Thursday, 3 April 2014

Cornish Series, Round 2, Perranporth

Last Saturday saw Round 2 of the Cornish Series closed circuit race at Perranporth Aerodrome.

We set off in glorious sunshine around lunchtime but on arrival in Perranporth it was overcast freezing cold and very windy.

Got a really good warm up done as I knew the racing would be flat out from the start, which it was with attack after attack from rival teams.

The four riders from the Bikeshed - UEX team attacked continuously in an effort to get away. No one seemed to be very bothered about chasing down the attacks so 90% of the time it was down to me to try to bring them back.

Eventually Al Murison got away and the race began to splinter. The early efforts I put to marshall the initial attacks + not being the most powerful rider in the bunch meant that I was starting to suffer and during this time a few others managed a break away which I missed.

After that it was damage limitation and in the end I crossed the line in 9th place. Not quite the result I wanted, short circuit flat racing doesn't really suit me that well, but it's all good experience and I still managed to score enough points to move up to Cat 2!

Modbury Spring Road Race, Modbury, Devon

Was looking forward to this race as it included a hill so should of suited me better, although having ridden the course on the day before it was maybe still not as hard as I'd like it so gaining any advantage was going to be tough.

Arrived early on Sunday and got a solid warm up done as was feeling good for the race. Luckly I was towards the front of that pack as the race kicked off at a pretty fast pace with a lot of riders further back in the pack getting dropped in the neutralised zone.

From the get go the attacks were thick and fast until a decisive attack from Mark Lees managed to get away. Recognising the danger I jumped on his wheel with another rider following and the three of us worked together to establish a gap to the main group.

Towards the end of the flat descent I'd just finished a turn on the front when the other rider let Mark Lees wheel go. A gap quickly opened before I realised what had happened and although I tried to bridge across it was too late due to it being on the flat descent into a head wind.

I settled back in to the bunch to recover a bit from the effort and think about how I might win. The remainder of the race was pretty uneventful - Mark Lees stayed away and no further attacks came to anything.

I decided the best strategy for me was to attack on the final climb which worked out well as I managed to open up enough of a gap to hold on to the finish and take second place, ahead of the bunch sprint.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Falco Road Race 1, Leedstown, Cornwall

Yesterday we headed down towards the tip of Cornwall for the first of the Falco Road Races at Leedstown.

The race organisers had kindly ordered fab sunny and warm weather for the race which meant breaking out the new MDCC skin suit before heading over to the rider briefing and then down the start line.

The first 1.5k was a neutralised rolling start but I still positioned myself well towards the front and as soon as the flag dropped the attacks off the front began - the pace was pretty quick and I really wished I had had time for a decent warm up!

After the first lap things settled down but a few riders had got around 30s up the road. I continued to ride towards the front of the main bunch until the end of lap 2 when I made a gap on a tight corner to form a chasing group of 3 riders.

We worked together for a bit but the gap to the leaders wasn't really coming down so I decided to bridge across to the front group on the main climb.

This created a group of five riders comprising of two Falco riders, two Bikeshed - UEX riders and me, with all of us working pretty well together to maintain a solid gap to the bunch.

This continued until lap 4 when one of the Falco riders dropped off and lap 5 when we lost one of the Bikeshed riders, leaving just three of us out the front ahead of a rapidly closing bunch. We continued to work hard to keep our advantage until the finished straight where the other two riders eased off waiting for the sprint.

I decided to have a go early and, with the element of surprise, hold them off until the line. Didn't quite work as I got jumped towards the line but was nice to have a go and still take a respectable 3rd place - stoked!

Great fun race - looking forward to the next one next weekend :)

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Springtime Pursuits #2 and Graduation to Cat 3

Yesterday saw the second of this years MDCC Springtime Pursuits series.

We headed out to Halwill Junction pretty early for the Cat 4 morning race as I had to get in an hour of training which meant two laps of the course as a pre-race warm up.

The weather was far kinder than the previous week and although I wasn't feeling as fresh this week, due to a heavier block of training, I was determined to get another decent result in a bid to try and move up to the next category asap.

Starting in the scratch group of around 12 riders the time gaps had been re-calculated from last week which meant starting 6 mins down on the first group with a smaller number of riders. So, catching the front group was always going to depend on how hungry the rest of the group were and the willingness of individuals to contribute and take their turn to ride on the front and help pull it back.....

....Unfortunately for us there were really only 5 or 6 riders willing to share the work which meant a lot of time on the front for those of us willing to commit but a load of wheel-sucking by those enjoying the tow.

