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.

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