First Circuit Race of 2016 – Sulis Scorpions round 1

A first circuit race for 2016, and my first riding for the BCDS Academy.

The days riding started with an early breakfast, and then a steady ride into Bath to the race circuit at Odd Down.

I arrived with plenty of time to spare so it was good to see lots of familiar faces and say hello to friends.

Sign on was very busy so it’s lucky I got there early as it gave me plenty of time to get ready to race. However there were a few delays, so by the time we got on to the circuit to start the race I was a bit cold.

morgan sat inAt the start of the race I got away well, and embedded myself in the front. At the end of the first lap another rider made an attack, and I decided to bridge across to it, as I knew he was a strong rider, and that the break could last. Another rider joined us but then subsequently sat up, and we were back in the pack, frustrating as I believe that if we worked together we could have stayed away.
Our attack had thinned out the lead bunch to about 11 riders though, so I just sat in conserving energy and observing moves, allowing me to be aware if the pace was going to pick up or lower.
This worked well, and at the start of the sprint lap I decided (as no BC points were on offer for it) not to properly go for it and conserve as much as possible. I still made sure I was near the front end though, so if it split I wasn’t caught out in the pack. Looking back on it I think I could have attacked after the sprint and potentially split it up further.

For the latter half of the race I stayed in the wheels, sheltering from the wind and observing what was happening, but trying to stay near the riders who I thought would be up there in the finish.

morgan crosses the lineWith two laps to go I started to position myself, moving through the pack and on to a wheel near the front, but not too far forward so that I would have to take the sprint lead out duty. In the final lap  I was able to hold the wheel, but didn’t have much room to move, so into the final corner I was about 8th-10th. I was able to get a good kick and sling shot out of the corner, and opened my sprint, quickly catching and overtaking riders ahead of me. I moved through and just missed out on 3rd place by a couple of wheel lengths.
I was happy with the result, especially with my sprint that I was able to finish the race off with.

All that was left was a gentle ride home for a good feed 🙂

Sulis Scorpions Hill Climb Champion

This evening we went to the Sulis Scorpions Club awards.

It was a happy and sad occasion for me as it was the last time I would be a Sulis Scorpion member, but it was nice to pick up the trophy as Hill Climb Champion. The hill climb was run as part of the Velo Club Walcot event in October, and I won the youth category, only just missing out on winning Junior time too.

My sister Laura was crowned club road race champ in the U14 category – she was an U12 but raced up an age group.

I made such great friends in Scorpions, both riders and coaches, and I will miss seeing them each week. That said I am looking forward to returning to races at Odd Down in 2016 and seeing everyone again.

2016 Season – BCDS Academy

I am going to be racing as part of the Bristol Cycling Development Squad Academy in the 2016 season.

I attended a track SQT session with Dan, the BCDS coach, and was pleased to have made the squad. This will mean team mates at the races next year, both local crits, National series and the Youth Omniums. My friend and fellow Epic coached rider Charlie is already a BCDS rider, so it’ll be great to ride with him.

I’ll still be a member of Velo Club Walcot, my home club, and look forward to the Hill climb and club rides in 2016.

Winter Track League

I’ve been racing in the Newport Velodrome Winter Track league this year, and I am doing a lot of learning!

Peter, my coach, has been really helpful in guiding me how to approach the races, and whilst I have plenty to learn I am starting to get success.

The evenings generally consist of a Scratch race, the Hare and Hounds, a 4 lap (1km) Dash, Elimination race, and then my favourite, the Points race.

I have generally been able to win 3 of the events most evenings, and I enjoy attacking in the final part of the points race and trying to stay away until the end.

Hopefully this experience will help me in the Youth Omniums next season.

Chippenham 3 Up Team Time Trial

On Sunday 11th October, I competed in an open team time trial hosted by Chippenham wheelers, along with Charlie Kelly (a fellow Epic coached rider),  and Felix Young, a VC Walcot rider and Scorpions coach.

