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.

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.

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.

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!

Avg Power: 343w
NP Power: 348w
Avg Speed: 26.7mph


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

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!

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.

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.

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.

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:

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.

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.

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


Hillingdon IWS E123 – Race 9 of 9 (First 3rd Cat race)

So after having been ill most of last weekend I was looking forward to getting some decent training in and giving my first race as a 3rd Cat a good go. I ended up taking Monday and Tuesday off training for further recovery. Then went out with Paceline and some KW guys for a winter loop session. These are pretty much an hour at threshold or just below, depending on where you sit in the pack. I felt ok, so did sit in a bit, but power was still up near 260w NP for the hour so it wasn’t an easy session. Did some sprints Thursday and set a couple of Power PRs in doing so which was good. Took Friday off in readiness for Saturday.

Woke up pretty early and got all my gear ready for the race, which is held an hour later than the 4ths so I had some more time to chill at home before swinging a leg over the saddle and spinning over to the circuit. The weather seemed decent at around 7 degrees it was way warmer than it had been the last few weeks, there wasn’t too much of a wind either. Eventually got over to the circuit in time to watch some of the 4ths race. Met up with Paul Moore from Paceline, and we had a chat about what to expect from the race. I’d been expecting the 3rds to race separately, but was told it was 1sts 2nds and 3rds in one race! After waiting around for what seemed like age, we set off out on the circuit for a couple of laps warmup. Legs felt decent by this point and I was ready as I’ll ever have been.

Just as we lined up for the start the heavens opened and it started absolutely pissing it down. Perfect. We set off and the pace was immediately high. I was pretty much straight away at the back, and don’t think I was ready for just how much power I needed to use to stay attached. About 4 laps in the pace kicked up a notch again and I was getting spat out the back. I tried in vain to pace back on but it was game over. Race over after 4 laps! I slowed and waited to get lapped to join the back of the pack, just to see if I could stay on-board to the end as a training session.

So I jumped back into the back of the pack, and into a mouthful of spray, and that was my race. I managed to stay in the bunch to the finish but at points I was still quite close to the limit. I needed over 400w just to stay with the bunch coming out of the last corner where it all strung right out. Then on the back section of the circuit as the small incline began, the pace would jump up then settle down again, which was hard to maintain.

All in all an average day. Average speed was up at 26.5mph for the hour, compared to around 23.5 for the 4th Cat races, which illustrates the speed difference! Not all bad though, good just to get a feel for it and as a training session with a couple of things to think about, which in no particular order are:

  • Warmup  – I’ve found in my 4th Cat races, the legs felt much better at the close of the races than I ever did at the start, probably due to having been adequately warmed up. In all the races to date I’ve ridden the 10 miles to the circuit, then got changed and sat down until the race, with a couple of laps before the race. Not a good warmup, so where the pace was sky-high from the off I wasn’t in a good place.
  • More w/kg – Still need to work on being more powerful (obviously) Also trying to drop a bit more weight, and am now close to 79kg, from c.85kg at the beginning of the year. So that’s going the right way but needs more work.
  • Being more aero – I’ve got broad shoulders and at my weight I’m about as aero as a brick shithouse, this isn’t helped by my bike either, which is essentially a sportive frame with a pretty huge head tube. I’m running a -17 degree stem which is slammed, but with a race specific frame I’m sure I can get lower/more aero.

The rest is just training I guess, and hopefully the rest will come.

I stuck around after the race for the prizegiving which was cool to see, there was a raffle too, and I managed to pick up a prize of some bike cleaning fluid which has been put to good use today. Both road and TT bikes got the treatment which was needed. The road bike rear derailleur had mud/grime clogging the bottom jockey wheel which must have been sucking up a few watts. So I’m vowing to be a bit more efficient at cleaning, especially pre race, as it’s just lazy otherwise, and I’m giving away free speed.

image1 (4)

Nice and clean!

The next few weeks.

