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East Surrey Hardriders 2016

14 Mar

The East Surrey Hardriders was yesterday, 27.25 miles (taken down from a previous 29.9 due to roadworks) of fast single track, dual carriageway, and finally country lane fun over a rolling course. I’ve written about this event before, so if you’re interested go back to March in the previous year archives on the right hand side.

The upshot is that I’ve done this event 3 times, the first time I was 11th, last year I was 2nd, and this year I won and set a new course record for the course that has been used since 2014, and I think having looked I may well have taken the standard length CR had we raced it, looking at previous data. The attraction to this race goes beyond a generous smattering of prizes (£180 cash and £80 in vouchers better off after the win!), its about getting my name among some strong and well known riders not just locally by nationally, its a bit of a who’s who of testing in the UK, Prebble, Hutch (4 times!), Sean Yates, Sybrandy, Gethin Butler, Tim Stevens, Matt Bottrill and Steve Berry, (who set the CR on the normal course) plus many more – a lot of national champions in the list!

The lead up to this race was, as usual, less than ideal, the previous weekend I had been to Madrid for a mates stag do, of the 48 hours I spent there, I think I slept 8 and drank 35 of them, there are numerous photo’s of me smoking too, not ideal to be honest but there we are – I can confirm the gin and tonic they do is something to behold!I thought I would be ok but I didn’t feel normal until midweek really, getting old it would seem. I’d recently had another session at the velodrome with Xav so was confident that my position on this fairly quick course would be improved from previous years and even with similar power to previous years I may still go quicker.

On the startlist were many of the usual suspects, sadly owing to a team camp, last years winner was not present (Chris McNamara), but there was Maybank (past winner), Tadros (past winner), C.Yates, Paceline’s own Pat Wright who had a few wins under his belt already this year, and John Dewey who beat me into 2nd the other week on a sporting course. I knew I’d have to do a very good ride to beat an improved John, and of course stay ahead of the rest of the guys. I had a vague idea of what sort of pacing I would look to employ as its easy to get this one wrong being fairly long with a nasty sting in the tail with a hill at 22 miles.

Anyway, I got warmed up, had a bit of a chit chat to Connal who was complimentary of my progress, I put it all down to the aero gains, and joked they were likely harder to come by when you’re as tall as he is! Got up to the Heath and got off to a start – last year no sooner had I set off than I was stopped by a dithering driver costing me a few seconds, and then again at the next rbt, none of those dramas today mind you, clear run was the order of the day, lovely, save for the straining of my neck to see the huge amount of serious potholes between reigate and Dorking, very poor condition for what is a main road.

It was a tailwind start, and as far as I was concerned the race proper began after the climb from the ‘cock’ roundabout just outside of Dorking, I’d wanted to ride to this point at about the same power I’d managed last year (about 340W) – I’d basically done that to witin a watt or two, from there it was game on, push on until the top of the hill at 22 miles where the remaining few miles were quite quick (well, as quick as going through small Surrey Villages can be) and I’d just hang on. I’d passed many people, my minute man I think I passed within 5-10 minutes which is always a nice boost, and then was concentrating on pushing on until I could see another.

With the bulk of the quick part of the course done at the 20 miles point, I had avg speed over 28.5 mph, with the hill and a rolling finish I was confident I would beat my time from last year (26.9mph avg), I hit the climb, and had to get out of the saddle, 42-23 not ideal up there, low cadence, 500w, and creaking bike, not the best! Got back on top of the gear and carried on, soon after that I caught my 9 minute man – Dave, who I regularly see on my commute, he shouted something which was appreciated, even if he was cursing me haha! I knew I was going to get under the hour, which would mean I was nearly a minute faster than last year, I stopped the clock on my garmin with 59.43 – and was awarded that exact time, despite me starting 1 sec early and stopping after the line, but it didn’t matter too much. I later learned that Dewey had not started, I think it was best I didn’t know actually as I put it all on the line wanting to win. I think John would have gone well, but think I’d have stood a good chance with the time I did.

