SL Sharpethorne 3rd Cat

Another SL 3rd Cat race, this time hosted by Crawley Wheelers on the Sharpethorne circuit.

I’m still yet to lock down any sort of race preparation regime prior to road races on Sunday. My usual in the past has been a day of Friday, followed by an easy spin in the park Saturday to keep the legs turning.

This week I went out for a fairly hard ride Friday, very easy ride Saturday, which its safe to say didn’t work too well. The legs were still aching a touch on Sunday morning, and getting out of bed at 6:20am was difficult to say the least.

I shared a lift with Sam to the circuit, and we arrived early enough to get a bit of a recce of the course, a new one for both of us. Stupidly though, after looking at the map in the HQ we made a wrong turn and ended up recce’ing some completley wrong road, albiet a nice one. I had seen that the course had a lot of climbing, but hadn’t anticipated the worst, and after having done ok at Cutmill (another fairly hilly circuit) I was feeling ok about staying with the bunch.

We headed rolled out behind the lead car towards the circuit, even the neutralised zone was tough with a couple of sharp digs. With a lap 12.5 miles long, there would only be 4 laps. Onto the circuit and things seemed ok, after a few descents into sharper rises. The pace was fairly quick once the flag dropped and a couple of riders seemed fairly keen on getting up the road.

After about half a lap a strong looking bunch of 3 had decent looking gap, and the pace was seemingly being controlled at the front by team moore, the best represented team entered with 7 or so. At this point I could only see a Twickenham rider and a Maison du Velo up the road. I assumed the other was a Team Moore, and hence the reason for the pace being controlled by the rest of the team. In my mind this seemed like a good move.

1174w for 10s later (pb) I was working my way up the road toward the 3 riders. After  354w for two and a half minutes I’d bridged across just prior to the hairpin at the bottom of the course, hoping I could at least sit in for a bit to recover. No such luck, as in my haste I’d chosen quite possibly the worst place to bridge. As I’d gotten over it was straight into the hilly section of the lap. With three tough short climbs approaching followed by a longer drag I was really in the red. After another couple of minutes hanging onto the back of the breakaway riders I’d had it. Sat up going up one of the climbs and was quickly passed by the main bunch, looking a lot smaller than when it set out with just about 30 or so riders remaining. My race was up.

I pootled round for another lap before resigning myself to the HQ to wait for Sam to get back, as I did so the rain began, so I was glad to be in the dry, but overall pretty dissapointed in myself. My weight has crept up the last few weeks to 83kg, which doesn’t help, but even so, the legs just couldn’t recover from the hill efforts fast enough to be any use. Added to which the pointless attack, and my race all came tumbling down. Looking back I think been annoyed at myself for not trying to go with the break at Alfold, I tried to overcompensate here to make sure I made the selection if there was going to be one. With hindsight, on a course which doesn’t suit me I should have just tried to hang on for the finish regardless.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/375713656
Avg Power: 230w
NP Power: 308w
Avg Speed: 20.2mph

Originally I had the Seale race for next weekend, but I’ve withdrawn as my motivation is waning, looking forward to Cutmill in September. In the mean time looking forward to some more track time .

SL Alfold 2/3 and Crystal Palace Crits 3/4

Been a while since my last couple of races so here’s a write up of what I’ve been up to recently.

SL Alfold 2/3

Since the May 3 day I’ve been a bit wary of entering the 2/3 races, especially if there has been a 3rds only alternative. I guess I just don’t think I’m quite there to compete at that level yet. However, Alfold is a pretty flat circuit, and there was no alternative for this weekend.

The weather was pretty much as good as it gets for racing, warm, not much wind, and perfectly clear. Paceline had a particularly good represntation with 7 riders on the line. Cameron, Pat, Gareth, Paul, Keith, Jon and myself. In discussions prior to the race Gareth and Pat were both keen to get in a long break from the start. I didn’t think I had the strength for that so my plan was to wait until nearer the end to either try and bridge, or form a break of my own.

Sure enough things got off to a fast start. Gareth had already drafted in a number of other strong break riders on his break plans, so they were trying to put things to action, with constant attacks. However the bunch wasn’t so keen and despite a couple of attacks briefly getting gaps, things were always brought together by a pretty commited peleton. As this was going on I was just surviving toward the back of the group, trying to keep an eye on what was going on up the road.

After around an hour of racing an incident with a learner driver meant the race was stopped to give everyone a talking to. Things picked up again after a brief break and the game was back on. Still attacks were attempted but still nothing got away. The course and weather was making things a touch dry.

With 20 miles to go I noticed Pat towards the back of the bunch and moving up. There was a couple of dangling off the front at this point. Pat looked like he was still keen to get in a break, I was feeling decent at this point, and though he would have much more chance in a break than I could at this point, so I got up beside and said to follow my wheel. As I got toward the front of the bunch I jumped and then settled into 350w for a couple of minutes to bridge Pat onto the guys out front at which point he could attack again. Seemed to work well as Pat was soon up the road with several others as I drifted back to the bunch.

Over the next lap Pat’s break consolidated and had a strong gap to the group, several others maanged to bridge across so it seemed there were 7 or 8 up the road by this point.

With about 4 miles to go I was still feeling ok, and with Pat’s break now all but secure I thought about an attack of my own. Rolled up to the front of the group then jumped hard, doing around 1000w for about 15 seconds to get a gap, then settling into as near to 400w as I could manage. I daren’t look back and just kept driving, knowing I only had about another 5 minutes of effort. After a minute or so I chanced a look back and saw I had a promising gap. After another 30 seconds or so it looked like two others were bridging across having also escaped the bunch. My effort was slipping to 350w when eventually the two others came past, Stuart Spies of Dynamo and one other. I tagged on the back, and then came through when the others had done a turn, we still had an ok gap, but things seemed to close up on the climb through Alfold, after another minute or so we were nearly at the HQ, and looking back the bunch was catching fairly fast, looked like the game was up.

