Archive | March, 2014

Wally Gimber RR

25 Mar

Today was the day of the Wally Gimber trophy. A race that has run for the last 55 years straight hosted by Dulwich Paragon who do their fair share and then some for amateur racing I feel as this is one of a number of events they put on.

If you read my last report you might recall I mentioned a total lack of top end and my legs just deserted me. That evening I actually was shivering then breaking into sweats. I pt took 4 days off work to get over whatever virus it was that I had that was clearly present during the second half of the race. The aching neck a tell tale sign of something not being right. With an enforced week off the bike I was glad to have a weekend off racing as it would at least allow me to get some riding done. I’ve felt pretty good since then and this last week I managed to get in some good riding. So while I doubt I’m 100% where I was I think I’m pretty close.

Sadly during the week my Quarq had given up again (Cyclepowermeters doing a sterling job so far of getting it back up and running) so I was racing on Sunday with all the gear but none of it was working! The race had an 11am start which was a good thing given it was some 70 miles away in Kent. I got there with plenty of time, though it would seem everyone else had got there with even more as the car park was jam packed! Quick sign on and get the bike put together I scouted a few faces to see what was what. It was a strong field with presence from most of the big local teams and a smattering of others with the likes of Alex Peters, Jason White and recent north road Hardriders winner Ash Cox making up the numbers. I’d nit ridden the course but was told by Jake Martin while warming up that it was fast and the wind would play a part, he’d raced a few times before here.

With kit ready, and field assembled we had a pretty stern talking to and were told that all the NEG riders would be on the look out for poor riding given the recent fatality at Mountbatten. Fair enough it was too, nobody wants this sort of thing to happen in the sport. We got off to a quick start, the nervy neutral section out of the way and the first time up the only climb of the circuit (nothing to note really, fairly straight forward) proved useful. As it was clear that the way the race would play out would be down to who made it over the top and onto the bunch before it flew at over 40mph down passed Tenterden. The first few laps it was a case of getting up the hill and then burying yourself in the 53/11 to stay in touch down the hill, shortly to be faced with a pretty strong crosswind before the course wound it’s way back to the hill.

The first few laps saw a few minor groups get away and I think there were a couple who had a minute at one point, but it would always be tough for a smaller group with the wind and speed in which the bunch was taking the downhills. After the first few laps, the sunny but chilly weather slowly went, and in came the torrential rain and the temp dropped a deg or so. My clothing choice was soon shown to be totally out of place, shorts, jersey, fingerless mitts. With a couple of laps to go I couldn’t feel my hands, people were pulling out left right and center. Some through choice and others just couldn’t keep touch at high speed with numb hands. I nearly joined them. A bone was tossed (certainly I saw it as such) my way when I learned they had cut a lap off to take the race nearer to 72 miles than 85. With this in mind I was going to at least finish to make it worth the drive. By the last lap the group was small, under 30 I should think with riders losing touch and going backwards all the time. It was at this point with half a lap to go that Jake, Elliot of Rapha and two Trek (I think) riders got a gap. I thought it was a great move and they quickly pulled on the bunch. A combo of not everyone working and a rampant bunch looked like it may bring things together.

By this point I was shivering and praying for the hill just to warm me up, with a quarter of a lap to go and those boys off the front I thought I’d have a dog and jumped up the outside to try and move clear. A few shouts of ‘up up’ and that was the end of that as the bunch got me again. My legs felt good most of the day but I was too cold by this point to really have much left. As the finish approached we swallowed the break and it was going to be a sprint up the short climb to the finish. I was mid field and went to sprint and nothing happened, well, I went backwards is what happened, cold and cramp, I finished just off the back of the main group of 20 or so. Initially I was fairly pleased to have stayed in touch, bit of a shame about the end as on another day I’d have probably finished right up there in that sort of scenario but it wasn’t to be today.

Jason White formerly of Metalktek managed to hold off Will Goulbourne (who battered the Andy Morrison 2/3 last year, talented rider) for the win. With I think Lewis taking 3rd for PedalHeaven.

