So I want to try road racing + build a bike specifically for this
I thought someone was shouting at me for cutting them up or something, as I was launching the attack. Turns out it was people shouting that Jonny and I were attacking on the right 😆
It was a perfectly timed attack, but too early in the race unfortunately as some guys went with us but didn’t do any work and Jonny was shouting at me to wait until later.
But re the puncture, blessing in disguise perhaps as that crash could have brought me down? Who knows…
I would have been more annoyed if I had a gap and it happened. Coms said I could have a wheel and rejoin but not contest, so I kind of didn’t see the point of faffing with it.
Good day out though 😆 Just need to shift these sniffles and I can do something a bit more next time.Posted 6 months ago
I think my body language looks as bad as I felt! And those gaps!!!
I think it kind of proved a point to anyone wondering about power/results etc though Nath. You were there with what many would deem Cat1/2 power yet your options were reduced to the same as everyone else- late race break away or brave the last lap carnage.
I’m so gutted for you with your puncture as I think you could have gone with those two guys with 3 to go had you still been in.Posted 6 months ago
Yeah but I was racing with a cold, so never going to be an amazing result. I seem to have made it worse by racing yesterday!!
Gaps were there as everyone kept braking so kept rolling into the back…
(Hence why my mouth is open on the pics – I couldn’t breathe through my nose 😆 )Posted 6 months ago
Back to Thruxton this evening for the penultimate round. I’ve decided I’m going to finish the series and the two remaining West Thames Saturday races and then stop looking for more races until the Big Events one in October. That gives me a couple of months to get some training in as I’m finding it harder and harder to fit much other than racing in.
Thinking about the last lap crash on Saturday, just prior to it, Johnny was right at the back of the bunch and Pete was right at the front and yet both had their races ruined. That clears my mind to know that I don’t want anything to do with that last lap bunch. I’m going to go early and practice the type of finish I want to employ in October even though it will be futile against the 3rd cats.
That’s assuming my getting dropped was a blip of course 😆
I had a splitting head ache and nausia on Saturday but it hasn’t really come to anything so not sure what it was. I had to work Saturday evening and a few hours on Sunday but I still craved riding my bike. A couple of short stints in sweet spot practicing being a bit more aero saw me break a PB on the way out and back- tons more work to do there though.
Jesper is racing tonight and the pressure is getting to me already! Sadly, I can’t compete with his sheer arrogance- he’s convinced he’s got Thruxton weighed up for a win already. Assuming he can count to ten this week of course 😆Posted 6 months ago
I was imagining the finale in my head earlier and no joke- it made my HR go up 20bpm!!! That has to count as ‘over-arousal’ so I will go careful with the sugar today I think 😆
Well! If there was nothing to write about Saturday, there is almost too much this evening!
Firstly, I’ll congratulate Jesper on his 3rd place. He did exactly what he set out to do, followed the perfect wheel into the final hill and sprinted for the line. Am I jealous? Yes of course! I had set out to do the exact same thing and totally messed it up. But actually, I was really impressed with him so great job mate!
Prep was pretty standard, nothing new or exciting. The plan was to be ultra-disciplined, no solo fliers, no breaks and no wattage bazooka’s up the hill. Just sit in, coast and be merry.
Lap one and fair play to the organisers, they took on board what a cock up last week was with the 2/3 race and started us quicker- just 20 seconds apart.
What we didn’t expect was a solo (Cat2?) rider to overtake us on lap two! He was shifting and I would imagine he lapped his bunch.
There were 45 starters this evening and the riding was some of the worst I’ve seen for a long time. There were many riders to be avoided at all costs. MrB’s description of a kid’s football match with everyone chasing the ball was more apt than ever as everyone flew into disappearing gaps and then braked. The wind and the sun didn’t help and we hit the headwind right as we also had the sun hard in our eyes and people seemed not to notice the edge of the circuit.
Survival mode kicked in and I started telling people to keep their eyes up and concentrate and not brake etc. It made no difference but seemed to help me feel in control a little more.
A couple of laps later, a few attacks had been tried and I’d stuck to my plan and just glass-pedalled the bunch, drifting way back when they surged and making up places whenever there was little or no cost. The speed was crazy low at times into the wind but actually ended up very close to the usual Thruxton spec of 25mph with a 27mph final lap.
Then, as we came down the hill to the off-camber apex where everyone brakes, swerves and generally makes life difficult, there was a crash mid bunch! I don’t know what happened or how many were caught up but it looked bad at quite high speed.
