The Final Icebreaker

Another early start beckoned, as for Laura’s racing in the morning we had to be at Newport for 7:30am! This time though I was a lot less nervy, although I thought that yesterday’s efforts may have taken it out of me. Once unloaded it was a quick walk to Aldi to pick up some bananas that we had left at home, before returning to the track.

Once back I went and set up camp, and as soon as I started to get nervy I listened to my music loudly, which helped this as it blocked out the track atmosphere.
Once changed I prepared to go, and kept the music whilst warming up, and this blocked out my nerves. I got warmed up, and was well prepared for the first scratch qualification, with a plan in mind.

During the scratch I felt good, and was able to react to speed changes well. Towards the half way mark I began to move up, and I ended up on the front with 3 to go, so I moved up and back down shortly after, so that I wasn’t leading it out. This meant that I could stay sheltered and near the front, so I would qualify for the final, something I hadn’t done before.

In the final I used the same plan, although at the end I was high up the track following Charley Culvert, as I knew that it was better to be high on the wheel of one of the quick sprinters. This worked, and I was pulled down towards the front when it kicked off, and then I was all out to maintain and improve the position. I started to fade a little with half a lap to go as it was a very long sprint, and I had to dig deep to keep going. I was pleased with my scratch, as I had done well in it and I was still, despite yesterday, feeling good.

During the time between the next race, I spent time on rollers and also rehydrating. I thought about the next race, and knew what I needed to do. I had a gel to boost energy levels.

After the roll out at the start of the points race I sat in for the first sprint and let people fight over the first set of points. After that had passed I came to the front end, and when an attack rolled off of the front without a chase, I decided to get across and go, as I thought that this move would stay away. When I jumped out of the group I was followed by a couple of riders, and we were able to work together to chase down the lone rider. I could see we were going at a quicker speed, so I gave the call to go straight over the top. This happened, although the lone rider was able to join us. Once I saw we had a good gap I started thinking about the sprint, as I knew I just needed to beat one rider. On the sprint lap I was third wheel, and in the final banking I came over the top and picked up 3 points after just getting rolled on the line, but I had enough points to qualify. After this I immediately sat up, dropped to the pack and rolled around in it for the rest of the race knowing I had guaranteed qualification for the final.

Due to the last half of the race, and then cool down, food, drink and a warm up I was still in a good place going into the elimination.

I ended up at the back at the start of it, but remembering last time I made sure as soon as the opportunity arose to move forwards, and I moved into the front 6 riders, where I found a wheel and came out to defend my position in the sprints. However I was out when I was boxed in by a rider above me, so darted down the track, hoping that they wouldn’t have the legs to go over the top, as it was all I could do in the finish straight. The rider had the legs though, however I was pleased with the efforts I had made and I came 8th in the elimination, which is quickly becoming one of my favourite events.

Once off the track I cooled down and took a gel and fluids in prep for the next race, so that I’d get the energy hit during the points final.
The points was quick and my previous efforts caught up with me, so I hung in and then went for it, emptying myself in the final sprint, but I couldn’t score points. I tried to go off the front but it wasn’t happening, I was just too tired.

At the end of the racing I was absolutely drained, and had nothing more to give. I was pleased with my efforts and that I gave it my all in all races. I came 10th overall on the day, which I was even more pleased with as it was the first time that I had done that well in a national track field. It was also pleasing after the hard race that was the Easter Classic on the previous day.

Castle Combe Easter Classic

So this was it. The race that always seems to signal the start of the race season, Easter Classic time! The race has memories for me. Two years ago it was a broken collarbone in the first lap, and one year ago it was the number thirteen for me and it proved lucky as I managed to avoid a crash in the final half lap, although it meant I couldn’t contest the final sprint. This year I was looking to have a very positive race, and show what I could do in what was essentially a national quality field of riders.

The morning started with gear check, sign on and number collecting, not thirteen this time, before I headed away from Castle Combe on a short road ride as part of a warm up and nerve remover. Once back I got into my race kit, before speaking with my coach about the race. Once through the plan, I got onto the rollers with my team mates to finish the warm up process, all the while drinking lots and visiting the little boys room a few times!

I made sure I was at the start line ahead of time, to guarantee a place on the front row, a crucial step for doing well in the race. Once on the line it was the normal brief from the commissaries before we got going.

I got a good start, and I was aware that Zach would attack immediately, so embedded myself at the front end of the pack. I kept this position in the pack during the first lap, and when there was an attack and I was near it. When this attack was brought back I countered it, as I was near the front and felt good.

Once a gap opened I got into TT mode, and was able to extend the gap. A few riders came across to me, not the ones I would have preferred but still better than nothing. Annoyingly after about 100m of work they sat up, however I still had a gap, so I then kicked again and got rid of them. Where the guys had come across, the pack had sped up, so after the chicane I sat up as they were close. I got back in the pack, and was straight into the front, and covered another attack at the front of affairs.

After this I tried to sit near the front, aware whilst trying to recover as much as possible, as the attack had been a good effort. When I was sat in I was able to recover a bit, and the laps went by quickly.

In the final lap I was near the front end going through the bell, although I then lost this position, dropping back. I then found George Bazley, my team mate, who was moving up, but I wanted to move up a little quicker, so out of the top chicane I had to work to get to the front, exposing myself to the wind coming to the finish, but making ground up. I was in a better place, but not close to the front enough, and in the final sprint my legs went, so I fought to the line, but I couldn’t put in a good sprint.