My attention quickly turned to getting into some warm clothes and as much sugar as I could afford with the shrapnel in my pockets! The race was fast, over 26mph average inc neutral, so likely 26.5 or so without. Nippy. Legs felt good, no result but was pleased to see if managed to at least get over last week. Good training for the wet and windy climate of Ireland anyway where I’ll shortly be heading for the RAS Mumhan. Anyway I’m off to buy some wind proof base layers!


SERRL – Lamberhurst

10 Mar

Yesterday was the first road race of the season, after a fairly successful early season with TT’s and training I was keen to get stuck in to the road stuff. Many people always say the first race is the hardest, but in previous years that has not been a mantra I have shared, mainly because I trained the same way with the same intensity all year round. However, this last 6 months have been different, there has been a focus on all durations of power, but the sway has been towards FTP, and there has been improvement in numbers as the time has gone on, but what I’ve perhaps not done all that much of yet is race style efforts which are always the most unpleasant to train and fairly needless for TT’s…

The race was on the Lamberhurst-Frant SERRL course which is fairly tough, it doesn’t have anything mega steep, but it doesn’t really have a moment of flat, its either up or down, and you certainly spend more time going up than you do down! There was a pretty strong field riding today, which given there was another big race on (Jock Wadley) really shows how many people are now of a high standard, teams of note included Pedal Heaven, Catford, Cadence (new team for the Cystal Palace shop), Richardsons Trek and a couple of others in the mix inc Elliot Porter flying the Rapha flag solo.

There were certainly a few riders going well at this point, I’d noticed in my twitter/strava travels that indeed most of the above had done decent stints abroad on training camps and were looking in good shape, sadly this year I’d not had time to get away for a camp like I did last year, job changes and life getting in the way!

When we finally rolled out in the lovely 18-20 degree sun I was about to find out just how well they were going! One of my least favorite parts of this course is the start which sees you led up the finish hill by the lead car before dropping his flag, and being the first lap it always pelts up there at high speed, I wasn’t feeling too bad as we crested and flew down the other side, and at the second hill I was keen to try and maintain a decent position, a bit of a mishap with the road in that it was a solid line, then not, then solid again, I probably was a bit guilty of going up the field when I shouldn’t have!

The race winning move formed on this very first lap with a number of strong riders getting away up the road, I was in no position to be going with that. After the first lap and constant changes of pace and responding to moves I felt the unusual sensation of burning legs, unusual in that normally I wouldn’t have this feeling til much later in the race. A chase group then formed which I probably should have tried to bridge over to and at one point I did attempt to, only to not be helped by the person who had come with so I stopped pushing. It was quickly clear that the front and indeed next group on the road were not going to be seen again by our bunch, which was a bit of a blow but I knew I wasn’t with it today.

At about the half way point I was riding on two lactic acid cylinders for legs, it was quite strange, I was pedaling at nominal pace and barely breathing hard yet my legs were saying no, over and over again. I was tempted to pull over and watch the finish, and said as much to a few people in our group that I knew, but was guilt tripped into carrying on and getting the race miles in. On the last lap I started to feel a bit better as it happened, still not great as my entire body was aching now. We approached the finish hill and I felt like I could probably finish at the front of our group at least which of course when everyone is on transponders is LIFE AND DEATH ;-), so waited for people to go and sprinted round to the line.

The race was won by Rhys Howells who came 2nd to Jake last time I raced here, clearly he has been training well and looked a different rider this time round and apparently won convincingly from Henry Latimer of Catford.

I can conclude that I need more race miles, it was a hard race but not much harder than it was last year where I felt more comfortable, luckily the top end stuff doesn’t take long to come back and with the improvements in FTP I’ve seen (which does take a fair while to improve) when I’ve got a few races in my legs I hope to be going a fair bit better. Strange was that after the race I almost felt a bit feverish, freezing cold, then really hot, I even soaked the bedsheets with sweat, so either I dug very deep, didn’t drink enough, or had an underlying issue, I don’t know which, but the one thing I do know is that it can only get better, I’m also nearly as light as I’ve been without any particular effort to eat super clean.

Next up is probably a crit down at Preston Park given the Peter Young has been cancelled, then the Wally Gimber, I’ll then attempt to put a decent 25 time against my name with a trip to the Welsh course renowned for being quick, I’ll be aiming for sub 50 with the stretch goal of better our club record, we will see.