This shook me up to be honest, mainly because I had been on that line every lap until this one. It was only a fluke I had chosen that lap to take a different line to try and avoid the stupidity. On the plus side, it meant I had stayed safe. However, it gave credence to the little voice of reason in my head that’s always there reminding me about the ten dogs, 14,000 pheasants and 1500 partridges in my sole care at this time of year! Especially as the wife is away too.
Anyway, shaking myself out of it, I pressed on and stuck to the plan. With around 4 to go I guess, as we crested the start finish line, a break of three went up the road. I was moving forward at the time up the opposite side of the bunch to them and also had momentum and the top chicane as a natural advantage if I wanted it. NO! Stick to the plan!
Well, that was another nail in my confidence coffin! The break was only caught at the finish line, and then it was only one of them. The break never stays away………. Doh!
Next lap, and as we just about squeezed through the chicane, my spidey sense kicked in as it was proper sketchy and I took to the wind and moved hard left and decided to move up. Just at this moment, a few guys up ahead decided to pile drive each other into the pit wall!! Once again, the little voice in my head had been proven correct and once again I was split between fear and relief.
The one funny moment was with two to go. I suddenly realised I had messed up auto-lap by overriding it one time when it missed the start line. So of course, I now had 14 or 15 mini laps and I didn’t know what one we were on.
The marshals had been rushing to the crash so perhaps they had forgotten to ring the bell! I was going to do a Jesper!!! Luckily, it was the penultimate lap not the last and whilst the pace surged a little, it wasn’t enough to dent the break and I was getting wafted along nicely. As we crossed the line to the bell, I moved up again. Just off of Jesper’s wheel, I added to my catalogue of errors by deciding not to just jump on it and stay there.
All I could think of was the two crashes, the 40 fresh riders just behind me and the other Thruxton truism that 1-10 and 10-20 always seem to switch before the line.
What I didn’t know was that a couple of big strong guys who had actually done a bit of work in the race had decided to drill the flat/downhill into the hill and Jesper had overheard them planning it!! So he was welded on their wheel.
Anyway, as we went down-hill I bided my time and tried not to take too much wind. People came past in droves but it was too soon. As we got to the hill, I went to go, then got blocked, then went again, then took a bit of wind and then just rode straight past people. It was like some video game as I just moved left and right as I reached them. At the chicane, a lovely gap opened and I cruised through on a good line. I carried on powering up through the field but my heart sunk as I realised the front weren’t coming back, they were well away. The old swicheroo hadn’t happened! I half-heartedly carried on but knew I had blown it yet again.
The most annoying thing for my confidence I think is that by doing everything right tonight (220w average!) I ended up doing everything wrong.
I must tally up but that’s a stupid number of crashes I’ve witnessed this year and I thank my lucky stars I’ve only been off once. It does make me question my commitment to a sprint though- yes, it’s about the only strength I have right now, but if I’m too scared to position myself to use it then it’s pointless. Yet again, my wattage in the finale was puny- I had no incentive to go full gas as I was way out of position.
So I think, I just need to carry on with what I’m usually doing when I mess around but train towards a tactic I’m more inclined to utilise fully- late race breakaway’s or just break’s in general. After all, they are what excite me most about racing.
I’m very frustrated with myself right now- there was no reason not to follow the front 5-7 wheels on that final lap, I was fresh as a daisy but I talked myself out of it. Must try harder!Posted 6 months ago
Firstly nice write up CH!
Secondly I think you’re being too hard on yourself! You’ve only just switched to these tactics and it’ll take a few races to get all the pieces together – relax and enjoy the ride!! It’s not luck that got you out of those crashes its skill and experience.
Luck would be getting a puncture right before a major crash 😆Posted 6 months ago
Well despite the weather this afternoon, it actually looks quite good for tomorrow at Hillingdon if windy!
It probably seems ludicrous to be thinking about tactics after getting dropped last time but obviously that takes care of my first goal! After that, if I last until half distance then I want to get in a break and if I make it to the finish in contention then avoiding the last lap crash is my only concern. I’d like to try a move with two or three to go, not because I’m suddenly fit enough to pull it off now (I wasn’t the other Tuesday in the shorter race!) but as practice for the October race I’m targeting.
