Summer Bank Holiday

Typically British summer bank holiday weather put paid to the fast run out on the F11/10 Tring bypass course with heavy rain all day resulting in a delay until mid October.
That left just club events on the H10/10 and HCC132 as a tune up for the long trip up to the National 10 in Hull.  Last year I missed out by 1s on the course record for the H10/10, annoyingly the week I was on holiday was a ‘float night’ according to those that rode. But the weather was good enough this night and I squeaked in for a course record of 21:14. It was particularly pleasing as this completes the ‘set’ (at least as far as I know) of course record for the local club courses I regularly ride, H10/10, H10/2, HCC234, HCC132 and H10/1. It was a nice boost before the National 10. The following week I did 21:43 on the HCC132, the Shurlock Row 2 lapper, not a record but 21s ahead of Ken who did 22:04.
The Nat 10 was a long day, fortunately I had company in the car with Pete Weir of Banjo Cycles also racing. He had the earlier start time so we got there in plenty of time for his start and had a drive round the course. The car park was a whir of turbo trainers and expensive bikes. I did a turbo warm up but thinking I had time t wait for Pete to get back and have an easy ride to the start was a mistake. The recommended route to the start was a slightly longer route so I ended up in a bit of a rush to get there on time – actually recording my best 4min power of the day riding to the start, I knew that there would likely not be any gaps in the field for a late start after me so if I wanted to record any time at all I needed to get there on time. Fortunately I managed it with 1min 5 to spare to get my breath back and I was well warmed up with a nice adrenalin boost! It is straight onto the fast road on the Hull course so I rapidly picked up speed and tried to get in a hard working rhythm. I set myself an ambitious power and tried to stick with it, and the result was a best 10 power of the year. Working on the numbers as I rode I realised I would be inside 19 min, which has been a target, but one that I didn’t think I would make this year on this slightly slower version of the Hull course. I hammered the final single lane section to the finish off the main road with my minute man almost in reach and clocked 18:46 to put me in the top 35 all time fastest riders and 16th on the day – demonstrating what a good field and fast day it was! Ken wasn’t far behind again with a short 19 as well. It was a late arrival back home but a pleasing trip, to get an 18 as a bonus as well as riding the National was nice, and no need to trek back to the course just to get a time!
I did an identical time on the HCC132 midweek before another full day trip last Sunday to the big end of year 25 mile speedfest on the welsh ‘ski slope’ course. Dan traveled with Pete and I this time for his attempt to record his first sub 50 ride. It seemed one of the best days on the course when we drove up, but it was cold for the early starters and when there was wind (it tends to get up and down a bit in the valleys) it was blowing in the ‘wrong’ direction, so the way back you would have to both climb back up a drag and ride into the wind. The result was a very fast ride out  – I only needed to ride 30mph from the turn to record a ’47′ but a hard finish and so I ended up just missing out on a PB by 10s, with 49:03. Still my 2nd quickest time ever. Dan was lucky enough that his 3s put him the right side of the line getting 49:57. Matt Botrill again showed what great form he is in with a new comp record by 3s with 45:43. I really didn’t think it was the day for it! I was 5th overall.
So just now the Circuit National Championships on Sunday, at the moment I’m lying 3rd in the Champion of Champions, with my rides in the 10, 25 and 50. I think I can improve on my 25 position but I don’t think I’ll hold that placing with some people riding who haven’t got a 3rd counter yet, still nice to be right up there now!

