Archive | August, 2014

SERRL – Chillham

20 Aug

With a couple of road races under my belt I was starting to think that I might be able to get competitive again in the longer stuff after a spate of crits and time trials over the last few months. This circuit is one that I have mixed feelings about to be honest. While the main circuit is fairly rolling and suits my sort of rider, the finish is far from ideal, a 2.5km climb with a few sharp ramps over 10%! Previously I’d done a couple of variations, one of which involved going up the finish climb 3 times in 45 mins! That hurt, a lot. Today thankfully was just the once.

August is a funny time of year really, its late enough in the season that many have lost interest, its peak holiday time, and generally it usually means fields are smaller. All of those factors meant that we had 50 riders in this race vs the usual 70-80. I wasn’t complaining, there were still plenty of decent guys so it was not going to be easy by any stretch. I thought the winner would likely come from Richardsons Trek as they had 4 or 5 guys riding, and I know from the Lee Valley races that they’re pretty strong guys.

Anyway, we got off to a start, and the first 20-30 mins was almost comical, it was so easy, I think people were wary and reluctant to show their hand. The course was a tail of two halves (sorry), half of it was super fast downhill/flat where you were always over 30mph, the other half was not only uphill, but it was into a disgusting headwind. Getting away today was going to require some hard riding, for sure.

After a lap or so I recall a coming together, which sadly put Rhys Howells out of action, he is one of the strongest blokes about so I guess he will have been a bit annoyed about that. While normally in these races a fairly large move goes clear, in this race it was actually a couple of ones and twos that attacked and got away, a Trek guy, Harold Evans from Cadence, and a couple of others in ones and twos. It was clear that the bunch had little interest in chasing this back, and a couple of attacks were the only thing that spurred the group into going a bit quicker. At about the half way point I thought I would chance my arm, the lead bunch probably had a minute or so at this point, and they were barely in sight at any point on the course despite a few long straights. Anyway, I thought it was worth a go, worst case was that I got brought back, but I was hoping to get away and have a few come over to me to help try and join the front group. I attacked on one of the faster sections as it happens. I got a decent gap then set about drilling it to extend the lead. Some 15 mins later I was well clear and was just about out of sight of the bunch at most points…then I hit the headwind section. Wow. It was horrid, properly slow, even pushing out 400w barely saw me break 20 mph and I wasn’t really even climbing! After another 5 mins of grinding away the bunch had picked up their pace and were coming back to me, I knew it wasn’t to be this time. I eased off so I didn’t go straight out of the back!

At this point the bunch had thinned a fair bit and there were probably 30 guys left. A few attacks went and I followed the wheels, nothing stuck initially. Then back on the fast section a chap from Trek and James from Dynamo went, it looked good I was still getting my legs back at this point, another couple then went from Meudon, Rich from Southdowns (who I went to Ireland with) and Brixton and I thought I may as well try my luck again, then carried on through a straggler and carried on alone again, it was not long before a chap from 34 Nomads came over to me, we got a decent gap and started working well togther to start to reel in the VCM and Brixton and Southdowns guys. After probably 10 mins we got him back and were now 5, we now looked good, gap was decent and everyone was pulling through. Probably another 15 mins passed and Colin Parry of Solidor joined us and was also straight into the through and off routine, at this point we saw that James Local had punctured, so up the road were 5 in the front group and the lone Trek rider James was with. Probably 25 mins had passed since we got away and then I notice a shot of yellow, Will Pratt from Cadence had ridden over solo on the headwind section and was quite vocal in getting things moving. I didn’t disagree with him, we needed to ensure the gap was good enough to stick. We had 1.5 laps left and I didn’t want to be back in the bunch. It must be said that Will was very strong. So much so that with a little effort on one of the drags we lost I think 3 guys which whittled out group down to 5 as we had caught the lone trek rider.

It was now a case for me of getting to the finish as part of this group, Will tried a few more digs and I ensured I stayed with it. When we were within 5 miles of the end my legs were pretty wrecked, I’d done the last 2hrs 15 over 300w with a hard 20 min effort on my own, it was hurting. We got to the foot of the climb, and even trying to keep Wills pace was cramping me, so I tapped up at my own pace to take 10th? Or 11th maybe? Unsurprisingly Will had ridden away from our group to take 5th or 6th. And I understand one of the trek boys won from the front group.

It was a good race in that I think I probably spent the least time in a bunch during a road race that I ever have, and I felt pretty good. And of course we stayed away which is always good. Bad in that I had utterly nothing to give when I got to the end. But I think there are finishes that I will be competitive on, and there are others where its not all that likely. This is bordering on the latter. Had this ended on the Gimber finish I’d have likely had the legs to be well into the top ten from our group, but that’s life.

A few more road races remain, its looking like I’ll probably at least retain my 1st cat this year despite racing very few RR and being off for that period (and having one race cancelled, flatting in another, etc etc, not been my year in that sense) with the injury. I am confident that I can go on and get a proper result in a Nat b, but it will be likely next year now, rather than this.

In pursuit of 19

20 Aug

As anyone who has any interest in time trialing will know, the holy grail (or one of) of the ten mile time trial is that first time you break the 20 minute barrier. Its mainly a milestone because in order to go under 20 minutes you will have to average over 30 mph. And of course 19 sounds better than 20!

