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!!