Archive | August, 2015

National 10

31 Aug

Been a while since I updated, I think the last one was when I had won at Crystal Palace, good times! Since then I’ve done a few bits here and there, couple of crits where I was fairly average, a couple of TT’s where I did alright and won both, though I was later relegated to 2nd in one after timekeeping mix up (damn you Boyman!). Nothing massively noteworthy, though the two TT’s were good in that I ticked the sub 50 on Bentley box doing a 49.24 (Boyman had same time initially then later got given 49.20) and then doing a fairly good ride (in my opinion) on G10/42 which is the club ten course, I’ve ridden it many times, but never in 31 degrees! I managed to win by over a minute and land a course PB with 19.33, so second faster of all time on that course behind Hutch who has the record with 19.04 which I may be able to trouble at some point…

The National 10 – though the 25 is described as the blue ribband event, I personally prefer the ten, and this years course was sure to be a bit more friendly to me than Hull last year. As you will know my main aim for National events this year was a top 10 in both, I managed joint 6th in the 25 though probably would have been 7th had Steve Irwin bothered finishing 😉 – there were a few exceptions on the entry to the 10, Steve being one, and Topham who had tied me in the 25 being another, but in their place were 2 others which certainly could upset the apple cart, Rich Bussell who Xav has been telling me about for a little while now, and Edmund Bradbury who now as a full time pro with NFTO has been working his way around Surrey and anywhere else he fancies destroying the best times up any and all climbs, he also came 2nd to only Dowsett in the BC TT champs, so these were two riders who could well make it that bit harder to get in the top ten, along with all the other talent that enters these events.

Predictably despite feeling ok health wise since the 25 earlier in the week I picked up a bit of a sore throat, but thankfully with a massive over indulgence in vitamins, salt water to gargle and sleep I managed to just about get back to normal for Sundays race. It wasn’t too far away, but not on the doorstep either, just outside Rugby.

The course was great as far as I was concerned, not a lot of traffic, no stupid gift hills, and only one turn, the surface was a bit rough, but nothing like as bad as I’d been warned, the only thing that let the day down was the rain, it was pretty wet by the time I started warming up, but given it wasn’t like I would be flying around any bits of it at 40mph, I wasn’t that bothered, just hoped my tyres would hold out…!

I had not concerned myself with any early times, and got myself to the start, I had a game plan in terms of when and where to push on a bit, and where the time could be made and lost, I was going to try and ride at 390W for the main, and then push on at a couple of sections where it got a bit draggy, I started and my legs felt good, the speed wasn’t super high, I knew that I would likely need to do a 19 to be anywhere near the sharp end and that was always in the back of my mind, however when I got to the turn at around 29mph I was wondering if it was a crap day vs when Clinton had set his 19.43 CR, anyway, pwoer was good till that point, I took the turn a bit too slowly in hindsight, that and having to tilt my visor every few minutes were the two things I felt I did wrong in this race, bit annoying to be honest when you see how tight the results were. Anyway, approaching the 7 mile point I was pushing on up the hill, 400w+ felt pretty hard but sustainable, which at least tells me that the taper had worked as that was not possible in the heat last week, I got to the top of that drag with an avg of around 395W for 17 mins or so which is the best I’ve done, the last two miles were quick and I knew not much time could be made up there, having emptied myself a bit up the climb I did ride the last couple of minutes under that figure, but still dragged the speed up a fair bit. I finished with 20.11, I was skeptical it was going to be enough to get anywhere near the dizzy heights of 6th like the 25, but I decided I was pleased with the ride, best power of the year, and bar the visor, no mechanical issues or anything to speak of.

I got up to the HQ and was immediately a bit annoyed, James Boyman had gone 10 seconds faster (5th on the day, great ride!), after being so close on Bentley, and of course beating him in the 25, I thought it may be a smaller gap than 10 seconds, anyway, the really irritating thing was that there were 4 people within 5 seconds of my time (in front of me) and someone on the same time, if I had just not been a girl around the turn, or had had some foresight around the visor I could have dramatically improved my placing, but as it was I tied 10th with 25 mile Bronze Medal winner Kieron Davies, so not terrible given how strong he is, but when there is a 5-6 second difference between 6th and tenth it always makes you think back to what you could have done differently. Ah well, there were plenty of very strong riders behind me, so it wasn’t a bad showing by any stretch.

