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Sunday, 14 October 2012

Looking back at year 1

So nearly a year since I started this blog, and I've decided its the end of my racing for this season, there are a couple more races left in the Surrey League that I contemplated doing, but truth be told I'd rather make the most of the semi decent weather before proper winter sets in and do some club rides and have a few lie ins!

Its been an interesting season in that I came from almost total novice (although had some miles under my belt, but nothing of note) to being competitive at 2nd cat level and putting in some respectable performances in a handful of TT's. Although I'm no Nick Noble/Baker I certainly got further than I thought I would as my ever growing clothes bill will tell you as I chuck out endless pairs of 36 inch waist jeans to make way for 31's!

 I've learned a lot in the last few months racing, and I really think it will help next year to push on for the next level. I was always told that there was much to learn by more seasoned riders, and having the engine is one thing, but knowing what to do at certain points, who to go with in a break, when to work etc is stuff you just can't know until you've done it a few times (and done it wrong in my case - best way to learn right?) and seen the outcome. So I'm thinking that with my spectrum of possible race scenarios now a lot more broad than it was, I hopefully will be able to make more right decisions than wrong next season - I hope.

The results (I've included all events just for ease of memory) I've had are as follows, not bad, certainly not as good as they could have been in hindsight, nothing much changed between me being at the sharp end of the 3rd only races to being in the same place for the 2/3's apart from mindset, this could have been done a lot earlier!


1st  x 2
2nd  x 1
3rd x 1
4th x 1
5th x 2
6th x 2
8th x 1
9th x 2
10th x 1


1st x 2
2nd x 2
3rd x 1

As I may have mentioned in the earlier threads I have some plans for next season, they're still fairly 'rough' in terms of times for TT's due to not having done many - but there's always someone to aim for.... But I know that I want to get to 1st cat, and that will be the priority, I'm well aware that I can race most races I could as a 1st, as a 2nd, but I am quite competitive, and I want to achieve for the sake of achieving, I would much rather have got to 1st cat and raced a prem calendar than do it as a 2nd (pipe dreaming, but for argument sake). So the goals look a bit like this :

Get to 1st cat
Win a 2/3 road race
Top 10 a Nat b
20.xx on club 10 - sub 20 on fast course
Sub 54 min 25 (that might be a bit easier a sub 19.xx 10, so maybe revise this after a few 25's)
Get to 75kg from 79k
Up FTP 5-10% (optimistic maybe)

I've thought about them and certainly on paper they're mostly possible, however I'm only too aware of how hard work some of that will be, especially given the nature of the sport is mostly geared around suffering and sacrifice, although the fact I think losing the weight will be the hardest thing to do, maybe means I feel a bit confident. Anyway, I'll give it my best shot and who knows, I might meet them all, I might meet none of them, but hopefully now I'm in a position that I know why I do a good or bad ride, which is quite useful information. To help with the TT goals I'm purchasing a TT bike off a fellow club rider, hopefully given the bike will end up looking very similar to the pic here given I've agreed to take the wheels too he won't mind me borrowing his picture :

I've also bought a Kurt turbo, so I'm thinking ( I know I said this about 8 months ago) there isn't much left to buy now (apart from a few aero goodies for the above - pointy hat etc), which is a relief...I am planning to be a bit more structured this winter, and will obviously be making good use of the constant environment offered by the turbo and using power more effectively than I have been thus far. Might well do a few of the winter series again after xmas to sharpen up and then will start the season on the road in March time. In the quest for the above goals I will hopefully be doing a few more midweek crits/handicaps/TT's to get that time down and hopefully pick up a few points.

Cheers for reading so far, hopefully some of the posts are useful to the no doubt huge amount of people planning to start racing next year (Cheers Wiggo!). In an ideal world I'd love to be able to post in Jan saying I've managed to take my FTP up 5% but don't hold your breath on that post ;-)

Sunday, 16 September 2012

High Wycombe 2/3/4 RR

After battering myself a couple of weeks back, this week was intended to be an easier week, and I've not really ridden that much. So understandably I felt pretty fresh for this race, and was hoping that I'd come back a bit stronger!

This race was run over the same Thames Velo Course than I was 3rd on back in April (in the 3/4) so I knew it quite well, and knew that it suited me fairly well. I also thought I had a fairly good idea of whether a break could stick on this course or not. I initially thought no, long straight roads, at times, mega winds, all of these things really don't lend themselves to a break making it stick. What a pearl of wisdom that turned out to be!

After a massive debacle with the numbers, the race was set off about half an hour late, and slightly shorter than it should have been, but it still promised to be around 60 miles. There were plenty of good riders riding, Henry Latimer was pointed out to me, he is now a 1st cat I think, but was racing anyway, and is clearly an accomplished rider. There were a few other people that a mate of mine knew to be strong riders too. To be honest with it being a bit of a way from home, I only recognized a few riders from the Surrey based races, Richard Prebble was racing again too, so I knew there were a few people to watch, at least.

The race got underway and it was quickly obvious that the wind was pretty strong, but it never felt like a headwind really, just huge gusts come accross you. The pace was high right from the start, and attacks were going all the time. I really wanted to make sure I was in the move today - one of the biggest things I've noticed in moving up to these races over the 3rd only and 4th cat affairs are just how often breaks stick, they almost never did in the former races, so I'm still getting to grips with going with moves, and trying to pick which ones look good. Not an easy task, unless you're fit enough to follow everything, which I tried to a certain extent.

After a lap or so and a few failed attacks and moves, a large group had gone clear, but it could not really be called 'clear', they were dangling off the front. I thought about trying to bridge, but I honestly thought that given we could see them just ahead that they wouldn't be away too long. I was forewarned by a mate riding that there were indeed some strong riders up there, including Henry, I think. Anyway, with the bunch playing silly buggers, they did pull out a small lead of around 1 minute. The fact this was a large bunch was important, 6 people would have got battered by that wind, but 10 or so was perfect, if they could get it together...

With two laps to go (its a long old circuit at around 15 mi) we got our acts togther and started some through and off, it was going well, and at one point we had maybe 10 riders doing turns (including a few sprinter types, so vested interest no doubt!) and we quickly brought the gap back down, and they were again now visable just up the road. At this point everyone seemed to stop working together, maybe they felt the work was done and the catch would obviously now be made, maybe they didn't want to be on the front when we did catch so as not to be gassed for an attack? Whatever the reason was, it was quite odd to me, that we had worked for 30 mins, hard, and now we were about to be rewarded with the catch everyone lost interest and again the lead group pulled away again!

I don't think at any point this lead group had more than 50 secs on us, and on the long roads we could see them ahead. With the final lap approaching and the lack of interest now stronger than ever (there were now maybe 6 of us doing turns) it was clear that something else was going to have to be done. It was at this point that Prebble tapped me on the shoulder and suggested that I save myself a bit, and we would attack the bunch just after Little Milton, leaving us with around 10 miles to go to make the catch (if we could manage it). I agreed that it was probably the only option and he was a good be to go with given his previous, that or sit bored in the bunch, anyway. I told Ed who is the pvt member I knew what our plan was, and he was game. We waited, about 15 mins passed and Richard moved up to look like he was about to take a turn, I followed his wheel and he went, and he went hard, I was right in his wheel, and Ed was right in mine. We immediately started some through and off, and it was quickly obvious that following an accomplished tester is hard work, I'm certainly not bad in this respect, but his turns were solid, and he didn't look to be suffering either. After maybe 5-10 mins of hammering it, we had one other rider join us who had been active in the bunch, this wasn't a bad prospect as he was strong. We worked well together for the next few miles. As we approached the only hill of the course, there were a few more people that had got away from the main bunch and we joined forces, over the top of the hill there was probably 12 of us again, slightly too many really, because only 5 had any interest in working to try and get back, the lead group were now in sight again, 20 secs it must have been.

On the final drag it was obvious that we wouldn't catch them,  despite them being so close, the pace went up and at this point I was pretty spent so just rolled in with this group, given another 3 miles we would have caught them. We had smashed the bunch apart though, and they were some way back, so I'm glad that we did it, even thought nothing came of it, as it was a great bit of training.

The learning continues, despite not getting any kind of result, it was a good race, it was hard at over 300w NP and 275 AP for the race, and I also had a taste of a proper attack. It was fun, if not a bit too much like hard work :)

Some numbers

AP 275W NP 301W (the last 12 miles which was when we broke were done at 315w, not far short of a TT effort)
Distance 57 mi
Avg Speed 26mph

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Crawley Whlrs 2/3 Rusper RR

After last weeks marathon of riding this week wasn't much different to be honest. I wanted to do a good solid back to back block of riding, and 2 weeks today since my last day off the bike I can safely say I cannot wait to go to work on the train tomorrow :D

I probably didn't help matters by going out and doing 2-3 hours of fairly hard riding yesterday but as I said above, it was all for the greater good I hope. As we all know this week has been amazing weather wise and it really was shaping up to be a great weekend, although if I see another paper run the title 'Indian Summer' I'll go mad!. However with great weather comes great heat, and the same old issue of my bike only having 2 bottle cages like most! I had no helper with me today, so I knew it was going to be a struggle, and it didn't disappoint!

I rocked up nice and early, the 3rds race had just finished, two Wheelers were present, Robin Kirk, whom I raced with last week and Nick Griffths who was doing his first road race! Exciting times! Robin came 5th and made 2nd cat and Nick stuck with the bunch on what was, IMO a fairly tough course despite not having any proper hills in it...There were meant to be 4 from KW today, but for reasons unknown it was only me on the startline (probably something to do with the awesome weather!).