My attention for the intervening 8 weeks is going to be focussed on those 2-3 lap (5-10 min depending on circuit) duration efforts as it’s definitely a weakness. My FTP is adequate, my 1-60sec power is more than adequate, it’s just those slightly longer than Anaerobic spells that I simply need to ride faster! Changing my position has helped so much and I’m making sure to practice intervals in a better outline.
With only one round of Thruxton and Big Events on my radar, the pressure is mounting a little now to score a point before the year is out! It would certainly be bucking the trend to do it at the West Thames races as last week, only one of the top ten was a Cat 4 I think.Posted 6 months ago
Well that’s better! After the disappointment of getting dropped on Saturday and then the annoyance at messing up the final lap on Tuesday, I decided it was time to seize back control and stop being a victim.
I needed to treat the race a bit more seriously. After all, throwing punches with some potentially good (albeit point-hunting) 3’s SHOULD be stretching me to my limit- especially as it’s kicking on for ten miles further than Thruxton and at a higher pace.
So, I made sure I had decent (well as can be expected) sleep and that I didn’t cram any extra work in beforehand. Then I made the decision to take the Turbo and do my warm up on there. I can’t say for certain it helped but my first lap was above threshold and didn’t leave me hanging so perhaps it did. I paired to Zwift on my mobile and did their pre-race warmup workout, or at least twenty odd minutes of it.
The organisers had made us read a sheet at sign on basically saying “stop being dicks!” and had included a caveat about sprinting that people not in contention- shouldn’t!
Sadly, this didn’t do me any favours on the last lap but that’s my own fault- I was out of position as usual.
Goals as mentioned, were:
a) Not get dropped. I kind of had in mind that if I made it to 30 mins then I knew it was just a blip last week.
b) If I was still there at 30 mins, to move forward and attempt to go in the next break.
c) If that didn’t stay away, to recover ASAP with a view to the finale.
d) Try and go prior to the last lap carnage.
Working through them then and not getting dropped was relatively simple. I’m pretty sure if the bunch had drilled it after my attempt at a break then I may have struggled but fortunately, they never.
Getting in the break took a few goes. I kept moving forward expectantly and either the whole bunch would surge into one long line or it would be so full of riders spread across the road that moving up was impossible. Around 42mins or so, I made it. Moving up down the Start/Finish straight, I spotted a London Dynamo guy going, so joined his wheel.
Getting a gap, Johnny joined us and started pulling hard. Sadly, he did a bit of an ego-pull rather than a handy one for establishing a rhythm. As a result, by the time it was London D’s go on the front, we had been out for nearly a lap and the doubt was creeping in. He wasn’t overly committed either. Patiently awaiting my turn, I perhaps should have gone past him to keep the pace high but I was having doubts too. When we reached the start/finish line, we had caught a guy who was out in front solo and the four of us were countered hard with another attack.
I still had some juice, so went with that move too. Johnny followed across as well but he didn’t have the legs this time. There must have been 8 of us by the time we had passed the club house but disarray set in and we were caught half a lap later.
We had a bit of time to go so I drifted to the back to recover and now that the stragglers had been dropped, the back was a much cleaner place to be and I was able to drift from side to side, taking the shortest line and generally getting the HR down.
Nothing else really happened from here on and everyone seemed resigned to the sprint. With five to go, everyone surged and then slowed and this happened a little bit each lap. I just stayed calm and waited. There were lots of fresh people in the bunch so the last lap was inevitably going to be crowded.
Having had a few laps to watch, the main culprits for the dodgy riding are obvious- the young Thames Velo lads and a couple of other younger riders were the root cause of nearly every incident I saw. One or two didn’t have many watts to play with and hanging with the bunch required some full-on sprints to regain a wheel- often resulting in them nearly colliding with the rider behind or to one side. They also weren’t great at hazard perception and would bundle into disappearing gaps with youthful ignorance. I tried to speak to them and get them calling their lines and to be fair, the young black kid started doing just that.
Two to go then and Johnny tried a long flier Jesper style. Inevitably, the result was the same too- a total death on the final lap. I kicked myself for still being at the back, I would have loved to have followed his wheel and then attacked over the top. As it was, my final lap was close to 30mph so I wouldn’t have stayed away anyway!
I began moving forward anywhere I had an advantage but sadly, I got pushed out by towards the kerb with nowhere to go as we started the bell lap and I lost all the ground I had made up.