In the end the next best time was Pat’s who was 1.01.02 – so there was a bit of wriggle room, but I was pleased to have won and got my name up there. No pics have come to light as of yet, but I’m sure they will in time, I’ll edit this as they do. Rather stupidly I had entered a 70 mile road race in Petersfield after this event, it had a short 25% climb in it, I lasted 5 laps of 9 and called it a day with screaming muscles. I was barely out of breath and my legs were in agony, I did enough to not call it a wasted trip and then stopped to watch James Boyman win in impressive style riding away on his own for the last two laps to win by over a minute, more than just a tester it would seem…!

Next race is one down Winchester way next weekend – the James Atherton with Pat and Tom, so hopefully we can animate that race, I decided to skip the Wally Gimber and having seen the startsheet, that might have been wise!

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.

Weights that make you faster

21 Dec

Just kidding.

Been training fairly well in recent weeks, had a spate of 4 day weeks at work which have allowed me to get some more riding in. I’ve certainly put a couple of KG on but seem to be going alright for it, no illness to speak of, and generally its all been quite positive, including the weather. The last few years I’ve generally entered and come 2nd in the FCC Xmas 10 on the Bentley course, naturally this year was no exception, and the man with the sword this time was James Boyman.

Typically this event comes at a time when the booze is in full flow, and sadly this year was no exception, but I gave myself two days off the drink leading up to this (tough when you have client lunches, they don’t understand why you wouldn’t be tucking in…) and felt in generally good shape. Did a bit of a sharpener session on the Weds, I almost fainted as I did it at 7am and it was pretty intense, but the numbers were comparable to when I did a similar session leading into the National 10. I had a feeling that this could be my year…

While it wasn’t a goal as such to win, it was a goal to do a 19 which is usually the mark of a very good ride at this time of year, however, it was 14-15 deg on the day, not really Dec temps, but the wind was strong and it IS December, so even having seen the conditions I felt like 19 was still a good goal though just scraping it wouldn’t likely win it with riders like Boyman and Topham in the startsheet. To be honest, these guys have always been pretty close to me this year, and as James has got into full flow after a lay off he’s gotten pretty strong, Adam is always going to go quickly, and I knew that it was going to be a tough day and I predicted that all 3 of us would do 19’s.

Anyway, I did the usual warmup with Xav also present riding his huge fixed gear (nutter), I started off and the legs felt good, I got to the turn at about 28mph and it felt draggy, I did however have AP at over 380W which was good as I knew I could turn it up on the way back, in hindsight we both think I went out too easy as we didn’t realise my legs would be in quite so good shape at this time of year (though I think I’ve just been getting stronger and stronger on the roadbike in recent times, so did correlate), I did the return at 400w and about 34-35mph, I finished in 19.32 with 390W AP which is almost identical to what I did at the national 10. I packed up the car and saw James fly through the finish and keep going, Xav asked me what he was doing “getting a 20 minute number” was my response, we both knowingly nodded, he looked fast. I got into the HQ to see Adam Topham had done 19.51, I was pleased to turn my 15 second defeat to him into a tidy margin the other way. There was that lurking feeling that Boyman would have done something silly fast, and sure enough, 19.08 was his time. To put that into context, almost nobody has gone under 19.30 on that course, and those times are usually summer when its 10 deg warmer, people are in shape and the wind is not gale force. Sometimes you get annoyed about how close it was, but there was nothing but respect for that, I knew it was coming, but I saw Adam just shaking his head in disbelief. James later told me he had gone full time with a team doing the bigger road races next year and has indeed been doing 20+ hours a week, I’ve been getting myself thrown out of bars for being too pissed, I only have myself to blame for that level of deficit 😀 – but joking aside I was really pleased with my ride for this time of year and I think there is more to come next year, where 400w will hopefully be the ‘normal’ number for these and with Xav’s help in Feb in the velodrome I can get a bit more aero to make it count.

No racing for me for at least another 6 weeks now, so should probably try to keep the training load up and look forward to seeing how I can go. Will do some of the sporting TT’s, early season Nat B’s and a few 2/3 races too with the team, main goals next year I think I outlined elsewhere but I hope I can make another move up the chain, had a crap year on the road this year, so that will be good to get back into and I hope I can push for a decent placing in the Nationals – even though the 10 this year is uphill, so I may have to look at losing some weight, or accepting my fate, as it were.