There were many familiar faces, I was looking to be involved today, that was the aim, be in everything, not to miss the definitive move. Richard Prebble was riding, as were many from Meudon again, and a strong chap from Cannondale Racing, and another from vo2. So they were certainly a few riders riders to keep an eye on.

The race got off to a fast start and I almost immediately felt the last two weeks in my thighs, that lurking ache, the one I never normally have because I'm totally fresh! Anyway, the first lap was full of attacks, and I was covering them, going with what I thought looked good, and just trying to follow the above peoples wheels when they made a move. I was confident that if a move did go then it would have them in it. The course was a strange one, it was pretty windy too, lots of false flats, a fast downhill, and a horrid kick up to the finish line which was 400m over the top of this never ending drag on shite road (actually the whole course was on shite tarmac), so it was very wearing. When you sit mostly in the top few wheels you don't tend to get the same wind free environment that you do when you're mid pack, so it was taking its toll on me after only a few laps. Added to that the weather had really hotted up, and was probably getting up towards 28/29 and every 2 minutes my mouth was bone dry, I supped my drink (which was warm, and bloody rank) slowly as I knew running out of juice 20 mi from the end would mean curtains.

A couple of laps had passed, the race was quick, around 25mph and I glanced down at my garmin and saw my average power was around 250w which is higher than normal, but shouldn't have really posed an issue but it did, today. And then something quite odd happened. We were flying down the fast section, in the drops pushing 40mph down a windy lane, and we came round a sweeping corner to be faced by two young girls on horses...This wasn't going to go well, that much was obvious.

The horses bolted (as they do when alarmed, and you can't blame them when 60 bikes come hurtling toward them!) and I thought someone was going to get trampled, I just put the hammer down to get away from them as I could hear the horses behind running down the narrow lane alongside the riders, what you forget (or I did) is that you can only out sprint a horse for a very short amount of time before it catches you... I was off the front by this point with Luke Farren from Brighton Mitre, I shouted we should pull into someones driveway before the horses came flying into us, we pulled in, and the two horses flew by with terrified young girls aboard (still not sure how sensible it is to send out a 10 year old on a horse with her 14 year old sister without adult perversion, I'm sure that might change going forward...) shouting "please help me!!" I must say it was quite distressing, but there's absolutely nothing she or I could do. I'm told the horses later stopped around a mile up the road (after leaving a trail of crap on the road, they must have been more scared than the riders!).

So we slow pedaled round and the race was temporarily stopped, at this point there was a small group up the road, of maybe 6 or so, this was the move I'd missed earlier. We set off and they were given their gap again, a few riders went off really hard to try and get into it, but it didn't work, we caught a couple of them, but obviously they were going really well, and with Richard Prebble in there I knew it had a good chance of staying away...We continued to work hard, with the occasional lapse of concentration which was quickly cured by Dean from Meudon (he's very close to winning the whole Surrey League, so obviously wanted us to get into gear!) shouting at people to get a move on.

The laps counted down, and a few of us tried to get away a couple more times, and a couple of others did slip away and got a little gap, but it always looked like we would catch them, and by this point I was suffering so just sat near the front and waited for the catch and tried to recover enough to go for the sprint for 5th (possibly 6th, not sure how many were up the road) as it was clear we wouldn't catch the first lot of riders, which was a shame, but I doubt I'd have been able to hack the pace anyway, in my state. The last lap bell rang, the pace went down a bit while everyone caught their breath, there was then the same old issue, position, I was concious that I didn't want to be on the front and needed to get some easy time to get back to a reasonable state for the last gallop.

As we approached the final climb, which was a bit of a leg sapper, I was in a good position, I was watching the wheels, I saw Dean in front of me, knew he was a decent option, and also Luke from Mitre, who has a good kick on him, so I followed them, they dug hard and I went with it, I looked back and a group of 8 of us had gone clear from the rest, I put in another dig, and slowly moved up the outside. I then remembered the finish was a long way over the top so reigned it back a bit, then as it flattened off I dropped a few cogs and upped the pace, I then saw the 500m sign, so it was still a bit early, but people started moving  and I wasn't confident I'd win a 150m drag race today, so I went. I went as hard as I could to try and get clear. I drove hard for around 15-20 seconds and had a quick glance back, I was 20 bikes ahead by now so just sat up and crossed the line gasping for breath, and being rewarded only with hot soupy air!

Turns out Prebble had attacked his breakaway and won solo, classy. Everyone knows what he is going to do, they just can't stop him!

Race stats were a bit messed up with the horse debacle, and the fact my powermeter was being a bit shit due to a low battery, but I've had a look and found a few figs that look about right

AP 240W NP 285W
Average speed - 24.5 mph
70 miles

Two races left,  hope to be a lot more fresh for them and hoping I have seen a training gain from the beasting I've given myself!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

25 mile TT, 12 mile hilly TT, 2/3 Surrey Road Race

After reading a chap found my musings to be soporific , I'll try and keep it upbeat, wouldn't want to upset the masses ;-)

This week has been pretty good, had a good ride in the hills on Monday, a few commutes, a couple of laps of the park, and I was approaching a weekend packed with cycling. Joyous. I usually try and plan my weekends around a race (riding wise I mean) so that I have one almost rest day leading up to a race on Sunday. This is usually quite straight forward and I either have Saturday off totally, or just do something very easy to prepare for the race to come.

This weekend though, I signed myself up for quite a lot of potential pain, I had a 25 mile TT down in Bentley on Saturday, then Sunday morning before the race I had entered a club event (hosted by Kingston Phoenix, but had many wheelers riding) which was a 12 mile hilly TT, which included a climb of Box Hill, and then came half way back up from the other side, the twist being that the last 900 yard hill would be timed as its own section and then run as a hillclimb within the TT - so there was no taking this one easy. I then obviously had a road race, which was meant to be on the Seale course, put on by WyndyMilla (turned out to be run on another course due to roadworks, but still a 60 odd mile race over rolling roads).

25 TT

I signed up to this as I've done a few 10's, and did the sporting 10.4 Richmond Park TT, and its fair to say I've done OK. Not amazing, but not bad by any stretch, almost to the point where I need to spend another fortune on a TT bike ... ;-)

This was run on a course called H25/8 in the murky world of TT'ing, it essentially is belting up and down the A31 between Alton (where I went to college, grew up nearby) and Farnham, with the HQ in Bentley (somewhere I lived for a while when I was younger, and home to the Scout group I was a member of, very briefly!). So it was fair to say I knew the course (and I've worked in the Hen and Chicken, forgot that bit!), but I've never ridden it, only ever driven. It was meant to be quite a quick, safe course, so I chose to sign up.

Race day rocked around, lovely weather, bit windy on the outward leg, but not too bad at all. I was there with a few other wheelers, notably Paul Clarkson, who was setting off 3 mins in front of me. Being an unknown entity in terms of TT's I was 24th off, of a massive field. Little warm up and I was on my way, I had made a rough guesstimation on pacing with the powermeter, and was going to stick to around 300 watts for the first half, then up it slowly to 320, and then aim to do the last 5 miles at 350 or so, which was roughly all in line with what I've managed in training rides.

I went off a bit harder than I planned, and by the time I had got to the turn, and back to the start on the other side of the road (which is almost exactly 10 miles) I was at around 320 watts and went through the 10 marker 2 seconds down on my 10 PB. Carried on, and all was going well, I came back by the start-point, at roughly 15 miles, feeling good, and looking forward to the last 5 mile stretch which was mostly downhill and had a tailwind, it was shortly after this point at around 17 miles I caught Paul, my 3 minute man, this was promising as he said he'd do a 1.0x, so at this point I was on for a 57 with 8 miles to go (as he did indeed do 1.0x), and then disaster struck, just opposite the Hen and Chicken, a pub I'd spent many hours of my life scrubbing pots, I hit what must have been the only hole on the course. Back tyre went down with a pinch flat almost straight away! Bollocks! Back to the HQ it was, I was very annoyed. But my own fault I suppose.

Since then I've done some calculations and had a look at the file, and assuming I'd have done the rest of the turn and back in at least the same power I'd have done a low 56, but I was planning and was able to put more in I think, so I would imagine I'd have done a high 55, which would have been a great start. But not to be, will have to go back another time and do it and try for the 55 again.

Avg speed at time of fail 26.3 mph
avg power 312 watts
39 mins

Hilly 12 Mile TT

Run on the GS/281 course - - hosted by Kingston Phoenix

As I mentioned, and as you can see, it was a hilly TT, and involved going up Box hill, back down it, then most of the way back up it to finish. The twist being the last half a mile hill which was going to be timed and then used as a Hill Climb within the TT. So most people probably saved a bit for it as its always nice to have a shot at two things in one ride!

I've done most of the course before, and I'd opted to leave my TT bars on my road bike for the effort, and I was pleased with this decision when I found out at the last minute that our club TT expert and record holder over nearly all distances, Steve Irwin (19.20 10 mi and sub 50 min 25 - man) had taken a late entry.

I was set off mid field, which suited me as it potentially saved me the embarrassment of being caught! I started and was quickly into my groove. I was about 2 miles in (the start is mostly downhill to the foot of Box Hill) and was about to take the left turn into ZigZag Rd, I saw in the distance about 25 riders had just turned up there, I flew in, and quickly got into the bars and got on my way, luckily these riders were pleasant enough and I just went up the outside.I was making good time, and did a 6 min Box Hill effort (possibly just under, will see when I have fixed the strava file) which was a good sign. I went over the top of Box and into the last 3rd of the course. As I hit the bottom of the final long 2 mile drag up to the finish (where the last Hill Climb bit really kicks up) I was on a 23 mph avg, and feeling OK.

