Surrey League – Cutmill 2/3

Been looking forward to this as my second proper road race for some time, especially after Kirdford was cancelled a couple of weeks ago. Having not raced for a week or two I was really keen to make sure I was in good shape. I’d had a strong week too with new power pbs across the range by quite a margin, so felt confident within reason.

I had arranged a lift over to Elstead with Benoit, a guy who was interested in joining Paceline after having been a member of a tri club with only a very small bike racing contingent. On the way to the race we chatted about what might happen, talked tactics and the like for a fair while and discussed the circuit. Having heard the course was one of the toughest in the Surrey league I was pretty concerned about it, but was also confident I had some decent form.

After arriving fairly early Benoit and I rode up the course to check out the finish, where the main climbs were, on arriving initially I had thought how much less steep the climb was than I had anticipated, but that’s pretty easily said when cruising up a hill two up.

We rolled back to the start and began the usual number pinning ritual whilst chatting to all of the other Paceline guys, of which there were plenty! Good to see so many people in the team colours for sure.

After getting ready eventually we rolled out and started the short neutralised zone towards the circuit. After a short while we took the right hander onto the bottom right hand corner of the circuit (This would become a sharp left hander on the circuit.)

cutmill

Once onto the circuit there is a series of curves on a tight lane, littered with potholes which was pretty dodgy to say the least, the road then opened out up towards the first left hander. After which the road then kicked up in several varying inclines, with one noticeably steeper section before the finish, followed by several shallower inclines, and some other steeper bits thrown in for good measure. The hills are followed by a very quick descent then the road steepens again, before a very sharp left hander, and then some more descending back to the start.

The first time up towards the finish hill I was having to dig pretty deep as the pace was pretty meaningful from the off. There were some strong riders as well, and I guess most are probably lighter than me anyway meaning they’re going to be faster up the hills. Looking at the power I was doing up near 400w for several minutes on the steeper parts. I purposefully put myself towards the front before the hill, and found myself near the back towards the end of it! Need to lose some bloody weight!

The descent was pretty exhilarating at 40mph+ in a bunch, but it was also very dangerous, with oncoming traffic, catseyes, big potholes, and the odd bottle to contend with I was really having to keep myself sharp, but it was a big buzz.

For the first lap or so the pack seemed to stay together, second time up the hill felt better than the first as I’m sure I had warmed up a bit by this point, but I was still having to go much deeper than I’d have liked this early on in a race. It was becoming fairly clear to me I wouldn’t be getting in any breaks on this course, I just wasn’t quick enough up the climb, I could descend well and make up a bit of time there due to my weight no doubt, but it wouldn’t have been much help. My aim would just be to finish with the group.

We rounded the sharp left hander at the bottom right of the course and back through the tight lane with the pace still high, I purposefully moved up towards the front before finding myself in clear air at the very front, hoping to set myself in a reasonable position for the climb once more. However just as we rounded the top corner onto Littleworth Road I felt that familiar bouncy feeling in my rear wheel, as it began to go soft. Up went the hand and I slowed to a stop. Neutral service stopped to ask if I had a wheel in the car, to which my reply was no, so they were off up the road and I was soon on my own about 2 miles from the HQ. So I began walking back. Passed numerous riders off the back of the main bunch, who had either been dropped or punctured as well.

On getting back to HQ caught up with a couple of Paceliners several of who’d had punctures or had dropped out. Managed to fix my wheel and rode up to the finish with Paul to catch the end of the race.

Got up there with one lap to go and watched a breakaway group of 6 come through with a very strong gap to the main bunch. Pat was in the break so at least the team would get something out of the race. As the break came up the hill for the last time James Lowden of Neon Velo went long and nobody trouble him for the win, with Pat shortly after in 5th. Seemed like a really impressive ride from Pat who I’m told was in every break. Also impressive ride from Benoit on his road race debut, bit of a baptism of fire on this course, but a good effort nonetheless.

All in a pretty shit weekend of bike riding. The more I thought about it when I got home the more it annoyed me. Even though in honesty I wasn’t going to be troubling anyone for any points, and probably wouldn’t have even finished in the group, its still that unknown that’s niggling, knowing that I didn’t even get the chance to try!