National Masters Track Champs

After a frustrating June of illness and DNSing I was finally well enough to race this Newport-20140629-00396(1)weekend at the National Masters Track Champs. In contrast to other years of managing some dedicated track time, my preparations couldn’t have been much more frugal, just a week of commuting trying to get the legs working again but not do too much damage. I just raced on the Sunday, in the 3k pursuit and the points race. It was warm in the track centre so I did a 20 minute pre warm up once I had lugged all my equipment in and then a shorter more intense warm up just before the start so as not to overheat. I made a clean start out of the gate and got settled into a good pace, unfortunately my body just wasn’t playing ball and I just gradually fell off the pace and finished with a 3:39. That was enough for 3rd by 2 tenths of a second but a few seconds away from my gold medal target. Since I’ve only ever done 3:34 or 3:35 it was disappointing but knowing what I had (or really hadn’t) been able to do in the lead up then it was nice to at least get a medal. I considered calling it a day there as I couldn’t see how I’d be able to perform in the points race with that form but I convinced myself to stay on and give it a shot. The points race in the afternoon was a combined A and B race to make a full field, that meant it would be tactically important to read the race and who was in which category. The obvious strongest rider was Alistair Rutherford who has been selected for the Scottish Commonwealth Games Track team, so I knew that if i could get into a break with him as last year then something might happen. I normally hang back the first few sprints so that I can hit it more when people are getting tired, though with the race being shortened from 120 to 100 laps because the electronic scoreboard wasn’t working I would have to get involved a bit earlier. I really didn’t feel good int he first laps though so I wasn’t sure how I’d do anything. As time went on I decided that since I hadn’t gone home I’d better get involved so I nipped off the front to try to pick up some points in one of the sprints. Someone followed em of the front but  nipped past instead of working together so I ended up with 3 points and us both being caught. A couple of sprints later I had another go though and this time Rutherford and a few others came across so we had a group of 5. Once dropped off so 4 of worked together and took a lap. Only one other was a B rider so that put me in 2nd. I was somewhat struggling by this stage so though I tried to slip way or sprint round the other B rider to take some points he was both aware enough and strong enough to hold off my attempts to close the gap. Still I was very pleased to come away with a silver in the points to go with the pursuit bronze, considering the preparation I had and the vagaries of the points race.
This week I also got back to time trialling this week with a run out in the Maidenhead club event. I didn’t want to push too hard while still recovering my form, with an open 10 coming on Saturday but it was quite a quick night so I actually did one of my quicker times on that course with a 20:38.

MSG Rd 4 Ickworth House

MSG Rd 4 Ickworth House

MSG Rd 4 Ickworth House

On Sunday I raced in the fourth round of the Mud Sweat and Gears series which was held at Ickworth house near Bury St Edmunds.

Despite the hot weather on the day the previous day’s rain storm had had an effect and I could tell from the bikes of riders that had already raced that much of the course was very muddy, which was a shame as I had only brought summer tyres with me.

A quick reconnaissance lap revealed that there was s drying line over much of the lap but there was still one section where I was going to be forced to push due to a lack of grip. The rest of the wooded section consisted primarily of tacky mud which managed to sap any feeling of speed. Near the end of the lap, the course exited woods and headed down across a grassy field towards two bombholes with multiple line choices either through or around each of them giving the opportunity for a bit of airtime before returning to the start finish straight via the feed zone.

As usual, the Masters racers were gridded behind the Elites, Experts and Juniors but set off at the same time as them. Off the start I seemed to get away well but within a two pedal strokes there was a coming together ahead of me and riders were flying in all directions to avoid hitting each other. I had to come to a stop with a foot down before I could get going again. By the time I got moving I had been swamped by the rest of the masters field and going uphill into the muddy woods I was unable to find space to move up.

Once we hit the mud, riders slowed down but passing was still difficult as the drying line meant that going off line to pass others was both hard a sketchy. I was taken out by other riders twice in the 1st lap before I managed to get away and find some clear track.

After turning down the offer of a bottle after lap one, I looked down to take a drink only to find that I had lost my bottle in one of my crashes on lap 1. The hottest race of the year wasn’t the best day to race the first two laps without a drink but by lap 3 I had a bottle and was taking some big swigs to get my hydration back in order.

Due to my poor start, I was slightly down on where I was in rounds 1 and 2, I treid to bridge back up to Paddy Atkinson, and caught sight of him during lap 4 but he took advantage of his 5th lap being his last in order to pull away.


Going into the 6th lap I could not see any other Masters riders so I concentrated on staying ahead of Tom Ward and made sure I got round to the finish in one piece.