We had ridden  the course before, so knew what would be coming and how to tackle it best. Due to this we were able to go into it with a plan for different terrain and parts of the course where conditions changed.

We set off at a good rate, much quicker than we had before, and it seemed like we were going to set a very good time. However Charlie suffered a mechanical issue with part of his bottom bracket coming out, so we had to stop whilst Charlie put it back in. It was a quick fix, but it cost us time that we would have to make up again.

On the bigger climbs I would sit on the front, with Felix taking us down the other side, and then all of us pulling on the flats and slight inclines or declines. With this we were able to get around the course efficiently, and coming in to the final few miles we were all riding on the edge of the saddle.

Going up the final climb I again pulled on the front, and by the top we were feeling dead, but then before we knew it we had crossed the finish line.

We recorded the quickest time at that point, the first sub 1 hour, and overall were comfortably inside the top 10 with a time of 59:33, narrowly missing out on the composite team win.

The Red Angus VC Walcot Hill Climb

[vc_row type=”in_container” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Morgan-Hill-ClimbOn Sunday 4th October I had a relaxed morning due to the Red Angus VC Walcot Open Hill Climb that was taking place in the afternoon at Claverton hill.

Last year I was able to win the hill climb, and was looking to win again as the reigning champion for the youth category. There was added pressure as I was the favourite for the category and expected to win, I haven’t been in this situation much this season!

I was a bit nervous, both in the morning and then when we arrived, so to calm my nerves I went for a spin down and up the climb, mainly to mentally prepare myself. This worked and when I reached the car again to warm up on the rollers my nerves were gone.
I grabbed a full drinks bottle and headed down the hill to the start line, before putting the bottle down and making sure I’m was in the correct gear!

Morgan-Hill-Climb-2I took to the start line, and where it was a standing/held start I got into the position that I start a 1K pursuit in, and got ready to go. When I was released I was able to get the gear going extremely quickly, a 46*25, so was able to put in a harder gear. This gave me more speed to carry into the steepest part of the climb, which I was able to get up at a decent rate. I was able to keep the gear going well.
The climb has a long eerily silent section where there is gradient of 7-10%, it is over covered by trees, and it is where a lot of time can be made up. Due to my endurance and strength I was able to keep the gear going so that I was progressing swiftly up this section and soon I could hear the VC Walcot “Tunnel de Noise”, and a message or “What would Angus do?” chalked on to the road surface spurred me on, before I knew it I was in the noise.
The noise gave me a boost, and I was able to put it into a harder gear and find some energy to get out of the saddle and sprint up the final few meters. I got across the line and felt sick, so I rode on to the top of the climb to recover a bit.

After cooling down I went down to the timekeepers to find out the time and if I had won. I recorded a time of 2 mins 23 seconds which was a clear win by 20 seconds from the rider in second. My time would have seen me place second in the Juniors, 4 second behind the quickest, and I was 18th out of everyone who competed on the day.

I was delighted by this, with my title retained and a good position overall. The only shame is that I can’t defend the Youth title next year, so someone else gets it. Next year I will be looking to win the Junior title and hopefully be higher up overall and maybe get the team prize with VC Walcot.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Thruxton Race

[vc_row type=”in_container” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Today I headed to Thruxton race circuit for the end of the season ‘points chaser’ race meeting that was taking place. It was a well supported event with riders across all of the different age groups keen to ride.
We got there in good time, to allow for changing into kit, signing on and warming up, and the sun even came out to make it pleasant if a bit chilly.

As with other races at Thruxton, on the start line the Under 12’s, 14’s and 16’s were separated out and set off at different times, I was in a good position on the front row of the grid for the under 16’s.