This draggy road was just that, I felt like I was cycling through treacle, and had it not been for the powermeter I would have been livid with myself as it felt as if my legs had given up, but they hadn't I was just needed to put out nearly 400 watts to go 10 mph, it wasn't even steep! I made sure I had a bit left in the legs for the last bit, however. I went down the dip which then led straight into the timed section and really motored at the beginning and tried to carry on as best I could, in and out of the saddle with whatever I could throw at it, I saw the line and lunged for it, stopped the clock with 32.22 (which would have won me last years event). However the lurking feeling was always that Steve would come in very forward 5 mins or so I see him coming, and he says he's done a 31.40 or so. Very fast, but as expected from one of the most aero men out there!

Anyway, the results came in and the top 5 for the overall (of 29 starters) looked like this :

1 Steve Irwin 31-40
2 Rob Sharland 32-22 (315 watts avg - 335 normalised)
3 Phil Ember 33-43
4 Damien Breen 34-05
5 Stuart Pearce 34-14 

And a few hours later the 900 yard hill climb results were released :

1 Rob Sharland 1-33.13 (avg power 495w)
2 Gareth Thomas 1-42.35
3 Phil Ember 1-43.10
4 Damien Breen 1-43.19
5 Steve Irwin 1-44.00

So a pleasing start to the day, for sure! Maybe one day I'll catch Steve, but it will take a lot of aero work given he did the above time with 30 less watts!

WyndyMilla Road Race 2/3

Christ, I'm sick of typing now! So I'll try and keep this one short.

This ended up being run on the Cutmill Circuit due to roadworks on the Seale one. Slightly less suited to me I would say, Cutmill is quite rolling, lots of the course is uphill, and although the gradients are pretty tame, it does wear you down. I actually felt pretty good  considering the mornings events, so tried to stay in the right place. I only had one teamate in Robin Kirk today, and wit 9 riders from VC Meudon, they surely were the ones to watch. I knew Dean Corney was quite a handy rider, and was in the break that we caught right at the end of Parham Park, so he was one to watch. The laps started off quite quick, and I must admit I wasn't banking on a break staying away for long on this circuit today, people were going, and coming back, I tried to get away a couple of times and got brought back, the best time to go was clearly after the climb as it was really knackering people out. I was trying to keep myself in good shape, but I did go into the red once on the climb, so it was certainly making a few people puff!

Anyway, about half way through, quite a large group got away, I think around 6? They got a decent gap, and by the 45 mile mark they had 2 mins on us, I was trying to work on the front with a couple of others to bring it back, but I must say the bunch (those that were not Meudon as they had riders up the road) didn't seem interested, there were a couple who were willing to do some turns, but most wouldn't. So after a lap of trying to push on, and not getting anywhere, I called it a day, and sat in for the last two laps, I think another group got away and in the end, what was left of the bunch was sprinting for 15th or so, needless to say there were riders making fairly rash moves for 1 point, I wasn't interested and by this point the weekends riding (and indeed week before, as its been 7 days with no rest day) had caught up with me and I was happy to just roll over the line. Bit disappointing all in all as I know that I have the legs to place in these races, so really poor form of me to not get into that break. Still, even with all those miles in the legs it was certainly not an issue at any point today, so maybe in the next 3 I might be able to do something.

Looking forward there are 3 more RR's left, one on this circuit again, so hopefully I'll be a be more on the ball and will watch the contenders a bit more closely. Interesting that the High Wycmb Race is on the same circuit I came 3rd on up in Oxford earlier in the year, it suits me well, so looking forward to that.

Race Stats

62 miles
23 mph avg
230w ap 280 np

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Southdown Bikes 2/3

Today was a race I was a bit sceptical of, mainly because looking at the course map, it looked like one big featureless square course of around 3 miles in length. A crit pretty much! How wrong I was (kind of, it was more like a crit)...

Leading up to this race I've done a lot of volume, I had a day off yesterday, but before that I had ridden every day since the Wednesday before, it was a new approach I was trying to see if I responded well to less rest, the results were mixed. I was flying on Tuesday night and was easily able to ride the climbs at a high pace, and had the better of a couple of guys I normally can't get near to, so it was a promising start...On Thursday night I did an hour of hard threshold stuff, which was actually quite useful for today in terms of power watching, so to speak.

I accidentally left an hour earlier than I needed to today so was there nearly 2 hours before the start, lovely though it is, Storrington certainly isn't a buzzing metropolis, I wandered round Southdown Bikeshop and killed some time, nice shop if you're in the area! I went to sign on and this is when I learned a little more about the featureless circuit (so I thought), they ran a 3rd cat race in the morning, which one can only assume took the brunt of the bad weather. Of the 40 starters (wise people who stayed in bed!) around 10 finished, the rest all punctured. Apparently part of the course was like a dirt track and it had just destroyed the field with flats!Oh and there was a cattle grid too, for good measure.

Anyway, I knew a few people riding today, and obviously the man to watch was the Southdowns Bike man ex pro Steve Calland, he had won on this circuit for the last 3 years, mainly with his killer sprint I'd been told. With no other KW riding I was a free agent again, so my aim was to try and follow the moves and make sure I kept an eye on him. I did a quick ride of the course, the finish was at the top of the hill you can see in the below shot (where the pic was taken from almost), there was a stint on a main road, and then there was the bit that everyone was worried about, about a mile through the forest along a path that was a cross between a pavement (in surface and in width, it was about 8ft wide) and a fireroad. because it had so much standing gravel and what not. It was AMAZING fun, I now am going to b even more jealous when they send the Giro peloton up one of those gravel track mountains! Also Paraham Park House is quite a spectacle, and it was something special racing through the grounds, I'd certainly rather look at an Elizabethan specticle than Sunrise Plaza - the delight of the Hillingdon Skyline! Also being a private estate the road was free of cars! Which was a huge bonus.

Anyhow, we lined up, maybe 40 of us due to the crap weather I assume a load more had given it a miss, and were told about the risk of flats etc, and that there was no service vehicle, in hindsight it would have needed to be a lorry to sort all the punctures out! We were neutral for a whole lap, but at 6 mins or so per lap it didn't take long to get back to the start where we began the race, over 12 laps. The first lap saw probably 5 punctures, it was no joke, the surface and the rain that had fallen earlier in the day made it a road tyre graveyard. It was very crit-esque in that it was sprinting out of every corner, and every 6 mins you had a nice little climb to do ( similar to Dark Hill in Richmond Park for those that know it) luckily ,the mother of all tailwinds was shoving us up the hill so it didn't feel too bad at all.

 A couple of moves went but nothing noteworthy, and at points you just couldn't do anything as the track was so narrow. Another couple of laps passed and probably another 5 riders went out to flats, and slowly the field was becoming manageable in size. It was around 1/3 of the way through when I think a couple of guys got clear, I wasn't going to chase as I thought two guys (neither were any names I knew) wouldn't last long in the headwind through the forest. Then after a lap or so more a group of 5 got away, I did want to be in this move but was not i ideal position to do so, but again I thought they were probably not going to get too far...

Probably about half way through the race, and the bunch (if you can call it that) was maybe 15-20 strong, myself, and two Dynamo riders were the only ones willing to do any work to try and pull back the riders out front, the front two had amassed a two min lead, and the group behind them were over a minute in front, it was now or never really...I sat in and planned my attack! I hit the hill at a manageable but hard pace, the bunch were being a bit lazy anyway, and I saw that I had got a gap over the top of the hill, so I just drilled it, knowing they had been reluctant to chase anything all day, surely they wouldn't mind if I got away ;-)...

I got a decent gap, and going hard on the downhill on the main road, before the turn into the forest I look back, can see the bunch in the distance, and a lone rider is trying to bridge, I have my ideas about who it will be, about 20 seconds later he's on my wheel, and it was indeed Steve Calland (who was obviously local hero as everyone was shouting his name at every corner!), this was good, I knew I could work with him, and that we could probably make it stick. At this point there was 40 mins racing left, up to this point I can now see that I'd averaged around 240 watts, I was going to have to work harder than that to stay away and heopfully catch the next bunch!

Steve and I worked very well together, both doing strong turns, (he later said he felt he was slowing me down, I'll take that as a compliment, but it certainly wasn't the truth!), slowly we were reeling in the group of 5 who were slowing down slightly, we did maybe 3 laps together and got away from the bunch totally, I was pleased as it was a hard slog through the forest, but it was nice that we had got away and that my tyres had held up. Another lap or so (after maybe 25 mins of riding together) and the time gap to the next group of 5 was now under 30 seconds and when we came into the open part of the course we could see them on the far side of the grounds hitting the hill. It was starting to look possible that we would catch this group (at this point I thought they were the only group, I didn't know the other two were well off the front). Another lap of hard riding I notice Steve's turns get shorter (for which there was good reason...) which made it hard work for me. However, I kept going until we hit the bell lap, now its clear we're definitely not going to get caught, and the next 5 are in sight most of the time. We push hard into the forest and I'm doing most of the work now, I ask Steve if he wants to join the group in front or go straight past them, at this point it all becomes clear..he has two teammates in this group of 5 and isn't going to harm his own chances of a sprint to help me get in the mix (especially after I robbed a 2nd place from him last week!), fair enough I think and just keep riding, as the last thing I wanted was to get so close and then not catch them!!

Coming out of the forest into the horrid headwind section, we pass one rider who's been shelled out of the 4, its going to be tight with less than a mile to go, but we catch the front 4 just before the last 1k or so (tailwind!), I sit on the back waiting for a move to go, and then it does, Steve comes flying up the outside as we hit the climb, its too strong for me as I've just worked hard for the last 3-4 mins, then the others go, I still have enough in the legs to follow them onto the start of the hill, and then really stamp the pedals, and pull away from them to end up finishing about 4 bikes back on Steve for 4th place (thinking I'd come 2nd again as I wasn't aware of the two up the road :P )!

