The weather forecast had it down to start raining at the start of the CAT 4 races, if only this were true, is was already raining when i arrived at 1030. Trying to find somewhere dry to set the turbo up was quite hard as all the good places had already been take, i did manage did find a small area in the end.
There was a lot of hanging around in the pit area waiting for the last race to finish and for the rain to get heavier. Race was due to start 1230 and we got to the start line at about 1250, a quick talk from the commissaire and we where off.
It did start off quite quick into the first bend where i manged to get towards the front of the group, which is where i wanted to be due to the weather, i was still towards the front after the 1st lap and i was feeling really good, i ended up throwing my glasses about half way due to not being able to see through them, not sure this was a good idea tho as i still could n’t see without them due to all the spray, being towards the front did help a bit, some how i ended up leading the group over the line when we took the bell, as always the pace did pick up for the last lap. As we came into the last 2 bends there was a lot of fighting for positions where i was nearly taken out twice and had to break so i lost a few places after this. I left my sprint quite late as i now think that is best for my sprints, when i last looked up i was around 15th. AT the end i think i have only every been colder and wetter once and that was at Abingdon in the Winter Crits
Due to being so cold and wet i didn’t hang around to find out the finishing places as i didn’t think i had made top 10. A week later the finishing places where issued and i had got 10th place. A good effort in the conditions and foe being out for 2 weeks. It also turn’s out they had prizes for all top 10 in senior races so i quite pleased with how this race went. So i also missed the 1st official presentation of my a envelope which i had to re-create when it did arrive at home.
I started quite strong probably a bit to strong so when a break started at about 10-15 mins in i was unable to hold the last mans back wheel as they went into wind and the 5 meters quite quickly became a lot more and that was the break gone.
The rest of race went reasonably well either at the front or just off the front especially on the into wind sections. With 4 laps to go on the long straight after the finish line i heard someone say that we had a gap and to keep going which i did, from the photo’s i was the only one that did and i was unable to hold the gap i had going in to the wind straight the bunch quickly caught me up again. The last 3 laps were pretty uneventfully until the last straight on the way to finish, quite a few riders did overtake me, i did managed not to go to early and held off sprinting for bit then when i did go i manged to get a few places back and get 10th, for a change i timed it quite well being able to keep the sprint going until the line , all tho i did feel a little sick after.
So another point to my account, and i just have to be a bit more patient at the start.
It was the last race of the Western CX season, lovecrossed at Chavenage house. I started my last race thinking of retirement and feeling out of place. It was cold and I was feeling out of condition, not having raced for nearly 2 months suffering first from an injury then a chest infection that just robbed me of the ability to ride far less train. I did think of withdrawing, but it was the end of the season and the bike and I ought to give it a last go.
The race started and I was gridded on the front row, but not surprisingly I dropped down from the leaders. The conditions were muddy and to be honest I had to back out of it as my breathing was becoming too ragged, so the tactics became one of trying to carry as much speed as possible round the corners, and it started to become fun again. I managed to pass two riders at the end of the first lap, and I started to regain lost ground, when I carried just a bit too much speed round a corner and the ground rushed up to meet me. This event was novel in that there was a large crowd, so as I hit the ground I could hear a woman take a very dramatic anxious deep breath while the man next to her burst into laughter. It did not hurt as the there was plenty of mud but being committed and clipped in meant it took a long time to unclip get up again etc. And that was my race over part way through lap 2.
The course was long and varied. From the start a boggy piece of grass that was churning nicely, then through a wooded section where a compacted mud line started to form, up and down a couple of ha ha’s along past the other side of the finish line, over the boards with a raving MC, through a sandpit, then a long section with a steep drop followed by a long trudge back up hill, and at the top a long slow drag uphill on muddy grass against the wind to the start. Lovely.
In a away I quite enjoyed it, the lack of performance was annoying as I know I could do better, but the sand pit was not as bad as I thought, low gear and hit it in a straight line with good cadence was the secret. Plus to lift the mood on the last lap I managed to nearly go as fast as my first lap and nearly made a place back while dropping 3 other riders in that drag uphill against the wind. The event had a touch of carnival about it, a young lady went down where I crashed earlier to a great cheer and Si from GCN could be seen racing later getting a lot of stick for not bunny hopping the boards from the crowd/MC.