I have the May 3-day stage race coming up now next weekend so am now even more concerned about that. Especially given that Stage 2 (Bletchingly) is also known as one of SL’s toughest due to its climbing, and the field looks pretty strong.

Hillingdon Evening Time Trial Series – Event 2 (Road Bike)

So this was the second of these I’d entered after doing the April 8th event on the TT bike in 24:41 I decided I wanted to have a crack on the road bike, to see what power/speeed differential it would have. It was probably the most pointless experiment ever as I wore my new Paceline skinsuit this time, and the conditions seemed much faster. Hardly the direct comparison I was after.

Anyway, I rode over there fairly easy, was really surprised to find my legs actually felt well despite probably one of the toughest training sessions I’ve done on Monday. I was close to the limit for quite a portion of it and my legs where like lead on Tuesday, when I just did one easyish lap of RP.

After chatting to the other guys entered I had my numbers pinned on and was ready to roll. Went off the line hard and settled into a good rhythm up the slight hill, round the corners and back on to the main straight, and it was clear that without a headwind down that straight it was going to be quicker. Legs continued to feel ok, and although my pace probably dropped slightly in the middle I kept at it. I wasn’t specifically aiming for any power goal for the most part, just going at what I thought I could hold.

Stupidly I changed garmin screens to check average power and at the 15min mark was very shocked to see 342w! This kind of spurred me on and was desperate to keep that up. Went through 20mins at 340w, which is a pb by over 12w, so I am really pleased with that. Especially considering when I started training it was around 260w!!  

  
With a lap left to go I was really struggling but cracked on and gave it all I could down the last straight to come across the line with a time of 23:57 and 4th in the road bike category out of 23 runners. Really pleased 🙂

Gareth came 3rd with 23:36, quite a margin ahead, as he looked to be flying. I’m sure Sam won’t mind me saying I was pleased to finish ahead of him, with 5th in 24:06. I think its probably fair to say he is probably my closest match of the Paceliners in terms of w/kg.

Overall a really good evening considering I didn’t really go in with any specific targets other than to ride as fast as I could. Has me thinking whether it is worth keeping the TT bike though now as it seems only very marginally quicker :/

Looking forward to Cutmill on Sunday now.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/290668683

Avg Speed: 26.2mph (TT bike last time: 25.6mph)

Avg Power: 339w (TT bike last time: 324w)

Full road bike results

Pos No. Name Name Class Laps Time
1 43 George Brisco Road 11 23:07.8
2 46 Callum Clarke Road 11 23:24.7
3 37 Gareth Thomas Road 11 23:36.0
4 39 Thomas Whatley Road 11 23:57.0
5 54 Samuel Andrew Road 11 24:06.0
6 56 Josh Copley Road 11 24:26.9
7 42 Matthew Evans Road 11 24:38.5
8 50 James Riall Road 11 24:40.3
9 35 Paul Moore Road 11 24:58.7
10 41 Jack Hudson Road 11 25:11.3
11 53 George Wells Road 11 25:25.8
12 47 Joe West Road 11 25:42.3
13 45 Giles Porter Road 11 25:57.4
14 2 Jon Train Road 11 26:26.0
15 48 Jennifer Crouch Road 11 26:30.8
16 52 Jasper McCrae Road 10 26:50.3
17 44 Therese Coen Road 11 26:54.3
18 51 David Morrison Road 11 27:29.2
19 49 Tom Yates Road 11 27:38.5
20 36 Mike Hindley Road 11 28:56.0
21 4 Dave Morrison Road 11 29:56.6
22 38 Seth Kanaris Road 11 31:31.8
23 15 Dinesh Karunarthne Road 11 32:56.9

Hillingdon Evening Time Trial Series

Not a huge amount to say about this really, my second time trial of the year was just a 10.3 mile affair, or 11 laps of Hillingdon circuit.

Cycled over to Hillingdon early, which felt really odd on the TT bike, having ridden almost exclusively on my road bike for the last few months. Legs were pretty fatigued too thanks to a Crit a few days earlier, and no real rest days. 

 I was a bit concerned when thinking about this TT that the full on TT bike might be not so much of an advantage here due to the corners, but actually riding the circuit once I was there put that to rest as I could happily stay in the extensions on all of the corners bar the sharpest hairpin, so seemed there was at least some advantage to be gained.