Quite a good ride, worked hard, and the second half of the ride where we were alone was done at 270 watts ap, as opposed to the first at 240, and the last 20 mins I did 300w average which is a result of Steve's shorter turns I think. Managed 20 seconds at 825 watts to get clear on the last hill, which is far from my best, but after a tough race still not bad. A pleasing result and it certainly bodes well for next season when there are plenty of chances to go for the points. 4 more races left, still wanting the elusive win, but I'm happy that I am showing consistency at this level at least.

Race stats

AP 248W NP 285W
Distance 37 miles
Average speed - 23.8 mph (interestingly we were 1 mph quicker 2 up than when in the bunch!)

Sunday, 19 August 2012

iTeam 2/3 Surrey League

With the weather finally picking up a bit over the last week or so, it looked like we might get some racing done in the sun again. After doing the Python race I took the view that I should be more aggressive, or at least try harder in these races to get the results. On paper its more than possible, so really it was just making it work and THINKING about what I'm doing.

The weeks riding has been pretty good, certainly made the most of the good weather and had a good mixture of riding in my legs from this week, around 200 miles before the race, and maybe most notably was the TT I did yesterday, which I did put a full effort into, so I was thinking about how my legs would feel today. Luckily the course was fairly straight forward with only a couple of tiny inclines as opposed to any notable hills so even wit not fantastic legs, which they're weren't, it was possible to get round.

Today's race was run on similar roads to our club race, down in Dunsfold, its a fairly quiet area, and with a couple of exceptions everyone seems more than happy to wait while we go through, which is nice. Oddly I was the only KW rider in the race today, not sure what the other chaps were up to, but it does mean that you can attack/follow anything you want without worrying you're doing the wrong thing for your teamates. I arrived nice and early, and I'm pretty sure it was already well over 20 deg when I arrived in the car park!!

I signed on, and we got going, the notable thing about this particular circuit was that it had a flat finish, I don't think I've done a SL race where that has been the case. Usually the finish is on a flat just after a hill, with that in mind I was interested to see how it went as it's a finish that certainly wouldn't hinder me. The neutral section was only about 500m before we were off and 'racing'. The pace at first wasn't that hard really, I was just sitting in wheels waiting to see what might happen. I knew a couple of names on the sheet, and I knew that the Node4 Rider Richard Prebble was strong and that his style based on past races was to break away near the end on his own (I think he is a former national TT champ, so certainly a man to watch), so I wanted to be near him to make sure if a move did go, that I was also in it, or at least saw it ;-) ! I'm sure there were many other very strong riders, but having one of the worst memories of anyone I certainly can't memorize more than a couple of riders, helps when the kit is bright orange!

 Anyway, back to the race, the pace was fine for the first couple of laps, not that quick, just getting a feel for it, despite the course being pretty safe, it was quite narrow and twisty at certain points, and the gutter was just that, a trench of mud and crap, and the tarmac wasn't much better in places. About half way through the race a group got away, it had a few guys that looked strong, nobody looked to want to bridge to it, so I thought I'd just go on my own, always easier said than done...I went hard and got a gap, then quickly realised that yesterdays TT was making me ache a bit and the dilemma after 3 mins of full effort is whether to sit upor not, I thought that I'd already invested a lot of effort so may as well make it count, I managed to bridge them, but by the time I got there the bunch were not far away. However we proceeded to break again, straight away, I did a turn, then just blew up, I couldn't do it given the 5 mins I spent chasing, the others were less than impressed when I shirked my turn! Still, not much I could do. We stayed in limbo for a while just off the front, until we got caught and we all sat up maybe half a lap later.

I think a couple of laps passed without too much to mention, I was in the top 20 nearly all the time, which is the place to be, although, with these races because the courses are generally not too taxing, people are quite fresh, and in the blink of an eye the who field can go up the inside/outside! I dropped back for a bit to get a bit of rest as I thought it likely we would have a sprint finish. A bit later I noticed the Node 4 rider went off the front with one other, we started to chase it down knowing how dangerous it could be, he stayed away for quite a while but we made the catch eventually. The last lap came and everyone was back together, the usual lot where near the front, the pace slowed a bit, then picked up a lot, then slowed down again, then as we were coming towards the finish and the only 'hill' of the course (which was slowly knackering me each lap even though you could probably do it in 20 seconds) the pace exploded and two guys came flying up the outside and more followed, this was it, it was the point that I either dug in to get a good position for the sprint, or did the usual and ended up 30th wheel firefighting for a spot. I opted for the former, in power terms it was pretty tame, but my legs were feeling it, and it was now very warm (30 odd), I managed to go with them, and down the other side managed to catch my breath a bit.

 In the confusion etc one chap had got off the front, I don't think anyone was paying much attention really because a few had done similar and been swallowed up within 5 mins,  but at the point he went it was a good move....One other notable thing at this point was me almost coming off at 30 mph...I've fitted a new cassette and because my back mech is a bit shit the shifting was not 100%, I thought I was in gear and fine, so sprinted out of a corner, only for the chain to jump down a cog and my knee hit the bar throwing the back wheel in the air! I managed to keep hold of it, but it was close, another rider said he thought I was ground-bound.

This part of the race is often the point where the riding goes a bit sketchy as people jostle for position etc, and today was certainly no exception, we approached the dogleg left turn onto the final straight which was maybe 500m to the line. I was probably in the top 10 of 20-25 contenders, but not really in a wheel, Richard Prebble was on the front at this point drilling it, we came round the dogleg and he started sprinting almost straight away! I was on the outside so had a good view of who was doing what,  I knew I couldn't get a wheel in that mess so stuck to the outside (on my side of the road if you were wondering! but near the outside of the lane) where nobody wanted to be it seemed. I saw people coming on the left, I just decided to go for it and take the wind for a few seconds as there wasn't another option, if I had enough then surely it would be OK, if I didn't then I wouldn't have been any better in a wheel. Meanwhile someone went by Richard (Steve Calland I later learned) and really got a good gap on ever the group, I really dug in here, out of the saddle at first then as it was so far to the finish I got tucked and just went as hard as I could, I went past the group and it was just myself, Steve, and the lone escapee, I was gaining on Steve, I dug a bit deeper (no idea where I found more from really) and caught him, just (results are still pending but two marshals saw it my way too) before the line before making the pass... the lone rider was about a bike length in front, great ride from him! So I got a 2nd place, which is pretty close to achieving my season goal of another win (Hillingdon doesn't count! ;-) )

I was pleased with that, it showed that I had the legs in a sprint again, and that I can certainly get the results at this level (I don't even think the easy course made much odds, I just was more concious of making it count and gettting the positioning nailed(ish) ) and it bodes well if I want to push on next season and go for 1st cat. 3 or 4 more road races this year, a couple of TT's (my first 25 in a couple of weeks!) and a couple of handicaps before I buy a turbo, bury myself in the training with power book and try to increase power in the crap dark weather!

Some numbers  :

AP - 198 NP - 240w (easiest yet! - did take nearly 800w for 30s at the end though)
Avg Speed 25 mph
Distance 62 mi

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Python Summer RR E123

After not managing to finish the race last weekend, I was looking forward to giving this one a try. It was to be my first race at National B standard, and that meant a tough field, and 85 miles of racing as opposed to 60-70 which I usually do.

The first thing to note about this race is that its on a very easy going course, its pretty flat with only a few draggy bits, but they're nothing much to mention, certainly nothing like last weekends course. Its also mostly very straight and quite wide which made is quite safe (no spills today). The outcome of all of these factors isn't that it pootles along at 24 mph, but it fly's along at 27 mph!

I'd have a decent week of riding, and have kept in mind the distance of today, so I didn't do anything too OTT. I did a 10 mile TT on Wednesday which was a good test of the system. It was probably that morning that the startlist for todays race got sent through on email. It was somewhat surprising that it was packed with decent riders. The Sigma Sport team were out in force, Metaltek Scott had a few riders, there were lots of Felt Colbornes, plenty from Team Corley Cycles, Pedal Heaven, Node 4, and many other riders who were obviously a cut above the usual crowd I race with (and a cut above me might I add as I was one of maybe 10 2nd cats)

I got down there nice and early and it promised to be a dry day which was great as I'd had just about enough of riding/racing in monsoons! There was only myself and Andy Edwards from KW racing today, and a couple of other club riders I spotted warming up, with the majority as I mentioned being from proper racing teams, it was fairly clear the first lap was going to be fast (just under 10 mile loops per lap) as everyone stretched their legs, and it was, over 28 mph for that first one. However although the headline figures sound very quick, it wasn't too tough to sit in really, a nice tailwind down Drift Rd certainly helped. However there were a few corners that were sprinted every time, so that was something that gradually wore you down.

To be honest, the aim for this race as I mentioned last week was just to get round, as it happens I managed to stay near the front, even get in a few moves that didn't go anywhere for various reasons, but it does mean that I wasn't massively bothered about what was going on up the road. As it happens a group of 9 riders or so got clear early on, and the winner from the Sigma Team came from this group. I think later in the race Wouter Sybrandy also of Sigma slipped away with one or two others.

The final lap was again quite quick, I'd already thought about the finish and given there were so many up the road, sprinting was pointless, so I sat back and rolled in mid-pack in the end. Its actually about as far as I've ever ridden anyway, so to do it as part of a race that over the duration averaged over 26 mph, I was very pleased to still be there at the end.

