A few things

15 Jun

Been a while since I updated this, mainly as I’ve been doing lots of different things, none of which I felt warranted a post of their own, so will just mention them all in one here!

Crystal Palace E12

Firstly, I made my first ever visit to Crystal Palace 3 weeks back, I met a fellow wheeler in town and we cycled through the nice and not so nice parts of South East London down to Palace. I must say, Ed was a bit keen on the way down, and trying to put a brave face on up the big hill near Palace meant I did almost 5 mins at 400w! NOT IDEAL warm up, but that is obviously how Ed likes to do it!

It was sure to be a good night there were lots of in form riders on the startline, Jake Martin, Rob Moore, Will Pratt and the unstoppable Mike Debney probably were the danger men. I’d always been told how hard a circuit this was and that it was like nothing other, and also that the race generally explodes very quickly. I was feeling ok, only thing I’d preferred to have changed was the wheel/tyre combo I had, sticky crap wheel bearing on the rear and two cheap tyres (which I later found were at 70 psi, not idea when you are a big lad)! but other than that it was sure to be a good evenings racing. We got going and the pace was very high, and sprinting out of corners every few seconds really took its toll very quickly. I clung on to the front group for a while, it then split and Rob Moor made a big effort to get over and I just couldn’t, along with about 5 others we formed a group behind the front group of 4 (Debney, Martin, Moore and possibly Pratt?) and got into a rhythm. To give some context as to how hard it was in the opening 10-15 mins, I averaged 370 watts for that period, which is pretty much a TT effort for me, and given that the high power was made up of 1000w+ sprints every 10 seconds it really does take it out of you.

So we had about 30 mins to stay away from the groups behind which to be honest I had no idea on their gap, it was carnage, dropped riders, women, etc all over the track, quite amazing how fractured it was so soon. We worked fairly well together but the inevitable attacks out of the corners came, and a few gaps started appearing, I won’t lie I had to dig very deep to hang on at times (I blame the wheels šŸ˜‰ )but I did. And into the last couple of laps it was looking like it was going to be a sprint, which I was happy with. We got the bell and reeled back an Aprire rider who had tried to get away, and we rounded the final hairpin, I was 4th wheel I think, out of the corner everybody nailed it as its only about 150m to the line from there. Obviously I nailed it too and came up the outside and passed the rest of the group to take 5th………….Or so I thought, we all slowed right down and it was at this point someone shouted that they thought we may have 1 more lap to go…I saw some of the guys put it back in the big ring and get going again, I was totally spent, I’ve given everything in the sprint and was NOT about to do another lap and sprint again so I turned round and rode back to the finish line to have a word with the comm, he had indeed given us the bell a lap early. At the time I was pretty annoyed as I’d worked hard for that race and I’d have liked some consolation, but there we are. Human error. It happens. I am back there this week with my race bike so hopefully have a bit more luck this time round!

France Trip

Until this trip the biggest/longest hills I’d ridden had been 20-40 min in Mallorca, so it was going to be an eye opener. We were staying in Sainte Foy, which is near Col D’Iseran, Bourg St Maurice etc, so it was a fairly good place to be. My dads friend had a chalet and he was heading over for a walking holiday, so myself and my partner also said we would go, she likes walking and I thought it would be a good chance to get some good riding in. The first thing that struck me about where we were (aside from the beauty of the place) was that we were staying at 1600m at the top of a hill, NOT ideal because every ride you do is capped off with 5 miles at 6% back to the chalet…It really was hard work, and made harder by the fact that I had not bothered to change my gearing, so the smallest gear I had was 40-25, which is fine for 20 min climbs and obviously anything you find in the SE of England, but when you had a 21km climb like La Plagne, it really wasn’t enough. I was suffering with a cold too annoyingly which progressed into a really bad chest over the week, so it wasn’t ideal when I was on my knees!

As you would have seen in the Giro this year, the snow was still lying very late in the year, so much so that most of the Col’s around us were shut, which is very rare for this time of year I understand. That said on my first day I went to tackle Petit St Bernard which is a nice steady climb. On the run in to the summit there was a huge drift of snow that meant I had to get off and walk the bike over the snow, it was quite surreal cycling between the carved snow walls! I eventually got to the top and it was baltic, and there was nothing to see either as it was covered in snow. So I went straight over the border down into Italy for lunch in one of the few things open.

The following day I had earmarked Cormet De Roseland, which again is a LONG old climb from Bourg St Maurice right to the top and then down into Beufort where the most stunning lake sits. This was a hard day out, I was in the hairpins about half way through and the garmin was telling me it was 30 deg! I was stopping at the various mountain streams to douse myself in water in an attempt to cool down. It was tough, and then suddenly you break through and into the open and you see a long winding road that leads you up the valley to the summit. You dare not take your eyes off the road for too long though, as the Marmottes were pretty mad and ran out in front of you if they felt like it! It was an amazing climb, and I went down a little bit the other side and sat and ate my lunch overlooking the lake, it was quite incredible.

