I hit pb’s for two of the three, only missing a third pb, by 5 seconds with a gruesome headwind. I was really happy with the weeks racing and felt good on the bigger gear. I need to keep riding it to increase strength though.
All through the week I was wondering how I was feeling so good and not getting tired. It subsequently hit me this Monday morning when I woke up feeling like crap!
I’m hoping to feel better to ride the Inter Club TT tomorrow night.
Even after attending three events I failed to take a single photo.
Last week on Wednesday evening, the second part of the Inter Club TT battle took place.
Most of the BSCC TT big boys, were absent due to holidays. This meant a win was looking unlikely.
I’d headed up with Kieran who’s more accustomed to road racing, but more than able at smashing out a TT!
We pedalled around to warm up and noticed instantly the massive head wind. Oh dear I thought, last time I rode here, the wind destroyed me and my time!
Although it was to be a head wind on the return leg this week. I opted to just ride as hard as possible from the off with the tail wind, and hang on for the return. Something that I’m sure I’ve heard PJ mention.
Well, it worked! Although not a pb, I was really happy with my time of 23.29. It was also the first outing with my disc fitted which may of helped getting back through the wind. Averaging 28.6mph to the turn showed how strong the wind was, as this dropped to 25.5 by the time I’d crossed the line!
During the last week of February a few things fell into place that enabled me and fellow club member Mark to fly over to Girona for a weeks cycling.
I was pretty excited about this as it is a place where a lot of English speaking pro cyclists base themselves. Having only got my new ride in January and having minimal use of it I dont think I was quite ready for the type of riding we were to encounter out there.
My main reason for writing the post was because of the weather of late. The good weekend has already faded to some hammering rain. We dodged a week of snow before and rain after to have perfect weather for our time out there. It was sunny and warm, though the nature of the riding meant that we had to keep well covered still. This resulted in me getting a pretty funny hands and sunglasses tan. Still we were comparatively underdressed to most of the locals we saw on the road. The Catalans love a good snood.
Where we actually stayed was just outside of Girona, in a small place called Serinya with the kindly folk of Girona Cycling. Gareth and Fiona are top people and the quality and knowledge we were provided with for the routes was top notch. I will certainly be looking to go back at some point.
I will try not to bore you (not that they were boring) with the details of every route we did but just pick out some notable moments / climbs.
First would be to say how inspiring it was to see pro cyclists every day. Swein Tuft, Greenedges resident hard man / Canadian TT / Road champion was staying in the same villa as us. We got to have a BBQ with the guy and a young canadian pro called Spencer. They were super chilled out and Swein told a great story about how at Flanders all you can smell is stale beer breath. He is far from your conventional pro athlete, this article is well worth a read.
The entire Greenedge team was also in town. We saw them out motorpacing scooters a couple of times. We returned home one night to find the doping controllers had flown in from Switzerland to test Swein as well. All crazy stuff to see first hand.
On our last day we also went for a cafe stop where we bumped in to and had a quick chat with Dan Martin and Michel Kreder. They had some pretty fly Cervelo training bikes and were out for a recovery ride after racing the previous day. More inspiring stuff. Anyway, enough of the people and more on to the climbing / scenery which was absolutely unbeleivable.
Our first day we rode down to Banyoles (were the rowing was during the Barcelona olympics) and then swung out into the volcanic national park, climbing up to Santa Pau. The scenery was incredible and it was a great way to start the trip off.
I went into it extremely naively and blatted straight into the red. We stormed past a couple of people from the University of Maastricht team. I then proceeded to go to the darkest place I have ever been in cycling. Dehydrated and having not eaten enough I watched Mark dance off into the distance and I totally bonked. It became all about survival in the smallest gear I had. The climb has markers ‘helpfully’ informing you of the average % of the impending km and how far is left;
I swear the cow I passed on one hairpin was laughing at me. One of the Dutch guys effortlessly pedaled up to me and began to engage in conversation. I think he saw the suffering in my eyes pretty quickly and spun off. I cramped 3 times and came to a grinding halt. I did get to the top in the end but it was a learn the hard way thing for sure, climbing would be a completely different kettle of fish here. The views at the top were incredible and worth the suffering.
The experience defintely served a purpose though, no more attitude and sort myself out in terms of hydration and fuel.
After riding a long but flat day to the coast (I say flat, I just mean comparatively flat) we took on the real big day of our trip.