Thoughts on rider categories – namely my own

21 Oct

Moving out of the 2015 season which is certainly now done, its official that I’ll have slipped from 1st category to 2nd, namely due to being less bothered about the racing and of course by only amassing 84 of the 100 points needed. It followed a similar pattern to last year really, I didn’t race half as much as I did in my 2nd season where I went from 2nd to 1st winning a few races along the way and I only started to think about doing a few more races later in the season.Certainly on paper my decrease in road racing as come as I’ve done more time trials, oddly this hasn’t been intentional really, I do still really enjoy the road racing, but crucially, I only really enjoy it when I’m doing it, the lead up to a race is a strange feeling, not unlike a Sunday evening before heading back to school – though certainly school wasn’t enjoyable whilst I was doing it either, a difference – I think this has partly come since I’ve moved to doing the harder races, knowing its going to be tough to get a result makes me feel a bit meh about the whole thing. The only race I’ve really looked forward to all season was the Handicap champs ( I am not counting the midweek crits in this as they’re just a bit of fun), and I’ve thought at length about why that was the case. I think I finally cracked it, I was looking forward to it as I knew it would be hard racing, but I knew I could contend the win – had to settle for 2nd on the day mind you. That is a feeling that I rarely have in the Nat B road races, and a spate of bad luck with flat tyres and the like this year probably compounded that. First proper race of the season was the Les Ingman which is a tough race at the best of times, but I had come top 20 the year before in what was a fairly normal field. This year it was really a pretty tough field and though I wasn’t ready fitness wise, climbing off with two laps to go was a bit of a mental hit, it never really got much better than that either, I felt strong enough but just bad luck time after time.

Obviously 1st cat is beyond the reach of most 2nd cats as 200 points is not easy, but when I did get there in my 2nd season, I found out it was exactly as most folk said, just a number, now means you cannot do 50% of the races out there, and you’ll ALWAYS be lumped in with the elites which makes it quite tough. Now elite is not all that it seems probably, there are elites, and then there are elites, I’m fortunate in that without sounding too cock sure, if I raced 2 or 3 times a week every week and ditched the TT stuff I think I’d probably be able to get that ticket, but it would be a one time thing as there is no way I could be arsed to race that much two seasons in a row. The upshot of that is that on a fairly standard course I can still hold my own with many of these guys. But frequently there are more and more young riders who have all the time in the world to train, and are really hungry to race and win, makes it hard, I mean, even if I didn’t have a job I probably still wouldn’t train much more than 15-18 hours, but its making me realise that probably my level of racing would be better suited to 2nd cat.

I know what you’re thinking, is there any excuses this guy hasn’t sold to his own mind to make himself feel better about not being able to scrape together a lousy 100 points to retain 1st cat – truth is, I’ve had 20 points to go for about 2 months, in that time there have been around 20 races I could have reasonably done – but the enjoyment of that last race is something I want to get back. Anyone who knows me with riding or racing will likely know the shine of achieving something doesn’t last long and its the need for the next milestone, so going backwards in category was something that didn’t sit easy but I’m looking forward to racing again next year, which I could not honestly have said in regards to the road stuff this time last year. 

While I’ve not had a proper think about goals yet, I am looking forward to being part of the team more, the way Paceline are means that we’ve had little representation in the E12 stuff, and a very healthy and strong showing in the 2/3 stuff, especially in the last few months of the season as a few promising riders found their feet and started to strike out in races a bit more. I’ll be the first person to have a joking dig at someone racing well below their station, but honestly with the standard of the 2nd cat scene I think while I should still be one of the stronger riders around, its not like I will be expecting to win everything under the sun. The stage races excite me however, stage races as a 1st cat rider are pretty sparse in the SE, especially with the reduced SERRL schedule, and with not doing the RAS again this year (maybe next year?) it meant there was little multiday racing to be had – but some of the best fun I had in road racing was at the Tour of Sussex and the Tour of the Milburys a couple of years back- so looking forward to being part of a strong team and having fun with it. I won’t be that guy who stops on 199 points though, if it looks like I’ll go up, what will be will be! 