I’ve got a week off racing next weekend before another 3rd Cat race at Longcross (on 28th Feb) as a part of the Surrey League which I’m looking forward to, less of a crit as its much more distance, and it’ll be a new circuit which is good, as I’m just about sick of Hillingdon. Its a 2/3 race so I’m sure it will be equally fast though. I’m then off on a training camp on the 7th March to Alicante, so really looking forward to pretending to be a pro for a week, and getting out in some sunshine hopefully. Should be able to get some big volume, and plenty of climbing which will make for good training!

KW Sporting 14 Time Trial

My first proper CTT time trial, only done a racing circuit event before this.

Training had been going pretty well in the run up to this on the 8th Feb. I’d gotten out for a mid week training loop which was pretty hard work, and I’d even managed an hour interval at sweet spot round RP on the TT bike in prep. The weather was looking good as well so I was all set to give it a good bash. That is until I decided to go out on Friday night with a friend for a couple of drinks… We ended up wandering round half of London and in between bars I was getting seriously cold. This combination of a heavy training day, not eating too well, alcohol and limited sleep meant I woke up Saturday with a horrible head cold feeling pretty horrific.

However after thinking about it, I thought if I woke up Sunday feeling better than I did Saturday then I’d ride. Woke up at 6am to get ready and felt a little better, so I dosed up with Sudafed and got on with it. The course was in Ripley, so a good 20 miles from home. Decided to give myself the best chance of not getting more ill I’d get the train most of the way there so cycled to Clapham Junction, got the train to Woking, then cycled the remaining 5 and a bit miles to Ripley. By the time I got there it was warming up a bit, but the roads were still very greasy. I was unseeded and therefore one of the first off at 9:02. I signed on and got my number pinned on, before bimbling over to the start. So much for a warm up!

I lined up at the start still feeling pretty groggy and totally unsure at how my legs and lungs would feel. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and I was about to find out, felt good off the start, and quickly settled into aero position. (The course for anyone that doesn’t know is two almost 7 mile laps, with the beginning half lap largely an uphill drag, followed by a section of rolling A-road, before a steady downhill/flat section back to the start of the lap.) I looked down to settle into an appropriate power to see no power or cadence readings. Great start. Annoying as I knew the PM was fine, it was just a Garmin issue. I tried several times to re-scan for the PM but the Garmin was having none of it, before I just switched off and switched back on. On doing so I had everything back on screen, however I’d spent the first 6 mins riding blind so to speak, so had probably been going way too hard knowing me. I settled back in and started aiming for my target 300w which at this point felt ok. Negotiated some of the technical turns before getting onto the A-road, which I felt like I did at a snails pace due to the roads being so slippy.

Turned onto the A-road and felt OK, still hitting c.300w and was quickly gaining on my minute man. Up to the left hand turn at the roundabout and onto the downhill section I took the next sweeping right handers pretty steady, before getting back in aero and passing the guy in front at some speed. Back through the start finish and onto Hungry Hill Lane for the second time. The surface on the road goes from sublime to ridiculous as just certain sections have been resurfaced which adds to the struggle and struggling I was, it was getting tougher to push a gear at the watts I wanted, and I couldn’t seem to find the right one. I was pretty quickly passed by Pat Wright who had just set off, and made me look like I was going backwards. As I got up towards the A-road again I was in dire straights and seriously struggline. Not sure if this was fitness, or the cold meaning I was struggling but I felt like I was out of juice. Turned onto the A-road and tried to keep the speed up but at points it felt like I was struggling to even keep to 200w. Eventually got the the next left turn at the roundabout and started the downhill section. The legs seemed to come back a bit at this point, and I maintained some good power back down to the finish before putting in a good dig to cross the line in 36:40.

Pretty dissapoitned with this overall, no power PBs which given how i’d been going in training I was expecting, not a particularly good time, and mentally I felt I’d been really weak too, especially during the middle of the second lap! Probably not helped by the fact I’d gone in with no particular aim or target time. Got back to HQ had some tea and cake, but was feeling crap and just wanted to get home. The weather was decent so just crawled home, still felt like a bit of a clown crawling along on a full TT rig with a winter jacket and backpack with all my gear on! Pretty frustrating day all in.

