Archive | September, 2013

Surrey League Handicap Champs

16 Sep

Today was the last proper race of the season for me, and I use the term proper loosely as it was certainly not the usual format. This was the Handicap Championships no less, which in layman’s terms is a 60 mile handicap race with a bigger field than normal. The field was 80 riders, ranging right through from 4th cat riders to elites (Elites in this case were the Pedal Heaven team who fielded 7-8 riders I think), there was a strong showing from KW with a similar amount of riders spanning the categories, also a large team from VC Meudon and London Dynamo. So it was sure to be an interesting race, and given the usual Handicap races are only an hour long it would be interesting to see how this one played out.

Proceedings kicked off and the groups were being read out, there was to be 18 groups, which to me sounded a bit much, especially given some of the groups were only 2 riders…, however most of the groups were 4-8 riders, we learned that the gap between the scratch group and the first group was to be 14 minutes, which on a course like this one (fairly rolling and quick) was going to come down pretty quick…Everyone got going, and I was put in the penultimate group, myself and two PH riders plus one other, Pete Allan, the scratch group was the rest of the PH team, and it was clear that we were just going to roll through until they caught us, then we would hop on and become one big 8-9 rider chain. It took around 10 mins before I caught a glimpse of the PH group who looked quite daunting with matching kit and all the rest, but I knew it was a good situation to be in as they were all strong riders and had an agenda, there was not going to be any messing about, they wanted to win this race and therefore catch everyone up the road.

As they joined us it was quickly decided that everyone would do a 30 sec turn on the front and fall back into a pace-line formation, this suited me, I wasn’t about to do zero work, but equally it wasn’t too taxing and we made good pace averaging 27 mph or so, it didn’t take long before Pete Allan was dropped and it was just me and the PH lads, we continued to work well and after perhaps 30 mins we caught the next group who were about the catch the group in front of them, so our 9 became 25-30 quite quickly. This was the time to catch a little bit of rest before the next groups came together and the inevitable attacks came. It was clear that PH were working for their sprinter Lewis Atkins, the finish was a drag then false flat sprint to the finish, it probably suited him pretty well so I was keen to keep an eye out for anything that had him in it.

We carried on bringing people in, and eventually it looked like we had caught everyone just before the bell lap, I noticed we had plenty of riders in the bunch, Gareth had made his way up from the back where he had been loitering previously, and Damien was right in the mix too, everything looked positive at this stage. With around 10 miles to go I saw what I thought might be the move to go with, Jake had gone up the road with another in tow following another small group of 3 with 2 PH involved, I sprinted out of the bunch and set about getting onto Jake and the other chap, I got to them and it was clear Jake wasn’t about to help me bridge over to the front group, so I had to keep going despite what my legs wanted, after a minute or so I did get over and Jake was over too. It got going and we caught a couple of others, and suddenly this break had become 9 riders with Damien and Gareth both in it, Gareth did a good ride to get over as he could see the potency of this move, sadly Damien didn’t quite have the legs after a big acceleration near the front and it was down to just Gareth and I and 4 others, 3 PH and Mick Coyle of Brighton who is always partial to a break.

We worked fairly well together though I was reluctant to do too much as I knew with the numbers they had that they would play us for all we were worth towards the end, so there was a bit of shouting as is always the way, it was clear that with a couple of miles to go this was going to contain the winner, Mick started launching attacks, which were chased down, but in a way that meant we had to close some of them down too to ensure 1 of the PH guys and Mick didn’t get away, as we approached the finish hill I was starting to feel the days effort, Rory lead the other two PH guys up the hill at some pace and then Jake jumped hard, Lewis was in his wheel and I was just behind, they played it well as it was an early move, some 35-40 secs from the finish, I jumped on and went hard, but after about 30 secs my legs began to say no, and with the line in sight it was clear they had enough left to push through, I sat up and watched as Lewis took it just from Jake with me 4-5 bikes behind to claim the bottom step on the podium, Gareth had attacked Mick on the climb and rolled in for 4th which was a great result, we also had Pat who had got away with Keith Lea to claim the 10th spot, so 3 in the top 10 at the end of the day, not bad at all.

I was quite pleased with how I rode, and I think on another day I’d have been challenging for the line in the last few meters but I just didn’t quite have it today, but more importantly for me was that I’d made the right move, actually managed to get over to it without blowing up like last time, and stuck the pace with the elite lads (just about) to get into a position to be there at the finish. It bodes well, and I’m some way over where even I was in March race weight wise, I think with a bit more strictness over this winter and some proper thought to training which may or may not come in the way of a coach I am fit enough to be in the mix in local e12’s next year.

The only things left this season are the club Hill Climb which I will do awfully at, but should be fun, and then the KW Club Championship race at Hillingdon which also will be run as a handicap, so that should be interesting, at that point I’ll make a call whether to ride the Ottershaw Series in October or whether to commence winter training in prep for next year.