Rich Bussell had done the business, a last minute aero session with Xav had seen him able to make the most of the engine he clearly has and he clocked a stupidly fast 19.36 to win from Matt Clinton who bettered his own CR with 19.41 with Bottrill in 3rd a further 4 seconds back with 19.45. So this year I was 35 seconds from the winner, last year I was 58, I’ve got better, but I hope there is more to come! I don’t know when, or which event, but I want to have won a medal (individual non age related) in a CTT champs before I am satisfied. I think its an ambitious goal, but if you don’ set these goals, you don’t have anything to work to, there is a lot I can do to improve, so I think its not a total moonshot! Not a lot left this year, F11 today (Monday cancelled due to weather, one last chance to do an 18 comes in the shape of P881R in a couple of weeks, then probably my last road race of the year with the Handicap champs, which I would love to win after podium-ing a couple of years back.

Ride is here – https://www.strava.com/activities/381070380

1 Richard Bussell RST Sport/Aero-Coach 19:36
2 Matt Clinton Mike Vaughan Cycles 19:41
3 Matthew Bottrill http://www.drag2zero.com 19:45
4 Edmund Bradbury NFTO Pro Cycling 19:50
5 James Boyman Farnham RC 20:01
6 Brett Harwood Terry Wright Cycles RC 20:04
7 Andy Jackson Team Swift 20:05
8 Joshua Williams Revolutions Racing 20:08
9 Dan Evans Team Elite/Paul Bethall Electrical 20:10
10 Rob Sharland Paceline RT 20:11
11 Kieron Davies http://www.drag2zero.com 20:11
12 John Dewey Dorking CC 20:18
13 Ashley Cox CC Luton 20:18
14 David Kiernan Lutterworth 20:21
15 Alexander Royle Army Cycling Union 20:22
16 David Crawley Fibrax-Wrexham RC 20:24
17 Adam Duggleby SportGrub Kuota Cycling 20:26
18 Daniel Northover Finsbury Park CC 20:28
19 Matthew Smith Team Velovelocity.co.uk 20:30
20 Ben Mcintosh Crewe Clarion Whs 20:31

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Finally…

5 Aug

25 months.

No, I’m not trying to outdo a trapped rock-climber, rather that is how long its been since I won a race of any sort on my roadbike. For a rider who won his first two ever races and then went and won a few other races/stages of races etc that seems like a bloody long time to me. I get my fix for winning I suppose from time trials, but even still, the feeling of winning on the road, or a crit circuit as it was is still every bit as sweet as doing a personal best or winning an event by 3 minutes on the time trial bike.

People have always asked what I might concentrate more on next year in terms of road/TT, and I usually say the same thing, I’ll mix it up and see how I get on, I don’t feel like one has to suffer at the hands of the other, the only thing that perhaps changes is driving miles and miles for a road race when there is a TT nearby starts to look like a waste of a weekend, but there are times when it comes together and you know why you still do both, even if like me you’ve had quite bad luck on the road due to various things…

People far more eloquent and edgy than I have written blogs on Crystal Palace and its racing, what with references to the sun breaking through the dense tree cover to illuminate the last bastion of true crit racing the SE has to offer, so I’ll skip all that – basically its really fucking hard; and reasons for this are two fold, one: it has a selection of corners that require nerve and skill (or a lot of sprinting if you have neither), and two, even the most sedate people seem to turn into raging bulls when in SE19, attacking left right and center like their lives depend on it. All that coupled with a fairly decent and competitive field most weeks make it a hard but enjoyable Tuesday evening pursuit.

I’ve been going along most weeks this year, mainly as I felt like getting in a 4 hour day and 1 hour at race pace was good training, and also because the guys that race there are a decent bunch and riding there doesn’t push me to go all Michael Douglas in Falling Down, which I’m afraid traversing West London out to Hillingdon does seem to. This year most races have either been won by Ethan Hayter (who is on the UK national squad), Tom Hargreaves (who has won lots of races) or Rob Moore (who usually bulldozes his way to victory if he can), and a smattering of others. I feel like racing at palace is not really easy points, and that is what makes it a bit more special than Hillingdon and such. This week I really couldn’t be arsed to be fair, got to about 5pm and I raided the work coffee supplies for some enthusiasm and pulled myself together, I’d still got fairly achey legs from pushing on a bit on the Sunday, so was unsure of how I’d be to be honest.