As I passed the HQ (Still 500m from the finish) we were caught, at which point Declan Egan, sprinted like a bullet past, a couple of seconds later, as the bunch were passing to the right, all hell seemed to break loose and there was a heavy crash. Seemed as if 5 or 6 riders down, with others all over there place. I ended up in an opening in the hedge just behind Jon and Keith who had narrowly avoided the worst of it, only for Jon’s frame to have taken a hit and cracked on the chain stay.

I rolled over the line to pick up the finish and 31st place.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/370290269
Avg Power: 238w
NP Power: 301w
Avg Speed: 25.8mph

Thoughts post race.

Overall I was happy to have been able to finish with the main group, having been unsure of my fitness for 2/3 racing at the beginning. Looking back though I’m slightly annoyed I didn’t make a bit more of an effort to get in the break with Pat, as I think I could have potentially got stuck in there, and potentially got a result, should have backed myself really. Always easy to look back with hindsight though, and I’m glad I at least ahd the strength to attack towards the end, just wasn’t quite strong enough for it to come off. Looking at the watts as well, 301w NP for 2:25 is quite easily my best performance in terms of power, so pretty pleased with that.

I was also reprimanded for riding on the wrong side of the road without moving up, a second talking to after my DQ at Kitsmead. Really dissapointed with this, as I’ve always thought (DQ Aside) I’ve been a pretty safe rider. So I need to take a look at my riding on the road, and make some better decisions there in the future.

CP Crits

My third attempt at the infamous South London Crits series, with the track to be raced ACW, my prefered direction. I noticed one particular name on the start list being Iain Paine. A previous winner, from a very strong solo break. We lined up, and again I made the mistake of not getting to the line sooner, immediately being one of the last in the bunch.

The pace was brutal from the off and after a few laps there were a lot of gaps opening up all over the place with riders unable to hold the wheel in front. This made for tough work in keeping touch, or trying to move past slower riders. After a couple of laps I tried to move up into the hairpin but was soon back towards the back third as I just couldn’t quite maintain the pace.

After about 15 minutes of racing there was a big split, with the peleton dividing pretty much exactly in half, with me in the second group. The second group was clearly tiring as nobody seemed interesting in working. After a lap like this I made a big dig to attempt to bridge. Eventually caught up to the first bunch into the hairpin, but had gone deep enough that I was struggling to keep up out of the bottom corners. Gapped again going up the hill, only to catch back on at the hairpin, then to get dropped going up the hill again.

The game was up and the pace and bridge had been too much for me, so I rolled off the back and was passed by the next group, I rolled around another lap solo before being ushered off the circuit to clear things for the finish of the ladies, and 3/4 race.

Was always going to be tough with fatigue in the legs from Sunday, even so the pace being higher than usual just made things even worse. That’s the last one for this year, so perhaps next year!

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/372053792
Avg Power: 303w
NP Power: 391w (!!!)
Avg Speed: 24.2mph

In other news, I managed to pass my Stage 4 Track accreditation at Lee Valley, so have to build up another 10 hours track time, then I can enter the winter track league, in a hope to maintain some race fitness through winter. Treated myself by picking up a second hand Dolan Pre-Cursa to ride on track. Just need to sort some new chainrings/sprockets and Garmin/cadence sensor mounts.

SL Kitsmead Handicap, SL Cyclopark 2/3 and Crystal Palace Crits 3/4

Couple of races since my last update on here, a Handicap, a RR on a circuit and the infamous CP Crits.

SL Kitsmead Handicap

After the 10 on Wednesday wasn’t expecting too much from the legs for this Handicap. The circuit however is all but flat, so usually not too much in the way of big watts needed expect if attacking. I was in the second group, with the first given a healthy lead. Our group seemed to work ok, with the exception of one unattached rider who was barely strong enough to come through each time, he was still trying though so fair play to him, and one Maison du Velo rider who just didn’t want to work. A couple of laps in I was feeling pretty good, and was getting a bit frustrated at the lack of some people’s work, so sprinted up the road, to get a couple of seconds gap and try and catch the first group. I managed to stay away working hard for a lap before the group behind were closing, so I sat up and joined them again.

Eventually everything came together on the penultimate lap, and we spent the next lap working in no particular order with people coming through everywhere. I was concious to try not to do too much, but an hours hard racing was taking its toll anyway. Onto the second last straight section, and it was getting lairy, I tried to move up but ended up on the right hand side of the road with a car oncoming, not clever. Then it happened again just before the final left hander.

Round the corner and I held position, but was probably 20th or so at this point. Managed to find James Bradley’s wheel, who’s a strong sprinter, but I had to sprint hard up one of the small rises towards the finish, at which point I popped. Couldn’t hold on anymore and went backwards through the field and through to the finish.

An average race, feeling ok, and considering against Elite and 1st Cats at the end, I was probably never getting a result.

Anyhow, none of that mattered as I was Dq’d for going on the wrong side of the road when I did. In hindsight a really stupid thing to do, and something I’ll certainly not repeat.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/357596358
Avg Power: 282w
NP Power: 320w
Avg Speed: 25.9mph

SL Cyclopark 2/3

This was always expected to be a tough race, I think its a fairly selective circuit, with several points that require a pretty strong sprint on every lap. It was due to be 90mins plus 5 laps. Got to the circuit late, but managed to sign on, pin my number and get a lap in round to queue up at the start. Pace was pretty high from the off, but ok. As always here hanging around at the back requires much more work due to the concertina in the sharp turns, so I tried to get towards the front third which I managed to do after a couple of laps.