I was pleased with my race, and my aggression and attacks during the race. I was near the front often, and even with an attack was still able to remain there and make a sprint attempt at the end. I enjoyed the race, and it felt good to be going that quickly around a circuit that I had spent so much time over the winter training on, which no doubt helped in the efforts today.

After a cool down, a chat with the Southern Road Team Coaches and with Peter from EPIC, I stayed to watch some of the racing in the sunny weather, before heading home to prepare for the final track Icebreaker at Newport the following day.

Zappi’s Circuit Race

Following the ride in the TT on Saturday, I was off early on Sunday to a race up in Oxfordshire as part of the Zappi’s series that was running. I knew the field and what to expect from the race, so I was confident that despite the TT in the legs from yesterday, I would be able to do relatively well and come away with a decent result.

After arrival, I signed on, and got myself changed into kit, before pinning on numbers and warming up for an extended period of time. This allowed me to go into it feeling as good as was possible.

I got away well, and was near the front of affairs, so when the first serious attack came, I didn’t have to pick myself through a massive pack to bridge across to it if so necessary.

Initially I didn’t react to it, but as a couple of good riders bridged across, I started to get across to it. Nathan also realised it was time to go, so we bridged the gap. When I got there I was feeling a little worse for wear, so I sat on the back of the group for a few laps to try and recoup some energy, but glad that I had made it to the pack. Once I had recovered a little I took turns, and tried to stay covered from the wind.

There were several attacks during the course of it from the group, and quite often I would drop off the back a bit, but I was always able to get back on terms within a short space of time.

With 5 laps to go I was starting to fade, and coming into the final laps I was running on next to nothing.
I had a quick chat with my team mate Charlie who was also in the break, and he was feeling better than me, so I told him if it was together in the final lap, then I’d lead him out, as I wasn’t feeling great.
In the final lap, as agreed I picked it up on the back straight, with Charlie on my wheel, and span it up out of the bottom corner, heading up to the finish I maintained it, and when Charlie came out round I died totally, and there was nothing left to give in the rest of the sprint. Other riders in the group came past, but I still finished 6th.

At the end I was totally empty, but I was pleased that I had made the break and then been able to help out my team mate to achieve the best outcome.

A good weekend of racing, and one that gave me confidence ahead of the further early season road events, both TT and crits.

Bristol University 10 Mile TT

On Saturday 12th March, both me and Dad rode another individual time trial at the Bristol University Cycling Club Open 10 mile TT.
Once at the event, it was a case of signing at race HQ, and then heading out on the roads to warm up, before getting back to the start line and sorting myself out for the effort. I was well hydrated, warmed up and felt good at the start.
I set off well, and got up to speed quickly, and with that my heart rate got to the correct level. I was able to crack along at a good speed, and at a steady cadence. I rode to a higher heart rate than previously, and going up the climbs, I didn’t control it as much, so it rose and then dropped a bit on the descents. Heading to the roundabout I tried to keep a high effort, which I then was looking to sustain on the return leg.
I got slowed at the roundabout, and traffic isn’t going to stop, and then I found it hard to get up to the same speeds again, as for the initial sprint, I couldn’t accelerate as quickly as I had previously. On the way back on the climbs and headwinds my speed dropped, and I began to run out and die towards the two miles to go mark.I fought through this, but was conscious I was slowing, and unable to increase speed massively.
After the line I was completely empty and I knew from that I had done a good job. Today seemed to be one of the weird days where there is never a moment when the wind is at your back, it always seemed to be a headwind, which was frustrating.
I ended up doing a 24:08, which I was very pleased with as I hadn’t rider the course before, and Dad also did very well, riding a 25:45, which he was happy with although he would have been quicker if not for the roundabout!
After the cool down ride back to the HQ, it was time to head back home and prepare for a crit up in Oxfordshire on the Sunday. A report to follow…

25 Mile TTT

On Sunday 28th February, both me and Dad rode in our first ever Team Time Trial at the Severn Road Club 25 mile 2 up TTT. My partner was Charlie, a fellow BCDS academy rider, who I had previously ridden a TTT back in October, and Dad was riding with Charlie’s dad, Simon.

As with last week’s 10 mile TT, it was a case of getting there, signing on, getting ready, warming up and then doing the TTT.
I didn’t get the longest warm up in the world, and we made it to the start just, with about a minute to spare after an TT effort to get there! (Note to self, find out how far the start is from HQ next time).

From the off I picked up the speed, but there was a killer headwind, so it wasn’t a quick start like last weeks with a tailwind. The start was hard, and by the turn into the loop for the first time I was feeling the effort. Me and Charlie changed well, and split the work up, however where Charlie had raced at the track the day before he was a bit tired, so I tended to do the stronger headwind sections or the climbs. This helped our speed stay high, and also to make sure energy levels stayed as high as possible.
As it wore on, we kept working well together, and the miles went by.

On the second loop, familiarity helped us, and this meant that we could go quicker this time, as we knew what was coming up by way of turns, ups, downs and roundabouts. Coming out of the loop and into the headwind I did long turns, pulling it along to the final turn roundabout, which seemed never to come!
Once heading back Charlie’s bigger gear was useful, and especially on the descents this came into play. On the way back I dug deep, to keep going, and through this I was able to keep doing work, in particular on the slopes and false flats.

Coming into the finish I gave it everything. So after the line I was fairly tired to say the least!

Our time for the course was 1:03:56, with the Dads riding a 1:05:17. We were both happy with the times, and knew that we had worked well together, and also enjoyed the event.

After handing numbers back, cooling down and watching some very quick times come in, we stopped off for food with friends from Bath Uni CC, and then it was time to return home and get some much needed rest!