I the end I was a few seconds up on Tom and about 3 minutes ahead of the second placed Masters rider Nick Drew.

In the Elite races, Jon Pybus took the men’s win by almost 3 minutes from Richard Dunnett with Callum Riley in third while Hollie Bettles won the female race ahead of Anna Buick.

A catch up on my early season races

A catch up on my early season races is a little overdue. After a good winter I decided to get started a bit earlier than usual, beginning with a Newbury RC club event in March. We had a really nice sunny day for the afternoon event on the H10/3a which is the same course as was used for the National 10 a few years ago. It is a quiet single carriageway with a few rolling hills. I got stuck into a good ride and won the event by almost a minute from Ian Greenstreet. My time would pleasingly have put me right up there on the National 10 day so it was a good start to the season. The very next week I came down with a cold which I’d been managing to avoid but I was able to recover in time to ride the Farnbrough and Camberley 10 on the Bentley bypass course. We had another pleasant spring day and I was able to record a mid 20, enough to give me a win by 40odd seconds from John McClelland.
I ride quite a lot of the Maidenhead and District club events, and even spoke at their club dinner, so it was nice to be able to ride their 15mile TT round the drift road course. There was a good field but unfortunately the favourite, ex-pro, Wouter Sydbrandy was unable to start due to illness. It was a windy day so the course record was well out of reach but I managed to win again by 1min17s. I had a short break from racing then with Easter and a family holiday, I managed to take my bike and the turbo but then picked up another cold so couldn’t make too much use of it and also had to DNS from riding the fast Welsh 25 course, that maybe worked out for the best as the weather was horrible and not many fast times were recorded.
It was all hands on deck then for the event I was organising, a 10 mile TT on the Witney bypass, which went by without a hitch despite the threat of poor weather. I also started riding some club events during the week with 3 wins in the Maidenhead events and a win in the Newbury club 25 on Easter Monday.
The day after my event I rode one of my favourite events, that I have been trying towin for a number of years, the Bath Road Club hilly on the Bucklebury course, it s a 30mile race, 2 laps of the club course that Reading CC use. The last 2 years have been canceled because of rain and roadworks so I was keen to ride this year. Unfortunately I only got 2/3 of the way round the first lap before I punctured my disc. I walked for a bit, then a kind passing cyclist offered me a spare inner tube, but despite my best efforts we failed to get his 28-32mm tube into my 20mm tyre so I walked a bit more until word got back to the HQ and the organiser picked me up. I’ll have to wait another year to try to win, though I will get another ride on the course as part of the RTTC Series event that is running on there tomorrow.
The next thing to look forward to was a fast 10 on the F11/10 course near Tring, there was a VTTA National Championships and then a second event for the ‘youngsters’ like me! It was a blustery windy day, not ‘float’ but this course seems to give some fast times on windy days so I was still optimistic. I felt I had an Ok rather than great ride but I did get a 19:11 to win the 2nd event, equaling my second best time ever, with just 2 riders in the VTTA National quicker. Hopefully I’ll be back on there mid June to try to chase that 18!
Then last weekend I raced the WLCA 10, it was a small field but with Tejvan Pettinger the National Hill Climb champion, and Mark Jones of Drag2Zero on the startsheet then it promissed to be a challenge. The weather also wanted to play it’s part with a very strong westerly blowing. That meant hitting speeds of 40mph on the way out with a much more challenging return.I was 4s down at the turn but dug in on the way back, overhauling Tejvan to win by 13s, perhaps my extra weight was a bit of a help that day! Mark Jones was one of a number who decided it was too windy to ride.
That brings us pretty much up to date with just a mention for the start of track league and making it through to the pursuit final this Monday, and last Thursday Ken, Alex and I had a run out in our 3 up combination for the National Team Time Trial at the Maidenhead club event, it was good practice and we were a good bit quicker than any of use (or anyone on the course in fact) had ever been solo, so very much looking forward to that now.