I got a great start, and was sat fourth wheel, and left a few wheel lengths between me and the rider in front. It turned out a very good thing that I left that gap, as where the organisers hadn’t taken away the cones from the earlier u8 and u10 races, the rider on the front went to turn, and created a pile up, with several riders going down. Luckily for me I had just moved across to let a rider past me, so I avoided it. Unfortunately for him he didn’t, and got caught up in the crash.
After a couple of hundred meters I was in the leading pack with about 6 others, the rest of the riders were either off the back of us or caught up in the crash. Two strong riders attacked early on just after I had done a stint on the front and had dropped to the rear of the group, so I wasn’t able to latch on. This left me and three riders, and shortly this reduced to me and two others as we shelled a rider. We started to chase down the leading two, however the advantage they had didn’t come back so we were left to battle it out amoungst ourselves.
The laps rolled on and soon we were given the bell for the last lap. I was on the front up to the final climb where I then pulled off and sat at the back, I didn’t want to be leading out the final sprint. Nearing the top, I left a few bike lengths gapto try and get the jump on the others when I attacked, but just as I was about to go for it the lead rider started his sprint, so I then had to chase back on.
In the end I came home 5th, with only a few bike lengths between the three of us at the line.

A good ride though and I was generally pleased with 5th on a windy day, especially knowing that if I hadn’t moved across early on would likely have been caught up in the crash!

And I also learnt not to trust dad if he says that Thruxton will not be windy… Thruxton is ALWAYS flippin’ windy whatever the forecast![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

A bit of CycloCross

[vc_row type=”in_container” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″][image_with_animation image_url=”44″ alignment=”” animation=”Fade In”][vc_column_text]On Saturday 5th September I had a fun morning out at Odd Down for the Sulis scorpions go ride Cyclocross.

The racing involved a TT, mass start race and a handicap race. The course was created on the circuit, including hurdles, mud and steep grassy inclines.

I rode a decent time trial at the second attempt, after sliding out on a mud descent the first time around, and came 2nd in that stage. For the next race we moved to a different part of the circuit where the mass start race was held. The route was simpler but had a lot of tight turns. However the hurdles I was able to hop over without getting off the bike. At the start of the race I sprinted off, not wanting to get stuck behind any riders on the tight course. This opened up a gap for me that closed a little over the race but I was able to stay ahead and came across the line in first place 8 laps later.

IMG_0963 (1024x701)Due to the win in the mass start stage, I was in a good position heading into the last event, the handicapped race on the whole circuit. I got off to a good start, and was in a good position but then I slid out on the muddy and grassy ascent, costing me time. I got back up and then went to get going again, but the chain was off and jammed. Sorting that out cost more time, and so when I finally got back underway I knew my chances of winning were slim at best. Nevertheless I continued on and placed highly. It was then down to the organisers to add up the final points.
I expected to come second, however it was announced that both me and my friend Jos had tied on points. Due to him beating me in the handicap race he was given the win overall and I settled for second place.

It was a good morning of racing, great fun, and a change to the normal, smooth Tarmac that I’ve become used to.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Westpoint, Exeter 25th August

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On Tuesday 25th August I travelled to Westpoint near Exeter for a race. At sign on I identified the stronger riders to look out for, and set about my warm up.
The course was new to me, and the Commissaire let us have a couple of warm up laps while he was waiting for the relevant information. I used this opportunity to check out the course for terrain, pot holes and corners. The course was a square circuit, with a hill on one side, a descent on another, a headwind and a tailwind side.
The race got under way and a few riders were quickly shelled out of the back. The pace then slowed a bit, and so going into the third lap I attacked up the hill. The attack was at speed and only 3 riders were able come with me, (who were the three I had identified at the sign on sheet). The four of us then worked to extend the gap, with me sometimes dropping off the back and then chasing back on after corners when I had just done my turn on the front and one of the others attacked.
Eventually came a time when I got back on and a rider attacked straight away, splitting us up. I caught the rider ahead of me, but due to chasing and the initial attack I didn’t have enough energy to chase the other two down.
In the final few laps we had nearly caught the 2nd placed rider, but he had got enough of a gap to hold on. So I stayed on the wheel of the rider that I was with until after the final corner where I came out around him in the uphill sprint and took 3rd place.
I was very happy with that result on my first visit to the circuit, and pleased with my initial attack which split the race up. It was one of the best races of my season and the race where I was most aggressive… and it’s another BC point too!