 The riding style is very different to a 2/3 race, and when one of the elite guys attacks, he attacks properly, I hit 1500 watts following a move, something I'd never do in a 2/3 race I don't think. Also the pack is a lot more confident, and aside from being shouted at once (my fault for going through a gap that was a bit smaller than I am) I felt OK amongst these guys, but its clear I've got a lot to learn about how to ride in a elite bunch in terms of getting in move, coming through, closing gaps etc.  I never felt like I was dying, and my legs felt pretty good for the duration although I do need to think about fluids as I was running a bit dry towards the end.

I'd like to think it translates well to the 2/3's, but we will see on that front today was very flat afterall. There are about 5 races left of this season so maybe I can still place in one of those, if not then the concentration will be on TT's and Hill Climbs over the next couple of months before going for it properly next season (now I am a bit more familiar with how it all works). I will try to add some pics as and when they appear on the web.

Some figures from today

85 miles
Avg speed 26.5 mph for the race
AP 230 watts NP 280

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Dulwich Paragon 2/3 Surrey League

Today was my return to the Bletchingley Circuit, last time I rode it was back in the Spring (extended winter as it was) and I found it very tough and lasted about 2 laps. Today was different in that I didn't find it too bad, looking at the numbers today's fastest lap was quicker than the one back then, which given the weather, shows people were going for it, but its still much harder for me than any other SL circuit I've done so far.

I've had an OK week on the bike, and even set a few new power bests in training, so I know I'm going ok at the minute. However I might have undone all that hard work when I went to Cowes with work on Friday, much drink was had, and suffice to say, I was in no state for a spin on Saturday. Anyway, got there nice and early and the weather was lovely. Was glad of this, as the weather really does make something that can be fun, into something pretty shit as per the race in Staplefield a few weeks back...

We set off on the first lap, and it probably took about 10 minutes for the rain to start, not too heavy at first, however. We did a complete lap of the circuit and I remembered why I found it tough...its a tough course with little to no flat in it. We came up passed the finish line and I saw a friendly face or two which was nice(cheers Pete). Then the heavens opened. The phrase "never seen rain like it" gets branded about a lot, but today (actually there was worse rain on the way home in the car) was as heavy rain as I've ever seen and there were points where I couldn't see more than 8 ft in front of me. Cycling through it was tough, as within moments the road was 2 inch deep in water. Added to that, the fact that we were about to tackle the steep downhill part of the course didn't fill me with confidence!! It was at this point that many people just quit there and then (Andy Edwards of my club being one - sensible head, keep that c59 clean and in one piece!). However I carried on as I thought of the effort I'd made to race, so it was worth giving it a go, and I knew that the weather would have a big effect on the bunch. The first time down the steep hill in that rain there were huge splits, the bunch probably was broken into three groups of 20 or so riders with some stragglers. The result of this was quite a large effort to get back on as I was nearer the back going into the downhill, I can see it was 340w for 10 minutes to get back on the bunch. Not really the kind of efforts you want to be making 10 miles into a 70 mile road race, really.

A couple of laps passed and slowly but surely people were getting dropped on both the climb (more often the long drag past the HQ) and the downhill, sadly it was at this point that Damien departed as his rear wheel slowly went down. I kept going, and often found myself in pretty poor position as I wasn't as confident as some of the others at going down the hill at that speed in those conditions. But slowly the rain held off for a bit longer, and the course was beginning to be rideable again. The strange thing was how localized the rain was, one half of the course looked like a waterpark, the other like a fine summers day (well, if you can look past the huge cloud formations looming!).

The race neared its conclusion, at about 45 miles I was talking to a mate of mine who drove down for EOL (he's well versed in shite weather, he's from Newcastle, but seems to thrive when racing in it! Odd bugger) and we were discussing what would happen on the last lap, and whether the lone rider who had gone earlier on would stay away, we approached the first of the hills back up to the village and BANG...suddenly I could feel myself rolling on my rim, superb. There is a slight backstory to the tyre, I had gp4000s on there and they have been fine, not one flat so far (bought new in Feb so around 1k miles probably) but on a training ride the rear had developed quite a cut, so to be safe, I put on an Ultremo R1 that was almost new. Ironically it was indeed the rear that blew up, and looks like someone has shot it!To be fair to Schwalbe, I was one of probably 15 flats today, nothing much you can do against a rogue flint etc.

I then realised that my spare tube wasn't in my jersey, but in the car. Great, 5 miles from the car, nobody to give a hand ...I started walking. I probably walked for about 40 minutes before a lady who's husband had been racing took pity on me (he was riding for East Grinstead, and had punctured earlier!) and gave me a lift back to the HQ, so a massive thanks to her, I'd still be walking otherwise!

The bunch was apparently 17 strong at the finish (from over 70!) and that chap did stay away, so kudos to him, hell of a ride. Bit annoyed as I'd have liked to have finished given the circumstances, oh well, lets hope next year we get a summer.

Avg Speed 23.5 mph
Power AP 240 NP 295
47 miles
50 mph top speed

And to cheer myself up I just had a look at the start list for the Python Summer RR which I'm doing next weekend (thought I had to try an elite race soon, and its quite flat ) - its certainly got some names in it! eek. Goal is to finish, nothing more.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Corri Dorri SL 2/3 Road Race

After a week of not a lot of riding, and a lot of work enforced drinking I wasn't looking forward to this one too much. And was glad of the course it was being run on, as its pretty easy going as far as they go, I did it back in May and although a fast pace, I found it fine.

After a fairly late night due to my car deciding to spit out its wheel bearings on the A3 and nearly pull me into the central reservation, I had to muck about with recovery vans and ended up getting home pretty late, eating a curry, deciding at 12.30 that my gears needed re-indexing (sure the neighbours were well pleased with that). I wasn't 'that' fresh when I was waiting outside the front door at 07.30 for a club mate to kindly give me a lift down to Henfold.

We got down plenty early enoug, and did a little warm up, I felt OK as it happens, and the weather was (and as I type still is) fantastic, finally. So was feeling pretty good about the race. And was hoping I could do something. I knew there were a couple of very strong guys in the race, Elliot Porter who's team were the race hosts, he was pre-entered but is now a 1st cat rider, and is obviously very strong, also Will Pratt who will follow a similar route soon no doubt was another face to watch (go off onto the horizon more than likely)! after his solo destruction of the field two weeks ago.

So we got going, and I could tell it would be one of those days when someone locked up in the neutral section and nearly caused a pile up!! We got going, the pace was quite high, but given the course is quite flat its not hard to whizz along at 28 mph. To be honest I can't remember what came first, the first break, or the first crash...So I'll talk about the latter first.. I had just moved to the front and Colin saw that as his chance to go for one, he did so and created a split, about 8 riders in total got into a move and as I didn't chase it down (obviously) or up the pace, they got a gap quite quickly. I think all the major teams had a rider in the mix, so it was a decent proposition for Colin to be part of. The first crash I think was just down to poor spacial awareness, and a few people went down, one chap ended up in a ditch I think. Everyone seemed OK...But these constant crashes really do make you wonder what you're doing...well, firstly what you're doing not sitting in the top 10, and secondly, how annoyed I would be if I smashed my bike/face to bits. The latter is just part of the risk but the former really needs to be beaten into me I think. It isn't difficult to sit at the front, I don't find the pace hard to stick, so really still not sure why I can't get into my head that its the place I must be. Will be writing lines on a blackboard "You must stay in the first 15 riders to stand any chance" maybe repetition will get it into my brain!

Anyway, we carried on, and break had about 30 seconds or so, they seemed to be working quite well. Andy and Seamus tried to bridge across, Seamus put in a big dig and they were doing well, but with the bunch flying along it was always going to be a big ask, and sure enough they were reeled back in.

A short time later we were stopped, and told to pull into a car park, not had a race before so was interested to see what the craic was. I had a lurking suspicion that it may be something to do with the police that seemed to be spending their entire morning, and half of Surrey's Force (oh OK, we counted 4 vehicles of various types) following us, and essentially trying to catch us doing something wrong. Now this is obviously fine, they may have responded to reports of poor riding, or whatever, its their job to keep the peace and all that. My first issue with this is the main officer who seemed to be the most irritated by the whole thing drove his Land rover (Well it is Surrey dontchaknow) down a pretty narrow lane, at over 40 mph, obviously some riders were edging over the white line, as it is most weeks due to the size of the field and size of the roads, but I thought driving at what I consider a high speed in a vehicle of that size/width on that kind of road (and he was almost on the white line himself, seemingly taunting the bunch in my mind) was fairly risky, and not really acceptable behavior from a police officer.

Anyway, warning heeded, we set off again under the promise that if our riding didn't improve then we would be stopped and sent home. About a half a lap passed and Elliot seemed to lose control, maybe a puncture, not sure, and a fairly large pile up ensued, he went down hard, so hope he's alright, saw he was up and about being tended to, so hopefully just flesh wounds. Anyway, we carried on, and the pace went up a bit, and the bunch seemed to be strung out for a lap or so, we kept being ushered around the crash point where the ambulance stayed present for a fair time (so not sure if someone else had more serious injury?)

And then we approached that familiar pub and were pulled in again, this time it was obviously the beginning of the end, 36 miles into the race it was, we stood around for a bit while our friendly officer chatted to the race officials, the decision came about ten minutes later. The race was to be called off as we were too dangerous. Great. What a way to spend a morning. People were generally a bit pissed off, and it was agreed that it was incredibly rare, and that the officer in question had little idea of the cycling scene at all.

A few of us decided to do a couple of laps of the course to make the morning slightly more worthwhile before we headed home to watch Cav smash it up again. So not all bad!

Till then the race felt easy as the stats proved :

avg speed 25 mph (last time on this course it was over 26)
avg wattage 210 or so

This article has since been published - - seems to be a case of one man on a mission.

