The 3rd of June saw me and Tom head over the bridge to Wales for the Tour of Carmarthenshire organised by Bynea CC who have rad Banesto style kit.
This was going to be an interesting race because of a climb up Black Mountain slapped on the end of the race, not the norm for UK racing. I have climbed part of it before but not at race pace, turns out the legs didnt have the oomph to climb it at race pace in this case either. More on that later.
There were a lot of strong riders on start sheet fresh off good results in the Welsh Championships.
The route was two large loops followed by the ascent of Black Mountain.
The weather was foul and only let up for small sections. The roads where drenched and I spent a lot of time swallowing filthy spray off the road. Goggles where rendered useless in these conditions. I ended scraping a substantial amount of grit out of my eyelids after. The conditions alluded to diffifculty when one poor chap crashed in the roll out. After probbably less then 100 m, with no one around him. I looked back and he was lying on the pavement. Luckily this did not set the tone with only one other crash all race, the speed at which someone shouted out and the bunch moved around them was swift. Good call preventing a major pile up. The communication and bunch skills are noticably higher in the 2/3/4 compated to the 3/4.
I felt comfortable in the bunch. There were nice descents on the route with a good bit of climbing. A nice punchy climb to the hill prime in Landeilo and the rest undulations. There was only one sketchy corner at the back of the circuit but sensible riding meant everyone negotiated it hassle free.
I felt strong approaching the base of the final climb, this itself was a drag going up a 1/2% incline. A fair bit of jockeying for positon occured and I probably did a bit too much moving up round the outside in the wind to advance myself, it was interesting to see how some of the more experienced guys moving up without having to do this. There is a lot more road craft to be learnt in 2/3/4 races.
There was already a break of around 6 riders up the road including super strong Luke Dunbar and Alec Baskaya (they would go on to take the 1 / 2). As we hit the climb Tom took the initiative to push on the front which strung it out, shelling a few riders. Zig zagging our way up the wind started to pick right up, I’m pretty sure it was blowing straight down in the first section. Unfortunately I was one of the guys who suffered because of this. As i slipped off the back I made an attempt to rejoin but my legs just werent having it. HR says I could have pushed it more but it wasnt to be. This was the longest race I have completed, nearly 110 km by the end and it could just be that which was my undoing.
As the finishing group got further into the distance I engaged high cadence mode and made my way to the top. I was pretty sure that was my potential small victory of first 4th cat dissapearing as well. The finish was actually closer then I expected, due to such low visibility and poor conditions on the mountain they had to move it down. This is clearly apparent in the video from Welsh Cycling below;
One thing I was glad of was Tom’s girlfirend bringing the car to meet us at the top. A 12 mile ride back to base would have been a bridge too far for me I think. As we tried to load the bikes on the car roof I began to get nasty kideny ache and the serious shakes. On the way down we saw people still heading up as well, cyclists certainly have strong resolve. There was also one guy who had ridden in bibs and ss jersey on his was down, either rock hard or a bit stupid, not sure!
Overall I took a lot out of the race, a bit of redemption after the Bristol South Road Race and my best showing in a 2/3/4 so far. I still think I can learn to make myself suffer a bit more though, something to work on.
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….
Or so I thought.
Yesterday Tim went riding in the rain. I had many excuses why I wasn’t riding, but it was mainly because I’m lazy.
When I saw the weather today I had no excuse. The BSCC Inter Club TT is this Wednesday so I needed to get my legs moving again.
I set off in dry warm weather, perfect riding conditions for a few miles after work. I’m currently running a 64 gear inch due to a mismatch of parts so a fairly relaxed ride was the plan.
Cruising about in the dry was such a change, until after about 52 minutes and 54 seconds of this, the rain came back!! At this point I’d covered just over 20 miles and was feeling hungry, with TDO Tuesday tomorrow and the BSCC Inter Club TT on Wednesday, I decided to head home. Slightly wet, but thankfully not cold.
Up until this year I would have definitely considered myself a fair weather rider, jeez, last winter I barely touched my bike for 3 months! But this winter I’ve done my best to put in the commutes, as well as additional miles when the weather has been bearable. The conditions have been pretty horrific over the past few weeks here in the UK, but today I donned my trusty North Face Gore-Tex, put my phone in a sandwich bag & put in a solidly slow 28 miles.
Ridonculously slow because of riding in the some of the worst rain & (more worryingly) crosswinds I’ve ever ridden in. When you’re fighting to keep your bike upright & in a straight line it probably means you should have stayed at home & watched Homes Under The Hammer. I suffer in the wet & cold, but wearing 3 layers including a windproof jersey & Gore-Tex I still didn’t manage to warm up properly due to the major wind, rain & cold temperature. My DeFeet knee warmers did an excellent job once again, but I really should invest in some real overshoes now I actually ride in all conditions.
Now I’m sat inside in the warm, I’ve missed my favourite property show, but I’m happy with the fact that I put in a decent amount of miles in weather that I usually wouldn’t step outside in.
Big shout out to anybody who rode their bike today!