How did the season end, well I was 12th in league better than I expected, in fact not bad given I only had 8 not 10 counting races (1 lost to illness, and 2 rounds cancelled.) Thoughts of retirement? Perhaps/perhaps not, the issue is injuries take longer and longer to recover from these days. I will be more careful on the rounds I do and importantly the ones I will not. I do need to get my breathing sorted, perhaps borrow a TUE from sky or something so that is under investigation. Denfurlong is one to miss, injuring my hamstring slipping trying to get through that quarry and I should have stopped. The best think about that round was the photo’s of me falling off while failing to power up the banking, the right leg was just not working And in more good news Strava tells me I am at about the same place now as I was in May of last year, so while things have held me back it is a lot better than a broken arm.
I managed to get on the front again at the start but i decided into wind this was not the best place to be, so drifted back slightly into the bunch, i spent much of the race doing this. The 3rd corner onto the return straight was a good place to go into at the front of the bunch or to take very wide, taking it wide i was able to take at steady pace without having to slow down and accelerate to keep up. A few of the the cat 4 riders did jump on the back of the cat 1’s and 2’s when they came past which did kinda kill our race a bit.
They rest of the race seemed to go quite well until the last lap as we where coming into the 2nd corner another riding touch Ben Parker’s (Other PC rider) back wheel , he did well to stay up right, this was just in front of me, from what i heard after quite few came down behind.
As we came up to the last corner of few of the riders did push forward, this was again a little to far out for me to have a go as well, i had to hang on to after the corner before having a go as well, not sure on where i placed this time top 20 ish, i had to use my last bit of energy to get across the line from so far out to even look where i was finishing.
Not a great finish this week but at least was with everyone else again so we are still improving.
The cold 1st started to kick in while we were waiting on the line for commissionaire which was not cold. At last we got the “Go”, i managed to get into the 1st corner 1st so i managed to settle quite quickly into my own rhythm which i was left to for a short while, but i manged to stay near or on the front for a few more laps after this great start. I then got the corner on to the long straight a little wrong and end going quite wide a dropping back a bit but on this long straight i was able to hang on in and slowly make my way back to towards the front. I was feeling quite comfortable at about 30mins in that i had a little jump off the front which last about 1/2 lap again i was brought back and i settled in behind but at the front. No real attacks for the reminder of the race until the last lap just after the 1st corner a rider did attack and i felt i had enough to go with him, i just tucked in behind him until we got just over half way down the long straight and he slowed up, i felt this was still a little to far for me to have real go on my own and again i was brought in, got round the last bend still up the front. I did managed to time my last effort and i got 6th pretty much on the line.
So from entering this race series last year and getting lapped in 30mins to 6th place in year is pretty good going. Now to see if i can do it again next weekend and maybe better the 6th.
Only the one photo of a very cold me at the end. My photographer wasn’t expecting me to be at the front of the pack. If i do get any others i will update.
Left for the race with a bit of sleet in the air in Swindon, on the journey over to Abingdon it got heavier and whiter. Finally made it to the airfield only to struggle to see where about’s the race was due to the falling snow. When i finally did find it and park up, i manged to plunk up the courage to get out the car and sign on. While signing on the U10/U12’s race was in full flow and fare play to the youngsters some riding past in tears, but still going.
I managed to get change completely in the car ready for the race and headed out to the coarse to have a warm up lap, not sure if i did manage to warm up as the snow had stopped and it was now freezing rain. 1st warm up lap i did wounder what on earth i was doing out in this weather but also thought i am here now so should get on with it.
It was a very cold start to the race with my wheels sliding in every direction except the way i wanted them to go. I made to the penultimate corner before the finish line before a came off for the 1st time. I did manage i few improvements to my line on the next lap, i couldn’t help but keep laughing to my self on the way round. Made to the penultimate corner trying my hardest not to come off which didn’t work and face planted again in the same place, only this time my chain came off. On the next lap i did mange to fall off in different part of the circuit for a change which i was a bit happier with, on the final lap i came again at another place and thought i am going to struggle to get going again here so thought it would be a good idea to run though that part, it felt and sounded like i was running with flippers on so gave up on that idea and got back on the bike. Then a slippy slidey last part of the coarse to the finish.
It went from hoping to do quite well to just being glad to get round.
So, just to be a little more clichéd, today is 31st December 2017 – so a day we tend to all reflect on the year that’s gone and look towards the future. What better time to write up my one and only event of 2017, and actually think about what’s in store for 2018!!
Right then, race day – lets take you back to the opening line of my first blog post…. “It’s 6am in the morning on Sunday 4th June 2017 – and I’m in a wetsuit, standing in the shallow waters of Keynes Park, what the hell am I doing!!” Yep, that’s how I felt – what the hell am I doing here, this was all a bit real now!!
