Archive | June, 2014

Crystal Palace

25 Jun

In the spirit of getting back into midweek racing, I thought I’d give Palace another go. I’d done it twice last year, managed to get round just about the first time and would have been top ten but our last lap was called early (long story), and then the second time my bike was mucking about. Either way, there is no doubt that both times showed me that this is a hard circuit.

A lap of the circuit is about 2 mins, maybe a bit less when going fast, it has one sharp left turn, nearly a u-turn, one off camber right turn, one very hard to get right sweeping left turn which is blind, and covered by bushes around the apex which leads straight into ‘the climb’ which is about 25 seconds slightly uphill, but your legs know about it when you get there. There are normally a good 100 people on the track but split between e12 / 3/4 and womens. The e12 set off first, and it doesn’t take long usually before the race splinters as you’re sprinting as hard as you can 3 times a lap!
There were a few faces I knew riding in our race, Jake from Pedalheaven who is very successful at palace, a few of the guys form the newly formed Cadence Team who’s shop is the HQ for signing on etc. Then the usual smattering of Dynamo/Dulwich/Bigfoot/VCL etc. We got started and it was hard, but it wasn’t quite as mental as it was the last time I did it. It didn’t take long for the bunch to line out and thin a bit. I was finding it fairly easy to keep the pace, which was good, though it did take a while for me to dial in to the corners and putting trust in my tyres…
As the race progressed, numerous people tried to get away, but nothing was sticking, my legs were feeling ok, but I never thought they felt good enough to attack really, I was having to work a bit harder to keep pace in the corners so attacking was not on my agenda last night, maybe in future weeks, though.
With the clouds looking ominous it looked like the race might be cut short, and spits of rain began to fall, the nature of the course means that if its wet prior to the race then they call it off, but if it rains while racing is happening they just chop the laps. And that is what happened, we went from 15 to go, to 10 to go, to 5 to go, and suddenly all was to play for…
Round the sweeping bend by the finish and  I heard a lot of clashing and commotion, Jake had come off quite hard, still to this point we don’t know why, but his frame had snapped, perhaps this was the cause of the crash? Either way, not good and hopefully he can recover for the nationals tomorrow…
The bell rang, and my positioning at this point was not ideal, I tried to claw my way forward, and by the last time up the hill I was making progress up the outside, until a mystery wheel stopped riding and caused me to slow a touch, at this point 4 or so riders who had positioned themselves well got a small gap, I sprinted up the outside and managed to just pip Stu Spies for 5th but the gap to the front 4 was a it too big to close down, I was a bit annoyed at myself as I could have won that sprint had I thought about it a bit more, but it was a good first race back. I enjoyed it and will be back!

Richmond Park TT

25 Jun

Yesterday was the first of this years two events in Richmond Park, the event remains unchanged since its inception 4 or so years ago, and covers 10.4 miles around the park between 6-7am (to minimize upset to the locals/cars etc). The event is quite unique in terms of the setting and the terrain to an extent.

I’ll let you look at the strava link below to get an idea of the circuit, but essentially its an almost traffic free TT over undulating roads in the best park in London (that is opinion of course) – what isn’t to like! Over the last couple of years I have taken part on a road bike, and last year on a TT bike, and won in both categories. The event also differs drastically to a regular time trial in that entry is first come first served, rather than being merit based as many CTT events are. The good thing about this is that it opens the sport up to many people who would not normally do a TT as the CTT system can be a bit daunting, and many people do not want to ride the sorts of roads many CTT events are held on. And obviously the park is within 30 mins ride for probably about 5 million people, which is far better than sitting in the traffic on the m25 on your way to Hull/Wales/Derby etc.

The only drawback I would say to this style of entry is that sometimes the field is not as strong as the event deserves, though this is less of an issue as most people enter quick, or can get a late space as many people drop out, and previous years the event has seen many very good local/national level riders take part, Hutch and Wouter Sybrandy have both ridden the event in the past.

This years field was perhaps lacking in known time trialing talent from the area, but certainly had plenty of strong riders in attendance, Stu Spies of Dynamo and James Stratton also of Dynamo were clearly the men to beat this time round. Given I won last year I was actually the last rider off this year, which meant I got a relative lye in vs earlier years with my 7am off time. Though the flipside was that by this time there are plenty of other riders and cars already in the park.

I perhaps stupidly woke up about an hour before my start time, drank some energy drink to wake up, and just used the 10 minute ride to the start line as a warm up, which is very out of keeping with my recent warm ups on the turbo for 30-40 mins before a race.