Sharing the work on the front...                           photo:

I worked hard to bridge across to the next group and slowly we began to chase down the front group but although they were insight it was too late as the finish line beckoned. The course is way too flat to enable me to make much of an advantage or break on the short shallow climbs so in the end it came down to the usual bunch sprint.

Three riders from the front group crossed the line up the road in front of us to take 1st, 2nd and 3rd so we were left to sprint it out for the remaining places.

Finish line bunch sprint

I was in second wheel on the run up to the line but was just out-sprinted on the line so took 3rd position from our group sprint which meant 6th place overall.

The upside to this means I've earned enough points to graduate to Cat 3 in just two races - so I'm stoked on that!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Double Podium Weekend

Having spent the past three months recovering from my accident and then getting back on the bike and into training it was time to test the current early season form with a weekend race double bill.

I've decided to focus on road racing this year and Saturday was my first ever road race at the MDCC Springtime Pursuits Race 1. Sunday was racing MTB XC in the male pairs category at the Stinger duathlon event at Newnham Park with my Exeter College team mate Matt Dowell taking care of the running.

Saturday morning and the drive out to Halwill Junction was grim. Heavy rain and strong winds were the order of the day - oh well, the same for everyone! The male cat 4 event was split into 3 groups and I was part of the third group which departed some 4 mins after the first group had disappeared up the road.

Our group worked solidly to pull back the first two groups over the course of the race, catching the last group around 1k to the finish.

I made a break on the last incline to get away from the bunch with Philip Collings (Tavistock Wheelers) holding my wheel. Once over the climb he came to the front on the drag to the finish where I out sprinted him to take second place. First place was bagged by Graham Collins (Tanks Direct Cycling) who had started in the front group some 4 mins ahead of us.

Reppin' MDCC on the podium
So second spot on the podium and not a bad result for my first effort on the road :)

So, onto Sunday. First off the weather was actually playing fair for a change - the sun made a welcome appearance and it felt vaguely like Spring...for a bit.

Matt kicked of with a 5k run, he got a great start leading out the pack and coming back in third around half a minute down on the leader.

So my turn for the 20k MTB ride (4 laps of the same course) and I headed up the climb in pursuit of the two riders in front of me. I pressed on and caught the leader, Max Suttie (Team Certini)  halfway through the first lap, sat in for a bit to recover before taking the lead and gradually began to open up a gap.

The conditions were pretty slow going and slippery but after a fairly eventful ride I had pulled over a four minute advantage to Max as I came back in to hand over to Matt for the final 3k bog run.

In the end Matt held the lead and came home in first so we took top step on the podium for the Male Pairs race - result, nice work Matt!

So a great weekend of racing - the early season form ain't looking too bad! Thanks to MDCC for organising the Springtime Pursuits and Fully Sussed for organising the Stinger - both great events!

And finally a big thanks to my ACES sports tutor Nick Bridge for organising our college entry to the Stinger :)

Thursday, 24 October 2013

What's wrong with this picture....?

Headed out of Exeter on a hilly training ride to Princetown yesterday morning and had barely left the city limits before it all went horribly wrong....

I had just climbed Dunsford Hill and was on the descent towards Pocombe Bridge when a car, travelling in the opposite direction, suddenly made a right turn into the Ide Lane junction right in front of me. Before I knew what was happening it had struck me, my head smashed the windscreen before I was sent up in the air and, according to witnesses, did 2 full somersaults before being spat back down onto the tarmac. The police arrived and I was whisked off to A+E in an ambulance....

....the force of the impact was such that my frame was split in two with fractures on both the top tube and the down tube :(

Not a good day :(

Monday, 21 October 2013

South West Cyclo-X - Round 4 (SWCX Champs), Stover School, Newton Abbot

Well all the predictions of a wet and muddy race were true...Just prior to the 12:30 start for the main race the heavens opened and it smashed down with rain for around 15 mins. This on top of the rain which had fallen steadily on and off for the past 48 hours meant it was definitely going to be a gnarly race....

Gridded on the front I got a great start and headed out in second behind Roy Wyle Smith (eliteVelo) but soon found I was being held back a little so jumped on the front. This lasted for most of the first lap before Dexter Hurlock (Mondraker Racing UK) got passed me. I tried to hold his wheel but was in danger of going too far into the red so decided to let him go and ride my own race.