Anyone who has followed this blog will know that I actually broke the 20 minute barrier in my first or second ten mile time trial last year with a time of 19.13 on the Tring course F11/10. But certainly since I bought my time trial bike two years ago I have always had another 19 in the back of my mind – the club ten course, G10/42. Anyone who has ridden this course will know its certainly not a gift course, it doesn’t have a huge hill that you only go down and not back up, its not packed with lorries from the nearest port to suck you along. And its not on some pan flat airfield style drag strip. In fact, its actually quite a rolling out and back with not a vast amount of flat ground at all. Probably two years ago now was my first time on the course using my road bike with just a skin suit and some zipp wheels to help cut through the air. I managed a 22.17 that night, which wasn’t bad going, but was some way from being a fast time vs my club mates past and present best times. At that point I think the best time from a Kingston rider had been Steve Irwin with a long 20, this seemed a long long way from the level I was at!

Anyway, after buying the time trial bike I thought I would set myself the goal of doing a 19 on said course, the only person else I can see that has done that is Hutch, back in 2002! I rode this course probably 10-15 times on my TT bike in total with varying conditions and times. The best was last year with 20.18 and the worst was well over 21 mins in a gale! However last week it seemed like everything came together, good conditions, decent legs, and a bit of luck. I managed to make it to a club ten for the first time this year, arrived with a few mins to spare, had no warm up of note and then went and clocked 19.49. I think I could have gone quicker if I had not come out of position to see if I had a puncture. The point of this post really though is to show that with the right equipment, training, persistence, you can actually go a lot faster than what you may think. I never thought I would take nearly 2.5 mins off my time from 2012, but various changes to positions and what not (and a decent night) all added up finally.

My next post on time trialing hopefully will be titled ‘in pursuit of 18’ because that is what I am hoping I might be able to do this weekend coming, or possibly at the National ten champs in two weeks time…

Python RR

4 Aug

This Sunday was my annual trip to Drift Road circuit which is near Bray. Nice part of the world, early start at 9.30. Got there nice and early and predictably the entire car park was already full even though I was an hour before the start time!

A decent field today, 88 riders on the sheet, couple of big powerhouses, the ‘tank’ from NFTO and Sybrandy of Sigma, this sort of course probably perfect for that type of rider. Being a similar kind of rider, but much less talented, I always liked racing the circuit. Though this version of the course is a little less pleasant than the John Walker which has its finish line on the course. This version means you take a left onto a straight road with 400m to go. Its pretty hectic.

Anyway, the weather was decent, I managed to get pole position in the car park behind lead car, clearly a minor victory in itself. Soon we were out of the village and onto the course, what awaited was 88 miles of racing. Towards the beginning legs felt great, and I tried to stay near the front and follow the wheels, this worked fine and while nothing of note stuck, I was near the front and not in any trouble. However, at about half way distance, I was stuck to the left of a rider who wasn’t interested in moving when everyone jumped, and I think this put me out of position somewhat. Next thing I knew, I looked up the road and there were about 5 guys away…!

They seemed to hover not too far ahead for sometime, I thought that this was likely a race winning move, I waited a couple of mins and on the long straight Drift Road, where sadly there was a headwind today Jake Martin jumped to go with a move of a few guys, I went with him, then went round, and went to the front of the small group away, I might have been a bit keen as I looked round and suddenly I was on my own about 30m clear of the bunch and probably 50 or so behind the group. If there was ever a place that it was tough to get away on, its this road, dead straight for about a mile, and a crap wind. I grinded away and it looked like I was making a bit of progress, but it didn’t take long to get reeled back in. This was the chance to get over, had I had a few takers it might have worked.

A lap or so later Henry Latimer of Catford jumped, and got a gap, a chap went with him, I didn’t know whether they would make it over or not, but I had probably not go the legs to go with. I think this was the 2nd or third ride over 3 hours I’d done since March, and certainly the first race. So it made sense my legs were feeling it at the 75 mile mark. A few other people tried to get away, Lawrence of Catford gave it a good go, and I did try to get over but the bunch came with (sorry Lawrence). Into the last lap and the hectic run in was playing out. for the last couple of miles we averaged well over 30 mph, and into the left turn I was probably a bit too far back, despite trying, the teams bustling for lead outs etc was quite hard to find a way through. I sprinted out of the corner and then saw how far the finish was haha! I rolled in having burned myself out. 28th apparently!

James ‘Tank’ Lewis from NFTO won, he got away 2 up with Roy Chamberlain of Corley – respect to Roy, he is always up there, and shows no sign of slowing. I heard one of the other lads say to him “you’re the best vet I know” he deflected it by saying he’d get eaten alive on the continent, but still some rider.

Got about 10 races left including some midweek stuff, if I want to retain 1st category then I need to get myself into the points at some point. Not been a great year on the road, bad luck, injury, and just tough races have meant that mostly I’ve got points in crits. I’m confident I’ll manage it though.

Next up there is a couple of mid week crits, then a SERRL race in the depths of Kent, and then the national 10, where I’d like to get into the top 10/15 if possible – but will be tough with the current crop of testers out there going so well!