Anyway, I watched as the two Dynamo’s went off up the road before it was my turn, I tried to keep it steady at first, but straight away the lack of any proper warm up was apparent and my legs felt totally dead! Not ideal, they slowly started coming round by about Richmond Gate. I knew it was a quick day in there as by the time I got down to Kingston Gate for the dead turn I was averaging over 26 mph.

On the way back I made sure not to stack it on the mini rdbt like last year, and then drilled it down the hill, the headwind was apparent, I hit nearly 45 mph down there last year, but barely nudged 40 this time. I could see James ahead, and estimated I had taken around 20 seconds out of him by the time we were at Roehampton Gate, I never got sight of Stu though. On the last climb I gave it a bit of extra effort and wasn’t a million miles away from catching James, and was probably around 5 seconds back. I stopped the clock on 23.18 which was much quicker than the year before.

The seemingly endless wait by the board for results showed soon enough that my time was enough to win by around 18 seconds, with Stu 2nd, and James a further 6 seconds back. 3 years in a row that I’ve won a category there! Spooky, but I’ve done the exact same watts every time I’ve ridden it with my TT bike!

Photo courtesy of Aaron Olszweski

Kingston Gate

Handicap Race

20 Jun

Not a vast field last night, as you would expect with the mighty England (lol) playing. Around 30-35 odd I reckon?

I think in all there were likely round 8 or so wheelers (and a few doing the time trial Hounslow host!), there were I think around 5 groups in total, some as small as 3, and some of the larger ones nearer 8-10 people. I was in the scratch group with Alex Tinsely of Twickehmam, Peter Hitt of VCM (who won Dunsfold), another VCM I didn’t know and James Local of Dynamo. It didn’t take long before we caught a few groups in front of us. I tried to make sure there were at least a few of us still rolling through to keep the momentum up, there were many reluctant to do so, or were not able to do so. As the laps counted down we gradually caught everyone, I had a few digs to get away, but nobody was willing to give a proper turn when they came over with me. Giving it was meant to be for training I probably did more work than I needed to, including dragging the bunch up the drag at 500w, which I certainly did NOT need to do, but did anyway. It came to 2 laps to go and we were now down to a minute to the front two, our bunch had thinned a bit as a few got distanced, but by and large I think nearly everyone who signed on was now part of this big group.

With one lap to go they still had 40 seconds, which was good going, but a testament to the mucking about in our bunch as nobody was willing to do all that much, too many people wanting a bunch sprint probably, I lifted the pace a couple of times to try and inject some impetus, and Damien attacked on the drag which Colin went with, and we had a gap for a while but again not enough commitment and the course was too quick at this point to allow us much of a gap. At this point I thought we probably would not likely catch the front 2, or if we did, it would be on the line.

As we approached the final corner, which is a horrid thing, sharp left over a broken road surface I was keen to maintain a position near the front, while I didn’t have many doubts I was quicker than the rest in a sprint, all too many times I’d messed things up down to positioning, so I was on the white line, which meant if anyone wanted to come round, they had to go on the other side of the road, and with a car coming, I knew this was not going to happen.

With the line in sight we could see the 2 men just about to cross over, good ride from them, we were fighting for 3rd. VCM had numbers at the front, and Local of Dynamo was also up there. Peter Hitt led it out, early, I got onto the wheel of Pembroke (I think?) and waited til I thought we were close enough, the VCM from the scratch group jumped and got clear, I followed and went through a gap just in front of Local to go clear and take the bunch sprint, I understand VCM had 4 or 5 in the top 10! I think Perhaps Cameron got up for a top 10?

Good fun, woke my legs up a bit after the time trialing I’ve been doing the last few weeks. Good showing from KW, unsure of results at this stage but certainly most of KW were in the sharp end.

May/June Update!

16 Jun

I’ve been a bit slack this last couple of weeks with updates but wanted to quickly mention a couple of events.

I did the Hillingdon GP last week, a National A rated crit that took in around 45 miles of Hillingdon. Which FYI is a LOT of laps!

There were a fair few decent riders present from Pedalheaven notably, it was always going to be a fast race, the weather was decent and hot from the Tour series, Alex Patton and Gruff Lewis were clearly going to be going very well! And they were!

I was unsure of my form for these sorts of races having had a bit of time away from slightly longer intense stuff. I decided to make a day of it and rode up to the circuit, a quick warm up and we were away. The pace was quick, but Hillingdon being pretty flat it never felt too difficult staying near the front of the bunch. I felt pretty good and was keen to try and be active and see if I could make it into one of the moves. A few laps passed and Jamie Pine put in a dig, I decided to go with and we got a gap, I was kind of hoping a couple of people would come over, but it wasn’t to be and we gradually got reeled back in. The race carried on being up and down and eventually a small group got clear that seemed to stay away for some time but Tony Gibbs CSE team rode it down with the help of a few others eventually.