Pinned my number on with the help of Paul who was riding in the road bike category, and made my way to the start line. Thankfully the weather was sunny, so again it was out with the shorts 🙂 However, there was still a bit of wind as there always seems to be at Hillingdon, especially down the main straight.

Kicked off the line hard and quickly settled into the extensions up the small rise, and before long found myself settling at 380-400 watts up to the hairpin, round the hairpin with no power, then up the hill using quite a bit of power, round the long sweeping corner where the wind seemed to assist and onto the main straight where it was a tough headwind, again settling into a rhythm well over 300w. The legs felt pretty grim, but I kept pushing. Only this another 10 times!

Found it particularly tough due to the rhythm of the circuit, pushing pretty big (for me) watts in several places, then kind of recovering through some of the corners again. I faded a bit and didn’t really push for the line at the finish as I was mentally quite tired by the end, which is a bit annoying looking back but eventually I crossed the line in 24:41 to get a 6th place in the TT bike category out of 27 riders, so not too bad considering. Also set new power pb from 8mins through to 25. With 20 minute power at 328w, an all time best for me, which has meant a slight bump to my FTP number as well. All in all pretty chuffed with that, although I still think I can better that number with less fatigue in the legs!

Looking forward to Sunday now and my second road race. This time a 3rd Cat only race on the Kirdford course again.

Strava link: https://www.strava.com/activities/281701926

Avg/NP Power: 324w/324w

Speed: 25.6mph

Full TT Result

Pos   No. Name Class Laps Total Tm Avg. Speed Best Tm
1   19 Sam Henning TT Bike 11 22:24.360 27.689 1:59.088
2   1 Ben Allen TT Bike 11 23:06.057 26.856 2:03.113
3   7 Malcolm Woolsey TT Bike 11 23:20.461 26.580 2:05.227
4   23 Peter Stuart TT Bike 11 23:48.446 26.059 2:08.432
5   18 James Griffin TT Bike 11 24:27.640 25.363 2:07.930
6   20 Thomas Whatley TT Bike 11 24:41.098 25.133 2:11.566
7   46 Martin Winter TT Bike 11 24:43.972 25.084 2:11.311
8   16 William Wallace TT Bike 11 25:06.460 24.710 2:08.949
9   10 Wayne Meek TT Bike 11 25:07.796 24.688 2:06.585
10   3 Ian McNally TT Bike 11 25:35.365 24.244 2:16.099
11   24 Danny Bellion TT Bike 11 25:39.797 24.175 2:12.808
12   26 Jamie Wimborne TT Bike 11 25:46.463 24.070 2:16.043
13   17 Jamie Crust TT Bike 11 26:23.729 23.504 2:21.517
14   11 Richard Burton TT Bike 11 26:40.765 23.254 2:23.294
15   6 Dan Noraika TT Bike 11 27:08.803 22.854 2:22.862
16   15 Vince Dey TT Bike 11 27:26.149 22.613 2:27.484
17   30 David Morrison TT Bike 11 27:35.110 22.490 2:24.757
18   21 Alex Jones TT Bike 11 27:49.247 22.300 2:29.309
19   27 Peter Hewson TT Bike 11 28:38.174 21.665 2:27.475
20   25 Nathan George TT Bike 11 28:54.869 21.456 2:33.577
21   22 Christine Meek TT Bike 11 29:36.812 20.950 2:36.778
22   8 Tom Newman TT Bike 11 29:58.172 20.701 2:37.451
23   5 Chris Parrott TT Bike 11 30:16.224 20.495 2:34.133
24   28 Savannah Hewson TT Bike 11 30:29.394 20.348 2:36.040
25   47 Jessica Henning TT Bike 11 30:45.405 20.171 2:37.125
26   29 Cameron Still TT Bike 11 30:46.987 20.154 2:41.020
27   12 Paul Barker TT Bike 11 31:09.133 19.915 2:45.550

SERRL – Cyclopark 3/4 Criterium

I was due to do a TT on Good Friday, but I was feeling like I’d done a lot of threshold work recently and was concious to not try and overdo it. That and the weather looked like crap with it being an overcast drizzly day requiring an alarm of 6am again. So I binned that idea and decided to cycle home to see my parents in Swindon on Friday, back on Saturday, rest day Sunday then this race on Easter Monday.

