backwards and I noticed a big group were going off up the road, which happened to contain most of the contenders. So a big effort to get back on was made, it hurt, and wasn’t ideal at that stage of the race. My caution would be realized later on, but this time everyone made it back into the main pack on the downhill so I probably needn’t have killed myself to get back on so quick…

The next few laps were just spent keeping position watching what was going on, and if I could, try and be part of something. It was a fair time before anything happened really, at some point a very small group had slipped away, 3 riders I understand, and I also saw that another had gone solo to chase, I certainly knew I didn’t have the legs to be trying anything of that nature, so I watched for a bigger move, and indeed waited near the front to see whether this time up the hill would change anything.

I noticed Steve Calland moving up at the foot of the hill, and he was right to do so, I got his wheel the pace rose up the front, he kept going, and I didn’t, I stayed just about in touch, but knew that if I wasn’t on his wheel ( I think he was last man) by the time we hit the drag up the high-street then it would be VERY hard to get back on. It wasn’t just me who had missed that vital wheel and indeed as I sprinted up the high-street after him, I noticed it was just myself, and 3 or 4 other riders, a large group had been caught unaware and a split had occurred. The 4 of us started to work together, we knew the only chance we had at any kind of race was to work together to try and get back on to that front group. I felt good and was driving the pace for the main part with these other riders, and really pushed it on the downhill, we were always within sight of the lead pack which was around 20 riders, but it seemed that they then would edge out again. I was becoming a bit irritated that we were not working properly and we were slipping back, a bit of gentle encouragement saw us all pull together ;-), in hindsight I think I was suffering less than the other 3 (we had dropped one by this point) so my turns were perhaps a bit strong. As we approached the hill they were not too far ahead, but it took us nearly half a lap from there (so 1.5 laps – 15 miles in total) to finally catch them after the descent. What didn’t help that over the top of the hill the car that was clearing our way had stopped behind another car that was giving way, I slowed down, the others went straight round, this left me with another chase back on!! But thankfully I was able to get back on before we hit the downhill, lucky the legs were just playing ball at this point or I’d be in no mans land!

At this point with two laps left, lots of digs were coming in, but nothing really sticking, everything being jumped on. The course finish really suits a sprinter given the removal of a steep hill on the course due to roadworks, so as long as you go into the last left hander in good shape anyone was in with a shot. So I think perhaps a lot of guys were happy to let it be a sprint for 5th place (the others were well gone by this point). Into the last lap and it was properly slow, we chugged along and when we got into the last couple of k it was really cat and mouse, at one point down to around 10 mph before someone launched, the process was repeated a few times, eventually it was just all together round the last corner, I wasn’t in a great position as my legs were beginning to really ache, but I made sure I did move up a bit, and was in a position to at least go for a minor placing. As I went into the last corner I was a few wheels back, I kicked and passed a couple of guys but really had not been into the corner early enough to get anywhere near the front, so rolled in a few wheels back. Result pending, but apparently 12th in the HQ, but we will see, I’d take 12th though! The race was won by Madison Genesis rider Alex Peters who put in a monster ride to win solo by over two minutes! Impressive.

I was pretty happy with the ride after last week, it was just as hard as the race last week, probably harder, I’d done a bit of everything, and bridge was a nice moment when it finally happened. Its put my nerves at ease a touch, I know I can keep up at this level, and I know that I am capable of a result, though I still think its likely that it will come from a sprint or a break on a slightly more forgiving circuit, had the finish been up the hill today I’d have been gone in that company. But its positive, and makes me wonder why I haven’t managed that illusive win in the Surrey League yet, but I am confident that these hard races are really working.

Possibly get down to Hillingdon Tuesday before a weekend away from the bike due to a stag do, but after that there are plenty of races I’d really like to contest the win for, also got the regional champs to look forward to which will be a hard day out!

