Archive | February, 2016

10 TT & SERRL Race

29 Feb

Bit of a combo again this weekend – Saturday with a practice run at this years National 10 mile course, which as I was to find out was more than just a little tough compared to the usual. And a return to road racing after a few months out with an event down in Kent on Sunday.

Been going better and better in recent days after finally getting mostly over the ankle sprain, I was feeling good for riding the TT, but was still in two minds about riding a road race on it with all the accelerations and changes of pace, but decided to make a call after the TT.


I’d had a fairly solid (by my standards) week of riding, few intervals, no rest day etc, with the idea of rather than tapering for the event just getting a feel for it, but as ever, I want to win every time I ride, so I was still very much going to give it my full effort. The course which can be found here is the P886 which is down near Petersfield. I used to live and work in Petersfield as a youth so knew the road fairly well, but only had I driven it in my chavved up 306 GTI rather than cycle a time trial bike down it. So I wanted to get a good look from the bike in prep for August. As you’ll see, its pretty rolling, I’ve done the first bit in a road race, and the big downhill is actually part of the p885/25 course which I set a course record on last year, so I felt like I would find it ok, but either way you look at it, with nearly 700ft of climbing it is far from ‘rapid’.

On the day, everyone else I knew through cycling was riding then drinking beer while watching Omloop; with a biting East wind I was tempted to join them, but thought I better go and see it given the relative lack of events on the course between now and August, had there been another in 2 months I’d have certainly binned in. Competition was going to be tough, Pete Tadros who is no slouch on a flat course, and even quicker when it goes upwards was riding, also John Dewey who I’d ridden against many times previously was riding. I don’t think I’ve ever been beaten by John though we were always very close, but I thought if there was a time he would roll me, it was likely to be here, he packs plenty of watts and weighs a fair bit less than me, and with the newly formed Team Bottrill next to his name, I was sure he would be training hard under Matt’s horrible sessions (if all his people and their tweets are to be believed, that is). Anyway, got up to the start, and noticed it was actually really windy – I’d had another aero session with Xav the previous week but was wondering just how easy I’d find it to settle into position for any length of time on this course. I took it pretty easy for the first few miles and then tried to keep the effort up down the hill, but I was in 55-11 and at 45+ mph and didn’t feel like I was on top of it. I approached the bottom of the hill and had to freewheel while a car caught another rider and had to wait to overtake, I was also a touch cautious about cars not seeing me when waiting at junctions, it was late at 4.15pm and light was not amazing, probably over cautious, but better safe than sorry. For the first time I wondered whether a 90mm front was the best option, few crosswind moments, which at 45mph are not as easy to deal with as at 30, lets hope for typical summer weather for the big event.

I got to the turn at 31mph, which I thought was alright, but knew it would be dog slow on the way back, and sure enough, it was, from that point to the finish I did close to 400W for 12 minutes and went 23mph or something silly, it look my average down into the 26’s, which I’d not ever done in a 10 mile TT before, I’d even gone faster on my road bike on G10/42 than this as my very first attempt I think. I finished in 22.40 which I thought was ok considering, it was about as quick as Seb Ader had done to win an event there in years gone by, but I thought John would beat it. Got back into the HQ to find I’d come 2nd to Dewey, by quite a large margin, but given some of the events during the race I kind of accounted for that. John had done 22.18, which was a great ride in those conditions I thought. Pic from Eamon Dene of Local Riders – webpage here

Road Race

In times gone by I’ve noticed that my legs always feel pretty good after a 10, so I was hopeful of being in good shape for this race. It is my first race at 2/3 level for over 2.5 years, so cockily I thought it would be fairly easy to get round, and had a good chance of making something happen – that was based on me winning them 3 years ago at far lower base of fitness than I have now, so not total blind arrogance.

This was part of the SERRL down in a pleasant part of Kent called Benenden, 65 miles over a gently rolling circuit with 60 riders, the wind was much like the day before but stronger, I opted for some warm clothing, I even brought out the GABBA to tick the spring cycling cliche box. I’ll be banging on about Belgium and Kermesse next! Recognized a fair few faces which was nice, I had no team mates present because they’re all in Spain ticking the Calpe cliche box. I was a bit out of touch about who was who, but saw Declan who had been getting good results, James Hayden who had beaten me to the prize at the Tour of Sussex 3 years ago (still not forgiven), a couple of others such as Barnabus from Dynamo who I’d seen was getting some good results and had a reputation of being a strong man. And then what seemed like a lot of PMR team and numerous other Kent based teams along with Rich Cartland who I’d done the RAS with, who is always strong.

Idea at the start of the day was to get into a move and then try and go solo near the end. Idea almost changed after going up the first hill and thinking ‘blimey, this is harder than I remember” – the legs thankfully came back to life after a while and I felt pretty good. Barney was aggressive early on, I kept an eye on that and joined a couple of moves that looked good, with no luck straight away, but I knew he’d be involved with whatever did happen. After a bit of a telling off about bunch conduct we were back on our way, leading into the 2nd or 3rd time up one of the decisive bits of the circuit I drove through and really hit it over the top – I’d noticed in the last lap everyone was breathing hard here and that it led into quite a fast section, so would be good for a go – I kept on the gas and looked back to se it strung out, carried on for another 20 or so seconds, looked back again, same story, pulled off and noticed it was actually that there was now a bunch of ten of us away with a gap, happy days. All of the people you’d want involved with few exceptions. We were working pretty well together, got a time check, 30 seconds, carried on riding well, 50 seconds, and then just kept it steady – I noticed a few people were sitting on at times, but rather than worry about it I just tried to concentrate on riding steady to get the gap out. We went at about 25 miles, so had a good 40 miles to ride as a group of ten.