The morning had gone OK – not that I knew what to expect! I’d left home in plenty of time and headed down to the venue (at Lake 32), thinking I had loads of time to get sorted. Only to sit in a long queue of traffic to get into the venue. That meant my plan of getting the bike down into transition and sorting my kit out before going back to the car to put my wetsuit on went out of the window – I was also parked as far away from the start as possible!! Down in transition I didn’t have a clue what I was doing (really should have thought about this!!). Everyone was there setting their bikes up, laying out their kit etc ready for a fast change. Me, I just hooked my bike on the rack and dumped my bag next to it. I’d figure it out after the swim!!
So, down to the waters edge to get ready to start – I’m in wave one, the idea being that it means I won’t be last out of the water (as there are 7 other waves at 10 minute intervals starting behind me!)! A quick chat with Jason from South West Swim and he puts me at ease, mainly because he suddenly realises he hasn’t got his goggles on his head and goes running off to find them – if that doesn’t lighten the mood, nothing will!! A pre-race brief from event organiser Graeme, and we’re into the water to get ready to start.
There is no point me starting anywhere but the back of the group, I’m going to be one of (if not the) slowest swimmer there. So when the horn goes to signal the start, I’m already 20m behind the front runners!! And that’s it – 1900m of swimming ahead of me. 1900m is a long way!! It took what felt like forever to get round the course, I don’ think I was the slowest from my wave (although not far off) and I got caught by people from both wave two and wave three (who started 20 minutes after me!!). But still, I made it to the exit ramp – and then I experienced something I’d never known before!! Trying to exit the water and get used to being back on my feet – very strange, and feeling a little dizzy!! A huge shout of “GO ON KIRKY” from Luke Campbell (thanks bud) got me into transition to start the next phase of the day.
Transition – personally I would recommend you practice this before event day!! Talk about slow, and really not knowing what I was doing!! My general excuse for for taking nearly 8 minutes to get through T1 is that Graeme needs to install electric hook-up’s into the racking, as it was taking far too long for my kettle to boil for a cuppa!! But in truth, I just didn’t have a clue what I was up to!!
A bit of food, proper cycling shorts on over the top of my tri-suit and a cycling jersey and I’m ready to rock (feet dried, socks and shoes on!!). I jog my bike out of transition (need to pretend I know what I’m doing) and out onto the bike course. Having not ridden my TT bike for over 5 years, I thought it best not to use it on race day – so I’m on my trusty road bike with deep section HED wheels.
The bike course consisted of two laps of a pretty pan-flat route around the waterparks, with just one short / sharp climb up to Hannington. Lap one felt pretty good, I passed a few people and got overtaken by a few more (all on TT bikes I might add), towards the end of lap one I stopped at the feed point on the Latton road to use the loo (had been needing to go since I got out of the water!). I knew Jason Tait would have been out of the water at least 15-20 minutes ahead of me so if I was going to catch him it would be on the bike. I finally saw Jason coming back towards me as we crossed the Spine Road junction, I looked at the clock and it was 10 minutes before I was back here again – so I knew I was still 10 minutes down on him!! Now I was worried, I HAD to catch him on the bike, as he’d been doing a lot more running than me!! I pushed on in the hope of catching him, checking every person I went past to see if it was him!!
Finally, after just under three hours (bang on target) I was back into transition – no sign of Jason anywhere!! T2 was a dam sight quicker than T1 (but still over three minutes) and out onto what I knew would be the hardest part of the event. The “run” – or in my case, flippin long walk with a bit of jogging whenever spectators were in sight!!
The run consisted of three laps, and I had a target time of three hours in my head. At this point I cannot express my gratitude to the amount of support on the side of the road – this is where (for me) the event really stands out. The support was amazing, and the personal support I got from a number of our customers was first class – I really couldn’t have got round without you. At the end of lap one, I saw Luke Campbell, who told me I was ahead of Jason (I didn’t believe him, but it turns out I must have passed Jason when he was on a lap two toilet break on the bike!!) and I finally saw Jason as I was half way round lap two, with Jason coming towards me. Which meant I was either half a lap ahead, or half a lap behind!!
The aid stations and support on the run were much needed, not least the legend that is Dave Alstowe, you can hear his shouts of encouragement (literally!!) a mile off and they are very much needed!!
Coming into the finish, it was great to see my wife and three girls had come out to cheer me home – and I managed to cross the line and not pass out!! There was a HUGE queue for the massage tables, so I left it – I was booked in to see Sarah from Synergy Sports Massage the following day anyway, so I’d leave it for her to try and make me human again!!
