Surrey League – Longcross 2/3 Race

Since my last race I had a bit of a training blip, looking back at it now it was fairly obvious I was fatigued. I had been training pretty much non stop since the beginning of the year and so my ATL Was getting near a constant all time high and TSB was getting really low. All the training I was doing I was really struggling, and maintaining any sort of meaningful power was so difficult. So I decided to take a really easy week and just did around 3 hours of volume as opposed to my usual 8 or so hours.

This really helped and as soon as I went out this week on a ride I felt fantastic. I went out with a couple of Paceline guys on the usual winter training loop and I felt stronger than I ever have, although wished I’d done more on the front it was still good training. https://app.strava.com/activities/259880607

Took it easy the rest of the week before my biggest race year to date on Saturday at Longcross in Surrey. For anyone that doesn’t know,the circuit is based at an old MOD site, and is a car test track. It features a huge long straight, a very long sweeping left hander followed by several sweeping hairpins with some fairly strong elevation changes, which are quite challenging technically to get spot on each time. The lap culminates in a quick descent into a semi chicane, back on to the main straight.

So Saturday rolled round, and I started off the 23 mile journey to Longcross, I was slightly reticent to cycle all the way over as it meant quite a bit of use of the legs prior to the race which I wasn’t sure about. I met up with Gareth Thomas of Paceline in Kingston and we rode the rest of the way over together though. The weather was slightly warmer than it had been of late, but it was pretty constant drizzle which made it pretty grim. Got there spot on 10:15 and signed on and met up with a couple of other Paceline riders who were racing, Andy Lack, and Sam Andrews.

I’d borrowed a Paceline jersey as I’m still waiting for my kit order, so it felt cool to race in team colours for the first time! (Thanks Jim and Maryka for that!) We set off behind the lead car and the pace was immediately pretty high, I’d not ridden the course and was a bit nervous as to what was coming up, especially given the greasy conditions. I kept in the bunch the first lap and felt OK. The downhill into the chicane each lap was a bit of a sticking point with all of the riders forming a bit of a bottle neck, which would string out onto the main straight, meaning working hard to remain attached.

There was a strong headwind on the straight, so after pushing to keep attached the bunch eventually slowed into the wind and grouped back up before the end of the main straight. After the first couple of laps I felt comfortable on the circuit, with some of the corners quite enjoyable. Was glad to have fitted 25mm tyres earlier in the week though, which seemed to help with cornering confidence.

I just kept myself in the bunch and was happy to seemingly be able to take the pace, as well as being able to move up and down the group as needed. There was plenty of room on the circuit so it was fairly easy to move up the side. It seemed to me the best place to do this was using the downhills to carry more momentum than the bunch into the inclines, which helped moving forward. I did this a couple of times just to test, and ended up on/near the front into the main straight, also meant taking the chicane faster than the bunch too which helped onto the straight.

A break had gotten away from around 30mins in and stayed out, maintaining a 30-40 second gap to the bunch, but the gap began to come down as the laps got into the last 5, I was still feeling good by this point, and was hoping to get up near the front for the last time onto the main straight, but coming up one of the inclines out of the saddle, my chain missed a gear and I cycled half a revolution of air, my hamstring immediately felt odd but I kept with the bunch, half a lap later it still didn’t feel right so I stuck my hand up and threw in the towel. I’m off to Spain on a training camp so was worried of hurting myself prior to this.

I stood on the side and watched the sprint come in which was good to see, the lead guys looked absolutely rapid! Unfortunately for the break, they had been brought back in, and it was down to a full bunch sprint. Tried to pick out a couple of the Paceline guys and saw Gareth up near the front end of the bunch, with the other guys rolling in with the remainder of the bunch.

Had a chat to the guys after, then rolled back home, thankfully with a tailwind giving assistance which was much needed, ended up being a 90 mile day, by far the longest I’ve done for some time! Annoyingly the hamstring turned out to be fine, so probably needn’t have pulled in, but better safe than sorry I guess.

Overall, pretty happy with fitness and being able to keep up, could still do with dropping a few kg to make the climbs easier though. Glad to stay upright as well, as it was a bit sketchy at times. Saw one guy deck it on a corner which looked nasty, hope he was ok.  Next confirmed race is not until 12th April (Kirdford Surrey League 2/3 Race) but I’m hoping to get a waiting list space on the 29th March SL Alfold Circuit race. In the meantime, this time next week I’ll be in Spain riding hopefully!

Avg Power: 245w

NP: 263w

Avg Speed: 25.1mph

Strava: https://app.strava.com/activities/260994665

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