A nice 1200w punt up the hill helped me make up places and I drifted to the outside for the penultimate bend. I was a long way back but was on tick-over waiting to launch. Sadly, this is where my poor positioning caught up with me once more but was also compounded by the memo about not contesting the sprint. Moving forward at speed into the home straight, random people that were cooked or just giving up, started sitting up- way more than usual.
What should have been a draft-fuelled charge to the line for me was instead a game of dodgems. I was fresh and convinced I could have made 10th still so don’t feel irresponsible or inappropriate for wanting to carry on sprinting but it was now 10x harder and more dangerous.
So I crossed the line generally pleased but also frustrated and in about 20th.Posted 6 months ago
So close CH!!!Posted 6 months ago
Now just the agonising 3 day wait for results!
Rant for the night….shouting line at me should mean I’m cutting you up….not I’m next to you trying to force through or doing something stupid….amiright?
Some people seemes to think the latter tonight.
Hopefully that makes sense…!!
If you’ve read any of these before, you’ll know over-thinking is my forte! But this week was worse than ever. Jesper’s third place last week stung hard because I know deep down I had the legs to match him.
Saturday’s race was a step in the right direction. I worked bloody hard (suffer score nearly double that of Thruxton) and gave myself a confidence boost if nothing else. My legs were really feeling it afterwards so I hoped it would boost the fitness a little.
Sunday, I felt desperate for a recovery ride but it wasn’t to be as the wife had me building her sheep fence but I guess it was active recovery of sorts!
Monday then, and a gentle spin would surely help. Once more fate intervened and my buggy broke down at the far end of the estate. Normally, I would get a lift back but sheer coincidence meant thirty phone calls later and nobody was available. So I walked 5 miles down the lanes in floppy wellies and gave myself a blister!
Ah well, real life comes first I suppose!
Buggy fixed, I managed a quick spin on the MTB today to get my tractor back where it should be and it was depressingly hard work! My legs felt totally blocked.
With the excuses mounting sky high already, I took the decision once more to take control. If I can’t change it, deal with it right?
The Turbo was still packed in the car so I decided to do a good thirty minutes at Thruxton.
Nothing fancy, just Z1, Z3, Z4 and Z1.
Jesper arrived and took the Micky as I was riding on Zwift to make sure my miles didn’t get missed! As an employee, I thought he’d be impressed but he was laughing!
He had a partner in crime who he had met on the train, a lad called Callum from Reading. He was at Hillingdon the other day when Nath had his puncture and I got dropped and ended up in the last lap crash! So out of Johnny, Nath, Pete, Callum and myself, not one of us finished that race!
Anwyay! To the race! Jesper and I had a plan. He kindly said he would lead me out to the hill. In return, I would tow him to the other side of the chicane and then it would be Mano v Mano. (Well boyo!) Prior to that, we would aim to cover the front 1/3 of the race.
Great to see Leigh too, the more friendly faces the better!
With my new found attitude and sweat still dripping from my warmup, I lined up front row centre with Leigh alongside. I didn’t count this evening, but it was a larger field than lately, jam packed with point hunters! Certainly 50 I think?
We were off and my goal was simple. Keep following wheels! A Banjo Cycles rider sat off the front for the whole of the first lap. More fun than warming up in the car park I guess.
Lap 2 I think and the pace picked up. A small break got a bit of a gap and our very own Leigh went ripping across! Nice! As we all joined the train, I shouted down the line ‘Go on Leigh! Give it some beans!!’ Poor Callum was just in front of me and thought I was shouting at him.
Things are a bit hazy for the middle of the race, but basically, early on, Jesper and I were either right next to each other or close by. Then the pace picked up for a bit and obviously the speeds aren’t the same but it reminded me more of a Cat 3 or 2/3 race. Just constant attacks and counters. Everyone thought the break could stick after last weeks effort. But where as normally it’s like one or two guys trying to bridge, every effort tonight would see five or ten guys really opening up. It was a strong bunch! (Yeah alright, you know where this is going!)
I was working harder than I perhaps should have but I was on such a high. This was epic! Exactly why I love racing. Little blips of a few hundred Watts would latch me on to the next wheel and I just went from move to move as efficiently as possible.
I didn’t know it, but suspected Jesper was close on my wheel and he was! He said afterwards he was just like ‘Go Shutler!’ and letting me close the gaps to keep us in the top ten.
After a while, the pace eased a little and Jesper came through. Instead of drifting back and recovering, I decided that even though there was plenty of laps to go, I’d latch on to Jesper now whilst I had the chance.