Of course I’ll also be trying to sharpen my pencil in the time trial side of things, been a pretty good year and I think I’m fitter now than ever, just a matter of reducing drag a bit more, I hope to be able to push on next year and break into that very top few in the UK and be challenging for the medal places. Always tough in the popular distances, but I’ll try, and I may try a 50 or two also, I think this may suit me quite nicely.

This was a bit of a ramble really, or just the musings of someone who’s been pretty well racing every weekend for the last 4 years – I’ve come to realise that chasing categories is all well and good and something that is almost pre-programmed into riders when they’re just starting out given the emphasis placed on getting out of 4th cat, its like bootcamp, but you may find as I did that eventually you get to a point where you may not enjoy the hobby as much as you should. Of course if you’re more talented than I am then the level that occurs at is likely a lot higher than Nat B road races, but as someone said, (many people) its about winning races, not worrying about scraping together enough 8th places to move up a notch or retain it.

Next up is the famous Bentley Xmas 10, hopefully I can get that elusive 19 in late December after missing it by 13 seconds last year. 

2nd place – 1st loser

21 Sep

This weekend was pretty much the end of the season for me, kind of good as I have a lot of weddings
/stag party fun etc coming up, and after the last one a couple of weeks back it took me a good few days to feel normal again, not conducive to good performances on a bike!

This weekend promised a lot in terms of potential, there was a 10 mile TT on the Saturday on a quick A3 course, and then the Surrey League Handicap Championship on Sunday which I’d done the previous two years with mixed success.

First up was the 10, the weather looked freakishly good for both days over the weekend, almost no wind on the afternoon of the event, warm at around 20 deg, everything was looking promising. From this event I wanted one thing, to do an 18, I’d not managed to thus far this year, mainly as I don’t live near Hull, but I’d come close on Bentley and done a few other 19’s along the way. The other goals would be less important given I’d decided to go for a few beers the day before, but I’d want to try and keep my new found nemesis, James Boyman at bay, and win the event. Having seen the startsheet I figured I’d only really need to beat James to likely win, but there was a strong field with Kevin Tye, James Lowden, Liam Maybank and a few other fast men riding, so it would not be a cake walk.

While warming up I saw Liam first who said it was really fast and he had one a 19.20 or so, which was a great ride. I then saw James Lowden who yelled at me “you’re going to do a 17” – I was beginning to get nervous having had all these people say how fast it was! He had done 19 dead he thought, I was trying not to think about the usual gaps between us all and what I might do. Anyway I got down to the start, and got off to a steady start, annoyingly my legs felt a bit shit, maybe owing to riding the single speed most of that week on the commute, I think its a bit overgeared for hill starts etc, but they soon started to feel alright. It was indeed quick, my avg soon was north of 30 mph, I knew what I needed for an 18, so tried to keep the power as high as possible, I thought I should be able to do around 385W so was trying to hold it around there, but it was tough, at the first rbt I got a clear line from the right, but someone pulled out on me and then did not accelerate at all. My mum was actually standing on the rbt and snapped this photo of me gesturing the bloke to get a move on. It was pretty annoying, but on the way back I was back into good speed, but again at the same rbt on the way back almost the exact same thing happened, I again gestured they get going, but this almost certainly wasn’t an ideal way of going as quick as possible.

On the way back I really gave it my all up the long drag as the speed slowly dropped, my legs were gone, nothing left, I saw the avg power was below 380 and I knew when I crossed the line with 18.44 – a new PB by 2 secs that it would not be enough to beat James, my only surprise was that it was so close at only 7 seconds, with my normal power and a clear run it would have been a large PB, but these things happen, and it was a great ride by James who PB’s by a huge amount, though only because he only rides Bentley, he’d have managed a short 18 in Hull earlier in the year otherwise. Anyway, we were the only two who managed to go sub 19, which was nice. A fast course for sure, more to come on there if I can get it all right on another good day next year.