Race is here – Strava

Toachim GP Stage Race

15 Apr

Toachim GP Stage Race

This was to be my first stage race, and certainly wasn’t going to be the easiest as rather than give myself an easy in to the world of multi day events, I decided that it would be wise to do a National B race with all that it entails. Lots iof teams of elite riders, the likes of Felt, Corley, Pedalheaven and a few very strong club riders, Rob Moore, Jake Martin, Elliot Porter of Rapha and a fair few other guys who are certainly strong riders and a cut above the field you’d find at a 2/3 race. But this was part of the fun, I’d noticed that the feeling of ‘hanging on’ was gone from my racing, and I could afford to make mistakes in the 2/3 races and it wouldn’t make much difference, I wanted to have the feeling of really having to try to hang in there, and have a bit more risk attached to my racing. And this was certainly the place to do that, as the 2nd and 3rd stages are testament to. The format for those not aware was 3 stages over two days, the first day was an 8 mile TT – 5 laps of the Cyclopark in Kent (great place, really good to see so many kids etc making use of the facilities). This would sort out an order for the GC, a couple of hours later there would be a 90 min crit around the Cyclopark, then the following day there would be a tough road race finishing up a tasty little hill to finalize the overall, this was in deepest Kent with the HQ in Challock.

Stage 1 – TT

I was fairly confident that I could turn in a decent TT, not last because I certainly wasn’t wanting in the kit department, I had everything someone would need to go quickly so it was up to my legs to hold up their end of the bargain. A couple of things worth noting that I quickly found out – brakes on Treks Speed Concept are not that great, god knows how Cancellara fly’s round those city streets at 30 mph with the stock brakes, it would have been nice to have ridden the course at least once before having to TT around it!

It was quite warm for once which was nice, to skinsuited up etc, I took to the line, I knew from previous times that TT bikes were proving quicker, despite the corners and high winds, I set off and got into a rhythm truth be told I overcooked a couple of the corners on the first lap (though the first was still the quickest according to the numbers) but I knew I was going ok, the power was decent, and I was passing riders up the long drag without too much hassle (which is probably the section that flattered the TT bikes the most). I was dripping sweat at one point, Giro’s ventilation on the Selector isn’t up to much IMO. I saved a bit in the legs for the last lap and really drove it hard, I crossed the line and paused my garmin (thankfully…) and had 18.17, which if my electronic transponder had not had a dead battery probably would have been rounded down a bit as I started it a few secs early and a few secs after the line. Thankfully the Comm was in a good mood and said he would honour my garmin reading which clearly showed the time, the distance and when it was done etc. Looking up at the board this put me in 11th place with a Corley Rider doing the fastest ride of 17.50, so I was quite pleased with the result 25 seconds over 8 miles sounds like a lot, but this is no dragstrip and I think with a bit of practice I’d have been able to get a bit quicker, but it was a good first result.

Stage 2 – 90min Criterium Cyclopark

This was held the same afternoon as the TT and because I was one of the last off in the TT I didn’t have too long to wait before it was time to line up again for the crit. The weather had turned from fairly pleasant to cold, and raining, not ideal. I made sure to line up near the front, but had a bit of a faff clipping in which saw me near the back of the field, which really wasn’t ideal. The number of corners at the cyclopark that finish with sprints out and uphill doesn’t reward poor positioning. And with the wind absoloutley belting it, it was clear that this wasn’t the time to miss a wheel or not be in a good position. A split happened very early on which smashed the field to bits, and there were two big groups, and later a smaller breakaway group with Jake at the helm. I was in the second group and really struggling with the wind and corners, it must have been around half an hour of hanging in there with this one, gradually slipping back. Eventually the elastic snapped and I was out of that group and into a new one with other riders that had not managed to keep pace with the front lot. We were about 7 strong, and slowly but surely it was whittled down, cornering was an issue, and with it now being wet one person taking a corner a bit too slowly meant a huge sprint every few seconds just to get back on the wheel in front (this was like interval training on acid! Lactic acid!). By the halfway point our group had moved away from a group behind us and a lot of dropped riders, and sat behind the main group and the break. I could see the break was now just two, Jake and George from Felt, impressive riding in those conditions for sure! It was now a case of just minimizing losses and getting round, myself, 2 Pedalheaven riders, Lawrence from AW and a Sigma rider tapped it out for the last half an hour and sadly just about got lapped by the front bunch (and Jake+George). Jake went on to win the stage. There was later an issue with the GC which was due to some people doing a lap less than others, so initially I was placed 8th which I thought sounded a bit too good to be true! When the results were sorted out I was put in my rightful place at 26th, which wasn’t great, but given the amount of people that had packed, and the amount of strong riders around and behind me wasn’t the worst outcome. That 90 min crit taught me a lot about positioning getting the wheel and riding more economically. Upon riding back to the car I noticed that my back brake was rubbing quite a bit (solid excuse ūüėČ ) which certainly wouldn’t have made it any easier, but even without that I think with the way I rode I’d not have been up the front anyway, so certainly will know how to play that next time! Jake now had a 45 second lead going into day 2.