The 2/3’s hadn’t been past yet which was worrying and they didn’t until three to go. Then as they came past they stalled again. Our positioning was spot on though and by being in the front ten, it never affected us too much. The bunch behind got strung out a little as the motorcycle comm squashed our race hard left.
Two to go then and the pace lifted as it does most races. It was still touch and go whether we would clear the 2/3’s by the finish line but the moto gave them a rollicking to get on with it!
I felt like I was going too hard but last week was evidence that positioning is everything! No way was I finishing fresh this evening.
Last lap then and things were hotting up. Holding my nerve, utilising my strong cornering at the top chicane and shouting a bit, I was still clinging on to Jesper’s wheel.
I could feel the tension building up. This was it! Our plan was coming off! Welded together, in the top ten and all to play for.
Then….. And bless Jesper’s heart as it’s the kindest thing anyone’s done for ages, he threw away his chance of Cat3 for me and absolutely drilled it down the hill to the base of the final ‘climb’. I owe him a serious beer for that- it was properly selfless.
I knew I’d gone harder than I’d have liked but what could I do? The lad was killing himself for me. Right then. Second wheel, just a one minute effort to go- let’s do this shit!
A shout from Jesper “Shutler! Go!” And I was off! I perhaps should have found a wheel before accelerating but it was hard not to take the momentum on offer. Despite the tailwind helping, it was still a strong effort up the Thruxton drag segment- 124rpm, 593w and 28mph. I desperately sought a wheel but we were all kind of spread out.
I tipped into the chicane about 3rd or 4th wheel and found myself completely alone with no one close enough to follow. Nothing to do but keep the power down and my sprint was a little lacklustre. Hardly surprising as I started at what in many races is Max HR.
I went hard sat down, then stood up and found no kick whatsoever so sat down once more and drove to the line. I saw last weeks winner and a growing swarm of people not just staying away but pulling out a gap on me- I was just too far back to get much draft. One last push to the line and at least one guy came out of of my slipstream and pipped me on my right. A quick tally up of people and the suspense is killing me. 11th. E-leventh. E-chuffing-leventh!!!
Gutted yes, but what a race. That was truly exhilarating from start to finish.Posted 6 months ago
Yeah I know what you mean, I was just fortunate enough this week to miss much of that.
It still baffles me how people make such a meal of Thruxton too! There is literally enough room to ride the whole circuit 5-8 abreast yet still they seem to want to invade your personal space and ride you off the track!
Graham Robins has some photos on his website but they are £1.75 and not mega quality. (I think you may be able to pay more for better ones).
Posted 6 months ago
Nice write up CH!
I’ve been sending him links to carbon wheel bargains 😆
As for me I’m STILL recovering, I did a quick test earlier on my commute home and I can’t really sustain any sort of effort – before my nose starts burning or I start coughing. I feel like I’ve lost so much fitness! Plan is just Z1/2 work until the race on Saturday – I’m expecting nothing from it!Posted 6 months ago
Such a shame it’s happened like this for you. It may not feel like it but you still have ample power to win this thing so don’t panic too much.
I’m back to reality for Saturday and just hope to not get dropped 😆Posted 6 months ago
Jesper and Callum are up for some action so we may try a break at some point and no doubt Johnny will get involved.
All depending on who shows up and what they do, my strategy in order is to hang in the bunch for 30mins, then have a play with the lads, then I’m going to forget about the sprint and focus on positioning. If I come into the final lap in tenth and fade anyway then that’s got to be progress over being fresh but stuck at the back of the bunch.
Tomorrow’s probably my last real race of the year due to circumstances changing dramatically (will explain more later).
So CH has just asked me how I’m feeling about it, and to be honest I’ve not really given it any thought this week other than I need a new rear tyre 😆
I’m driving there to hopefully avoid a repeat of last time and I think the missus is coming to watch too. I’m looking forward to it but I’m not expecting a good finishing position. We shall see.
As my new tyre hasn’t shown up looks like I’ll be racing on GP 4 seasons 😆Posted 5 months ago
Well, I’d love to be wrong but it’s on BC as 3/4 and some Cat 3’s have entered. 🙁
I would be up for the winter one though as I’ll know how my season is panning out at work by then.
With hindsight I grew to really enjoy Thruxton, despite not getting the hang of it, so I may do the whole series next year regardless.Posted 5 months ago
This guy got first and second from the last race:Posted 5 months ago
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