It was clear that I wouldn’t be strong enough to attack though, as there was a strong wind on the back straight and I was working hard enough to stay attached to the accelerations. After around 40 mintues Dom of Paceline (only teamate this race) attacked and it looked a good move, so I worked my way up to sit on the front and try to slow/disrupt any chase by the peleton.  After a lap on the front a couple of chasers got away and Dom was joined by two of them to form what looked like it could be the winning move. After several more laps, and just before the hour mark I felt like I couldn’t take anymore sprints, and so sat up.

I hadn’t felt great going into the race, so wasn’t too dissapointed, but never nice to throw in the towel. Looking at the numbers, my power was way down, so potentially carried way to much fatigue into the race after the 10 and Kitsmead.

Dom went on to finish 4th, another great result for him.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/358892580
Avg Power: 248w
NP Power: 305w
Avg Speed: 24.6mph

Crystal Palace 3/4

My second attempt at CP, and a new direction to the circuit with it being run ACW. After a decent sweet spot session on Monday the legs felt decent riding to the circuit, although I was keen to ride easy all the way there.

Rolled up to the start on the last row, which is not the wisest thing to do at Palace given the chances of getting dropped, and after the whistle almost didn’t get clipped in. Eventually got the pedal though and got into the bunch round the first hairpin. This was my first time in this direction, so the first couple of laps were tentative, but I quickly found rhythm, and was able to commit to the corners, which helped carry speed. There was a tough headwind down the finish straight, so looking back it breaks would be unlikely, not that that seemed to occur to me at the time stupidly.

After a couple of laps, and the legs feeling really decent for a change, I decided to get toward the front, which I managed pretty much in one corner, with the majority of the bunch seeming to coast into the hairpin, I just kept pedalling up to the inside, and got to the corner first. Decided to have a dig at this point to see if I could jump the group, and immediately had a couple of bike lengths after a hard sprint. Easy enough to keep the gap around the next couple of turns, but back onto the main straight the wind came into play and bunch was back on.

For the next couple of laps I couldn’t seem to get off the front, I didn’t want to sit up and let them all fly past and be spat out the back, so was probably working far too hard at this point.

A couple of laps later the bell went, which really caught me by surprise. I had expected an hour of racing, and it was only about 35mins at this point. I tried hard to move up, but the pace was now a couple of notches higher, and coming up the last ascent I was near the back. Made up a couple of positions sprinting up the hill, but wasn’t going to be in the mix for a placing as I crossed the line mid pack.

Pleased to stay attached throughout though, especially as it was my first time riding the circuit that way, and pleased to actually feel strong in a race, which I haven’t properly had for a long while now. Just don’t seem to have the tactical side working, as I’m sure had I not have worked so hard in the middle of the race I could have been well placed to contest the sprint. More attention needed on the lap board next time. Numbers look a bit more appropriate too compared to what I know I can do, which I was happy about.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/361283254
Avg Power: 292w
NP Power: 359w
Avg Speed: 23.7mph

Looking forwards, no real big aims in terms of racing until the end of August. I’ve got London triathlon on the 8th where I’m doing the bike leg as a relay team. Should be a good chance to try out my power for an hour, as I’ve not done a proper hour effort for a while. Then on the 9th have my Stage 4 Velodrome accreditation, so here’s hoping I can pass that, and be a step closer to getting into the winter track league.

After that its a SL Sharpethorne 3rd Cat race on the 23rd, followed by SL Seale 3rds the weekend after. Looking forward to those, and hoping I can forge some results before the end of the season!!

Westerley Hillingdon 10.5 mile TT

I was originally down to ride our club 10 on Tuesday, however last time out on the TT bike I managed to shear an extension bolt meaning the bike was out of action. I had tried to get the parts I needed shipped in time to no avail. I was still planning to offer my help to volunteer for the event when it was cancelled due to a poor turnout, which was a shame.

Still it meant at least I could do something, and so I managed to get an entry to the Hillingdon series which runs every Wednesday during the summer.

I had done 2 previous, one on the road bike and one one the TT bike (Road – 23:57, TT – 24:40).

I wasn’t expecting too much, I had a usual rest day Monday, but aimed to train Tuesday but felt very average so just pootled about for 14 miles round the park. Got on the saddle Wednesday to spin over to Hillingdon and still felt pretty average. I’d not had time to switch to my aero wheels either so imagined I’d already be at a disadvantage.

Signed on and got my aero garb on before waiting for my number to come up. Conditions seemed ok, it was windy, but the wind was only really affecting things along the very top short straight, so everywhere else felt reasonably quick. Lined up and got counted in before setting off hard, doing 421w for the lap in just over 2 minutes, which was obviously way more than I could maintain. Soon settled into a reasonable rhythm, but the strategy of setting out as hard as possible and holding on wasn’t the easiest or best.

I was still struggling to get the power out but I think constantly having a good stream of other folk on the course to aim for was good motivation for me to keep going. Managed to push really hard for the finish and crossed the line in 23:26, averaging 343w, 5w more than last time out, which was much better than I had hoped for. I was also happy that I’d managed to stay in what I thought was much more of an aero position than last time as well.

Got back to the HQ and saw I’d managed 2nd overall, and 1st in the road bike category, my first podium in any TT of sorts which I was pretty happy with, although I’m guessing where its now summer holidays some of the really fast people hadn’t turned up, but you can’t race the ones that don’t turn up! That said was really good to do more watts than last time, and improve by over 30s, especially as I hadn’t expected much at all!