Stage 3 – Road Race 90 miles (advertised as 75…)

It was a bit of a drive down to Challock, but the one saving grace of getting up at 6.50am on a Sunday is that no other bugger wants to and it meant the roads were clear, also the weather had perked up, and we were due to have the hottest day of the year so far, so I was pleased with that. Sadly as I got deeper into Kent the weather declined and when I arrived it was actually raining again ūüė¶

My main error today in hindsight was fueling I thought it was only going to be a 75 mile race, which I normally would only have a gel and some energy drink, but it actually was just under 90 in the end. I hugely regret this, and it kind of shaped my race to be honest. Nobody to blame but me there, I’ve since been onto the web and bought a TON of gels!!

Race got underway and despite the warnings from the Comm of a big puddle on the first fast downhill the pace was HIGH, I felt ok, and kept in the wheels, and we properly nailed it down that hill, and I think it was the first lap that people got gapped and that was it for them, so it really shows how fast this was. I was pushing on ok today and legs felt fine, I positioned myself quite well, and though I didn’t go with any breaks at this stage I was fine with the pace etc. It was quite a quick pace, and people were pinging off the front all the time trying to get a gap. Jake was very active and without a team it was going to be a hard day for him as every move he made was marked by literally everyone. Eventually a small group got up the road, and went clear, lots of people pinging off the front, and at the 60 mile point I commented to Francis from PH that I should have brought some more food as there was still two 12 mile laps to go (and actually a bit more in the end). We hit the exposed windy section which caused more issues than any of the hills really, and I was running on nearly empty trying to ration my drink, at this point a move went and I just had not a lot to give, it was here that my race was over, had I made that move then I’d have been a lot better off in the overall, but there we are. Lots of others missed this move too of course, and it was clear people were suffering, the last lap came and a chap from PH had the right idea, just tap out a rhythm with everyone taking a turn to get the stage over and done with. But seemingly people still had aspirations of glory and nobody wanted to work, so one by one people pinged off the front to get away on their own, I was spent by this time and couldn’t care less about riding away. I rode in to the finishing hill with a group of about 6 others, the last hill was really hard going, 7 mins or so, and our group split up a bit (not that it mattered at this point) and I finished over the line literally dead on my feet. I later learned that everyone that got into that earlier move did make contact with the front break, and Francis had gone on to take 4th in that stage and give himself a bump up the GC, so it was clear that it was the move that cost me a half decent placing, but I’m happy that I managed to stay the course, LOTS of people DNF yesterday, and my final standing was 22nd overall. Its not the best result but all told its not too bad, plenty of good riders finished behind me, and there were not too many 2nd cats in front of me, perhaps just one actually. So it was a great weekend where I learned a lot about myself and my riding, and it taught me a few hard lessons. The winner in the end way Roy Chamberlain from Corley who took home the ¬£1000 first prize, great ride from him given his standing initially. Will add some pics to this when they come into circulation.

However it has whet my appetite for multiday racing and I may enter the SERRL 3 day which is a proper 4 stage affair, but this one will certainly set me up well for the couple of 2/3 stage races I’ve entered in the next couple of months. I also have reassured myself a bit that as long as I don’t ride like an idiot I can keep pace with these sorts of fields, so the nerves of doing so have been settled somewhat. The Les Ingman next week will be interesting, a tough 85 miler over the Bletchingley Course, that will certainly be a test of the legs!

In the meantime I have a club 10 in the week, so hopefully can do a decent ride there and go after the club course record.

Prologue
Crit
Road Race

Bletchingley 2/3 RR

8 Apr

This Saturday was one of 2 (or 3 if you think of the Les Ingham) that are run on the Bletchingley circuit, its a fairly tough circuit with a fairly long climb, and a fairly punchy one. Sadly due to roadworks the punchy steep climb had to be removed and we cut the lap a bit short, but added an extra lap to make the race distance.

 
The week had started fairly well at Hog Hill, and I’d done a bit in the week, probably had a few too many days off though, owing to a work night out which was quite a late one. However, on the day, legs felt good, and although it was pretty cold when I got down there, the weather was due to get a lot better too.
 