Nest day I had an easy ‘spin’ of around 15 miles over to Villaroger and La pri, and even in that 15 miles by the time I was home I had climbed 2500ft…There was NO easy ride to be had here, no flat at all. Hard work. The next day I was feeling pretty shit, but thought I had to try to get up a few more before I went home, so had planned to tackle La Plagne, which is quite a famous TDF climb which has hosted a fair few mountain top finishes over the years. Now this was a big climb, just under 11 miles from the Macot down in the Valley to the top, taking in the 1992 Winter Olympics Bobsleigh track as you go. I was finding it tough, undergeared, ill and seeing the signs by the side of the road that read ’15km to summit, next 1k 10%’ doesn’t make for great reading if you’re not up to it!

I eventually got to the top and as per everywhere else, it was a ghost town with nothing open and nobody about, so I went straight home. It was the 3rd long ride I had done, all the longer rides were 60 miles with almost 9000ft of climbing in them, I knew I had to have a day off as I was feeling terrible, but I still had got some good climbing in etc. On the last day I attempted to go hard up the hill up to our chalet which is probably a 15 min climb if you go hard, its 3 miles of switch backs at about 7%. But About 5 min in I was struggling with breathing so crawled home pissed off! Bloody lurgy had been hanging over my head for two weeks but was still pleased to se some great sights and ride some famous climbs albeit much slower than I’d like!

Surrey League Handicap

After France and the lurgy I had taken a couple of days to try to get better before I raced again, and it was fair to say I felt about 85% for this, I rode out to the Chertsey circuit with a fair few other KW’ers, also riding was Francis Cade from Pedalheaven so it was going to be an interesting race. When we got there it was clear there were lots of beginners and many groups. The first group was set off and was given a decent gap, and eventually after a few other groups were set off I was put in a group of maybe 8 riders with a couple of other KW 2nd cats. The scratch group was Francis and another chap, it didn’t take them long to get over to us, and it didn’t take us long to absorb the group ahead of us. We were now around 20 strong and gaining all the time, taking in dropped riders and spitting others out the back. I was finding the sprinting out the corners fine, but the top end efforts to come through and close gaps up the drag quite hard, I think my lack of any vo2 stuff in France and the illness had knocked a bit of my top end away, anyway, after a few attempts to get something together Francis went alone and was looking good. Eventually after a few surges he was brought back and it was clear we would not be able to catch the front 8 or so left out there so it would be a sprint for 9th (though I didn’t know it was actually 8, assumed it would be less). We came out of the final corner and up the drag, Colin from KW led it out but blew I think with a bit to go, I could see my gap was to his left, but it wasn’t very wide and I prayed Colin would not veer left, he didn’t and I got the gap and went clear, the only other person challenging was Luke from our club who has a good sprint on him but I managed to keep him at bay and take the gallop for 9th place haha.

Kingston Phoenix 10 TT

I had planned this one in as I have the Richmond Park TT tomorrow so wanted to get the TT bike dialed in ready for that. This TT was being held locally on our club ten course so I thought it was a perfect chance to go and have a spin to make sure the bike is ok etc. And upon seeing the startsheet I thought there was a good chance I could win, I was last man off, too, so always a little bit of pressure!

The weather today as I’m sure many of you will agree has been a bit mad, gusts of heavy wind, lots of torrential rain and just generally not great bike riding weather and CERTAINLY not the best conditions to be riding an aero bike with a disc and 90mm front wheel down a dual carriageway, but that is what I did.

I knew that I would have a nice tailwind so my plan was to bury myself for the first half and then just try to hang on in the last with an assisting wind – I executed my plan well, and with the exception of the foggy visor and dripping sweat I was going ok (power wise) the speed wasn’t the best due to the wind, but got to the turn in OK time and then just buried myself for the last few miles, eventually stopped the clock at 21.41 which is 30 secs down on my best on this course, but with the wind it seemed ok. I’d done just under 380 watts too, which is the best I’ve done for a 10 mile effort so I expected my time to be competitive! I got back to the HQ and there were a few other 21’s, I was just ahead of Nial Digby from La Fuga who I think had a good ride as he was much closer to me than usual, and I was 20 secs behind the eventual winner Steven Kane from Brighton Excelsior who did a great 21.20 on a tough day to take the win. So I didn’t quite get there, but we was 2nd and we took the team prize too, so a nice ride, and I stayed DRY!!

So tomorrow the Park TT and a crit too in the afternoon, should be good!

Cheers for reading, all rides on strava as usual, and a few pics of the snow and conditions on my twitter from France!

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