And that was it, first triathlon done. My target time for the day had been 7 hours (broken down into 1 hour for the swim, 3 hours for the bike and 3 hours for the run). Which I’m please to say I achieved – with a total time of 6 hours 50 minutes….
Would I do it again? At the time, I wasn’t that fussed – I’d done it now, box ticked. But as time has gone on, I’m keen to know what I could do if I actually did some proper training. I’m sure there’s at least an hour, maybe an hour and a half that could come off that time – which would make it a LOT more respectable. Mostly from the bike and the run!!
So, that’s it. What have a learnt in the process???
- Do some training!!
- Practice transition, it really isn’t as easy as it looks!!
- Don’t under-estimate the power of support (if you’re supporting an event and have said the same thing 100 times, don’t worry those of us doing the event have only heard it once – and we appreciate it every time).
- Dare I say it, this triathlon lark is strangely addictive!!
Sorry for the long post, but it was a long day!!
Time now to decide what 2018 holds, maybe another crack at the 113, maybe something shorter (an Olympic distance event). Who know’s – but I’ve got to make plans soon, 2018 is less than 10 hours away!!!
So its been a while since my last update and a lot of things have happened since the last round in Hengrove. Work getting in the way mainly, illness and a new bike!
My first race back was Rd 8 of the Western League at Purdown, having not raced for a little while and I’d heard rumours about the course and its ‘hill’ I was a little apprehensive. The ‘hill’ didnt disappoint, also the fact it was about 300yds after the start was pretty emotional on the first lap! Legs fully loaded with lactic acid after about a minute of racing wasn’t ideal and as they say ‘what goes up, must come down’ which we certainly did further round the lap. A tight corner leading into a steep off camber grassy downhill section was the scene of many a crash. Fortunately for me they happened all around me but didnt affect me in any way. As the race progressed I got stronger and managed my self well around the lap. My result of 21st was a pleasant surprise but also a bit disappointing just being out of the top 20.
Due to work commitments I was unable to race in the next Western round, but was able to enter the Welsh League in Abergavenny. This coincided with the 2nd Rd of the HSBC National Series. The course was amazing, very professionally laid out and taped off and TV towers dotted around with full commentary. Some familiar faces from the Western League were amongst the starters, which gave me some targets to aim for. I really enjoyed this course which was fast and technical with only 1 large open field exposed to the wind. A result of 23 in a large and strong field with people from all over the country racing was very pleasing, especially beating some of the usual ‘league’ suspects by some margin on the day. The other benefit of living only 5 mins away from the venue was coming back to watch Tom Pidcock the reigning World U23 champion, school everyone the following day by riding away from the field and doing his now infamous victory wheelie across the line.
The next race was back in the Western League, Rd 10 at Lockleaze. Not my best! After a couple of reasonable results I was hoping to crack the ‘20’ barrier and get into the teens. How wrong I was, I went back wards from the start pretty much. I got away well and was about 12th going into the first corner, but as soon as we hit the open fields I had no power to keep with the group. The race turned into surviving not being lapped which I did by the skin of my lycra shorts! The last rider to make it over the line before the leaders finished! Very disappointing and a massive dose of reality that I’m not strong enough or fit enough to be competitive, finishing 26th!
So the next and final race of this blog update was back in the Welsh League, again due to work commitments. So up the heads of valleys road I went not sure what to expect. What I found was an absolute mud bath! Along with tight technical trails with steep climbs and fast rocky sections, with people suggesting in the paddock that you’d be better off on a MTB! Due to the parking being to far away for me to change the tires on my bike I had no other option but to ride on intermediate tires along with not being able to ride the course due to access it was a complete lottery how this was going to turn out! Well by far this has been my best race! Finishing 10th overall, which could of been 6th if it wasn’t for the dropped chain halfway round the last lap which allowed 4 riders past me, which I’d worked so hard to pass in previous laps. That said the course was definitely suited to me, with technical riding and risky descents, and no long fields requiring loads of power!
So I’m still learning in my first season, I’m also picking up a couple of injuries which are either from running into other bikes when dismounting or picking up aductor strains from swinging the leg over the bike during the race and probably not cooling down and stretching enough after the race! All things I can work on and improve over the winter and into the spring!
My next 2 races are going to be in the Welsh League again due to work commitments and the 2nd one will actually be the Welsh National CX Championships. So if you want to know more about my exploits in CX and fancy giving it a go then catch up with me on a Saturday club ride.
*Sorry no pictures as I cant work out how to upload them at the moment!!!*
I was able to get a warm up lap in before the start, there where a couple of parts that i was a little worried about and they where the double dips going into the wood and a small log towards the end of wooden section.