I began to pull away from the following group and was riding at a good tempo until disaster - heading into the wooded section I flatted the front tyre on some glass buried in the wood chipped section...sh1t!....and as I had only just past the pits I was forced to carry/drag/try and ride/run around half the lap to the second pit entry before I could swap bikes :(

Of course, by the time I eventually got to the pits and got going on the spare bike I had quickly slipped back down the leader board and I was now riding my MTB which was way slower in the slick conditions.... it's amazing how much mud and grass it collected as the race progressed (compaired to the cross bike), it must of nearly doubled in weight by the end making each lap progressively harder.

I tried to regain composure, dug deep and fought hard to regain as many places as I could as made my way up through the field of tired and flagging riders. A pretty frustrating race really...the MTB was shod with fast rolling dry tyres so it felt like I was riding on balloons with no grip whatsoever.

In the end it was damage limitation but I still managed to take second spot on the Seniors podium with Dexter Hurlock (Mondraker Racing UK) taking the well deserved win and Matt Noble (Plymouth CX) taking third.

So not a bad result considering :)

Thursday, 17 October 2013

South West Cyclo-X Champs - Weekend Weather Check

Just checked the forecast for this weekend's South West Cyclo-X Champs at Stover on Sunday.....gonna make for some wet and gnarly race day no file treads ;)

....let's hope it's fast and loose....

Bring it on!

Monday, 30 September 2013

South West Cyclo-X - Round 3, Sun 29 Sept, Dartmouth

Another early start as we packed up the van and headed out to the Round 3 of the SWCX in Dartmouth.

Straight to sign-on followed by a quick lap of the course between the early races and it was back to the van to get changed and do a turbo warm up.

Around 12:25 we were called to the start to get gridded. I was gridded on the front row so got myself in the central space ready for the off. 12:30 and boom! - I got a great start and led out though the first half lap until a line choice error saw me off the bike and I was immediatly relegated to 5th.

Slightly annoyed with myself I chased back on to the riders in front - I saw that Tim Carpenter (3Sixty Performance) and Matt Noble (Plymouth CX) had managed to get off the front so threaded my way through the field with some sneaky line choices through the technical corners and got back on their wheel.

I then got back out in front and decided to try and make a break so rode quite hard and pushed the pace up. I managed to get a gap and just kept the pace high to see if they would chase. I could sense Tim trying to hunt me down but by the end of the second lap I had a lead of around 10secs so just kept pushing to increase my lead.

As the race unfolded the the order began to change behind me with Tim now racing James Bovey (MDCC) for the Vets category win. By 2/3rds of the way through the race I had increased the gap to around 30secs I then eased up slightly and just concentrated on riding smoothly and consistantly whilst managing the gap.

So I crossed the line with the both the overall and Senior category wins - So stoked!! Even though I'm still a Junior in all other cycling disciplines this is my first Cross season in the Senior category so to take the win is pretty special :)

Thanks to Cycle Sport South Hams for putting on a great days racing with a fantastic course - the best X course I've raced on. Thanks also to my coach Roy at eliteVelo and Mid Devon Cycling Club for all their help and support.

MDCC Dartmoor Hill Climbs, Sat 28 September, Haytor

Woke up to thunderstorms and torrential rain on Saturday morning but we packed to van regardless and headed off to Haytor for the first of the MDCC hill climbs.

We arrived pretty early so decided to do a quick reccie up the hill in the van to check out the conditions. The road surface wasn't too bad but the cattle grid was very sketchy and as we ascended further we entered the fog. Visibility was quite poor toward the summit.

We signed on and were the told the race was to go ahead and as I was the first rider of the day we headed back to the van to get changed and do a warm up on the turbo with the plan being to complete the warm up 10 mins before my start time of 10:11 and then drive up to the start line.

We arrived at the start and had just got the bike out when one of the organisers approached us and asked if we knew the start had been delayed for 30 minutes and that the course had been shortened due to the bad weather :S

So it was now smashing down with rain so I had to sit it out in the van and wait with the warm up pretty much wasted...Oh well!

Eventually it was time for the off and for the first 2 mins or so my legs felt crappy but eventually that went away and I settled into a steady rhythm and began to pickup the pace.

Ended up taking the Junior win by around 40 seconds with a time of 8:41. Not bad since this was my first hill climb event and I was on a mid weight road bike ;)

Sadly the Widecombe hill climb planned for the afternoon had to be cancelled due to the deteriorating weather conditions but I'll definitely give it a go when it's re-scheduled.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Drop Bar Double

Full on double drop bar action this weekend....

On Saturday I'll be racing the annual Mid Devon Cycling Club Dartmoor hill climb event. Haytor in the morning followed by Widecombe in the afternoon....brutal.

Sunday sees Round 3 of the South West Cyclocross League at Dartmouth School...gonna be a mint weekend of racing! Check back on Monday for the results :)