As the clock ticked down we’d lost James, and I was plotting how I would finish this race, I felt like Barney, one other in plain kit (Alex Richardson I later learned) and myself were strong in this bunch but knew we had a couple who’d be fresh. With just over one lap to go I accelerated over the top of a climb just to get an idea of how people were feeling, I got a gap but didn’t think I had it to go from here, I noted down how far it was from there to the finish, just under 2 miles, I was thinking that on the last lap, I would go here – we now had 4 minutes on the bunch so it was job done on that front. However, we got to the same point where I’d split the bunch initially and I had another go to see what would happen, it was looking like the same result had happened, we lost Declan, and got a small gap on the rest with Barney and Alex, but not enough, Richardson then went solo now and dangled out in front for a while. As we came up the climb near the finish, instead of doing what I had planned, I decided that in this number (8 or 9) I felt I could win from the sprint – I still think this was an error. We all but halted on the way to the finish drag, not ideal, it even allowed Declan to get back on, who I knew would end up beating most of them, silly on their part, I prefer sprinting from speed, but too late to worry about that now as we basically were in a track sprint situation, one of the Adalta lads who had been perhaps keeping his powder dry hit it first followed by Alex, and Dec and then me, BANG went the noise, rear spoke gone, and wheel all over the place. I kept on but not at full gas and came in 4th. Quite annoying, but good to have it happen now than at the beginning of another race I guess. That’ll teach me for not going through with what I had planned. Anyway, was fairly pleased with my ride, felt strong and 300w average for 2hrs45 is about as good as I’ve ever done in any race, so think I’m going alright. Next events in a couple of weeks, East Surrey Hardriders, then another 2/3 road race a few hours later…may live to regret that.

Pic from Team Bottechia here of the break (myself on the left in the woeful gloves as I’d managed to leave my black ones at the TT the day before)

Kingston Sporting 14 – season opener

15 Feb

I generally start racing at the same time each year, the Kingston Wheelers Sporting 14. Its always an internal debate whether to enter Perfs which always falls on a similar day, but I’ve never raised enough enthusiasm to drive all the way down there and race for 45 miles. The Kingston event is always a good one, its really close as events go, its on roads I know, and obviously having ridden with the club for many years before the creation of Paceline it promises lots of familiar faces.

Quick recap on what this event is, 13.6 miles, two laps of a circuit that has a long uphill drag, bit of DC, then a shallow downhill back towards finish line, it always gets a pretty decent field with all sorts of folk having ridden in the past, and while I’ve won it the last two years, I only managed to take Wouter Sybrandy’s course record by a single second in 2015, there are lots of very strong testers on the trophy, Paul Pickup and Ben Instone to name a couple from past years. I have the trophy and it looks like no rider had won it two years on the bounce, and certainly not 3 years on the bounce so I was keen to put a showing in.

Typically the winter was not without issue, I’d been going really well and showed great promise in the Dec time trial, but all good things come to and end! And in Jan (almost exactly 1 month ago today) I hit a wandering pedestrian (London is full of them!) and went down and badly sprained my ankle, the usual black bruising on the foot and huge swelling etc pointed to it being a fairly nasty grade 2 sprain. At the time I thought little of it having done it before as a kid and it not posing too much issue. But as time went on it became clear it was going to be a slow recovery. I’ve had a lot of days off the bike, and riding at anywhere near normal level has been a slow old process, finally now its starting to feel more normal though I cannot run on it yet. With this in mind I thought that it would be quite touch and go whether I’d be ok to ride this and I was going to make a call in the days leading up to the event.

With a couple of days to go I felt like it was OK to ride given the event is only about half an hour. Conditions looked ok, cold but not a terrible wind, though I thought winning would be tough given some strong riders on the startsheet, including serial bridesmaid in this event Pete Tadros and clubmate Pat Wright who had beaten Chris Mcnamara and Tadros to win both of the Southdowns Sporting events last weekend with his new TT bike. So certainly it was going to be tough. I knew Pat would probably be my closest rival, but you never know who can do what on the day.

I got down there and quickly realized that in my attempts to change stem on my bike, which is a total faff on a Trek Speed Concept, I’d overloaded the headset and it barely turned, I’d not been outside on the bike so didn’t realize. I panicked, knowing how long it takes to yank the bike apart I got back to the car and set about dismantling the aerobars as quickly as possible, I found the bolt that needed adjusting and set about it. It stressed me out a bit as it only left me with about 20 mins to warm up. I got up to the startline to be told me Alice Lethbridge (ladies CR holder from 2015) that she had taken two mins from her record, and I had to do the same, she had switched to a TT bike but whichever way you cut it taking 3 mins in total from the 2014 CR to now is impressive.

Anyway, long and short is that I got off to a decent start but noticed there were a lot of cars on the circuit making it a bit sketchy at times, an the corners were super greasy, but I got round the first lap above CR speed, so I was looking OK. On the final lap I got stuck behind a car for what felt like ages, but probably wasn’t and just had to freewheel, very irritating! I hit the line in 30.31 which was 18 secs faster than my previous time despite only managing about 360W this time vs 370 last year, though I am a bit more slippery now. I got back to find Pat had beaten Pete to 2nd place by 3 seconds to finish in 31:10. Paceline 1>2 and team prize owing to Keith Lea who I think was closely behind also in the top 5. For my troubles I ended up with a great print from Dom Trevett, £180 odd quid, and the trophy for another year, which I should really go about getting engraved this time round..!

Next on the menu usually is the Redhill event, but sadly its been cancelled due to roadworks, so its a practice run at this years National 10, which is pretty meaty with a fairly large climb, so will be interesting to see how I go there – and then I’ll see if the ankle is up to some road racing and the East Surrey Hardriders, hopefully can get everything back on track and go about ticking some of this years goals.