I was right at the back of a large group for the start, the group did seem to get strung out quite quickly and i found myself right at the back so when we made it round to the double dips we where at a complete stop but did manage to get going again, i did take it quite steady through the woods, still trying to find the legs if you like. I was now towards the real back of the race, i then manged to move a few p[laces up the field on the start finish start and back round. I had managed to move a couple of places back up the field. On the nest visit to double dips i did manage to ride through them which was good, i was now in a small group[ behind one ride who did over cook it on on the corners in front of me, i was unable to stop it time and might have ridden over his back wheel, at least it wasn’t him. Again i was able to catch another couple of riders and over take them on the start finish line, but i had now a very large gap between me and any one else to chase, 30 mins in the race the race leader came flying pass, which did give me a point to try and chase. The now to the finish was just me riding and getting slightly quicker times as well.
So for my first daylight cyclo cross race a position of 52nd and 62 i think not a bad result. After seeing how friendly it all was i might if i can get my kids to come along and i can get a few more races in as well.
Time for a mid season update on the Cross season. School report card, managed to improve handling, health a bit ropy, fitness pah, needs to focus more on cycling than the rest of life. It has been busy lately so sorry not much time for many things, work and non-cycling life just gets in the way.
Finished the Supermarine series, and was joined by Myles who added to challenge. Second last race I went off on a flying start and dived for what I thought was a great opportunity to get tangled in tape, lost lots of places. Managed to adjust bike position and get good tyre pressure so I had confidence to corner, great feeling when you can feel the grass rip but not loose grip. near end struggled with breathing due to cold and lost out to Myles as he blasted past using his strength. Last race change of tactic. Safe but slower start, picked up places, went past Myles as he slid wide, he powered passed me again, went past him as he slid wide, and once again he later powered past me. Tried lining him up for mid corner pass, thought better of it but next corner he went wide so dived through for him to give me a friendly nudge from the rear. Held on for photo finish with another cyclist. When Myles sorts out his cornering I am toast ?
Western League, three races. Stroud a race that felt like it was all uphill, cold was fully in chest so lungs not good. On last practice lap I tried to take a quicker line through some man made humps to take a flying crash to ground in front of crowd. That did me and the bike no good, and from that point on it kept on trying to drop the chain. My first ever experience of being gridded was good and someone kindly pointed out I had shipped my chain, before the start. It was a long ride uphill and the bit through the woods was interesting and dusty. In the end I did manage to ride all the course, even the tight uphill part. I did not like the boards being on a downhill and the chicane to slow us down just meant my line was never correct. 12th from memory.
Next race, Bristol Purdown. Two fields separated by a fairly big steep hill with a muddy climb. And just to make it harder they put boards at the bottom of the muddy ascent. Good start (being on the front row helps) and I spent most of the race keeping just ahead of the winner of the ladies race. A trick off camber descent was fun, the possibility of tumbling the whole way down was there and I did have a trip through the brambles one time on the way down. But that hill was a killer, it took me most of the lap to get my breath back. Phil was there going well and he shot past me as I wheezed around still suffering from that cold. 13th from memory.
Last race Bristol Lockleaze. At last my cold was gone and I enjoyed this course last time out. Second row at the start but I was swamped and on the first few corners got boxed in so fell down the field. A quick dive into a ramp then corner was not appreciated by one rider but there was space and a clear gap. From then on it got better, with a chance to grab spaces on the way. I was feeling good and passed the leader of the ladies race then the rear of the bike was all over the pace, the tyre almost flat. I limped to the pits to find the tyre was soggy so spotting a track pump I blew it up as hard as I could while a member of the public quizzed me on try pressures. I set off to at least get some exercise from the day. I felt terrible skipping and thumping over bumps but we were moving. I stopped next lap as I thought it was flat again, the opposite it was so hard it was thumping and skipping over bumps. Gethin kindly rushed over and offered to help but I decided to ride on. It survived all the way till I got home, next morning, flat again. I was not last but 28th of 38 felt like a waste. Oh and once again Phil lapped me.
I am going to have a gap from racing now, I have nearly doubled the points I have ever scored already, but lets be honest I am no race star and midfield on a good day. Also I miss things like club rides, at the weekend due, only time for one cycling thing at the weekend. Training has re-started with an FTP session. And some pictures.
Trying not to fall off at Stroud
The boards it felt elegant it looks Benny Hill
Getting up that hill
Walking up the hill, look I was ahead of Pete for a few nanoseconds