It was quite an interesting field, and had many of who I consider to be the strong people of the league racing, so there would be no shortage of attacks, and indeed people to watch out for. I’d had a quick scan of the list to look at a couple of numbers to make out a particular Dynamo (as they had ten riders) and a couple of others who I thought were strong. We got off to a fast start, the course has a very fast downhill section which is thankfully well paved, but it certainly tests your nerves when taking the corners at 40 mph (I hit 46 mph down there this year apparently!). After the first lap a rider (who I forget the name of) that had previously won here solo got off the front after the hill, but the bunch were fairly active in chasing things down at this point, and he was quickly brought back. We got round the course again and as usual lots of people pinging off the front, nothing looked that interesting to me until a move with around 6 riders got away, it had at least two strong riders in it, and looked to be going well, I decided I wanted to be part of it and bridged over, I was careful not to drag anyone with me, and I got over, but as soon as I did so the working stopped, and on the hill we were brought back.
 
Then perhaps a little later a move of 5 or so people got away, memory is a bit hazy, but it seemed to have a couple of names in it, and truth be told I can’t remember what happened with regards to me seeing it go and making a choice not to. After some time we seemingly were getting plenty of shouts from¬†people¬†on the side of the road when all we really wanted to know was how many and the gap. Eventually I heard a guy from my club who was roadside shout that there were 5 or so and had 45 seconds, nobody was that interested in bringing it back, and the race was ticking away. A little later Lawrence Carpenter and a¬†Southdowns¬†rider tried hard to get over and they dangled off the front for a fair time before eventually they were brought back. It was at this point I think a lot of¬†people¬†were wondering whether anyone was going to be allowed to make a move. Lawrence went again with another rider, and again was out front for some time before eventually getting out of sight, that was a move I should have gone with quite possibly but I thought it may still be a bit early and everything I’d done so far had been chased down, or people had sat up, so I was biding my time as the gap at this point had not got much bigger. Then maybe on the 2nd to last lap the move that I CERTAINLY should have tried to go with went, Paul¬†Sewell¬†from Bigfoot (who won our club race 4 weeks back) and another rider made off up the road, they were watched for some time and again they too went out of sight. I was feeling pretty stupid at this point for not being in either of these moves which by now contained just about all the strongest riders. Jules¬†Birks¬†had a few strong digs to get over but was towed back too. It came to the last lap and it seemed like we were not going to get to the break, I think there were now either 9 or 11 riders up the road as we crossed the bell lap.
 
I thought at this point I had nothing to lose and on the¬†high-street¬†drag I noticed Keith Lea from¬†Addiscombe¬†have a dig off the front, I knew Keith was a fairly strong rider from his times in the few sporting¬†TT’s¬†I’d done with him this year, and also he’d been in the break at¬†Milland¬†Hill, I sprinted away to join him, and finally got clear of the bunch who obviously were not interested at this point – though I do think its a good place to attack, and I probably should have tried a lap earlier) Keith and I were working fairly well together, but I wasn’t getting much draft behind as Keith is certainly built more like a cyclist than me! We scooped up a couple of riders who’d got up the road but not really got very far, and we were now 5 strong as I pushed the pace down the hill to get a gap, its not often you see 400w on your screen going down a steep hill, but I knew that if we were to get any kind of gap then it would be there it would be formed. We flew under the motorway bridge and the bunch were not in sight, which was good. Sadly though we had picked up two riders who both had people up the road in the break, now I’m not entirely sure if they thought that if they helped we would catch them break (there was zero chance of this) but after a while they both refused to do a turn and it was just myself and Keith, and occasionally a¬†Dulwich¬†rider, so the move certainly slowed and lost some momentum. I thought about attacking the break, but I figured the¬†Twickers¬†rider looked strong and was well rested so I did have a go but it was brought back fairly soon after. I figured we may¬†aswell¬†sit in and wait for the hill, I wasn’t fussed about getting a ‘place’ as I was sure we were racing for 13th anyway, so I just wanted to finish ahead of the bunch, for safety if nothing else.
 
As we hit the foot of the hill the bunch were well in sight, and they were gaining, but the hill isn’t that long and as the finish line was in sight the bunch were maybe 15m behind, the¬†Twickers¬†rider launched, and was joined by someone from the bunch they fought it out for 10th and 11th (or possibly 13th and 14th) I got clear of Keith and just about held off Ryan¬†Visser¬†from¬†Redhill¬†who was closing in quickly. I may have come 12th, I may have come 15th, either way it wasn’t a great result as again I probably had the legs to be in the move but for one reason or another nothing worked today. The winner was Mike¬†Debney¬†who is on super form, who apparently attacked his break and won solo, followed by Steve¬†Calland¬†of¬†Southdown¬†bikes who no doubt unleashed a monster sprint up the hill.
 