Looking forward to putting in a proper effort on another course soon. Not sure the hilly nature of this course is something I’m suited to either.

Avg Power (for the time it was working) – 280w. Power curve below, note the drop at the right hand of the curve where I had no data.

HR avg – 176bpm (which I think tells the story. Would have ideally wanted this to be closed to 180+ throughout. Only hit a peak of 182bpm (max is 194bpm)

power curve

Hillingdon IWS 4th Cat – Race 7 of 9

I went much easier on training in the run up to this race, having had a really hard week the week before, and feeling so down on power in the actual race. Just a couple of rides, and intervals, no huge miles. Although, I did end up going out on the Friday, and the legs felt so good I ended up doing a lap of Richmond Park at a little below threshold which was probably slightly stupid.

I got up on Saturday and prepped as usual, despite the weather being pretty vile, 4 or so degrees and rain/sleet. Got on my bike and cycled the 10 miles or so up to Hillingdon, stupid garmin tried to direct me onto the M4, but a quick check of googlemaps had me going again and was there in plenty of time.

Was so glad I bought a change of base layers, socks and shoes when I got there as I was sodden already. Got changed and ready and headed out onto the circuit for a couple of recon laps and to try and warm up. The wind was blowing pretty strong, and for anyone who knows Hillingdon, it was blowing down the small rise up to the corners, so if you were at the front of the bunch here it would be tough. Then it would string right out down the start/finish straight with it being downwind.

We lined up at the start and off we went after the usual briefing. I’d never raced in the rain, but imagined it to be pretty grim. It was, think constant face full of spray and grit when sat in the bunch. I was soaked again after the first couple of laps, and was starting to lose the feeling in my hands. My legs felt reasonable though, although not as good as they did the day before annoyingly. I sat in the bunch for the first half, just scoping things out, where would be best to attack from, and just working on moving around the group, which I was feeling way more comfortable doing.

Did a couple of turns on the front but was keen to save my juice for the end. Managed a couple of attacks when required as well, but nothing looked too dangerous, especially with that headwind going up the hill.

Eventually the hands started to come back to me and I started feeling a bit better, just before the lap board came out. I consciously got myself in the front group, but was keen to not be taking the wind all the way up the hill each time, so let the first couple of riders come past me and cheekily sat in up the hill which seemed to work well. With 2 laps to go a couple of attacks went off but again, nothing that looked dangerous, and I helped to manage the gap to them without working too hard until we came round for the last lap. One guy had a couple of seconds on the bunch, and another was just off the front.

Again I positioned myself nicely out of the wind up the hill, and by this point the two up front were struggling into the wind. I knew I have decent power for a lap at full gas, but wanted to wait until half a lap, which took a fair bit of discipline. As we got half way up the hill I kicked hard, I was sat about fourth wheel in the group by this point, so used them to hide from the wind and slingshot past, I was out of the saddle and sprinting up the hill, I used the first and second riders slipstreams and past both before the corners, I gained a bit of breath back through the first hairpin, and then was out of the saddle and sprinting for the line clear of everyone. Quickly looked back and I seemed to have a good gap so I sat back in the saddle but kept the power as high as I could, before rounding the last corner and sprinting for the line!

In my head I was sprinting for the win, until I rounded the last corner and saw another 4th Cat rider up the road!! I rolled up to him past the line and apparently he’d been in a solo break since 25 mins in! Very impressive given the conditions

Felt a little disappointed not to be able to win, but 2nd had meant I still had enough points to move up to 3rd Cat so I had to be happy, so I suspect my first win won’t come for some time yet, as I have no doubt in moving up a category the standard will be much higher. This allows me to enter some proper road races though, which I’m really looking forward to. I’d set myself the goal of becoming 3rd Cat within the first half of the year, so to do it in January alone after 3 races, I was pretty happy with.

image1 (3)

Me in the background, sprinting for what I thought was 1st!

Strava ride –

Avgerage Power – 247w

NP – 267w

As an aside, I’ve also managed to drop 5kg since Christmas to put me at 80kg, meaning the w/kg is starting to look a bit better. Looking to ideally get down towards 75kg in the next couple of months.