Monday, 6 October 2014

South West Cyclo-X Series, Round 4, West Buckland School

Having completed a hectic first season of road racing followed by a strict end-of-season break it was time to dust off the cross bike for Round 4 of the 2014 South West Cyclo Cross Series at West Buckland School....

Returning to cycling, after having a solid three weeks off the bike, I knew my form was going to have dropped off significantly so I approached the race with fun in mind and without setting any expectations of producing a decent result.

A couple of laps of the course provided an ad-hoc warmup and at 1:30pm a stacked field of 80 riders assembled on the start line.



The sunny weather and dry short grass meant the race was pacy from the off and pretty soon I was feeling the burn, hanging on to the leaders as we pushed on to quickly establish a gap. Soon enough the lead group of 4 of us (three from MDCC) were away and settled into a good rhythm.

A couple of laps from the end I began to lose touch with the lead group as my lack of form vs the pace began to take it's toll. I let the wheel go and cruised the remaining couple of laps to come home in 4th place overall and 1st in Senior.

Was pretty tired out at the end but not a bad result considering...


Sunday, 24 August 2014

Colin Lewis Cycles Grand Prix, Torbay Velopark

Saturday saw the Colin Lewis Cycles Grand Prix at the Torbay Velopark. This promised a busy programme of races throughout the day, starting with kids’ competitions and building up to a high-quality hour-long E/1/2 race in the evening.

The E/1/2 race started at a quick pace with various riders attacking right from the start. With a field of high caliber riders I decided to follow any moves that looked strong, keeping my options open.

Several attacks early on looked quite promising and at times began splitting up the field as some riders struggled to stay on in the windy conditions.

Just when it start to settle down, I heard George Pym (Starley Primal Pro Cycling) changing up the gears behind me...I sensed the attack and jumped straight on his wheel and before we knew it we had a fairly decent gap on the bunch.


We worked together to increase the gap as 3 other riders formed a chasing group that started to close us down for a while. We continued to press on regardless, digging deep, to maintain our advantage.

After some time the gap remained constant and with 5 laps to go the chasers realised that they weren't going to catch us so backed off in order to contest 3rd place.

George and I continued to lap at a fairly high pace until the final lap when we knew we would be fighting for the win.

Out of the final hairpin and things had slowed to a track style standoff with neither of us wanting to take it up too early. Halfway down the penultimate straight George really backed it off so I thought it was my best opportunity to attack so I opened up my sprint, catching him off guard and in the wrong gear, as I opened up a gap into the final bend.

Giving it my all I wasn't quite strong enough to hold him off, coming in a strong second.

Was a great evening's racing and I was pleased with the result - shows I've come a long way since starting as a cat 4 just 5 months ago!



Monday, 4 August 2014

Brentor Road Race

Yesterday saw one of the last remaining road races of the season - the Okehamption CC E/1/2/3 Brentor Road Race. Not really one of my favourite circuits if I'm honest, but never the less one I felt I could do well on.

There was a pretty strong field of riders which I was hoping would make for some good racing. However, the race was pretty uneventful at first with no major attacks until 2 riders got a gap around 2 laps in. This was soon brought back and then the real attacking began...


I followed all the main moves but nothing was sticking and although the race was pacy, with riders continually being shelled out the back, it was looking like it was going to be all together at the base of the final climb.


Around half way around the final lap a couple of riders clipped of the front of the bunch and everyone started looking around, wondering who was going to commit, but none of the stronger/well represented teams were prepared to chase this move down. Rounding the final corner it all kicked off with everyone going full gas up the final climb and splitting up the race into small groups.

photo: www.rutrainingtoday.co.uk

I was in the front group of around 10 riders and we were closing rapidly on the 2 man break. It was obviously going to be a dash for the line so I positioned myself well in anticipation of the sprint. With just under 200m to go I came off the wheel of a BH Solidor and opened up my sprint, flashing past riders as I galloped to the line - 3rd in the bunch sprint taking 5th place overall, not quite catching the break.

VC Venta Summer Road Race

Another early start as we headed up the 303 to Stockbridge in Hampshire for a 9:30am start to the VC Venta Summer Road Race. I had raced here a few weeks ago and really liked the course - a fast, rolling circuit with a draggy hill finish which helps to split the race up making for some interesting racing.

I knew I could go well here but that I'd have my work cut out tactically, being a lone (marked) rider, against a few strong teams. Sure enough the team attacks came thick and fast from the start until a 4 man breakaway was quickly established.

Unfortunately I wasn't part of the break, having been caught out after chasing many attacks. I tried hard to split the race via counter attacks up the main climb but most riders were unwilling to share the work so it all came back together.