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/356843798
Avg Power: 343w
NP Power: 348w
Avg Speed: 26.7mph

Results

Pos No. Name Class Total Tm
1 13 Ben Allen TT Bike 22:19.1
2 43 Thomas Whatley Road Bike 23:26.4
3 5 John Sullivan TT Bike 23:33.7
4 29 Peter Stuart TT Bike 23:33.8
5 9 Malcolm Woolsey TT Bike 23:56.6
6 7 Ian McNally TT Bike 24:17.4
7 11 Tim Childs TT Bike 24:21.8
8 55 James Riall Road Bike 24:40.5
9 42 James Griffin Road Bike 24:42.8
10 40 Helen McKay TT Bike 24:50.8
11 37 Darren Rhodes TT Bike 25:07.3
12 30 Jamie Wimborne TT Bike 25:08.4
13 53 Steven Wood Road Bike 25:09.7
14 49 James Bowden Road Bike 25:56.1
15 22 Jasper McCrae Road Bike 25:57.6
16 4 Gary Martin TT Bike 25:57.7
17 24 Therese Coen TT Bike 26:00.7
18 19 Dave Newman TT Bike 26:09.9
19 25 Adrian Joseph TT Bike 26:15.2
20 51 James Maun Road Bike 26:17.3
21 26 David Morrison TT Bike 26:18.0
22 3 Vince Dey TT Bike 27:03.5
23 1 Wayne Meek Road Bike 27:10.9
24 36 Sam Farman TT Bike 27:18.9
25 2 Jason Fisher TT Bike 27:46.7
26 47 Timothy Hall Road Bike 27:52.1
27 48 Jack Stuart Road Bike 27:53.2
28 46 Ian St John Road Bike 28:06.0
29 17 Trevor Hedges Road Bike 28:23.8
30 6 Chris Parrott TT Bike 28:27.4
31 14 Jeremy Ball Road Bike 28:35.6
32 32 Christopher Holland TT Bike 28:51.0
33 31 Simon Bailey TT Bike 29:04.8
34 18 Dinesh Karunarthne TT Bike 29:07.7
35 8 Dave Morrison (Westerley) Road Bike 29:23.8
36 21 Seth Kanaris Road Bike 30:42.9
37 12 Gillian Morgan Road Bike 32:27.6
38 10 Orla Devlin Road Bike 32:58.6
39 56 Kirill Kandrasin Road Bike 33:11.7
40 20 Esme Devlin Road Bike 41:14.8

Velopark 3rds and Richmond Park TT 2 

Things started to look up a touch after my last post, following two days complete rest at the beginning of the week. I went out on the bike Wednesday morning at about 8am and was greeted with the hottest day of the year, a few brief efforts but an overall easy ride, I felt ok, still a bit average. Thursday harder ride and attempt at an FTPish lap, which was well short of what I’m capable of. Should have been paying attention and backed off again at this point.

Friday easy, then Saturday a 3rds race at Velopark, a circuit I’ve not raced before.

As the circuit is only 10 miles away from home I rode there right through central which was pretty cool early in the morning, being all but deserted. I headed over early to help marshal the 4ths who were racing earlier, in return for a free race.

The 4ths race passed without incident, and the bunch stayed together. Mostly I expect due to a strong headwind on the main straight.

Time for the 3rds to have a go. Clipped in and off the line, the circuit is a fairly simple design, with basically three hairpins, and 90 degree corners in between linking it up, almost a T shape, and several very brief elevation changes. None of the corners are sharp, and can be pedalled through unless really gunning it into the corner at speed. All of this adds to a not very technical circuit, which is largely quite fast, although it still feels slightly narrow at points, especially the main straight.

As the race was underway I was feeling ok, but didn’t expect much in the way of breaks to actually be successful, so probably rode quite negatively as a result, I knew I certainly didn’t have the legs for a meaningful break, so rode for the sprint. Several riders did try to get away, in particular a Dulwich rider who went with 20 mins to go, and had a good 20 second gap, but after a couple of strong laps from the group he was brought back before the end.

The headwind down the main straight meant it would have been particularly tough solo.

With 4 to go I worked my way up the bunch on the right hand side and tried to stay there, I was feeling very average by this point, but wanted to at least try for the sprint. With 1 to go I had slipped back down the bunch, but tried again to work my way up on the right hand side. Into the corner before the last hairpin and some dodgy riding a rider ahead had everyone shouting, and slowed me up onto the right hand side. I tried to make up a few places round the outside of the last hairpin, but onto the mainstraight must have been back in around 30th. At least I had plenty of shelter from the wind for the sprint.

I wound it up for a pretty average sprint for me 1000w for 5seconds before all hell broke loose, in that time I’d made up several places, but ahead about 5 riders had gone down. As I was rapidly approaching at 36mph I honestly thought I was going down too, but somehow I managed to slow a bit, and ended up bunny hopping and or dodging my way out of trouble, really not sure how I made it out upright, and definitely one of the scary moments I’ve been caught up in.

Ended up crossing the line in 18th after all the mayhem, not the most enjoyable race, and or circuit.

The figures also read as good evidence for overtraining as they are very average for a crit for me.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/338820307
Avg Power: 259w / (For comparison, last Cyclopark race – 268w)
NP Power: 299w / (vs 321w)
Avg Speed: 25.3mph / (vs.24.8mph

A good 20w down on NP, cyclopark is more sprinting out of corners, but still. Perceived effort was relatively high for those watts as well.

Grant and I moving up

Sunday was the second edition of the Richmond Park TT, and conditions looked to be decent. True to form my legs still felt smashed though so I wasn’t hopeful. I’d finally replaced my HR monitor for this as I’d been without for a while, so was looking forward to that data.

I was off at 6:50, and due to the pleasant day, the park was a lot busier. I sprinted off the line and tried to settle into an effort. Last time out I’d averaged 326w, so this was the rough aim. My legs were burning throughout, but pushed on and began to feel ok up Sawyers, where I passed my 30second man. Down to Kingston Gate I began to feel worse, and struggled to get the watts out downhill, careful on the u-turn and back up the gradient to Richmond Gate. I began to deteriorate up the hill, and at times was down to 280w. I headed back down Sawyers toward Roehampton, and after taking a bit of respite down the hill eventually came across a bunch of deer halfway across the road, which cost my a bit of time.