By now I was feeling a bit knackered and again Paton I think attacked and took a couple with him, this ended up being the winning move. I was going to try and sprint for the rest of the places up for grabs but on the run in there was some very erratic stuff, and for 7th place I couldn’t be doing with risking a fall. Good race, nice to see I’ve not lost too much from the time off.

I’ve also been doing a lot of time trials recently, not least because there has been a fair gap in the road racing calendar for local stuff, and I am not so keen to drive the length of the UK for races. So in the last 4 or 5 weeks I’ve done 4 time trials. Two on the H10/8 course in Bentley, the first of which attracted a fairly decent field, Wouter Sybrandy making a comeback and along with local Richard Prebble and also Russell Hampton. I was seeded as almost last man, but I knew that Russ was likely the man to beat. I felt I did a good ride, half decent power, and clocked 20.06 which was a course PB by about 12 seconds, I’d beaten everyone but Hampton who smashed it and did a 19.22 – classy rider. Maybe his mate Dowsett has been giving him a few tips eh?

The second was another crack on this course, similar field with the addition of Stephen Walkling who I knew was a quick rider and had been doing some quick times. This time I felt like it was a tougher day, but I went a bit quicker and did a 20.02, so close to the 19 I would love to do on that course. But will have to wait for another day! But it was enough to get the win from Walkling who did a 20.27.

Next up was this weekend just gone, my legs felt a bit trashed as I had done a bit more crappy commuting than I should have, but Saturdays event was the Kingston Phoenix 10 on our club 10 course, it didn’t look like it was going to be a fast day so hopes of beating my course PB were put to bed when I saw it was a north wind, but with Steve Kane and Steve Irwin riding I was keen to see how I would do. I felt like I rode a pretty poor race, power was down and I never felt like my legs woke up, I managed to clock 20.47 which was 13 seconds ahead of Steve Kane who beat me last year, and a further 20 or so seconds to Steve Irwin who I think did 21.29, so I took the win, and we took the team prize.

Sunday (yesterday) was probably an admin error, an 8.10 start 45 miles away the morning after an 11pm england game…As it happened I made it through to the end of the fast half and was knackered and fell asleep. Sadly I got just about the worst nights sleep ever and woke up with that horrid strained eye feel of when you know you’ve barely rested. I almost stayed in bed, but decided I’d made plans and was going to stick to them. It was the Team Axiom (who host the Tour of the Milburys I won in 2013) 25 on the quick P885/25 Course on the Petersfield stretch of the A3. Again a fairly decent field of 120 riders, Irwin, Walkling, Seb Ader were noteable riders and all seeded, I don’t think Whitewick started.

I was off fairly early and the start of the course is a 40mph downhill towards Petersfield, I was held up by a lorry on the very first roundabout, I thought it was not going to be my day. From there I rode hard and my legs felt OK considering how trashed they felt after the 10 the previous day. I had downed a 500ml can of Relentless just before starting my warm up on the turbo, and its fair to say it id give me a shot in the arm. I was riding at not a million miles from my 10 power, I kept a lid on it for the first half and got to the final turn at a bit under 29 average so knew a 49 was not on the cards today, a bit too early/cold probably. But in the second half I was able to lift the power and rode a few watts shy of my 10 power for the last 25-30 mins to stop the clock in 51.11 which was a pb by 30 seconds. I knew it was a tough day, that was the best power I’ve done for a 25, so thought I stood a chance of being right up there, and all of the main guys had also ridden a 10 the previous days so I wasn’t really at any disadvantage.

I got back to the club house and was milling about when I saw Seb, I asked him what he had done and he said a mid 50, I knew I was beat, so rather than hang around for 90 mins I drove over to my mums. It was only a bit later when I got a tweet from Steve Irwin to say that I had won, and in fact Walkling was 2nd about 15 seconds back, then Irwin, then Ader, turns out Seb had got his times mixed up on his Garmin or similar. I was well pleased with that result. Steve had told me that 40 mins later start time on that course provided a large advantage with warmth and traffic, so I was pleased to hold on to it despite the main guys going off later.

So pleased with how its been going, 3 wins of the last 4 time trials with some good riders in attendance. All rides on Strava as usual! I have the first of the two Richmond Park TT’s next weekend, and then a couple of races at Crystal Palace in attempt to get back into the racing side of things as I’ve missed a fair chunk this season.