Approaching the finish
So, on the last lap, with the breakaway gone, I was racing for 5th place. I put in a big attack a third of the way up the final climb and blew the peloton apart with only one rider able to stick with me. We worked together to ensure the gap was not able to be closed down before I attacked again and pulled out a large time gap to comfortably take 5th place. Not quite the result I was looking for but that's racing!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Ras De Cymru 2014


The Ras De Cymru is the 5 day/6 stage road race which takes place each year in South East Wales. It's a hotly contested race open to 100 riders - 26 teams of 4 cat2/3/4 racers. The race hub and HQ is situated at the University of South Wales just north of Newport. This provides a great stage race atmosphere, with all the team accommodation, meals and after race socialising happening on the campus. I was really keen to have a crack at this one and there was talk early in the season of Mid Devon CC fielding a team. Unfortunately this didn't happen so me and three other South West racers (Calum Croft - Mud Sweat & Gears, Charlie Revell - Somerset RC and Scott Gurnett - Tanks Direct Cycling) decided to enter under the composite team of Wessex RT.

photo: www.huwfaircloughphotography.co.uk  Wessex RT composite

Stage 1 - 10k Pan-flat team time trial


With the teams being set off in alphabetical order we were the last team off. Having never really ridden together as a team we managed a pretty good time of 14:54. This placed us in 7th position out of the 26 teams, 19 secs down on the GC to Team Wiggle.

Stage 2 - Rolling road race with a flat finish


Following a neutralised roll out the racing kicked off hard with the first 10 miles covered at over 30mph. I managed to get in quite a few breakaways but nothing was sticking as the race was being heavily controlled by a few of the stronger teams. Riding in the bunch was really dangerous with 100 riders along fairly narrow roads. It was a battle to maintain your position in the peloton with riders crossing double white lines for sustained periods and overtaking on blind corners on the wrong side of the road...

A small break managed to clip of the front on the run into the finish, I led out Calum to contest the bunch sprint but unfortunately he got boxed in and we both finished in the main bunch with no real time loss on the GC.

Stage 3 - Hilly place to place road race with hill finish


Almost from the start the race began to split over the first hill but it all came back together again on the descent. However, on the next hill, the pace was pushed up a notch in an effort to establish a breakaway. With around seven of us forming the break we quickly began to work together to open up a gap. This lasted for about 30 mins before being ridden down once again by the stronger teams who were hunting for Sprint points. The remainder of the stage was a fast paced dual carriageway section followed by a bunch sprint for the line. Hampered by not quite knowing where the finish line was I once again I finished in the bunch on the same time. Back to HQ for some food and rest before attacking the TT in the late afternoon.

photo: www.huwfaircloughphotography.co.uk  Stage 3 Bunch sprint

Stage 4 - Individual time trial with a hill finish


A case of damage limitation for me as time trialling is not something I currently do so is definitely not my strongest discipline. Being both small and light the first half of the course didn't suit me at all as it was a gradual descent into a headwind. However, I pushed on and managed to make up some time on the final climb to come in around 40th place. So not great but didn't loose too much time in the GC.

photo: www.huwfaircloughphotography.co.uk  Stage 4 Individual TT

Stage 5 - Rolling road race with a hill finish


This stage was billed as a rolling/hilly stage with a hill finish and looked ok in the race manual. Sadly, in reality, it was pretty pan flat and the hill finish was way too short to split the field. A small break managed to slip away but the gap to the main bunch was not really significant with most of the main favourites for the GC, including the yellow jersey, still in the main group. As we approached the climb for the final time I began moving up through the field to finish in 15th. At this point in the race I was in 24th place in the GC so had a lot to do in the final stage.



photo: www.huwfaircloughphotography.co.uk  Stage 5 Mid race

photo: www.huwfaircloughphotography.co.uk  Stage 5 Finish

Stage 6 - Rolling road race with a mountain top finish


Having reccied the mountain top finish after stage 5 the previous day I knew I could do well here and hopefully claw back some positions in the GC. The grand finale, coming right at the end of the 75 mile stage, was the awesome 4 mile 7% climb up to the summit of Llangynidr Mountain.

Now this would surely blow the race apart and potentially create some interesting time gaps. I was just hoping that the race would all be together when arriving at the base of the climb.

Sure enough, the first 70 miles were as I'd hoped, fairly pacy but steady with some attacks but no breakaway so we all arrived at the foot of the climb together.....Then it all kicked off when a select group of nine of us went clear straight away. Steadily the nine became six as the unrelenting pace continued until three riders got a slight gap which I was unable to close but held all the way to the line to come home in 4th.

As predicted, a significant amount of time was made up during this stage and I ended up with 8th spot in the GC. Pretty happy with that as there were some strong teams racing hard for the win. All in all a fun week of racing and a great experience. Big thanks to my team mates Calum, Charlie and Scott and to Mark Dolan at Epic Coaching for getting me on some good form!

Stage 6 Mid race

photo: www.falcoraceteam.co.uk  Stage 6 Cresting the 6k climb

photo: www.huwfaircloughphotography.co.uk  Stage 6 Finish

Top ten presentation

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Just one day to go.....Ras De Cymru

Can't believe it's almost here now....just sorting all my last minute prep for the five day/six stage race that is the Ras De Cymru - really looking forward to this one!