 
Toachim House GP two day stage race this weekend, which is a strong field of elite/1st cat riders, so will see how I go there.

Hog Hill Alan Rosner Memorial 2/3/4

1 Apr

Another day of racing today, I trekked over on the trains to Hog Hill for a 2/3/4 race. Just caught the end of the E12 and saw a rider I rode with a bit in Majorca (Jake Martin) get 2nd amongst a very strong field of UCI teams which made the freezing wind worth it! Almost.

We lined up for our race and I hadn’t actually had a look around to see who else was riding for once, I got there quite early, signed on and just got my stuff together and had a quick warm up as it was very cold up top. We rolled out and it was quickly obvious that the wind was BRUTAL in nearly every direction and only helped you in one section down the bottom of the course, and a slight help up the hill. Which was nice but certainly not compensation for the battering it gave you elsewhere!

On the second lap I noticed 5 riders get off the front, I wanted to be involved in this as they were pulling out a gap quick, and the bunch was almost slowing to a stop when it hit a headwind, so I sprinted to get a gap and began to chase, I quickly got a gap on the bunch, had some company initially but he dropped back. Now what followed was really the decider of my race really, every lap I would get close to catching them, then I’d hit the headwind and they would pull out again because there were 5 to share the work. This continued for about 5 laps, from what I can see, which was me on my limit, slowly I started getting closer but the efforts I had to put in were huge and costing me (the stats say new power pb’s in lots of durations – 11 mins @ 400w sticks out as being very taxing), eventually I got on the back of them. There was Mike Debney who had been in the move on Saturday and came second, and a couple of others I didn’t recognize, but it was quickly obvious they were going well, and I was blowing! At some point another rider had been shelled so the break was down to 4.

I took about a 3/4 of a lap to sit in, but with them sprinting out of every corner I didn’t really recover, I was then told to do a turn, this was my mistake, I should have sat in and recovered properly, instead like a lemon I took my turn, and led them up the hill. At this point one of the riders jumped and everyone could follow just about, everyone accept me, sadly. That was the end of it, this came at about the halfway point in the race. I wondered if I should just accept I was going to get brought back as the wind really was brutal when hitting it solo, or whether I should make the most of my mission over from Kingston and keep going. I opted for the latter, and just dug in, there was a lap where I really was shit which I think was straight after I got gapped, but after that I began to get something back, I had a gel too, and it sounds cliche but I did notice a difference. I spent the next 15 mins not really knowing whether I was going to be brought back or not, so I rode hard but within myself, then the lap board came out displaying 5 to go (around 15 mins riding), and mentally this gave me a boost, the bunch were not gaining on me at this point, every time I went down the steep hill they would be coming up the steep hill on the other side, so I reckon I had probably 20-25 seconds all the time, interestingly the chaps out front initially took a fair lead on me, but I managed to keep that the same too passing them on the opposite side at the same point each lap. I kept going and when it got 2 laps to go the gap to the main bunch had come down, so I started to ride hard again, sprinting out of the corners etc (can’t wait for the pictures, I must have looked horrendous, saliva everywhere!) and on the bell lap I noticed I had pulled out a bit further (probably a bit down to me going faster and them mentally giving up, or saving themselves for the hill sprint as is normal) I knew I would stay away at this point. One last time up the hill and over the line, I must say I felt pretty spent and have easier 5th places in my time!

A race of two halves really, on the one hand I’m annoyed I made such a meal of getting into/over to the break as that 20 mins at 370 or so watts which is about as good as I’ve done (especially considering how much downhill is in this course) and it really took its toll. I’d like to think that if I had made it over earlier or been a bit more Sagan like in not taking a turn I would have got myself under control and made it round with them. However I was pleased that I managed to stay away, and it was a really good hour of hard racing and means after my shoulder woes I’ve got some solid riding in the last 3 days (went out and did 40 miles yesterday) to get my training on track. I also won a tenner ūüôā So not all was lost.

AP – 330w – NP – 370w – 58 mins
Average speed 23 mph vs bunch of 22.5 vs break of 23.8
Weight of chocolate I was carrying – Unconfirmed, rumored to be 1kg ūüėČ