On to the next one then, the goal now still to win one of these races, I think its still possible, but I'm running out of chances to do so. Going to try and get in some E12 crits and more handicaps in where I can. The next race is two weeks time on Bletchingley circuit, the one I got spat out on earlier in the year. It will be a real test to see if I've improved enough to get round. Personally I think I will get round, but it will still be tough!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Brighton Mitre 2/3 Surrey League 70 miles

firstly, let me apologies for any grammatical errors or typos. I do write these ASAP so I can try and get stuff accurate, but as my partner was only to happy to point out (finally putting that English Lit degree to good use) it's a far cry from Wordsworth, and does have a few errors here and there!

At last a sun appeared on the ever pessimistic iPhone weather app, and as luck would have it, it was for Sunday! I was still skeptical as when I first saw the prospect of riding in the dry, it was Wednesday...! However, true to its word, today was much more pleasant than most of the last 3 weeks. Dry, sunny at times, and plenty warm enough. No Complaints from me!

Week leading up to has been fairly normal really, just commuting due to the weather, made arrangements at work to allow me to ride the club 10 on Wednesday. After all the effort of making it happen, I got down there and the heavens opened, hail the size of gravel, rain like I've not seen it, and thunder. Not TT weather IMO (plus I'd just cleaned my bike :P)

After last weeks race I was feeling quite confident, I knew last week was a hard race in terms of the course, not to mention the weather. So having asked around the club, I was told that the circuit for today was fairly easy, flat pretty much. With the obligatory SL uphill drag then flat to the line. Not got a problem with these, but there are some issues, which I'll come onto. There were 3 other wheelers riding today, Seamus, and Steve, who were present last week, and Colin too. So although we were heavily outnumbered by Dulwich who had around 10 I think, I was pleased to have some support.

We were told that the course was fine, no holes etc, just a couple of large puddles which had not quite dried out from the weeks rain. No issues however, I was still enjoying riding without getting mud fired into my face by the wheel in front! We rolled off and the pace was quite high, but it wasn't hard to maintain, the course was pretty flat, and with the exception of the finish, and a couple of tiny rollers there wasn't much to speak of. Quite a few left turns, most were fine, a couple were quite tight however.

We were rolling along then, and nothing much was happening, people were attacking every now and again, pace was up and down. The first main event came I think on the 2nd lap, I was behind a rider, we were approaching the huge puddle and a car was coming the other way (a common theme today, part of the pitfall of racing at midday) everyone bunched in, this chap panicked I think, pulled his brakes, and his wheel locked up, he went down right in front of me, I narrowly missed it by going through the deep puddle. It was an eye opener as the roads today were very narrow and you rarely could see much more than 200m down the road, yet people were still firing up the outside like we had closed roads! Mad.

I tried to get into a break on the 3rd or 4th lap, I motored hard to make the bridge on my own, and as soon as I got there everyone sat up. Seems to be a bit of a theme with the breaks I try to join. A couple more breaks were going and coming back, Seamus was in probably the best one of the day, they stayed away for a lap maybe, but it all came back together. Into the last lap I was feeling fine, if not a little thirsty, I was on the front for a lot of it, at a medium pace, I was waiting for a group to come by, and they eventually did, I was planning to get into position for the last hill quite a way before we were approaching as I knew it would be bloody tough to get up if I wasn't in the first 10 riders. However quickly I found myself swamped by all the seemingly fresh riders that had been sat in all day, I was panicking a bit, I was probably 30 riders back, I managed to get my way towards the front, but still come the bottom of the final climb I was probably just in the top 20. As we turn up the pace, I put some power in and start moving up, then the first of 3 moves that mean I have to perform massive evasive actions to not go down, this did happen 2 or three times, and meant that I had to stop, then get back on the power, and repeat that, it was hard work. I think there was one Dynamo off the front who was the bait for the bunch, I heard someone go down behind me (later saw him lying in the road, poor bloke, had a proper wound on his arm, think he was OK though) and I tried to keep it together and go forward, but it was just so tight, so many people, so many risks were being taken. The issue with these finishes I think are that riders go full gas and look good, but die half way up, they then become yet another obstacle to go round, so I was in and out of these blown riders making my way over the top. It flattens out and I am probably at this point lying back at 15th or something, but I remember its a fairly long drag to the line, so I hammer it, I'm passing plenty of people, but the next bunch have just got too far clear. I think I might have grabbed a top 10 just, although wouldn't be surprised if its another 11th!

So things today that I've learned, POSITIONING!!! there's just not enough room on some of these courses to make your move any later than half way through the last lap I think, so I must get this sorted, as looking at my power numbers I was going very well up the hill and over the top, so must make it count.

Other than that, pleased that I'm still in the mix, nothing was too hard today, nobody was too strong that I couldn't pull back, or hold wheel, it does bode well, and with around 8 of these races left, I think I can get some proper results.

Race numbers then :

Distance 70 miles
Avg Speed 25.2 mph
Avg/NP power/Max - 241 watts / 282 watts / 1369 watts

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Vo2 Surrey League RR 2/3

Where to begin...Well, being British maybe the weather is a good starting point, amazingly, despite racing through the winter, today was the first race I've done in the wet, and what an intro it was to wet weather cycling...

I've been riding quite a lot of late, trying to improve up the hills, which is tough work, but I've been getting better over the last month. I was feeling pretty good, then went on Holiday for a week and did nothing, came back and my legs felt very weird after the first ride! Like they'd never done any work before. That first ride was a week ago today, so I thought the best thing to do would be to ride myself back into some kind of form. Which resulted in me doing a fair few miles in the passed week, and despite them feeling like they'd been attacked with a lump hammer on Thursday evening, a day off on Friday and a gentle day yesterday saw me in pretty good shape this morning, I felt good. And yesterday's spin was good too (shame I couldn't quite do the same 20 second effort at today's finish that I managed fresh in the Park yesterday, but there we are) I've recently got a powermeter, so I can see what I've been doing, see where the effort is, and I suppose most importantly, see where I can improve things.

As with most things cycling, its the weight that is the issue as opposed to the power in my case, still, today would be a good test of that as the circuit is a tough one. I'd asked a few wheelers who had ridden it in the past what they thought about it, the general opinion was that it was hard, and not that different in difficulty to Bletchingley, which if you've read back is where I got dropped like a stone 20 miles in a few months ago. And actually one chap (who went on to be the clubs most successful rider of late by making 1st cat) said it was the hardest course in the Surrey League. Great!

So as I said, we all know the weather has been total rubbish for about 2 months now (thankfully I got my fill of sun on Holiday, but still!), and predictably today looked no different on the forecast. I woke up and it was raining, I drove to the race, and it was raining, and you can tell where this is going, it was an on-going theme. I arrived nice and early to sign on and find somewhere to park etc. I caught up with Francis, who rides for Vo2, and thankfully for the rest of us made 1st cat the other week, so he was just marshaling. He told me to watch number 78, and that was about it (William Pratt of Dulwich - in hindsight it was a good call from Francis, not that I could do anything about it...).

So we set off in the pissing rain, there were 3 other wheelers, Stephen who's recently done the RAS and found his wings (also won a Surrey League race about 8 weeks ago), Andy Lack, who soloed his way to amateur stardom a couple of weeks back in an SERRL race, and Seamus who is or resident Irish hard man, rides with an average cadence of 6, and doesn't seem to show any effort whatsoever, also rides what can only be described as the most lairy bike I've seen, flames and all! So I was in god company, if not slightly lacking in numbers compared to Dulwich who had a good 6+ riders including the above who has had very good results of late.

We roll down to the start of the race and the roads are sodden, its not pleasant, but being July its not really that cold, so I don't mind too much, but the crap from the road in your face made it quite hard to see. We got going and I felt ok, first time up the climb was fine too, but I could tell that doing it 5 times would takes its toll (maybe it was 4? either way). There were a couple of rampy parts that could easily generate a split, and there were also points for people to get back on with fast downhills.

Nothing much happened for the first lap or two, a few people tried to get off the front, but nothing stuck, I was watching the Dulwich rider, and he indeed was right near the front, so it was clear that he wanted to do something this race. On lap two I think, he went, and went on his own, which was strange really, as it was not so blistering that people couldn't have bridged, but I don't think anyone wanted it. Probably thought he'd get brought back (you can guess where this is going)... So we cracked on and at times the rain was torrential, worse than being in the car on a waterlogged m25. A crash happened almost straight away, I THINK his wheel came out, or maybe he hit some traffic calming measures and it was forced out, either way, it made me think about how dangerous it could be today. About half way through and I'm still feeling decent despite being soaked, another crash had just happened in front of me and I managed to dodge his falling bike to make it round, each time this happened we got distanced and had to chase back to re-gain position, not ideal. Still, things are going OK, I'm able to keep the pace up the hills, and as usual am able to cruise downhill faster than nearly anyone else which is nice when you need to get a decent position back.