A ride to just below the French border to the ski resort of Valter 2000. It was to have over 10,000 ft of climbing in the 170 k route, essentailly climbing for 80 k from the door of the villa up to the summit. Taking in the glorious Coll de Capsacosta on the way up. From Camprodon to the summit of Valter was 20.2 k averaging 5.2%, decent. This lasted nearly an hour and 20 minutes and was such a surreal feeling, as I neared the top I could see the base of the ski lift and put a spurt on, only to be greeted by a bunch of hairpins to the true summit;
you get some funny looks from people when you rock up to a ski resort in lycra. This was an altogether more enjoyable day then Rocacorba, respect the climbs and they will treat you well. Some of the shorter climbs on the return leg felt about five times the length after the monster had taken so much out of us. When we returned Fiona recomended we get in the pool as it would be perfect ice bath temperature. Ice baths are ruddy painful;
I have to say I felt fresh as a daisy the day after fully expecting to feel mullered after the days exertions. A chilled loop was on the cards just to keep the legs turning over and we watched Sep Vanmarcke ride a tactically perfect race in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, great highlights here.
The next day we headed out to the coast again but with a bit more climbing, ascending what proved to be my favourite climb of the trip to Sant Pere de Rodes monastery in the Cap de Creus natural park. The scenery was something else, and it was bloody windy up there;
Our final day we finished by ascending the classic Els Angels climb, one of Lances favourites. Gareth was kind enough to guide us to the base of climb. I felt really strong up it and Mark kept trying to break away up it, making for a fairly rapid pace. The climb has a slight descending section in it which is fairly twisty, made for an awesome sensation flicking around on it. The picture of me at the top has me looking the most relaxed I have ever been (despite the effort that just proceeded it) and really sums up the awesomeness of the holiday for me.
Cycling every day in dry conditions , in the sun, in a beautiful part of the world. It was good for the soul, thats for sure.
At last I got some points on the board. Even if it was a solitary, lonely, single point.
The atrocious weather forecast seemed to reduce the numbers with a field of 41 starting in Cat 3/4. Aformentioned weather was not forthcoming during the race. With a damp course but nothing worse. The briefing from the Commi made specific reference to which part of the finishing line was the finish, after the incident in round 1, just to ensure there was no further doubt for anyone.
As with last week, the pace was furious. Splits formed from the off and having learnt from then I started in a much more advanced position (with no water bottle).
Again my weak point was coming into the two corners at the bottom of the hill, damp ground made my cornering even worse. I’m sure its just a confidence thing and I can push my bike a lot further, I just need to MTFU!
After around 3 or 4 laps I had a look around and was in a group of around only 15 people. I made all the splits and rode more advance in the pack. Bath Uni CC did a great job of controlling the race with superior numbers, sitting on the front, keeping the pace high and letting their guys go if they fancied a breakaway. Coming round the corner into the climb I chased down one of these efforts and proceeded to go instantly backwards at the top. I just sat on the back of the group to recover, as it was so small anyway I was not to worried about not being able to move up again.
This time on the final lap bell I did move up in the pack (again learning from last week) and was sat around 8th wheel coming out of the hairpin. When the sprint went I did not have the legs to go with it and came across the line in no mans land for 10th spot. 7 seconds from the first guy and 7 seconds from the person behind me.
Though the specatator numbers were reduced from last week, it was a much more enthusiastic bunch. A group of people on the hairpin banging pots and pans and in the same location a dude with a Dirk Hoffman Motorhomes sign. Great stuff.
I was also encouraged by a few shouts of ‘come on Bristol’ and ‘keep it up Bristol South’. Despite not having a clue who was shouting out it does really help having even the smallest bit of encouragement. So thanks for that, whoever you were.
The worst part of the night was riding home in the pissing rain down the cycle path and getting absolutely sodden. Grim.
Goal for next week is to finish in the 10 again, only 9 points to go….
I drove over after work as otherwise I don’t think I’d be able to get there on time. The weather was looking crap, but when is it anything else at the moment!
I didn’t really have a time to aim for as although the course is 8.24 miles its fairly lumpy. This meant I couldn’t get away with riding fixed as easily as the previous weeks visits to the U7B and UC115
I set off slightly slower than usual, as there’s a hill to climb out of a junction, which means a slow out the saddle grind to get up it.
After letting out a small yelp as I reached the top I then settled back into a rhythm. This lasted about a minute as I progressively got slower and slower, and barely managed to keep the pedals turning. The section from Chew Stoke to West Harptree is pure doom.
Coming out of the junction to head to Bishops Sutton the driver in front of me didn’t seem to know where they were going. I tugged on the brake and pedalled slowly behind them, they decided to turn off and I stomped on the pedals to get going up to speed again.
The last two corners are both tight and in quick succession, I lost speed here also as there was a lot of loose gravel on the road which looked very slippery.
My final time was 21.24 with an average speed of 23.1 mph. I was actually quite pleased with this, as I think it’s about 2 minutes faster than I did last year. This shows how much difference a few aero bits and a much bigger gear can make!
It was good to see Jamie from Headset Press making it out to ride his first TT, this course was also my first taster of time trialling last year.
Due to PJ not being able to make it and Andy riding his third choice bike, I managed to post the third fastest time of the evening. The times are here good work from Sam who’s aim was to go under 20 minutes, which he absolutely smashed with ease!