Thankfully the race was scheduled at 11:45 so no stupid alarms. Woke up early enough to get sorted and get my stuff ready to cycle over to St Pancras to get the train to Gravesend. Arrived at the circuit in gorgeous sunshine, even in a baselayer and jersey I was overheating. So it would be my first UK ride of the year in shorts and a jersey, great weather for the beginning of April!

I signed on, then wandered over to the circuit just in time to catch the end of the 4ths race, which was about to finish in a bunch sprint. For anyone who doesn’t know the circuit, Cyclopark has the finish at the top of quite a long drag I guess in the hope to slow finished down a touch. However in the 4ths race two guys still went down in the sprint, which looked/sounded quite bad. Although I think they were both up again eventually. Hopefully they’ll be back riding again soon. So that did nothing to make the circuit seem very appealing.

It was my first time at Cyclopark so I rolled out onto the circuit and was immediately struck by how smooth it is, really nice surface, and seemingly pretty grippy too, although wouldn’t fancy it in the wet. So recce was a couple of laps warm up, but it didn’t really seem too difficult a circuit to ride, made up largely of hairpins or 90 degrees corners, with the drag up to the finish another major feature.

Clipped in ready to go at the start, and after listening to the briefing we were off. The pace seemed pretty manageable at the start and I even found myself on the front a couple of laps in. It seemed apparent that the cornering speeds are high here, and to be in contention you have to be quite committed, which is no bad thing, it made me think though that it seems to be quite rare that you get to actually commit fully to corners like these, knowing its smooth and there’s no traffic, so was good fun to really get stuck in to some of them at serious speed. A couple of laps passed with no drama, I was slightly worried about staying in touch on the hill due to my weight, but I needn’t have worried as it was OK. After a few more laps a couple of attacks were attempted, with one guy trying to breakaway on the finish hill, only to crash at the first hairpin. I think he was fine and carried on though.

The wind was beginning to play a bit of a part in the race, with a headwind on the main straight  also slowing things up a touch, which probably helped me to keep touch with the bunch there. At just over half distance, and after chasing down a couple of sprint attacks on the finish straight, I decided to give one go myself just to suss out when to try and go, and where. So I kicked hard coming up to the line and immediately got a good sized gap which I held without much effort to the bottom half of the circuit.

So following this I decided that if possible I’d attack there with a lap to go and try and hold off the bunch. 

On the front coming back up to the line

I know I have good 5 min power so thought this would be best, given that I’d likely get beaten in a bunch sprint. However all that was spoiled after a split in the bunch with just over 2 to go. I didn’t manage to go with them due to positioning and before long I thought it was too late, so decided to stick to the original plan.

As I passed the 1 to go board I rounded the hairpin then kicked hard again, used some riders to shield the wind and moved up to the front. Then went into a hard effort to try and catch the group of 8 or so ahead. I could see them but I wasn’t making much ground, although I had now gapped the main group by this point. Round the last couple of corners and up towards the main straight I decided to go for a long sprint, and just about managed to pass one of the guys who had been up the road before the line to finish in 8th, and to collect my first points of the season as a 3rd Cat.

I rolled round the rest of the circuit, absolutely spent. In terms of average power not the hardest although I averaged 285w, which is actually equal my best for that duration, but it was just very sprint based. A lot of sprinting out of corners and up the hill meant my NP was 314w. Not sure if that means I need to bump up my FTP of 300w now or not. Annoyingly got a 1 second anomaly in the peak power data of 2002w which is just plain wrong, so I can’t see my actual peak, and so not sure if the rest of the sprint data is correct. I have a feeling it was pb territory though, which is obviously encouraging.

Overall pretty pleased to get my first proper “result” as a 3rd Cat, but also slightly annoyed I missed the break go, as I think I could have got a much better result had I been a part of that. Still it was quite good fun, but its made me realise how much more I enjoyed racing on the road, even in the dreadful weather we had last week.

Roll on next week when I’ve got my next SL Road race at Kirdford again, just 3rd Cats this time.