Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Race/Training - A TT, Another TT and a Few Crits

It's been a while since I have last updated my blog, number of reasons I guess but mainly because i've been doing a fir bit of riding and racing.

I've raced at Cyclopark, done the club TT, raced at Crystal Palace, done another TT at the Velopark, raced at Hog Hill and raced at Hillingdon.

The first race in May was the SERRL Summer Series Round 1, in Kent at Cyclopark. A very wet 27 mile ride out there after work, followed by the race. An E1234 handicap race, and despite truly awful conditions the field was still around 50 strong, with a few notable riders, mainly 2 Richarsons Trek riders and 2 Pedal Heaven riders. A few laps in and I was feeling good, and went off the front down the back straight hill, only to be caught by the 2 Richardsons Trek riders and the rest of the E12 group. The front group was around 20 strong now with 1 Richardsons Trek rider having ridden off the front. Final bell went at 11 laps done, and I moved up to the front again, feeling good, but then a memory lapse of concentration coming into the 2nd to last corner before the final straight I seemed to loose a good few places and was around 10th wheel back. Going up the hill the group seemed to slow, I took advantage of this and moved around teh outside, and the perfect time the remaining Richardsons Trek rider started the sprint, I got in his wheel and contested the sprint, nobody came past! I couldn't believe it and I managed to bag 3rd. My best result for a while, very please, muddy, wet but still great fun.

A few days later and it was the club TT in Hertfordshire, Brickendon to be exact. Beautiful weather, and potentially perfect conditions meant that times were going to be quick today. A large field of around 50 riders started off from 1pm. I was off towards the end at 2:40pm mainly because I had a quick time on this course before. A PB of 21:47. I was running a standard road bike (Giant TCR Advanced 1) and a skinsuit, no other aero additions... The first 3 miles is a long downhill section which I covered quickly, the second third was a flat section along a very poorly surfaced road, I managed to get into a good rhythm and was going well, that was until I hit Robins Nest. A 1 mile climb, averaging 4%. Usually I can climb this well but for some reason I was struggling today, couldn't settle down and knew I was loosing time here. I pushed on and into the final 2 miles I knew I wouldn't be hitting my PB today, annoying, but you can't PB all the time... Into the final mile, a short downhill followed by a 0.3 mile hill climb to the end. It was at this point my minute man Jason Crewswell passed me! I knew he was onto a storming time! I crossed the line in 22:12, not a disaster, and bagged me 3rd.

The day has finally arrived. The first Crytsal Palace Crit race, this for me, marks summer racing and a series I loved last year. Weather was great and I was really looking forward to this all day! The usual social and chat at Cadence Cafe and then it was onto the park for the race. A 0.8 mile circuit, with plenty of twists, corners and a small drag onto the finish straight. Such a fun course. This was a 3/4 race with around 50/60 riders. The pace, as is always very quick from the off, and for the first few laps I was struggling to get a good position within the bunch. A few more laps and the group had wittled down to around 15 with Jason going off the front again, the bunch didn't seem that interested in chasing, so I went onto the front and slowed things down a little, give Jason a chance. That seemed to work well. 2nd to last lap and a Dynamo rider jumped off the front, at the bell for the final lap it was clear that both Jason and the Dynamo rider were clear, and it was going to be a sprint for 3rd. Coming up the final small climb and leading into the finish line sprint I went for it, was on the front and going well, however sat down just a little too soon and 4 guys went passed. I managed to bag 6th, which I was quite pleased with! Only a short race this week at 38 minutes, mainly due to fading light though. Onto the next one!

A week later and it was another Crystal Palace, or was it... The rain had indeed stopped play, so it was off to Lee Valley Velopark for the first of the summer series of 10 mile TTs. After a fairly steady weekend, I felt good and although conditions were not ideal was keen to try and better my previous time around this course (part of the Duathlon) and also see if I can beat my 10 mile TT PB. I went off, again Giant TCR road bike, no skin suit and nothing aero at all... It was a simple 10 laps around the twisty but great fun Velopark course. A few laps in and I was feeling great, pushing a big gear and knew that I was going well. In the end I crossed the line in 23:52, which was 3rd fastest of the night, and a new PB on this course by 50 seconds, and a new 10 miles TT PB of 40 seconds! I was very pleased and can't wait to get back there!

Thursday means Hog Hill and the ELV handicap series, a new format for Hog Hill consisting of a 3/4 race and a E12 race. The field was huge, around 60 3/4 riders and the pace was good from the off. After a few laps I was in the front bunch and taking turns on the front with a few other riders, at which point 5 riders and myself managed to get away, we worked well together for a lap, however 2 of the riders took off, leaving the remaining 4 to try and work together which we did for about half a lap, however for some reason I stopped concentrating out of one of the corners and was then playing catch up. I was in no mans land, and it hurt! After a lap of doing this, and working out I wasn't going to get back onto the break I slowed down, just as Richy (another LP rider) came across from the bunch to help me... Unfortunately the efforts were fruitless and we were back with the main bunch, with 4 riders currently away in two breaks. There was now around 30 minutes to go, and after my earlier efforts I was starting to feel the burn in the legs. I kept on pushing and always gained placed up the climb, and felt good. I was back on the front again and despite a number of attacks nobody else got away, and at 5 laps to go the pace went up again. At the final bell I moved up within the group only to get boxed in on the final climb, very annoying given I was actually feeling ok for the sprint. Managed to finish around 15th, no points but great training!

Hillingdon was the final race, a 2/3 race on the fast and flat course. The weather was great and despite a busy week and not liking Hillingdon I was pleased to be racing. As is often the case the pace was quite quick, with attacks going off the front every single lap, and the pace on the final straight often being a full on sprint out the bottom corner. Before the race I had told myself to stay near the front, mainly due to the fact that Hillingdon is often a crash fest. And true to the rep, 5 riders went down, including one LP rider, they were thankfully ok, but all had to pull out, and I was pleased this happened behind me. I tried a few attacks but as with other moves by other riders none of these actually stuck and with 5 laps to go it was clear it will be a bunch sprint, not my ideal but all the same i'll give it a go. At the bell the pace went mental and I was quite far back, however coming into the final bottom corner I had moved up well and was feeling good, well that was until a rider touched my front wheel causing me to break! Riders went passed and I knew I was out of it. Rolled over the line around 20th, so way out the points!

So that's all the races in May. Some good results and some not so good results. For me though one of the main benefits of racing is that you can treat each race as intense training! You can do sprints around Regents Park or on the Turbo as much as you want., but to really replicate racing and training for racing there is in my opinion nothing better than racing! Bike handling skills that are honed during races are again something which are very hard to practice, obviously racing will clearly help this. Race tactics are another skill which I have really been try to concentrate on, understanding it's not the best idea to sit on the front of the bunch, unless you intend to try for a break. Also learning what wheels to follow and who is riding strong is very useful, and can really help your race placing when going into a break or a sprint. The more you race the more you get to know who are the riders to watch! A tactic which really paid off during the SERRL event and also, to a lesser extent at Hog Hill.

Over & out.

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