So I want to try road racing + build a bike specifically for this
Well, today had an end-of-term feel to it for me. With Thruxton wrapped up and no races for a few weeks, I hoped for a good showing today. It’s easy to blame bad legs but last nights pre-race spin up was horrendous! I hit all the goals but didn’t feel good. My only consolation was that at least that wasn’t my race warm up!
A fairly easy morning with just an hour at work was nice and I made sure I got there in plenty of time. I always worry about not being pre-entered but it was all good so no panic. Jesper, Callum, Nath and then Johnny all showed up and the weather was awesome.
Great to meet Mrs Nath to be too- she seemed to enjoy her first Hillingdon experience!
Warming up then, and I decided to ditch the Turbo in favour of the circuit. My intention was to follow the protocol of the past two races but I ended up riding with all the gang in turn and probably riding harder at times and easier at others but averaging a few more watts than I would have done.
Arriving at the start, Nath was anxious not to be on the front row for fear that a clear track would goad him into a Zwift like Watt-bomb from the get go! I stepped in for him and had no problem letting the fast guys to my left ride away from me.
I was actually really pleased with the first few laps. I was feeling good and following wheels in and amongst the top ten. Apparently, I did actually get in one move but it was purely by accident and done with virtually no extra effort by moving up when everyone was coasting and then following wheels.
It took another lap or two for a proper break to go though and by this time, the hill was taking its toll on me. Of course, the elevation is the same each way but clockwise, I can carry enough momentum into both the small rise between the Bus stops and Brians and up the hill after Brians that it doesn’t cost me anything. Today though, by the time I had drilled it to hold the bunch into the final corner, my HR was above Threshold every lap. It’s only a subtle difference but enough to pretty much relegate me to pack fodder today.
Slowly, it dawned on people to organise a chase and the ‘old flash guy’ as I call him, was doing a good job of organising folks including Jesper.
For a few laps, I could do nothing but cling to the back, recover down the start/finish and club house sections and then cling on again on the remainder of the course. The faces around me gradually changed until I found myself firmly in chopper-central at the back.
Eventually we caught the break and another one got away soon after. The chase wasn’t as fierce but it took a long time to catch them. In the meantime, and true to his word, Callum got away with another guy! Pre-race club house banter long forgotten, despite being desperate to either block the front for him, bridge across or get Nath and Jesper together to get across and help him out, I could do nothing! I was totally neutralised and mentally, it made me feel like rubbish.
He got caught eventually but Callum’s partner in crime was gone much earlier and Callum soloed for several laps! With 4 to go, it was touch and go but he blew up sadly.
It was an awe-inspiring effort and scares me witless for Big Events! I need to be firing on all cylinders to live with him, although I would happily concede first place to work together with him.
Anyway! In the meantime, Nath in his stealth kit was playing his cards close to his chest. I tried to goad him into going a little earlier once or twice but he held his nerve. I would imagine ironically, he asked me my advice with 3.5 to go and I told him to get forward with 4 to go (we were guessing) as it would go crazy with three to go. Sadly, that was now and with the words from the Comm about not contesting too much on the final lap fresh in everyone’s mind, they decided to go now instead.
As it was, this wasn’t really a barrier to Nath and he managed to get to the front by the last lap anyway. I’ll leave him to tell the story from there!
I was trying my best to move up but wary that I didn’t have a lot to play with each lap so would cleverly nick a few spots at a time in the corners and by not braking.
By the last lap though, I hadn’t really got very far and realised I had failed in my goal of being in a good final lap position. I had freshened up a lot though and fancied I would have a good sprint in me if I timed it right so kept pushing on.
The last lap was crazy though. 30.7mph and 420w average for me meant I got precisely nowhere and came into the start finish straight well out of position. I was so cross I even did a couple of post-race sprints for training but bloody forgot to record the good one.
SO! Everyone stayed upright which is good but sadly Johnny retired a little early. He saved a crazy front wheel wobble caused when the guy in front swerved and braked. Johnny had his front wheel in clean air but by braking, the guy made it unavoidable for Johnny and he did so well to hold it and TT’d until 3 to go.
Callum finished at the rear of the bunch after his epic break attempt- very jealous rider here though, that was exactly how I’d I’ve loved to have ridden my race.
Jesper died an early death as is often the case, although he was trying to help Nath (I think!!!!).
And I finished around 22nd as usual.
Enjoyable but a little frustrating and a good kick up the backside for the next 8/9 weeks.Posted 5 months ago
Nothing really to add to that CH.
I went off the front with another guy about 20 mins in, just for fun but we both knew it was hopeless as everyone was still really fresh and soon got caught.
Spent a lot of the time towards the back but did a couple of mini attacks to get from the back to the front and off just to see if I could really – I could which was nice!
3.5 to go chatting to CH he said to move up, so by 1.25 laps to go I was at the front… I mean right at the front. The line approached and I stuck my head down and went for it. Jesper followed and I thought he wanted to work with me, however as soon as he got out of my draft and infront of me he died.. unfortunately I was wedged in and counter attacks lauched. I managed to round Jesper and was in an okay position on the final corner. Unfortunately there was no clear gap anywhere in front so I sat behind as close as I could to the guy in front in the hope I may sneak a point in. I don’t think I did though.
Was really good fun – may have even got a decent position had I known Jesper was about to die haha.Posted 5 months ago
Cracking set of pics from Hughesartandphotos.
Every key storyline of the race is there.Posted 5 months ago
Here’s the write up, but https://www.strava.com/activities/1155928236 tells the story.
