Newport Youth Omnium

The final regional omnium of the series for the southern region was held at Newport. The omnium series hadn’t gone brilliantly for me, the first one was rained off, I didn’t perform massively well at Maindy, and I had been unable to ride the one at Palmer Park due to a crash the Thursday before. So for this one I aimed to do well, whilst I knew I couldn’t qualify, it would be important to prove myself. The events would be 1km Pursuit, Elimination, Scratch and Points race.

On the rollers for the warm up for the pursuit, at the start I was feeling great going into the pursuit. I got away well but the rear wheel slipped and sliced all over the track. From here on in I was fighting to make up for that, but towards the end I died off, and came across the line knowing I couldn’t go for much longer. I was disappointed with my run, I couldn’t help the start, but I knew that I should have gone quicker.

Start of the scratch was comfortable, I made sure I was on the right wheels throughout. This payed off, as when it went I was able to jump on the back of the strong break away. I then spent the rest of the race out there. I came across the line dead, but happy with my final placing.

By the elimination I was feeling a bit tired, so I used my knowledge to shelter and do as little work as possible. I was able to remain in it for a long time, and towards the end I was having to come over the top every time. I should have come down onto the front instead of having to sprint each time. I couldn’t get around a rider, so I went out 8th, but I was happy with this, although I knew it could easily be improved.

In the points race I made an attack off the front before the first sprint, as I saw two strong sprinters stalking each other high, so saw a chance. I was joined by a rider, and we got an advantage. Going into the bell lap I committed the crime of looking backwards for the pack, instead of focussing on the sprint. I was about to come out in the final banking, but was swamped, so finished an agonising 5th. From there on in I was just surviving, and staying with the group. I gave it my all in the final sprint, making sure I was high up in the end of the race. I didn’t get points which was annoying, but I was glad to have given it a go rather than sit in the pack for all the time.
It was my best omnium by far, and a shame that they had to end there, as I felt that towards the end of the day that I was coming into a good track tactics head. I was pleased with how I’d ridden, and knew without issues in the pursuit I would be a lot higher up in the standings.

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.

Half Term Holiday of Cycling

Over this half term I have attended both a Track Regional School of Racing (RSR) and a Circuit RSR.

The track RSR was held at Newport, and was a very early start as we had to be at the track for about 7:15. During the RSR we spent time on the track, and this time we were doing the Madison event, where two rider teams compete in events, with one resting and the other riding in the race group. To swap around it is most common for a sling to take place, where the rider that is coming into race will gain momentum from the race rider, with the race rider dramatically slowing down. I had never done one of these, so over the day I learnt a lot, and by the end I was getting the hang of it.

One of the best parts was practising behind the durney bike traveling at 30mph, slinging people in and being slung. I was grateful to my partner, who helped me throughout the track time giving me advice and tips as he had done a Madison previously.

I had Wednesday off of the bike to rest, which I was thankful for as the weather was awful.

On the Thursday morning it was off to Castle Combe, for the first Circuit RSR of the season. There was a big group of riders there, from the south, Central, south west and Wales regions. The weather was nice and sunny which made the riding all the more pleasant, even if it was a little chilly. During the riding, all 120km of it, we did various exercises based on the concepts of bunch riding skills, cornering and also a little bit on attacking at the end. For the bunch riding and the cornering I was relatively confident, as my past of group rides from an early age, riding around odd down plenty of times and also various race packs I’ve been in had helped me to develop my skills in this. I liked the attacking part of the session, even though it came at the end of the day when I was starting to tire! I quite like putting in attacks and trying to catch people unaware, so through his exercise I was able to practice this and experiment with different tactics that could win a race in the future for me.

It was a great couple of days riding, although it ended on a bit of a negative as I left a toolbox behind that I had bought with me – “D’oh!”. Once home it was swiftly in to contact with the coaches, and one of them had thankfully picked it up for me to collect at a later date.

Lots of lessons learnt in these days, both on and off of the bike, but the stand out one, never forget the toolbox again!

Onto the next couple of days and a new experience for me, my first 10 mile time trial on Sunday, so am looking forward to hopefully setting a good time on my first outing.

Icebreaker 1 track meet

On Sunday I traveled to Newport to ride in the first of the Icebreaker series at the Velodrome.

At the start I was feeling quite nervous, I think from the fact that I hadn’t ridden an Icebreaker before, even though I knew that it would be a bit like a track league or Youth Omnium.

Laura had already raced before my event got underway and she had done well, so that made me feel better, and once I was on the bike and warming up I started to feel more at ease and ready for the racing.

First up was the scratch race. I was a strong field of 24 riders it was fast, but I settled into it and was riding well and starting to feel comfortable. Unfortunately half way through the race another rider came down on me hitting in to my bars and front wheel, almost causing a crash. I managed to keep the bike upright and keep going, but my confidence and composure had taken a bit of a knock which effected the rest of my race. By the end of the Scratch I was too far back, as I had expected it to go off earlier, so I finished just outside of the top 12. This was disappointing, but my main issue was getting my focus back for the next event.

Next up was the Points race and I knew what I needed to do to get to the final, as after missing out on the scratch final, I didn’t want to miss out again. I let the first sprint go, the idea being that the riders who scored in the first sprint would be the strong sprint riders, and then as it was only a heat they wouldn’t go for others. I then tried to put myself near the front and ride an attacking race, trying to get in the breaks to get some points. After missing out on the next two sprints in terms of points – being 6th and 5th in the sprints respectively, I tried to position myself well for the final sprint, in order to place as highly as possibly. I ended up 5th on the line, which unfortunately wasn’t quite enough to get to the final, a shame as I gave it my all, but made a few tactical mistakes that didn’t help me.

The final event of the meet was the Elimination, and this is usually a race I enjoy, but I got it badly wrong, finding myself last out of the pen and on to the boards, and so at the back at the start of the race. I had to sprint to catch on and I managed to do enough to survive the first elimination, but feeling tired my observation wasn’t good enough, and whilst I thought that I was safe I wasn’t, with another rider sprinting over the top. As a result I came out very early, and was extremely disappointed in myself. I should have made a bigger effort early on to get to the front end of the race, and then I would have been in for much longer – but it had been a big learning experience and that is as important as anything at this stage.

By the end of the racing I was feeling tired both physically and mentally, I was disappointed at how the day had gone in terms of results, but was also aware that it gave me some important lessons and how to deal with problems whilst on the track.

I am now looking forward to my next Icebreaker, when I will have the chance to put the lessons that I learnt today into practice and that should improve the results and give me a more positive outcome.

Big thanks to my coach, Peter Georgi of Epic Coaching, for his support on the day, especially given I was feeling a bit out of sorts.

BCDS SQT and New Kit

morgan-sqtA very early morning today, up at 5 and off to the Velodrome for an SQT session with BCDS.

It was good to meet up with Dan and the other riders, and get in some good track time.

During the track session we did a warm up with ‘taking lap efforts’, Russian steps, a points race exercise, and finally an elimination practice and race.

Following on from the track session we had some time with WattBikes, before getting together to pick up some new kit and talk about the year to come.

A good day, if a long one, and after a nice roast chicken dinner I am looking forward to bed

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.