Back towards Robin Hood Gate and I was really toast now, I couldn’t keep the watts up at all, before the turn to Pen Ponds. I took a long “sprint” for the line and finished in 26:32, a whole 79 seconds slower than 2 weeks earlier.

5th July / 21st June

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/339335942
Avg Power: 315w / 326w

NP Power: 331w / 337w
Avg Speed: 23.8mph / 25.1mph

More notably, my avg. HR was 170bpm. 10-15bpm down on what I would expect for a 10m TT. I think yet more signs of fatigue. So on what should have been an easy week, I ended up doing a Crit, and a TT, and a total of 8hrs riding.

I’m planning a week full rest this week, which will be hard, but I think I really need it if I hope to find some form for the second half of the season.

SL Dunsfold 3rds

Well after last weeks pretty upbeat post, this one will probably not read so positively (read boring), mostly because its been a pretty confusing and frustrating weekend.

I was targetting this race on Sunday as one that stood out as being a possible result for not only myself but with plans to work in a break with some other Paceline guys. In theory the course should suit me, relatively flat, a sharp uphill before a sprint to the line. I’ve recently discovered that I actually have a decent kick, so was keen to put it to use here.

The Thursday before the race I took a long fairly steady ride out to Dunsfold to take a look at the course, which would hopefully help me get an idea of where to attack, and where to position myself for the finish, this was a long ride at 95+ miles, but nothing too out of the ordinary given the relatively steady nature. The only annoying point was that my saddle rail snapped a couple of miles in which meant a stop in Kingston for a new saddle, and in my haste led to some pretty poor setup. Which took me a while to iron out.

As soon as I got on the bike Saturday for a pre race loosener, I knew something wasn’t right. I felt ridiculoulsly underpowered, where normally I could hit a comfortable 300w on the roads towards the park, I was struggling to hold 200w. I convinced myself I must be down to hydration or lack of electrolytes or some such, and carried on to cruise round the park. Eventually got home, and took some electrolytes to try and help things as well as copious amounts of water.Rested the rest of the day and even managed a fairly early night.

Up early on Sunday for the race, back on the bike for the ride to Gareth’s, and despite my hopes that the rest would bring my legs back they felt even worse. Gareth convinced me to at least give the race a try, and that my legs may return.

We rolled out of the HQ and after a brief neutralised section to the laps the pace picked up, I had positioned myself at the front behind the lead car, but almost straight away I was falling back through the pack. Pace was picking up and my legs were burning with lactic acid. I still had nothing. I could barely hold on, with the perceived effort ridiculously high, it felt like an E123 crit on the effort level! Lasted a lap before almost getting dropped on the brief incline out of the first corner, managed to get back onto the group, then lasted a further 3/4 of a lap before I was having to sprint out of the saddle just to make enough power to stay attached. As soon as I sat back down I was drifting off the back again. I couldn’t keep it up, so sat up and watched the peleton snake its way into the distance as I was passed by the remaining commissaires.

Embarrasingly I pootled back to HQ to return my number in exchange for my license.

At the time I was just confused, annoyed and frustrated. I went back to the car and led on the grass in the sun trying to clear the negativity out.

Eventually, got back up and back down to the course to watch the groups come through for the last lap. Damien and Gareth of Paceline were looking good in a break with Paul Hone of Addiscombe and had a good 40 seconds or so on the main bunch.

Moved back up to the finish in order to watch the sprint, which thankfully went off without a hitch despite about a million leisure cyclists out in the way as well as cars, and even an ambulance for good measure. Gareth took the sprint, with Damien not far behind in 5th, and Jim in 9th. A great day for Paceline!

Having had some time to reflect I think, and am hoping I’m just overtrained and under rested. The previous week was a big week with a hard 2 hills ride, followed by a failed Crystal Palace attempt, some hard 5 min efforts in Regents Park Wednesday, then another hard day at a Handicap (an hour near threshold, and 44miles too and from). Rest Friday, hard Crit Saturday and RP TT Sunday. So looking back I racked up over 1300 TSS in 9 days with just one full day off.

Pretty stupid thing to have done really, but at the time I thought I could handle it, because I felt ok at the time, and that it would set me up with a few rest days for this race. Lesson learned hopefully. I need to make sure I take either at least one days full rest, or actually go super easy on recovery rides, which I usually lack the discipline for. Planning to have the next two days off and see how I feel Wednesday. Here’s hoping I can find something in the legs then!!

SL Accom. Road Handicap / Crits at the Park – 6th / Richmond Park TT – 9th Overall

After reflecting on my last relatively succcessful outing at Cutmill, my next big target was the next SL 3rds race at Dunsfold. I’d had a bit of blip in terms of CTL numbers prior to Cutmill so really wanted to have a big week of training the week after, to try and breakthrough the mini ceiling I feel like I’ve found at the moment.

Went out on a club training ride on Tuesday and made sure I really gave it to myself, ended up with some decent power pb’s from around 3mins up to 7mins. Also some good sprint practice. Wednesday the legs were still feeling it but did some fairly strong intervals round Regents Park, which was not ideal prep for Thursday’s SL Handicap race.

This was my first Handicap race, and while familiar with the concept from reading others race reports etc, I was still a little unsure how it would end up. As it would happen I was seeded in the second group off, setting off quite some time after the first group containing some 3’s, 3v’s and ladies.

My group worked reasonably well to begin with in terms of the chainganging, but most of the riders either weren’t trying very hard, or just were not very strong. This continued for a couple of laps of the rolling course until the next group behind caught up. Things started to get a bit more ragged with around 5 laps to go and a big bunch. There were spats of good chaingang movement, followed by sections where riders would move up the road and it would all break down. Shortly after a few laps to go the scratch group caught us, and the pace picked up quite noticeably. I was now working fairly hard to remain in the bunch or move up, still I tried to get at the front and move the pace on.