Redmon CC 10 – G10/42

9 Sep

As the end of the season approaches I was keen to get one more run out on the TT bike before I tuck it away for winter! There was one more event that took my fancy, this won’t be a long report to be honest as it was quite straight forward! Said event was the Redmon CC 10 on G10/42 which is our club ten course. The startsheet had around 60 riders, which on the face of it provided some good competition, mostly Elliot Porter of Rapha who I was keen to see how I fared against, but for reasons unknown to me he couldn’t make it, I looked at the 5’s and 10’s and couldn’t see any names I recognized, which meant I had a good chance of winning at least.

My best time of the season had been done recently with a strange wind, 20.18 – I had done many other times during the season with a couple under 21, and a couple over 21. Today the wind was pretty strong and the first leg looked like it would be a headwind with a rocket finish with the wind behind – with that in mind I made sure the first 5 miles were as hard as I could manage, first 5 mins at 400w or so, next 5 mins at 390 or so and I reached the turn in good time considering, but the effort had taken a bit of a toll. Sure enough when I turned round it was a lot quicker, and as such it was hard at times to motivate to keep powering on. I looked at the average speed and knew I could be on for a reasonable time given the wind, so kept on, got held up for the first time ever at the 2nd roundabout on the way back which cost me a few seconds annoyingly. Eventually the line was in sight and it was looking like a 20.40 or so. 20.45 I was given officially, I think with out the car, fiddling with my garmin to get the right screen a mile in, and being cautious on the extensions in a crosswind I would have shaved 5-10 secs off that which I would have classed as a great ride in those conditions.

I got back to the HQ and had won the event by around a minute which was nice, we were told to wait for the presentation of prize and trophy etc, but after an hour of waiting I couldn’t hang round any longer and had to make a move so apologies to any of the Redmon guys for wondering about that.

I decided against the Leo 30 in the end after people had said its like riding on a motorway, I may look at the Tour of the Lod Valley event however, if not then I suppose the next outing will be in Baltic conditions for the Redhill 18 or similar.

John Walker E123

9 Sep

This race was one I had done a variation of last year, it was run on the Drift Road circuit which is a pretty much flat fast course with minimal technicality. When I raced it last year for the Python RR I was still pretty new to cycling and managed to get round, so this year given I’ve improved a bit I was hoping to try and make it count as it had a sprint finish which suited me.

The race had attracted a good field, but notable teams were Felt and Pedalheaven who had plenty of riders representing. We got off to a start after the earlier 3/4 race had finished (couple of KW riders had been caught up in a crash which is never good) and straight away the pace was high, and it remained so for the first few miles! Where previously I had always been caught napping at the early stages, this time I was keen to try and make sure I was in the right place to go with it. The upshot of that was that I chased quite a few early moves to little avail. I then slipped back in to the first 3rd of the group and sat about waiting for the right one. We had probably done 20 of the 75 miles now, and a small group had formed and were just off the front for a while, I was then keen to get into the bridge group which I knew was going to form sooner or later – notably Pedalheaven were looking to get something together perhaps they had missed the first move, I followed the first few and nothing doing, slipped back a bit and managed to be in the wrong place when they went and it looked like it might stick…

Quite irritated with myself by this point I looked around and saw that most of the people who were likely to be up there had already gone up the road, I saw Tony Gibb was still in the bunch so there was some hope he would try to get over given the finish probably was perfect for him too. A lap or so passed and we had reach halfway point at least, and Tony and 2 others chipped off the front on the long straight drag up to the finish, its so long and straight that actually to get out of sight probably requires a pretty large gap upwards of 2 mins, and as such I could see beyond Tony’s group the two breakaways which looked like they were close to merging. My legs had felt really good all day so I thought now was the time to make it count, I jumped off the front of the group and set about catching Gibb’s group, however when I approached them I still felt good and they were going slowly, so instead of joining them I rode straight by them and carried on, I was gaining on the break and thought I may be able to get over, what I had not really banked on was the way in in which it drags up to the line and the headwind we had, I got within maybe 50m of the group and felt my legs start to fade, a quick check back confirmed that the pack had caught Gibb’s group, I was blowing hard, having shown everyone what the definition of ‘blowing up’ was, and was quickly back in the group (I looked at the data after and had done 500w for 3 mins or so which is a bit above what I would normally do)…

Now it was a case of having missed the moves, people were trying to chip off the front to save some face, lots of things went nothing stuck, with a lap and a half to go I went on my own and stayed away for half a lap before being dragged back, nothing was doing. On the last lap most people were happy to let Gibb lead everyone in. Given we had managed to split our group again there were not many of us, maybe 20, I wasn’t totally sure how many were up the road so made sure I won the mini gallop of our group, but I later learned there were 24 up the road haha!!

Stuff to learn of course as ever, but was pretty pissed off as its becoming a habit now, and I wonder sometimes how I keep missing things given I’m not exactly hanging off the back. 1 more race this season which is to be the Handicap Champs – 60 miles of handicap racing fun!, and then of course the true season closer is the Kingston Wheelers club champs at Hillingdon, with 30 already entered it should be good fun.