Hopefully next week Tim will be racing again and the weather will be a bit better at last!
Now we no longer go to work and return home in the dark (a desperate existence) midweek races have commenced.
It was a contrast to the other event I would have attended tonight, the Boikzmoind chip shop ride, this serves to highlight how my riding has progressed/changed over a very short period of time! Hopefully I will make it to one of Gavs rides soon.
Wednesday saw a circuit race at the Ilton circuit which is around the perimeter of an old Second World War RAF base. This was the first in a series of these events (every 3 weeks) organised by Team Tor 2000.
I, along with Kieran and Mark entered the Cat 4 only race. The wind was really up today (partially a good thing as it blew threatening clouds away quickly), due to the shape of the circuit this can have a big impact on the racing. For example there was a block headwind on the home straight and a couple of other sections. Kieran provided us with a tactical diagram via email at work this morning.
The bunch settled into a rhythm fairly quickly with not much going on, I sat around the back of the bunch for ease of moving sides in the wind.
Half way through the race, just after Mark had taken the intermediate sprint, a guy from RU Training Today CC broke off from the bunch and proceeded to ride away from everybody and not get caught. Very strong move to pull out a gap and hold it for that amount of time, kudos.
I took a couple of flyers off the front to try and bridge to a couple of other attackers but nothing stuck. I attacked into the head wind (as per Kierans attacking diagram) where the bunch was less willing (read, not willing) to work on the front, but everything kept coming back together on the tailwind sections. Pretty negative racing that allowed the lone guy to stay away. We can’t have been going that slow though as we nearly got the 3rd’s who went off in front of us on a couple of occasions.
Knowing I would not have anything in me for the sprint I led the bunch into the last two corners, ramping up the pace a bit hoping that Kieran and Mark would be behind me. Turns out Kieran was content to cruise in from the back, Mark however was right in the mix. It is interesting watching a sprint into a headwind open up, it looks like everyone is pedalling in treacle. Mark swung to the right as he got up to full gas, looking strong for the finish. Unfortunately he was unceremoniously cut up by another rider, forcing him on the brakes and to drop back a few places.
Going to enjoy riding these midweek races to try out a few different things during the race and help boost experience! Once again I felt like improvement was made.
Next week in the quest for experience and points its the Bath Crits!
Tomorrow is the last of the Aust races in the Bristol South CC Classic League. The series then hops up to the U7B for the inter club 10 and then heads down to chew valley lake.
I originally set a target of going under 12 minutes. My best time so far is 12.10 using an 88 gear inch. Tonight I’ve fitted a new chainring, up from a 50 tooth to a 55. This gives a 96 gear inch. I’m not sure how well, or if this will improve my time at all. I may just be left churning away all on my own, whilst everyone else has finished and are long gone. I suppose it’s only 8 inches bigger and so should not be too hard to turn. I’m pretty new to Time Trialling and cycling in general, so it’s just a case of see what happens.
I’ll be testing out the new ratio on the commute to work tomorrow morning. I’m sure every slight incline will feel like a mountain, great fun. Perhaps I should leave slightly earlier than normal.
The course was a decent sized loop to be completed 3 times, with a turn off up a final finishing climb to be taken at the end of the last lap. Giving a total race distance of 52 miles.
There were some really ominous clouds around as we travelled across to the race HQ. These seemed to be moving quite rapidly, confirmed by the average mpg en route. There was going to be some nasty winds out there for sure.
I started a little further back in bunch than I wanted but managed to move up fairly easily going round the outside of the group sheltered from the wind. Positioning is still something I have a lot to learn about.
There were also some sizeable pot holes on the course and a couple of cattle grids to negotiate. The rough surface / wet weather was to be the undoing of Dan Pearson (Willier/Live 2 Ride) who ended up slamming into a parked car in the E 1/2/3 race. Sounded nasty from the reports so we wish him a speedy recovery.
Coming into the final lap I felt strong and when the pace was pretty low I had a dig over a crest before the run in down past the HQ. A gap opened fairly quickly, 2 riders joined me one from NFTO and another from Cmwcarn Paragon. We swiftly got into a rhythm, a glance back showed that the peloton was starting to close the gap and it was being pulled back by my own team member! Furious, apparently not as much so as the NFTO rider who had a few words with Tom. He instantly apologised to me for his error, he was trying to bridge to the group and inadvertently dragged everyone back across, I am sure he wont do that next time!
The result of us being reeled back in meant I was left much higher up the bunch, but with my legs feeling energised I did a bit more work with the tail wind as the group really started to get up to speed. A few attacks fired off but they were reigned in. Eventually a group of 3 did get away and they were to be the first 3 across the finishing line. On the headwind section I started to get swamped back as people moved up to the outside, beginning to jostle for position for the final short climb.