Into the final lap and it was clear we weren’t going to catch the first group as they had around 2 minutes by now. I thought I’d at least try and position for the sprint, but I was so concerned with staying near the front for the final sharp left hander, that I worked pretty much half the lap hard on the front. By the time we took the last corner I was spent. Had I been fresh I probably would have been at least contesting the sprint, but the volume in the days before finished me and I rolled over the line behind the bunch. Not too bothered as the main reason I was there was for the training, and I would have been sprinting for very minor placings anyway!

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/328268498
Avg Power: 273w
NP Power: 319w
Avg Speed: 24.6mph

I reluctantly took Friday off the bike after a busy day, then I had a Cyclopark Crit on Saturday afternoon. Arrived at the course nice and early and in the rain, the circuit was wet, but drying rapidly thanks to the recent warm weather. As it happened by our race start it was bone dry. Bonus! Things got off to a very steady start which was unusual for these races. After a lap or two I decided to move to the front and try and do some work to string things out a bit, which seemed to work as I noticed us dropping several riders off the back. I was still feeling the weeks training but at no point felt like the pace was too much, in fact at times it felt positively pedestrian and I was able to take drinks and scope competitors out a fair bit.

Several attacks were attempted but either myself or others shut them down, a couple of times I attempted to jump clear out of the hairpin, but never seemed to make much ground, as others behind me seemed to also have a good jump. After about 30minutes it seemed fairly clear it would all stay together for a bunch sprint, so I backed into the bunch a touch and tried to keep fresh.

With 4 to go the pace turned up a touch as people starting thinking about the finish, but no meaningful attacks still. Through the bell lap and the bunch still altogether if a little strung out. I was midpack by this point, so through the finish line moved up all the way on the left handside to second wheel. First wheel then put in a strong dig out of the hairpin to get clear. I didn’t fancy burning a match going after him, so settled into a TT effort down the back half of the course, confident I could make up the ground, which began to close up. Through the corners and back up towards the finish straight all the way pushing a reasonable effort and catching until he seemed to blow before the finish hill kicked slightly.

At this point I felt the bunch behind me pick up gears, and the sprint was on. I was obviously slightly late to the party and got swapped both sides with riders going past. A gap opened on the left hand side and I was able to open up for the sprint, not my best effort as I think I was concerned at the other riders so close, but managed to take back several of the places and came across the line in 6th.

Pleased with that effort considering the miles I had in my legs. Wish I’d held back a touch and been a few wheels further back into the finish straight though, if I’d have kicked at the right time with space fairly sure a podium place could have been on the cards.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/329288545
Avg Power: 268w
NP Power: 321w
Avg Speed: 24.8mph

All of this again was not ideal prep for the Richmond Park TT, but good fun nonetheless. I was due to be off at 6:52, which despite the event being the most local I’ve done still meant a 5am alarm call in order to get the TT bike ready, get breakfast and sign-on nice and early.

I felt grim being up that early. The weather was overcast and a touch windy, but not too bad conditions considering the rain that had fallen the night before. I signed on and watched a couple of the Paceline guys in the road bike category come over the line as I made my way down to the start.

Sprinted hard off the line and was soon into the extensions and making my way towards Roehampton. Legs felt surprisingly ok at this point, and I was aiming at around 330w. Wasn’t confident turning towards Sawyers in the extensions so came up and made the turn before settling back.

Reasonable headwind up Sawyers drag made things harder than usual, but I was fairly quickly past my 30 second man. Sprinted the steep section then took a bit of rest in the dip towards Richmond gate, steady round the left turn I then sprinted out of the roundabout down towards Kingston. Felt decent doing 30mph+ down the hill, where I overtook the next 30 second man.

Slowed up for the u-turn at Kingston gate which I think I negotiated fairly well, and got back up to speed for the drag back to Richmond gate. I was starting to hurt here and was struggling to keep to my 330w target. Made the roundabout turn back towards Roehampton, and was looking forward to the downhill, where the speed was soon up to 40mph+. Was nice to be able to really push it in the park which was reasoably empty at this time. In hindsight I eased back here too much, as I find it harder to get the power out downhill, but I think the tiny respite helped as I was able to keep the watts up after the downhill.

Back towards Robin hood, feeling as ok as you can in a 10m TT, and almost had a horror moment, as a rabbit ran out across my wheel while I was in the extensions. No time to even consider moving, as luckily it was faster than my reactions, and dodged my wheel.

The adrenaline spike probably helped me in the last section as I climbed the draggy road up to the finish at pen ponds. The legs were on fire at this point and I sprinted across the finish to end with a time of 25:13.

Bit of a disaster with the timings meant not knowing the outcome until later but was 8th in TT bike category which was pleasing, and the watts (326w) were ok too. Think I’m around 20w down on the TT bike so that points to c.350w for 20mins on the road bike, which is positive.

Some awesome rides from all the Paceline guys, especially Rob Sharland to win TT bike with 22:58! Gareth Thomas for 2nd in the road bike category with a 25:23 (only 10secs off my time!) and Maryka for winning the ladies road category with 27:12.

Conditions weren’t the greatest so there’s more time there. I was also only running training wheels and an Evade helmet, so hopefully I can get in for the next one, be more aero and pick up some time.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/329715808
Avg Power: 326w
NP Power: 337w
Avg Speed: 25.1mph

TT bike

On the way up Sawyers.

Really enjoying riding my bike at the moment whether its racing, TT’ing or training, and I think thats showing in my results.

SL Cutmill 3rds – 10th

Never say never. Last time I raced at Cutmill I saidI wouldn’t go back, as the course just didn’t suit me. I realise now that’s just not true.