It’s a race at the front and sportive at the back. Over 300 riders in my age group and about half looked like Brits. Peloton sets off from Albi with motos, lead car and comm. Crash at 2km into street furniture. Crash at 8km sees four in a ditch. Out into the countryside and I’ve made it through the pack to top third. Family cheering at 35km before the first climb (road to our villa). First climb sheds about half the bunch and the climbers and contenders are gone. Big chase by the rouleurs and I coach a group of 20 or so in through-and-off; its hard to convince riders on the inside to ride slower so that the group go faster, but a few good aussie club riders know what they are doing and we make up speed. We rejoin the lead group and the bunch relax. Crash at 48 km brings down 10 riders due to a touch of wheels as the road narrows.
Second climb and I set tempo 178bpm. Clearly I’m second group calibre, not the pointy end but will not be making the Leith Hill mistake of blowing up! I lead this pack up the long climb. Hotting up now over 30c already. Some great descending small climbs and then back to base level.
Still solidly second pack and ready for the big climb. More tempo action and settling to a good rhythm. Baking sunshine, down to last quarter litre of NUUN. As I summit at the water stop, family cheer and son1 calls out they’ve run out of water bottles!!! Hands me his half bottle of juice, so I think I have enough to finish the last 60km. 38C now. One gentle climb to go.
But… then we enter the endless rollers. About 40km with 750m, climbing. Really baking now, windy, no shade, relentless. Fall off the second group with quite a few others. Three of us ride bit-and-bit, but it is hard, and I’ve drunk my last drink with over 20km to go. Finally, finally we descend to the Tarn and a flat ride into Albi along the TT route (38-40c for tha race on Thurs). Caught by a few more of the second group stragglers and and finish strongly.
Hardest day on a bike (including the National 12hr TT). Mid-third overall, but top 15% of Brits. We really suffered in the heat and the results bear this out. Average HR was 164 bpm for 4.5 hrs. Yes that’s an AVERAGE. As for food, plenty of gels and bloks, two banana bread bars and and banana saw me fine. Water wise I took the gamble that drinking 750 ml before the race, two 1L bidons of NUUN with one collected on the road would be ok. The weight penalty of 1kg of water was offset by my Jet 6/9 deep section aero wheels. In truth I needed another bottle and suffered for 40 km which cost me a top quartile position. Took a long time to cool down. The pool party to celebrate my birthday afterwards with the club was great!
Definitely a race. Not sure I’ll do it again, but I seem to go well in the heat provided I drink enough!Posted 5 months ago
10/62 in the end after a loooong week waiting 😀 Poor Jesper finished 61st 😆
Only one left to tick off too!!
1. Buy a race license and enter a racePosted 5 months ago
2. Not get dropped
3. Finish mid pack
4. Finish top third
5. Work on the front
6. Contest the sprint
7. Bridge to a break
9. Contest the points
Thanks TiRed- and for all your help and encouragement. I think a Cat 4 win is my only hope of ever experiencing one….. in pretty much any dicipline of cycling 😆
As I say, the points are just a carrot to make sense of the madness but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the process so far.Posted 5 months ago
Perhaps if I stop enjoying it so much and start going a bit deeper into the red, I may achieve a bit more 😆mattsMember
Congrats on all the results recently chaps. I’ve been off in the Lakes and Yorkshire Dales hurting myself on some silly steep roads (set a big new 10 minute power PB doing Hardknott!). Can’t believe Brexshit got the front pages again instead of CH Gets First Point – shocking.Posted 5 months ago
So a brief report. Operation 2nd Cat means I need another 13 points to reach 40. Sadly races are getting thinner on the ground and my sprint is as absent as ever.
A change of plans meant I had Saturday free instead of Sunday, so noticed the Welsh National Circuit Race Championships. Now I love Wales, but dont qualify for the jersey contest, but it is an open event, with a vets race too. So a long drive to Builth Wells and treated to some gritty racing at the showground.
I sign on for the 3/4 race first, and straight away the wind cuts the bunch to shreds. The flat course features SIX 90 degree corners, so Hillingdon this is not. I’m in the second group 6,7,8) and we chase hard for about thirty minutes, those behind never get close as we work well, despite me saving myself. Corners felt smooth and of course come the inevitable sprint, I’m third of three and eighth overall. 29 points.
Immediately join the vets race. Big field and some big riders. I know there will be a break, I’ve practiced the corners 25 times, but wow the pace of the first laps. And the cornering is terrible. Break. Sprint. Break. Sprint. This is a race for riders with bigger power numbers than me! And those who rode a shorter warm up! Fall off the back of the bunch, fight to get back on, then the pack shreds. We are second or third group, working well together. Cornering improves. Less sprinting. Rain falls hard, so I’m cautious having seen two juniors overcook a wet final corner and go down earlier in the day.
Two laps to go, we are caught by the lead two, bell lap, but I didn’t hear the bell as I was on the front. So come the sprint, I rolled in thinking one more lap to go. Nil points, but good fun and tougher than I expected.
The drive back through Wales was lovely, and the M4 uneventful. A long way to go for a race, no mtb or track bike (my usual Wales rides). But a good day out in a lovely part of the World. I just hate crits! A few more races lined up, one more masters race and a few 3/4’s (including my favourite Cyclopark), but I need a sprint rather than endurance. Still that’s racing. I always saw myself as the domestique rather than the stage winner.Posted 5 months ago
Found a few more races – A series down in Portsmouth (not a great circuit that one) and one at Winchester. And of course the Abingdon series gets underway. I quite fancy Dalton Barracks instead of Hillingdon, as I lived near Abingdon for 15 years – bit it’s also a power circuit rather than a bike handling skills race.
We shall see…Posted 5 months ago
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