Next up was the road race, I knew that I would have good legs, I don’t have shit legs two days running usually, and though a ten is a deep effort, it does help open everything up (cycling cliche!). There was a big field of around 70-80, a 4 strong team from Pedal Heaven inc Lewis Atkins who has won it the last two years I think, I came 3rd in 2013 and was crap last year with 11th. The handicap format made it much more fun than a normal road race IMO, and in the last group it was a blast, flying round the lanes with 15 other strong riders, we were averaging well over 27 mph for the first ten mile lap. Race distance was 60 miles and the gap to the very front group is around 15 mins with many other groups in between them and us.

Its not an easy race as you have to ride or you will not catch the rest, with 2 laps left to go there was still a fair gap and people started attacking, bit odd, but I think it was a good thing as it gave the group a bit of impetus. It was clear that the only hill (which is where the finish is) on the final time through was going to be the point where something had to happen, sure enough Chris Mac of PH drilled it up there, Lewis on his wheel and Jamie on his, then me, then probably Tom Hargreaves not far behind. This came back together, and then I think Lewis went again, with Tom on his wheel and possibly another rider or two, I decided that this was the one given Lewis and Tom probably were best suited to the finish and looked strong. We started working well together but I found it hard to come through as Lewis was riding so strongly, though his surging through made it hard work, I tried to take as many turns as I could without totally burying myself and making sure we stayed clear. With maybe half a lap to go it looked like it might all come back together, but people carried o working and instead, another bunch of riders came over to make the group about ten strong, I couldn’t see the bunch behind and now Rob and Jamie were present, this was good as they would be working for Lewis. Other finishers now in the group were Declan who I used to race at KW with, and Rich Cartland also who I knew could get up a hill pretty quickly.

Rob led us into the foot of the hill, I was a bit boxed in at this point, but Tom decided to put a sting in early, I read this as “right, they’re sprinting already, you have to go” so I did, up the other side, straight past – initially I thought I had done it, I had got a gap and was still pushing the pedals, but I came round the corner to see Pat cheering, and the line about 50m further than I remembered haha! I looked back to see Tom with Lewis on his wheel, he opened it up again having played it perfectly and overtook me with enough room to get his hands up, as he did so I tried to go again but had nothing, only just holding off Lewis to retain 2nd. I was pretty annoyed with myself having done the hill 6 times in the race, but sometimes the heat of the moment gets the better. And the only way I thought I could beat Lewis or Tom was going long, like I had done at Palace to take a win from him in the summer. I think it was still the right option, but I went too early, no doubt. I managed around 840W for nearly 55 seconds, which is a fair bit more than I’ve managed previous. Still, 2nd wasn’t a terrible result in a good field of riders.

That pretty much sums up the year, I think I need around 15 points for my 1st cat, but I’m not sure I can be bothered now. But I have the option to go to some late season races if I have a change of heart.

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 –

1 Richard Bussell RST Sport/Aero-Coach 19:36
2 Matt Clinton Mike Vaughan Cycles 19:41
3 Matthew Bottrill 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 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 20:30
20 Ben Mcintosh Crewe Clarion Whs 20:31


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

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 :


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


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


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!

Top ten here :

1 Ryan Perry Langdale Lightweights R T 00:48:04
2 Matthew Bottrill 00:48:24
3 Kieron Davies 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 00:50:01
10 Brett Harwood Terry Wright Cycles RC 00:50:15

From Redhill to Gipsy Hill

25 Jun

Been an eventful couple of weekends race wise, I was really happy with how I was coming along, and had a couple of events I was keen to test myself on.

In time order then, the first thing after my 4th place at palace the other week was the annual Redhill CC road race, 82 miles of mostly quick road with a small rise each lap. The previous year was eventful for the wrong reasons sadly, firstly I got a puncture at the 30 mile point and couldn’t get back on as the weather was so bad the neutral car couldn’t pace me back quick enough through the corners! And secondly because some pratt scattered drawing pins all over the finish area which ended a lot riders day and could have been really dangerous.