We got started and it felt ok, I continued to feel ok, my back didn’t even ache that much (maybe that £200 saddle did the trick?), a lot of moves came and went, mainly with Ian Paine of Dynamo, Kendall Noctor of Feather, Tom or James Lowden of Neon Velo being the perps. I got away with James towards the end and forgot how strong he was, really wasn’t that pleasant getting over to him and coming through. We were brought back however, it was getting to the point where I thought it would likely be a sprint situation, thankfully it was up the hill which I don’t mind, and Ethan was frying bigger fish somewhere, so this was my best chance of winning. Tom had Ray from Dynamo lining it out up the hill and I saw a gap and just smacked it, I knew that if I got a gap then nobody would catch me, I looked back after a good 10 second or so effort and there was daylight, wonderful. I stuck one hand in the air (didn’t want to do an Armitstead after all) and crossed the line. Happy days. (maybe a pic out there somewhere of the finish – I’ve yet to find it).

Meanwhile there was this pre race pensive glance – credit to Alex Hewson – more from him here  https://www.flickr.com/photos/35420541@N05/sets/72157656425234408 
https://www.strava.com/activities/361299969

National 25 and other stuff

3 Aug

Been super busy recently so not so many updates, but in the last few weeks I’ve done quite a mixture of events, culminating in the first really big one just this Sunday in the National 25 (the blue ribband event, cliche it may be, but its probably true for the CTT)!

In terms of the other stuff, I’ve done a few crits, and a road race and another TT or two, I won the second Richmond Park TT which was nice, makes it 5 in a row, this despite getting in from my holiday just 3 hours before my start time! I then had a spate of punctures, some far more irritating than others, the first was at Palace where I punctured my own wheel then punctured the spare I got given on the last lap. I then drove a fairly long way into Kent to do a road race that suits me well, it didn’t have a really strong field, and I thought I had a chance of a very good result, same old story though, 30 miles in I hit a huge hole and blew out my rear tub, really annoying!

I’ve also been on holiday, so was nice to visit Montenegro and see some fantastic landscapes, and go somewhere not ruined by tourists (well, cruise ships were plentiful, but they didn’t stay long). It also had some fantastic roads, especially the climb from Kotor to Lovcen, 22 miles of climbing at 5% avg, here is a view from half way up said climb :

Kotor

Beyond that its been about trying to balance everything out, its warm outside and there are lots of social events going on, so I’ve had to try and balance that, I’ve also soon got a spate of weddings and stag parties to attend, so August was to be a fairly important month, it had both of the national TT events I had entered, and some of the last road races I’ll do, its currently looking like I’ll slip back to 2nd cat, which I have mixed feelings about but we’ll see how I get on in the next few weeks.. Onto the Nat 25 then…

I’d had a bit of time on the TT bike recently, I had a crack at doing a sub 50 on Bentley a week prior, goals were simple, go sub 50, and ideally not get beaten, James Boyman was riding and I knew he was better than when we met at the ten where I managed to beat him by 25 secs, and possibly I was worse, it was in hindsight the beginning of getting sick, I felt ok during the race but was still down on best power, and on a windy day James clocked a superb winning time of 49.33 and I could only manage 50.04, annoyingly close to my target, I’ll have to go back..

What that really meant, however, was that there was now a fairly real threat of me not being able to do what I wanted at the Nationals, which I’ve always said for this year was to be in the top 10 in both 25 and 10 mile events, but already a few people I knew full well I wouldn’t beat, adding folk like James into that list started to make for depressing reading! Amusingly I’ve just read his blog and his section on tapering could have come from my own mouth, the only thing that made mine easier to follow was that I was snotty and coughing most of the week, up to around Thursday, so doing short rides suited me fine! But when the day came round it was quickly obvious what shape I’d be in!

As usual I got about 3 hours sleep on Saturday night, I’d gone to a mates birthday that day and not touched a drink despite everyone else tucking in so was annoyed not to be able to sleep. Over time I’ve got less of a ribbing about shunning social events in favour of cycling as I think people (friends) have managed to make the distinction between a cyclist in someone who does a few Wiggle events, and one who wants to do half decent in a national level event, they still think I’m odd for shaving my legs mind you! Anyway, Lucy and I drove up to Marlow pretty early, I wanted to make sure I knew what the turns looked like and wanted to scout the roads for marshalls to make sure I wasn’t going to waste it all by going the wrong way, something I’ve managed before after a long drive. I warmed up after having had a solid prep talk from Xav who’d just got in from his effort on fixed gear, he gave me the lowdown, and we talked over how I was going to ride the course and what should and should not be done in order to get the best result possible!

