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: rutrainingtoday.co.uk

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 :)