Anyway, this year promised to hopefully be a good edition, a stronger field to be fair, full showing from Pedal Heaven, Trek Richardsons, and a smattering from other teams like Catford, (us, we had 3 riders! and a few other individuals who were ones to watch, Tom Bayliss from One Pro being a good example of that. We had myself, Dom (former Redhill club member) and Cameron who had been racing down under and was looking in good shape. The idea was generally to make sure that if something was well represented by the big teams, it would be worth following.

As is common in these races, 10 riders went up the road from the gun, but it wasn’t that well represented by PH, and it was an 85 mile race, so I was happy to let the race go on for a bit before making any choices. It didn’t take long before the usual suspects got a bit restless and around 20 miles in I followed Rob Moore and a Trek rider up the climb ( I really hammered it up there, the fastest anyone has done it apparently!) to go over the top as a 3 up, sadly this didn’t come to much for one reason or another. I was a bit worried about burning too many matches early doors so sat in and only followed things that looked worth doing so for the next lap or two. At around the 35 mile point again another move went which looked good, before coming back, this time I thought it would be worth a dig as though maybe I’m not quite as unknown as before owing to my TT times, I still don’t get chased down like a PH or One Pro rider would be, so I nailed it off the front, and started regretting it straight away as it hurt haha! However, I kept at it and soon enough I was joined by a familiar face in Rob from PH, to be honest, there are not many better people to join a move than Rob, he’s stupidly strong, and offers decent draft, I waved him through after a bit and he drilled it. I think I gave him a couple of turns over the next 5-6 minutes as he was going so hard.

It didn’t take long before we were well out of sight and there were specs up the road,which were the remnants of the early doors break, at first we caught a chap from Danny Shane (Phillip Peters I think) and Rob McCarthy of PH, we then were joined not too much later afterwards by a few more from PH, Mitch Webber, Chris Mac and Lewis Atkins, how they all got away I don’t know, but it was a welcome sight as I knew it would bode well for the chances of this break having them all involved. We shortly after got a Trek rider and another from Nuun (perhaps?) and were around 8 strong, but not everyone was coming through, some people were totally frazzled and I was conscious that though I felt good, there was still 35-40 miles remaining of this race. I did a bit of work but it was so disjointed that we never really got a through and off going for more than a few minutes.

Fast forward to around 20 miles to go and we could see the last riders up the road, we now had 2 Trek, the One Pro dude and most of PH and a couple of others, around 11 riders. However just as things started to look up, the bunch was on us, it was quite a quick turnaround given apparently we had two mins at one point. Certainly our reluctance to work properly as a unit contributed to the gap falling but we later learned a few riders from Catford had been drilling it on the front to bring the move back to stop another PH domination…

With one lap to go things got really dicey, and George Wood looked like he wanted to make something happen, he actually got away with Dom from Paceline for a bit and Dom later said he thought George was struggling as he would come through then drop off and generally wasn’t that smooth, George then went on his own, we didn’t see him again, crazy strong ride from the dude, he is showing his talent for sure, his Prem Cal results obviously making these races a walk in the park for him. Into the last lap I was quite keen on my position and the finish suited me, as ever with 1km to go the pace went mental and people were everywhere, I really don’t like it when its like that but I was still keen to get a result given the hard day out, I was in a fairly decent position when two riders crashed in front of me sending on of the Trek boys into the ditch (to smash his bike to bits, he was ok though), then I was well back, I sprinted through and still thought I could salvage something, and crossed the line for 12th. Not the result I feel like I could have got, but not bad considering.

My legs felt really good and they still had a bit of zipp towards the end of the race which was great, the NP for the race at 345W was higher than any I’ve done, which is more evidence to me that I am stronger this year than I’ve ever been.


Next up perhaps foolishly was less than 15 hours after this race, and it was the first of 2 Richmond Park TT’s this year, I’d won the last 4 in a row, so was keen to try and continue with that trend. I knew the field was of similar quality to last year and though I thought I would still likely be the one to beat, its never a given, and with a really tough RR in my legs it would change everything as I’d always previously done this event on fresher legs.