I was at least ten people further back than I needed to be and this was proven on the kick to the end as I crossed the line in 19th after passing a few people on the way up. I was officialy given 23rd but either way I scored nil pois again. I was expecting the final climb to be a little longer but there was not too much more left in the tank when I did hit the finish line.
The video below is a mixture of footage from the 3/4 and E 1/2/3 races.
Congrats to Tom who bagged points in 8th. Sam and Steve were just outside of the points. It was a strong showing from The South with a Cadence rider commenting that we were the most aggressive team. Up The South!
I was a little dissapointed to come away with nothing as I felt so strong, but it was a further improvement on previous races. Riding much higher up the bunch and being a lot more active felt good. It was also good to have a few team members around as it made manoeuvring round the group much easier and also afforded me the time to learn off more experienced racers. The next few weeks will see midweek circuit races coming to the fore, I am particularly looking forward to racing in the Bath series in Victoria Park
Thanks to the organisers / volunteers and NEG guys for a well run safe race.
So far this year I have managed to attend (and more importantly finish) 4 races. Starting at the lowest possible British Cycling ranking of Category 4. I race for my local club Bristol South CC which is one of the oldest clubs in the UK (formed 1893!)
This was complete step up in terms of riding me having only recently acquired a geared bike at the turn of the year, not only that it was my first geared road bike. All previous ones have been mountain bikes (a long long time ago). Luckily I am not the only one with my good friends Kieran and Mark also venturing into the unkown.
The virgin race was a First Chard Wheelers organised cirucit race (Cat 4 only) at Ilton (an old airfield). I totally wasted all my energy willy waving at the front of the race as the picture below shows;
I was pretty happy to get round in one piece (Cat 4 cirucit races are notoriously crashy) but a little bit irritated not to be there or there abouts at the end as the wheel I picked for my lead out punctured on the sweep down to the finish. In hindsight this was by far the easiest race completed.
Next up was my first true road race at Blackawton (Cat 3/4), making a serious rookie mistake by starting at the back of the bunch I spent the first 10 minutes chasing back on! I guess at least I know I can do it now….
The race was and out back, out back and out a bit again of sorts in the rolling hills of Devon and again I pleased myself with my ability to finish with the main group at the front of the race, especially as the acceleration at the final turn really strung the bunch out. Descending in a bunch at 40 + mph is quite an experience also.
Someone made this rad video on facebook; Blackawton Road Race you can just about pick the Red and Gold up in it. Arty.
Next it was back to circuits again and the Castle Combe good friday meet. With my family visiting my old man did the good deed of taking me over and snapping some shots.
A huge field of around 120 took to the tarmac for the 4 only race and boy was it twitchy. The bunch was incredibly nervous in the two chicanes with the apparent inability of a lot of riders to hold lines through them. Fellow BSCC racer Mark rode over a dropped bottle on the first lap, a great feat staying upright.
A windy day meant no breaks went and a bunch spirint was on the cards, as we rounded the final corner I grabbed a wheel for a tow round to the right of the bunch only for some idiot to open up a sprint right from the middle of the group, skittling some riders including the one in front of me! A deft skid saw me avoid the tumble ahead but sapped all my speed to the finish, trickling over the line in the top 25. Plenty of people on the tarmac meant the paramedic had a good days practice and the ambulance saw some use as it had to take 3 people to the hospital.
The following Sunday saw my first Cat 2/3/4 race at the Brentor 2 Stage Race which I was pretty nervous about after reading the start sheet (read Alex Baskaya / Scott Easter).
Quote fellow BSCC racer Kieran ‘its going to be hurty’. It was a two stage race. Stage 1 was a TT which was one lap of the race circuit.
A simple (yet brutal) triangle it contained an unsurfaced road heading down, a undulating back section and a draggy climb back to the top. I posted a below par time. Time trialling is definitely an area I need to improve on so my attendance to the BSCC classic league series will hopefully ensure this happens.
Stage 2 was a further 10 laps of aformentioned circuit, the addition of Cat 2 riders ensured the pace was high. I was totally clinging on with 4 laps to go but managed to stay in touch until the very last corner, which saw me lose about 20 seconds as I could not stick with the burst to the end. I was incredibly chuffed to roll in where I did and chapeau to Steve, Tom and Mark who all finished in the top 15. With Steve and Sam taking points. Hopefully I can continue to learn off these guys.
Apologies for the essay but we are up to speed now. All the race data for the above can be found via the Strava link on the right if anyone is interested. I have a weekend off before returning to action in the Betty Pharoah Memorial in Wales next weekend.
Racing is hard, even at this level it seems extremely competitive and has a steep learning curve. I seem to be coping ok, having a great time meeting a lot of sound people (particularly members of The South). I will continue to document my season, its highs, lows and hopefully some more behind the scenes stuff.