I felt pretty average while warming up, dull legs, but not too bad, I got up to the startpoint and had a natter with Matt Clinton and Andy Jackson who surely would both be contenders, took my mind off the world of hurt I’d be about to put myself in. I was one of the last few to start, and at 9.02 AM I was pushed off. I settled down into position and began to think about the task at hand. As usual the first minute I could probably ride at 700w and feel no pain, but you must hold back in these situations, in fact I spent the first 20 minutes riding fairly within myself, or comfortably hard (snigger), I knew this race was to be won or lost on the 25 minute single carriageway section. One bit of info I’d retained among a wash of forgotten knwoledge was Bob Tobin (Bottrills coach) saying he thought it would be won with a 48 and you’d need a 49 to be in the top 10 (bang on as we later found out), so when I got to the turn with a middling 29mph average I wasn’t quite sure what to think. I’d done just over 350w and wanted to ensure that I did the second half a fair bit higher. This is something I’ve managed to do quite naturally in races but its resulted in me never overcooking myself and always likely getting nearly the best result possible. My split time was actually noticeably slow for my finish time, so maybe I went just a bit too easy!

At the turn here, credit to Ian Sherriffs

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Into the second half I began to push on, I was debating hitting the lap button so I knew not to let myself slack off, but I decided to just crack on and push as hard as possible. The first half had seen me make it through 6 or so roundabouts without issue, but on the way back twice people under-estimated my closing speed (only human I suppose) and pulled out on me and then proceeded to forget where the accelerator was located and twice I was out of the bars motioning at them to put their foot down, not optimal. Just before the turn back onto the main road and the last five miles I threw up in my mouth, and then over my stem, so that was at least a fairly reliable acid test of my effort, stomach acid mixed with SIS gel in this case.

With 5 miles left to go I started to really wind it up, it was hurting, and with the last possible hold up point done without having to slow down too much I was into the last 3 minutes or so of the race, avg speed was now over 30mph which pleased me somewhat, I pushed as hard as I could, only remembering how irritated I was by such a small margin keeping me out of the top 10 in the National 10 last year (it was actually a fair bit, but 5 secs would have bought a few places). I pushed all the way to the line and stopped my garmin on 49.32, which usually means you’ve done about 49.30 given I start it about 1.5 secs early and stop it about 1 sec after the line.

Aside from his books, which I enjoyed, I’ve not really paid too much attention to Hutch of late, mainly as he isn’t racing anymore, but he did say something I really liked the other day in a podcast with Mark Florence – “I would decide upon finishing a TT whether I was happy with my time/performance before getting to the HQ to find out what everyone else had done” – so often I’ve been happy until I’ve seen what others have done, I decided today I wasn’t going to carry on with that theme. I decided that I was happy with the ride, I’d managed 357W which is about 6w down on what I managed in a recent 25 if you take out the ski slope start, and you’d hope probably more like 10w down on what a proper taper should have yielded. I put this down to me not being well that week, so I was pleased to be within 1% of my best despite all of that – but Xav said if I had done 11w more, or just 6w more than I have done before I could have been within spitting distance of a 48…

Another from Ian here

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I got up to the hall to find myself with an official 49.33 which I found a touch odd, but wasn’t too worried about, though I was tied with Adam Topham for 6th place (last time we raced he beat me by 13 or so secs in a ten), so perhaps in hindsight I’d have liked to have been given my 1 or 2 seconds! So all in all I was happy, 6th was better than I’d have hoped for leading up to it, a couple of non finishers may have changed that slightly, but that’s racing sadly, you gotta finish first to have a chance of finishing first and all that.

Hoping to get back into my best shape for the 10 in 4 weeks time which is on a course that should do me a favour with it being so quiet and traffic free, hopefully I can get up into the top 10 again, should be a similar field I suspect, though I have heard a rumour about Wiggins riding, so that may scupper things somewhat!

https://www.strava.com/activities/359375275

Top ten here :

1 Ryan Perry Langdale Lightweights R T 00:48:04
2 Matthew Bottrill http://www.drag2zero.com 00:48:24
3 Kieron Davies http://www.drag2zero.com 00:48:36
4 Joshua Williams Revolutions Racing 00:48:45
5 Matt Clinton Mike Vaughan Cycles 00:49:03
6 Rob Sharland Paceline RT 00:49:33
6 Adam Topham High Wycombe CC 00:49:33
8 James Boyman Farnham RC 00:49:39
9 Matthew Smith Team Velovelocity.co.uk 00:50:01
10 Brett Harwood Terry Wright Cycles RC 00:50:15