Sadly, there were not enough Mid Devon CC riders to make up a team so I'll be racing under the composite team banner of Wessex RT with team mates Calum Croft (Mud, Sweat n Gears), Scott Gurnett (Tanks Direct Cycling), and Charlie Revell (Somerset RC _ Bicycle Chain) - bring it on!

Ras De Cymru

On paper at least, the stages look pretty challenging - so let's just hope they will be hard enough to make the racing interesting...

Sotonia Summer Road Race

Race report to follow...

Rollin' out through the neutralised zone to the start

photo: www.grahamrobins.net  Attacking over the top of the climb

photo: www.grahamrobins.net  6th overall - 3rd in the bunch sprint


Friday, 4 July 2014

Torbay Velopark - Thursday Series Race 3 and Exeter Wheelers Westpoint Criterium No.1

A couple of mid-week evening crit races so far this week...


First up on Wednesday evening was the Exeter Wheelers Westpoint Criterium No.1 E/1/2 race. I really enjoyed this one as although there was not many racing the quality was high and the racing was fast and fluid with plenty of attacking from the get go.

The race was continually changing pace with relentless waves of attack and counter attack which meant keeping vigilant.

The pacy race meant a few were shelled out the back and with several laps to go it all looked like it would come down to a bunch sprint with the remaining riders. With this in mind I attacked with 2 laps to go and got a reasonable gap to the group but sadly I was caught with just half a lap to go with nothing left in the tank to contest the sprint. I think I maybe managed to scrape into the top 10, so not a great result, but great racing none the less!

Thursday evening saw a return to the newly built Torbay Velopark for Race 3 of the Thursday evening series. This race was in complete contrast to the fluid racing of the previous evening at Westpoint as every single move got chased down by the bunch before it had a chance to develop.


Only a handful of riders where willing to go on the attack or spend any time off the front - most were happy to sit in for the hour and save everything in the hope of contesting the bunch sprint.

Nevertheless, I got in a few of the doomed breakaways with some of the other riders who were willing to work and put myself in a good position towards the conclusion and ended up contesting the sprint with a solid 3rd place.

Heading further afield for some road racing action at the Sotonia Summer Road Race near Winchester on Sunday - can't wait....bring it on!

Monday, 23 June 2014

Stockbridge Down Road Race

Full race report to follow.....

Rolling out in the neutralised zone

photo: www.grahamrobins.net  bridging to the breakaway


photo: www.grahamrobins.net  established breakaway of 15

photo: www.grahamrobins.net

photo: www.grahamrobins.net


photo: www.grahamrobins.net  finish line sprint


Friday, 20 June 2014

Torbay Velopark - Thursday Series Race 2

Another beautiful sunny summer's evening and we headed down to the Torbay Velopark for Race 2 of the summer crit series.

I was hoping for better things having been mugged once again by a strong Bikeshed - UEX team the previous evening at the Perranporth crit...still managed to hang on for 6th so was worth the trip to scrape a few more points.

Determined to put in a good show I worked with Mid Devon team mate Andy Hitchins to put in plenty of early attacks to try and get a breakaway established.

Around 10 mins in I managed to break clear and found myself with a reasonable gap so decided to press on and hope that others would bridge over. It wasn't long before Charlie McFadzean (CS Dynamo) came across and we immediately began working together to open up the gap to the main bunch.


A rider from Somerset Road Club then tried to bridge over so Andy Perkins covered the move. Andy put in a strong turn and dropped the rider and realising he was in clear space he then soloed on over.

Now a strong team of three we worked really well together to ensure the break was going to stay away. We continued to lap consistently, eventually lapping the main field with around 10 minutes of racing remaining.


Team tactics then came into play with Andy and I attacking Charlie until Andy broke clear to ensure a Mid Devon win. I then sat on for the last couple of laps before sprinting for the line to take second place.

A big thanks to my coach Mark Dolan of Epic Coaching - I'm definitely getting stronger on the flat!

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Team Tor 2000, Race 4, Ilton

Headed up to Ilton again on Thursday for Race 4 of the Team Tor 2000 series. The weather was mint, a lovely and sunny evening with very little wind.

Warmed up and then headed over to the start line for the E/1/2 race. A break was quickly established with 6 riders getting up the road and pulling a gap on the main group. I'd had a tough week including a three hour ride in the morning so sat in the bunch and kept a watching brief on the action.



It was a pretty boring race really and although there were a lot of attacks throughout the race, all were brought back by the bunch. The lead group were never caught so me and Charlie Revell rolled the dice on the last lap and went off the front. We established a reasonable gap from the main bunch but eventually this was also brought back.



To knackered to contest the bunch sprint we sat up and rolled in after the main bunch. A good training workout if nothing else!