Was cautiously looking forward to this race, as my first 3rd’s only road race. It was also one of the first road races I’d gone into with a degree of confidence. I knew the course, and I knew I could hold my own among 3rds. The race was to be 7 laps of the 7 mile Cutmill circuit.

Things got off to a reasonable start after the flag dropped, straight away on the first run up towards the main hill of the course Dom attacked solo. I quickly worked my way to the front to try and slow things a touch, which seemed to work OK. First time up the climb felt manageable, but I had too much PSI in my rear and was spinning a touch in the greasy conditions. Dom’s effort was fairly quickly closed up on the run to the tight hairpin and the group was back together.

On the fast descent everyone’s heart rate skipped a beat when the commisaires car shed its flashing light cover. A fairly sizeable white plastic object. which made the loudest noise I’ve heard in a road race as Damien ran over it and it shattered into a bunch of pieces. Before I even knew what was happening I’d managed to avoid a piece. I honestly thought someone had crashed seriously hard, quite a scary moment. Things were slowed soon after as we came across a road sweeper in action.

We were soon going again after a quick stop and the pace was still fairly high. 2nd time up the hill and Ed tried an attack, which was again shut down after a fairly short period of time.

Down the back of the course and up the lane back towards the main climb, was where a guy a couple of wheels ahead of me to the left decided to take a feed, in doing so touched wheels with Paul of Paceline, he went down and took the guy to my left down, going head of handlebars, and also taking Damien of Paceline down too. I narrowly avoided and was then up the road with a gap to the bunch with Ralph of Norwood. Seconds later the race was stopped which seemed fairly bizarre considering the guys in the crash weren’t too bad. One had a suspected broken collarbone with the others minor scrapes.

We stood around having a good natter for 20 minutes with the race stopped. A good opportunity to discuss things at least. I was stood next to Ralph, we talked tactics and good places to attack, he made it clear where he would be going for it with two to go so I made a mental note to try and be near or on his wheel.

As it happened it wouldn’t be too far away as after the delay it was decided that the race would be cut by 2 laps so there were only 3 to go. So it turned into a bit more a ctriterium effort given the length of racing left. I was still feeling good as things got back under way, and was keen on trying to force some breaks, as I had a good feeling I could try and get a placing this way.

We went round for another lap, and instead of waiting for Ralph to jump, I went for it before the hairpin, but was soon joined by him and another Dynamo guy, we worked well for half a lap, but just couldn’t keep any sort of a gap up on the fast descent.

Another lap in Sam A from Paceline and another Dynamo guy went up the road, and despite our best efforts trying to block they were soon reeled in on the main climb, despite it looking like a convincing break.

With one to go myself Ralph and Dynamo had one last break, and I really thought this would stick, as the bunch seemed to be tiring a touch, and we initially had a really good jump. Back down the back of the course though a couple jumped across, then soon after  it was closed up, however the pace was still high and things strung out. We went through the tight lane section of the course and I was on the front still pushing hard. I thought we still had a minor gap so wanted to push on up towards the hill.

This proved to be a poor decision as I felt the burn on the way up the hill. I was moving back through the group until I decided to give it a proper sprint effort after having recovered from my earlier effort a touch. But being so deep in the group it was really sprint for a bit get blocked/ held up try and move around and then get the same block from another rider. Eventually a gap opened on the other side of the road and I went full gas up towards the finish, which was when I must have made up about 10+ places to just cross the line 10th.

Frustrating because at the line the closing speed difference I had on everyone around me felt huge. Had I eased off earlier and kept the effort high up the hill initially, I would have been sprinting for a much more competive place.

Lesson learned though, this is the first race that has made me realise I do actually have a decent sprint/kick that I can hold for 30+ seconds, even after several hard efforts. Something I haven’t used in other races, and haven’t been able to fully exploit yet. But no doubt something I should in the future.

Overally pleased to get a result from a race I was expecting to not suit me, even if it is only 1 point.

Have Richmond Park TT coming up this weekend, then Crystal Palace Crits on Tuesday followed by Dunsfold 3rds race the following weekend. Probably my best chance for a win so far this year.

The 56 Mile TT (Outlaw Half Relay)

Something a bit different this weekend. Bit of a hangover from my triathlon days, I had entered this Half Iron distance race (1.1m swim/56m bike/13.1m run) with the intention of doing it as my main race for the year, before having decided to just concentrate just on cycling.

So halfway towards the event, I managed to change it to the relay category, and invite two of my friends along for the other legs. I had this as one of my main aims for the year still as I really enjoyed the bike leg from previous years, and being a flat TT course on good roads I knew I could put in a reasonable time. I had done a 2:36 last year when I was doing the individual which was enough for a top 10% bike split, so not having to run, and riding in more aero gear with more watts I thought I could be on for a good time. If I came through, then providing our swimmer and runner came in with their expected times the predicted 4:30 overall could put us in contention for a podium based on previous years times. Good motivation!

In training on open roads I’d already managed a 2:26 with no aero gear in good conditions, doing 265w. I’d figured I could probably add another 5w to that for race conditions so was roughly targeting 270w.

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Day before, calm before the storm, literally.

The day rolled round sooner than expected as did the 4am alarm call. I woke up feeling pretty grim after spending the night in a boiling hot hotel room. The diet of dominos pizza did nothing for my race morning hydration levels as I felt completely dried out. So I began sinking plenty of water, while I got ready. Skin suit and number pinned on and I was ready to head out with Matt our runner.

Got to the venue nice and early and eventually got parked so I could begin setting my bike up. I had spent the last few days preparing and gluing new tubs, but had a last minute change of heart given the weather. It was raining reasonably hard, and was getting windier as the morning wore on. Quickly I tried to change back to training wheels, which involved a brake pad swap, as I’m much more comfortable on 25mm GP4000s clinchers in the wet, and the wind. Rolled down towards transition with Matt, to meet Jason, our swimmer. By now transition was filling up fast, we were located right at the front, with the relay teams being given the top 32 numbers.