Then probably 2/3'rds of the way through Andy Lack has a dig, and he gets a gap, I think he might be able to do something, so try and get to the front to slow things down, but people swarm, and before too long he's back with us again (I'm probably not doing Andy's break full justice here, I have a hazy memory of most of the race). The pace is going up, we enter the last 12 mile lap of the circuit, by now William Pratt has about 3 mins on the bunch and is clearly going to win in a fantastic solo effort on a hard course in shit weather, he is clearly a very strong rider, not long for cat 2 I doubt. Then Seamus has a go off the front, this was a fairly short lived move as the bunch were just going too quick now really, so with Seamus back in the bunch, we approached the downhill section before the climbs, I was feeling quite good, so went for it, got a gap, not a huge one, but I was away from the bunch, kept drilling on, but the hills soon came, and my lungs were not having it (couldn't get my heartrate up at all today, even at the end I was 3 bpm down on max)  and slowly but surely they reeled me in after maybe 5 mins of being on my own (5 minutes haha, sounds utterly pitiful when you think of the rides some people do on their own to victory etc) and I settled back in to the front of the bunch. With the hills out of the way there is a good 3 or so miles of fast section which is downhill and has a couple of rollers before the final kick up to the finish, Seamus is on the front drilling it along, and I'm 3rd wheel, I eventually go through after trying to get a drink for about 30 secs and sit on the front to keep the pace decent as we head into the last 1.5km... Now given this finish probably suits me quite well, you'd be well within your rights to ask me WTF I was dong on the front a mile from the end, to be honest, I don't know either, it just felt right , even thought it clearly wasn't...

We approach the final ramp and I'm still on the front, as we make our way up, we catch a rider, maybe a dropped rider, not sure (we learn that there are two more up the road now, I must admit I never saw them go), so I prepare for the inevitable as the whole bunch fresh from sitting in wheels like I should have been comes round me to leave me in 30th position. They come, and I let about 4 riders or so come through then put a dig in to make the wheel (I'm suffering by this point) and I keep the wheel, putting in a big effort, breathing like a mad man, I am gaining on some people, but there are others also approaching, we cross the line which is much closer than I thought it was, and I think I may have scraped a 10th if I'm lucky (so 7th or so within the bunch), Stephen I think pipped me at the last minute, but other than that it was just a mass of bodies!

Given my positioning the whole day and that it in hindsight despite all the negatives, weather etc etc, it did actually suit me at the finish , if I could get there, so a bit of a shame to not place a bit higher, but that's what will happen when you do a turn and then try to win too, its very difficult to do that, and I must learn from it.

On the other hand, this course was very similar to Bletchingley, the pace was quite high, and not only did I not get dropped, I managed to be amongst the top few for most of the race, so the improvement is coming, just need to work on a few things and try to drop another couple of kg and I might be able to do something at this level if the stars align. Pleasing progress for the season, its been quite a rollercoster from 45 min crits to 3 hour slogs in the rain, but I am enjoying it and despite having to be a bit more conscious of binge eating/drinking its certainly great fun!

Race stats then :

Distance - 66 miles
Avg Speed - 23.5 mph
Average power - 221 Watts
Normalised power 280 Watts
Max Power - 1130
Max HR - 193

Races thick and fast all the way through till September/October time now, next week down in Kirdford for Brighton Mitre's race!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Richmond Park TT

So, not really a race as such, as the essence of time trialing of course is to race against only the clock (and indeed yourself if yo have previous times).

Richmond Park needs no introduction, most cyclists anywhere near the SE have ridden it, and for those outside the SE they will have been bored to tears with the endless threads on it on various forums, so will know it just as well!

I never really thought of doing anything like this until fairly recently, I was always under the impression that my best asset in cycling was my short burst power, which to an extent is true, but I'd done some decent solo efforts of varying distance over the past few weeks, so the idea to do something like this took shape. Most recently I managed to get into the park and do 3 fast UN-hindered laps, this gave me a bit of a shot in the arm, I knew I'd not be too far away from some of the faster times out there, but I managed to pace it well and come away with a pretty decent time of 49.17, for the distance which is 20.1 miles. Obviously this is not official, and means nothing more than a indicator of where you are at.

Anyway, at some point I'd entered the first of these TT's as they fill up pretty fast. The way they work is that there are category's for road bikes and TT, a road bike must not have deep wheels, tri bars, and the rider must wear a normal helmet. The course is a sporting course (not pan flat) and is 10.4 miles long, with one 180 deg turn on a small roundabout. The category I was going to go with was road, which meant taking off my Zipps and making sure it was all legal. There were 45 names on the start-sheet for the road categorie, and I only knew a few, which were all from KW so I knew who I would be close to time wise, and who would likely beat me based on me riding with him.

Being a first timer, and having never done a TT before, I was un-seeded and therefore set off first, this meant that my star-time was 6.07am. Lucky I live close then! On the morning it was a bit cold but wasn't anywhere near as windy as the day before which would have made it hard work. I had an idea on pacing, and had put down some time splits from Jim Ley's 2nd place time of 26.01 a couple of years ago. I knew that if I could be near those, then I'd do a decent time (even though the conditions could have been totally different, Jim says they were similar as it happens).

I set off 15th I think, I quickly got up to speed and settled into the drops to get as low as possible, I was going well along the straight flat section from Robin Hood to Roehampton, and caught my next man just after the first roundabout (the first of 5/6 as it happens). By the time I got to the top of the only notable hill (Sawyers Hill for those that know it) I was ahead of Jim's split, so was going ok. Down the long shallow downhill towards Kingston I tried to keep it as quick as possible, and passed a couple more riders down this stretch before the 180 turn, which due to it being a tiny roundabout was going to sap the speed in a big way - 28 mph - 12mph. Back up to speed for the long drag back to Richmond Gate, I think at this point there was a tailwind of small proportion, by the time I'd got back up to Richmond Gate I was still about 10-15 secs ahead of Jim's split. Back down Sawyers I knew this is where I could get some speed up, and I made sure to stay above 30 most of the way back down to Roehampton Gate. Now was the headwind it seemed, it felt a bit like hard work to be honest. I grinded my way down to the final little ramp up to the finish and at this point was about 20 secs in front of the splits, put in a big effort up the hill but felt like I was going nowhere, and crossed the line, glanced down and saw 25.39, which got turned into 25.43 as I started the garmin a bit late, I then collapsed on a bench for a few mins :)

Given I went out so early, it was a long wait for others to slowly come through, a lot of 27's, a few 26's when we got to the sharp end of the field, Alex came into the carpark (who was the one person I thought I'd not be able to beat) and had given it a big effort, we waited for a while, he said he'd done around 26, eventually it came in and he'd done 25.53 so just 10 secs behind. We then got ready to get on the podium and bugger off back to bed, however it was then that news got back one of the fast TT guys (Xavier Disley) had switched to the road category, such was his reptation that to organizer had actually penned his name into 1st place before he had even finished (cheers for the confidence boost!). He came in, and also had given it a big effort, we waited for a few mins, turns out he did a 26.11 (I think?) which put him into 3rd spot.

A good day had by KW with 4 people accross the categories on the podium! Couple of snaps below, wish I could hold the flat back position for a few hours, but for 25 mins it was fine and felt very aero.

Alex, Xav and I on the podium -

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Hillingdon 2/3/4

After a decent couple of weeks on the bike, there seemed to be a lack of races locally, so thought I'd go with the tried and trusted up at Hillingdon, which meant I could have many many beers at a BBQ that Sat night!

It has obviously been pretty hit and miss weather wise of late, and after having been blown to a stop on Millbank a few times I was really hoping it would subside somewhat. Woke up the Saturday and had a look out the window, thought to myself 'that tree isn't normally horizontal', balls, it was still stupidly windy.

Anyway, I spent the morning messing about with tyres as I didn't want to risk deep rims due to the wind, and possible poor riding, so put my shallow rims on, and then had a bout of OCD and cleaned every inch of them and the cassette with baby wipes...3 hours later I was ready to roll. The headwind was a joke, and getting to the track was hard enough! Came across Francis Cade at the lights, so I knew at least who would be a good rider to follow as he's been smashing it into the rest of the 2nds/3rds in the Surrey League, and is as good a crit racer as he is road, so that was one task made easier. The vo2 lads had a couple riding, there was one other wheeler - Track Beast John Coolahan who is an accomplished trackie and then the usual mix of people.

The race got underway and I saw Francis go straight from the gun (that was the last the bunch saw of him), I was planning to actually be a bit aggressive in this race instead of the bore fest that is sitting in waiting for a sprint as I was during the winter series, so about 2 laps in I put in a big effort and got clear, and a few others came with and before we knew it we were away from the bunch and it was all going well. There was probably about 5 of us, and I was happy to do turns, but did notice that each time we went up the home straight it was getting slower. I was really struggling to keep the pace when a Colbornes rider (Chris Spence) came through, he was a lot stronger than the rest of us by the looks of it and really made it hard work, but he was right to make it hard as we needed to stay away!

I think we were away for about 10-15 laps or so before we got caught, mainly down to fatigue I think, the wind was really taking it out of our small group on the bottom straight. John said that Francis had 4 others with him, and that it was touch and go, as the gap had not really come down on them, and we never really gained on them as a chasing bunch.

Had about 3 laps sitting in, and realized my fitness has come a long way, sitting in was EASY, but I needed a breather after the effort. So was mid pack recovering and another group went, John was in it this time, so I tried to move to the front to chase down any would be breaks, and felt I did a good job of this, it was like interval training!

Anyway, they did work well together, and I think they had 6 or so in total, and it was clear with 5 laps to go (from the 35 we did in total) we would not catch them, I was happy to just roll in, but then thought that I hadn't had a flat sprint for ages, and also mistakenly thought the points went to 15th place (they didn't, 10th was the last points placing) so I kept in position and drove hard on the last lap to stay in the right place, probably in the top ten coming round the last corner. I got boxed a tiny bit on the corner by someone who was going a bit slow after what was probably a big turn so after going round him, I found myself in a good position with nobody really in front but about 5 ahead of me on the left - they were taking the wind and my line was ok - a chap opened up and went quite hard, right from the early part of the straight, I went too (too early) and was about equal to him for what felt like ages, we quickly moved ahead of the rest, and I realized there was still another 50 meters to go, so got back in the saddle stuck it down to the 11 and tucked right over the bars in what must have looked like a descending position and just went and the extra gear and aero advantage of getting my frame out of the wind meant I went clear of this chap and won the bunch gallop by a bike probably.