I was last man off which for this event means 7am, I knew it takes about 16 mins from my front door to the startline as I ride it most days on the way to work, so I set the alarm for 5.25am and was on the turbo by 5.45 warming up, I was off the turbo by 6.15, got some last bits together and set off for the park, got there too early still but I hate not allowing room for error… As I came in I saw 3 Paceline roadies in a row all going well, it was set to be a good event!

As any of you that frequent the park will know, the wind is basically the determinator of fast/slow times, today was a medium strength SW wind, not good (despite the twaddle Cycling Weekly posted this week). But it was warm and the pressure (we are all pressure experts since Sir Brad’s hour attempt!!) was low, it would be OK. I knew that generally I was around 10-15W up on my TT bike over last year, and amusingly I had done this event 3 times previous and averaged 364W every time. With the legs the way they were I was going to set off at around 25 mile power, which is just below that and see how it went…

I got down to the start and in my haste realised I’d not reset my Garmin so instead of having all the info I usually do, speed, NP, AP etc etc, I only had the lap field which had nothing on speed, just watts and time…! Panick set in, but soon I didn’t care, I actually caught my minute man after about 3 minutes, which gave me a mental boost (sorry Craig if you read this), the hill was slow as predicted as headwind, but I got up there and back down into position, I then passed a few more riders, and clocked Stu Spies who I thought would be my main competition, I passed him and noted the gap between when he went by that tree and when I did, he was my 2 minute man, and from that fag packet calculation at the half way point there was nothing in it…Stu was going well!

I got up to the long downhill where the wind would push me along, and I flew down there, over 40mph at nearly all times, it felt odd to be going down there so fast, I got to the penultimate turn and I thought a quick time would be on the cards so proceeded to push my achey legs as hard as they would go, and then drilled it up the final climb. I pressed lap at 22.49 but possibly started it 1 or 2 secs late, I knew it wasn’t enough to take the course record from Hutch (22.38) but I though I would be close, I’d managed to do 368W despite the legs, so I was pleased, looked like I would be between 25-30 secs faster than before that again proved to me I’d make big aero improvements to add to a small increase in power.

I got given an official 22.58 which I think is probably a few secs out, but it was enough to win from London Phoenix rider Gunther Zechmanng who was around 15 seconds back, really strong ride, and then Stu Spies in 3rd around a further 20 secs back.


Lastly just a couple of days back I did another Crystal Palace crit, Xav had said not to expect too much from my legs after a hard weekend, but I was still keen to have a go, not least because I knew Rob Moore wasn’t riding and thought I might be able to get a look in. Xav was proved right as I found it quite a bit harder than previous weeks and the numbers were down, but I felt OK. A few moves came and went and I put in a big effort at one point to get over to a move that was then brought back. Lots of attacks and as usual Dulwich and Dynamo had numbers, and Kendal Noctor was looking lively as were the usual culprits from VCL in Ethan Hayter and Fred Wright.

My plan for this race was to attack around 20 mins from the end and try and go alone, got to that point in the race and my legs said no haha. So with one lap to go I noted two riders in Paul Sewell and later Ben Knapp go for a last ditch attack, they got the gap and it looked promising. Knowing I was pretty pants at sprinting from slow speeds (hair pin corner just before the line) I thought my best bet would be to attack around 45 secs from the finish, so out out of the bottom corner I gave it a big effort “up up up” is all you hear when you do that as everyone tried to jump on. I got it a bit wrong as no sooner had I got up to 30mph or so I had to go wide to get round Ben who was still out front, but instead of going round I sat on his wheel for a short rest before the final corner, looking at the photo’s I think that kick had created enough of a split in the bunch and I think it was just me, the two VCL boys and Tom Hargreaves of Dynamo, we we dived into the last corner I thought my only chance to beat Ethan was to go first, so I drilled it out of the corner, all was well, I then needed another gear, as I changed down Ethan came by me at comical speed, some kick that boy has, and on the other side Fred just pipped me to 2nd! So I had to settle for 3rd, my best result but still a bit annoying, it was the closest I had come but was beaten on the day.