Full transition

Full transition

At this point, after trying to put on my TT helmet I found the strap had broken, which meant it was useless! Luckily I bought my Evade with me, so dashed back to the car (15min walk) to pick it up. I was getting nervous by this point as Jason was in the water and had started before I was back in transition. Disaster averted I eventually got back and got my shoes and overshoes on and was ready with time for another toilet stop to spare. Jason was expecting around a 30min swim, but had rolled his ankle in a mountain biking fall recently so anything near that time would be pretty impressive.

The first swimmer was out in a hugely impressive 23mins, and was one of our competing relay teams, the High 5 relay team. More and more swimmers started coming in after this, several other relay teams and individuals. Jase eventually made it in with a 32 min swim. Good going.

I made sure I was ready as he jogged into transition and grabbed the timing chip from his ankle, helmet on and out towards the bike mount line. Almost managed to screw this up jumping on too early, before getting back off, and on again at the appropriate place. Too keen!

Sprinted out of T1 and down alongside the rowing lake with accompanying tailwind. I was excited and my watts were way too high. I was doing about 30mph downwind, at about 280w shouting at other riders to stay left as I passed on the right. We turned back at the end of the rowing lake into the wind, and I was doing 290w but only going 22mph. Out onto the course, and I settled into a better rhythm with good RPE for the watts.

As I had in training I decided the best way I could think to pace was to split the course into 30 minute segments, and target average watts for each segment. Quickly the first 30mins passed and I had average 272w, I steadied the ship after initially seeing over 290w on the screen at time, to try and save myself for later in the race. By this point most of the course was crosswind or tailwind so I was going well at 25.1mph average.

The second 30min segment passed without incident and I was more under control by this point averaging 271w, closer to the original 270w target. Again things were either down or cross wind, so speeed was good at 24.6mph and I was feeling strong still. It was around now that I had something I’d never really experienced in a triathlon before, I’d finished overtaking people by and large. There was one guy in view who I was slowly reeling in, but aside from that I was on my own which was a slightly odd feeling in a race like this.

The third 30mins came and went, and after helping myself to a gel I was starting to feel more confident, I didn’t really have any indication of where I was in the race, but figured I must have been getting near the front due to the lack of people around. By this point excitement was getting the better of me and the watts began to creep up, averaging 276w. I was still taking it steady round some of the sharper turns, but maintained good progress getting out of the saddle to get back up to speed again.

The rest of my race strategy was to pace the fourth 30min segment at target, then use whatever I had in the tank to just do what I could in the remainder, which I figured could be anywhere up to 25mins long. By this point I was still alone and as course turned into the wind, things slowed right down with the wind and rain driving hard into my face which became pretty horrendous. I’d averaged 280w for the 30mins but the speed was down at 23.7mph, for the first time the legs felt fatigued. As the last segment of my strategy began I had a burst of motivation, and I felt I was within touching distance of my target time, I still felt ok, and so I just let myself pedal as hard as I thought I could manage. There were some really tough headwind/rain sections now as I worked myself back to transition.

With 4 miles to go my stomach began to get that empty feeling and I was worried I was going to blow on a particularly tough long headwind section, thankfully this was followed by a nice steady downhill sheltered section where I think I was able to recover slightly. The last two miles as anyone who has done the race can attest are poorly surfaced to say the least, large speedbumps followed by a gravel road, more speedbumps down a slight hill, then out onto the watersports centre perimeter road. Eventually I got through to this and by this point was giving it everything doing around 330w back to transition, made the final turn down to the lake (I’m told quite a few people came off here! 😐 ) and jumped off the bike having averaged 285w for the last 21mins at 23.1mph.

Tried to run as fast as I could through transition to our runner Matt. Racked the bike and passed the timing chip over before sitting on the wet floor trying to catch my breath, I was absolutely smashed.

Overall happy with a bike split of 2:21 in those conditions, averaging 277w in total, 3rd fastest overall bike split and fastest in the relay race. It felt great to set out with a good plan and to for the most part execute as planned. We must have started the bike split well down in the standings, but I was 5th bike in, and had set up Matt for the run nicely, with him starting in 3rd, and Team High 5 second, with the first place Team TFN miles ahead and out of reach.

I got dressed into some warm clothes and headed out onto the course with Jase to cheer Matt on. We stood watching at about the 10km point, as we did the Team High 5 runner came past in 2nd with Matt around 100m back, and clearly closing in. We cheered him on, as he looked strong, the chase for 2nd was clearly on. Jase and I then moved over to the other side of the course and waited for Matt at 16km, unsure of where he’d be placed, and whether he’d manage to overtake High 5, or whether in his first half marathon, he’d struggle. We didn’t have to wait too long before Matt emerged from the far side of the course ahead of the High 5 team, and in second place.

We cheered him on and tried to boost him to the finish, before moving over to the finish line itself in wait. Again didn’t have to wait too long before Matt sprinted down the chute, the 8th person over the line and in 2nd place for the relay teams.

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We were all pretty chuffed with a great result in really trying conditions. We waited around for the podium presentation and picked up a trophy each which was pretty cool, before packing up and heading home.

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A good fun event, with a great result. Felt a bit unfair at points doing one event each rather than all three, but was still a race at the end of the day, and a good opportunity to try a long TT, which aside from triathlon, I’d not really done all out on the bike before. Really enjoyed it, and may spur me to enter a couple of 50m TTs in the future. 2 hours for a 50 mile TT seems like a good target!

Strava link: https://app.strava.com/activities/315782133

Avg/NP: 277w/281w

Avg Speed: 24.1mph