Francis and co stayed away and he took 2nd, mega ride from him and the others in that group. John got 8th, and he said it was as hard as anything he's ever done on the track.Which I tended to agree with when I threw up in my mouth (banana soreen just before a race is a no no)!

So was a good workout, got to work on my fitness as there were times when I couldn't do my turn to the full speed it needed to be (could have done with the deep rims after all! 20 watts would have helped!), can easily stick the pace with some decent 2nds in the mix, and probably can score points at this level if I can stay in a break or it comes to a sprint as although I've not really worked on the sprint it still seems to be decent enough.

Want to get back to Hillingdon this Tuesday then again next Saturday in the absence of any local road races, good training too, then a weeks sunning in Turkey followed by a packed July full of 2/3 road races!

Race was 34mi, avg 25.5 mph (felt faster, but the wind killed it a bit)

Sunday, 27 May 2012

London Phoenix 2/3 RR Surrey League

Well, this week has been great for obvious reasons! Sun!

Sadly though with sun come beer, and I drank every day last week in one shape or form, which isn't ideal, but meh, I've thought long and hard, and I've decided I'm just not up to going pro despite the many contracts landing on my doormat ;) So a beer here and there won't hurt.

Had a couple of weeks off racing, mainly as there hasn't been much about, I didn't fancy paying £50 to enter the divs, and there were not any crits on so the last two weekends I've been training with the fast guys from the club. 2 100 mile rides both very quick pace and some good hills too. So I don't feel like I've been neglecting my training. This week I also made sure I got in some decent riding and did a few hill repeats for the first time (although only little ones) and a few hard efforts in the park on the way back from work, given its so nice out there, seems a shame not to try and beat a few of the Richmond Park pro's up one of the hills!

It was obvious today was going to be tough, the heat being the main factor, and also that the only time I'd ridden at 2nd cat level before (despite being one now) was at Bletchingly, which despite all the other guys claims of it being the hardest course around, didn't ease my mind, as I got dropped like a stone in that race, as I posted back then, so the pace worried me slightly.

A good KW turn out as per, with around 6 of us today, including a recent convert to road racing (Pete M) who has shown massive promise, in weighing next to nothing yet having the power of a good 75kg+ rider. Lucky bugger :D

I got there nice and early, and signed on, and we trundled over to the start line, which was down over the a24, down the finishing hill (which you only do once on the last lap, not a massive fan of that) and then onto the Henfold Hill course. I'd been told that the course was fairly rolling and only had one notable rise. Which was a fair call, but there were two rises and both were as small and almost a non entity. The thing that made them an entity (more the first one as it did ramp up a bit for a few meters) was that my chain was skipping in the small ring, so maybe the mech isn't aligned or the tension isn't being taken out of the chain... Anyway, long and short of it was that I had to use the big ring for the whole ride.

A lap in and I feel quite comfortable, and I'm keeping up and not feeling to bad, only slight niggle is the big ring thing and also whether I'll have enough drink to last me as it was properly warm. I think on the second lap a group of a couple got away. Not sure who, but there were some very strong riders there today, so I think it was a small group of these maybe 5 or so that made the first dig, and got away. Then possibly a lap or so later, another split happened. Now at first they were so close that I was confident I would bridge over solo if needs be, but someone told me Andy Edwards was in the bunch, so we let them build up a lead. Fast forward a few mins, Andy is back in the main bunch and says he hasn't the legs today to stick with them, which is fair enough as there were some super strong riders out there. So this got me thinking about bridging over, I made one attempt which was quickly chased down by the bunch, and then a lap or so later Pete had just started to go and they let him, I stormed up the outside and told him to grab my wheel, I thought with 20 or so up the road they would let us get away, but no, they didn't, we got a gap and then I could see them sprinting to chase us down. Which is a shame as I think at that point we would have got over.

The concencus was that we could catch them and a few of us started doing turns to help bring it back, but the heat and the wind which was there, although not anywhere near as strong as yesterday made it bloodty hard work. The time gaps were increasing each time we went by the lap board, so what was once 30 secs was I think a minute by the end of things.

So last laps rolls by, I still feel pretty decent, so do a bit on the front, make sure I'm in a decent position just so I can maybe have another solo dig later on, we roll round to near the finish, and obviously the finish being off the circuit I got a bit caught out. I went hard up the outside and went by the bunch, to the front, only to see another 400 m of hill till the line. At this point I just carried it on to the line, probably in the top 15 of that bunch, not that it matters as the winners etc had already come through well before with I think a super fast Node 4 TT man winning, and second claim KW Francis Cade of vo2 taking second to get well on his way to 1st cat!! Someone also managed to crash at the finish line and it looked pretty horrible, face to the floor etc..

So in all I'm happy with it as I managed to stick the pace, which despite my initial thoughts of it being similar to a 3rds race, it wasn't it was quite a bit quicker with over 26mph avg speed for the whole race. I felt I had the legs to do more, but it didn't work out today. So it all looks good for the next few 2/3's pace wise.

I'm racing again next weekend, but given the finish is the top of Leith Hill, and I'm 13 stone, its fair to say I will be bloody lucky or have to be in a break to get anywhere near the top. But its all good training eh?

Race stats then, 54 mi, 26.1 mph, top speed 45 mph

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Farnborough & Camberley RR 3rd cat

Initially I was really looking forward to this as it seemed the course would be OK for me (still not a flat finish (are any of the SL races?) but not too bad and plenty of fast downhills. However it quickly became something I was dreading due to an odd series of events. A work five a side tournament had been put in on the Friday, and for various reasons, it wasn't something I could duck out of. Added to that given we got to the semi's and lost to a dominant Sony Music team we went out to celebrate...I didn't sleep that night and was at Dalston Junction at 5.45 am waiting for a train home. Needless to say I was buggered yesterday. To top it off my partner was having a girls dinner party so I had to leave the house and wasn't allowed back till they'd gone...Bed at 2am then.

So woke up this morning, and I must say, I've felt better, legs battered from 6 games of football, and tired as hell. Still it was a lovely day, what did I have to lose?

We lined up, and there was a good contingent from KW there today, 6 of us I think. And each of those 6 had the legs to win it I would say. We got going and I felt it straight away, we got onto the long drag which the finish line is in the middle of and my HR was through the roof, so much so that I got gapped the first time up it and spent a lot of the first lap right near the back. Second time round it was slightly better, and I could tell my body was just waking up, this time Damien went off the front on the climb with a couple of other guys to form the first and only break of the race.

A few laps passed and I was starting to feel a bit better, my back was aching a touch by 30-40 miles, must get that sorted. In the second to last lap, we went round the worst corner on the course, a pothole ridden gravel covered corner, I stupidly didn't knock it into the small ring quick enough, and the result of my faffing with the shifters was that I dropped my chain right at the beginning of a climb that went into the fast downhill section. Brilliant. I thought I'd snapped it to be honest, anyway, I got the chain on, took me a bit more time than I'd have liked though, 35 secs according to my race file!!! I chased hard, a motorbike waited for me, I was hoping he was going to let me draft, but he didn't, he stayed about 20 ft in front of me the whole time. Luckily it was the fast down section that was coming, and I'd sen the whole race that I go downhill quicker than nearly anyone, without really trying (combo of the bike, my weight, and what not) so I managed to catch back on to the group quite fast. I went straight up the outside of the bunch and got back into the top 15 riders.

Bell lap came and the break which was still only a couple of riders as I don't think anyone bridged were within sight at times, but they did a great job of eeeking out every last bit of effort and we didn't catch them till the very end as it happens! We came down the first fast sections, through the horrid corner. The pace was higher, but I was comfortable, if not a little bit achey. We came onto another corner which was a bit dicey, I was on the left about 10 back. All of a sudden I see the group move over, and then the clatter of bikes as a few blokes go down (more on this later)...

I was in a great position coming down the last of the hills into the wet little flooded lane (wish I had bought my glasses!!) however the corner there was also a bit tough to take, and someone cut me up and I lost my top 10 position, and got shoved back into the upper teens probably. We drove hard through the little lane, and approached the final climb, I actually now felt ok, and was ready. I hit the slope in probably 10th wheel or so, followed a Dynamo who'd been going well, so I was happy with my position. As I drove on and the pace went up, lots of people went backwards, at this point I think the eventual top 3 made their move, I wanted to go with it, but sadly said Dynamo wasn't quite as quick up the slope as I wanted to be, so after I'd gone round him and coming to the crest I was5th or 6th and I kept digging, onto the short flat before the line and I shifted down the block and got back on the pace, I was nowhere near the front lot now, but had a few bikes over the people behind from the looks of it. So I came in either 5th or 6th depending who you ask, I'll know later. Robin came 3rd, and Stephen won it! Funny as he had said "stick in there Rob, this finish will suit you well" he was right, but I couldn't get there today.

That crash sadly bought down a clubmate (Ed) and his bike was fucked, its hard to think of a better way to describe it. The top tube was mangled and snapped totally in two places (s works SL3 frame), he later came by and his arm and shoulder were not in great shape. But for a law type, he's pretty tough (cake is for pussies apparently) so he shrugged the cuts off, but was probably a little upset about his bike :(

So in summary, I was in hindsight happy with the result despite conditions of my body, and a rather hilly course (for a fat knacker like me), avg speed was 22.5 mph, and top speed of 47 mph or so. I'm also now officially a Category 2 racer! Which was pleasing. So onwards, now to get my head kicked in my people with a lot more talent than me :)