The combination of a notoriously fast course and weather forecast getting warmer and better as the week went on, lead to a very nervous trip up to Newmarket for the Shaftesbury 50.
I’d ridden this course once before, in 2014. It was memorable for all the wrong reasons. I’d gotten some bad news in the morning and selfishly chose a ‘float’ day over being by my best friend’s side… and didn’t Karma bite me on the ass? I’d forgotten to bring any water bottles on a 30C day and had scavenged a 0.5l bottle off Katja. I came off the first roundabout early, which meant a vaguely illegal hop over the grassy central reservation to get back onto the A11. Then after what seemed like FOREVER, my Garmin clocked 50 miles, I saw a marshal and happily wound to a standstill. Ummm, turns out that wasn’t the finish but the marshal for the turn…I’d forgotten about my little detour.
This time round I was determined to not to let silly mistakes ruin my ride. However, traffic on the M25 meant that there was no time to recce the course so I had to rely on the post-it note stuck to my bars. And David’s parting words of “Its going to be a float, don’t f*ck up” were about as useful as my old rowing coach hollering down the megaphone across the river “RELAX, Clarry, RELAX”.
I was off third and confident that I would overtake both riders ahead of me before Hayley Simmonds (off fifth) went past me. It was clearly a fast day as I managed to break my 10 mile PB en route and sure enough I was the first rider on the road after 10 miles. As if by magic, just as I was wondering where Hayley had got to, she glided past me, resplendent in her stripey skinsuit and f*cked off into the distance.
Unusually, my race was going exactly as I had expected it to. I hit the top turn with an average speed of 27.8mph and my legs were still feeling good. I took the roundabouts super slowly, having made a conscious decision that it was better to lose time being absolutely certain I was going the right way than lose time going off course. The poor road surface on the A11 made it feel like I was riding through tar and my speed dropped and dropped. I shuffle about on my saddle, my calves start to cramp up, things are starting to get uncomfortable. A bit of desperate mental arithmetic told me that with 30 miles gone, only a catastrophic equipment failure would stop me from PBing. The way back down towards Four Wentways was tough and I lost a lot of time on the last ten miles. Power was beyond pathetic at this point and I was begging for the finish to appear.
I collapse into a layby and empty the rest of my water bottle. I knew it would be a 1.51 but not exactly what.. yes, I forgot to start my Garmin until I got onto the A11. I hang about for a bit, expecting my travel companion Pete to finish soon after me, get bored then roll the 5 miles back to HQ at an immense 11mph.
I’m greeted by a cheery and super chatty Mark Holt so I know that Hayley has done something special! 1:42:20, some 4 minutes off the Comp Record. I’m lucky enough to sneak into 2nd place with a 1:51:59 (just a casual 12 minute14 PB by the way), the twelfth fastest time recorded. Not bad going for someone who takes a fairly minimalistic approach to training.
And just to tie up the loose ends on my missing person case, 90 minutes later than expected, Pete returns to HQ. Seems like 2 hours in a car with me was enough for my ineptitude to rub off. He’d missed the turn off for the finish then somehow managed to do a 30 mile loop to get back to HQ. All on one 500 mil water bottle, which he’d nearly finished before the start. Now severely dehydrated, he was bundled into the car at top speed so that I could get home for Zoe’s bedtime. Stopping briefly a mile down the road for his queasiness to pass, I showed classic Clarry levels of sympathy as I shoved the rest of a bacon butty down whilst he made friends with a hedge. Then subjected him to 2 hours of bad chat and even worse driving… I think he might be getting a lift from someone else next time :o)
Last weekend, when discussing races for the up coming week, my coach, Bob Tobin said, “…are you really going to race the VTTA 10 in Hull on Saturday afternoon, then the RealTeam ’25’ in South Wales to following morning?!” – of course I was!
It was definitely an ambitious weekend where I had an eye on the magical ’17 min’ ’10’ and Vets +40 record (held by Jeff Jones with an 18:09) and a crack at again a target of mine a 46min ’25’ and possible Vets +40 record (held by Brett Harwood with a stunning 46:40 from 3 weeks ago)
I was coming off the back of a disappointing race for me the previous weekend in Saturday started with a trip to the renowned fast V718 course for the VTTA 10m TT. Stiff competition, as always on there, with Team mates Jon Surtees & Joel Wainman as well as Keith Murray of Drag2Zero… “After a well below performance at last weeks Sleaford 25 which neither I or my coach could really put our finger on why I approached Saturday with some nerves as to how the hell the legs would be!
After reviewing photo’s from last weekend I decided my ‘Saturday shopper’ position had to finally, once and for all go… So mid week, after many swear words, thrown tools and sweating buckets in my sauna (*sorry flat!) I finally followed the ‘crowd’ and went for ‘ski bend’ extensions…
I test rode Friday, legs were awful, #standard, but the position felt quick … I could tell from KOM’s – one I’d been chasing a while…
So on to Saturday, I took a leisurely drive to HQ (well for me) and arrived in plenty of time – so I thought, thinking i was off at 15:10 – as Number 10…. Typically I had (again) not read the start sheet properly … 14:40 start!! Ok, mad dash on and my usual 30m WU was cut to 15miles… would I be ready??!
I pushed off and was determined to start steady – 450NP after 2mins – that was out the window!!! I did settle in and came off the turn at half way bang on 9mins… now a ’17’ looked on, the run back was not quite as fast as I hoped. I actually prefer some wind – you know where you are, there seemed air resistance anywhere and expecting a super fast return, I was disappointed… At about 8m, just under 15mins I realised the ’17’ was not on, and honestly lost my head a bit… but i quickly got back on to finish at near on 45mph and 18:11… NOT BAD! my 2nd fastest ever ’10’ and what I hoped was good enough for the Vets 40+ record, but alas no, Jeff Jones stunning 18:09 is safe. For now.
Then it was time for a super quick change, jump in the motor for a 230m trip to South Wales ready for the RealTeam 25m on the renowned fast R25/3 course…
A lovely day meant no traffic, so i arrived jut after 7pm to my B&B and settled in for the TDF and a HUGE Tesco banquet ahead of race day #2… I think my eyes were bigger than my belly & the Malibu & Coke – don’t ask!
As is typical for me I did not sleep well in a great little B&B in Merthyr Tydfil – too many stimulants I think!
I woke 8’ish to torrential rain – pretty standard this season I am afraid!
I took a leisurely run up to the HQ, signed on a sat in the car watching the rain for an hour or so! I was lucky enough to bump into James Gullen – by far favourite today who was looking to have a go at Matt Bottrill’s Course (and previous National) record.
For me a good warm up saw me arrive 3mins before start time and ready to go… I flew off down the hill and gingerly eased round the first 2 roundabouts – 2 ‘offs’ in the last month have made me nervous cornering in the wet! Onto the fast DCand down the ‘mountain’ – God its so fast…I peaked at 49.9moh down the hill – scary if you think about it, better if you don’t! The only option was to micro interval down the hill. I hit 6m in 10min and continued to hold a great pace. it seemed ‘sucky’, there was no wind so it was just air resistance – to be honest I prefer proper wind, at least you get help one way! I was baulked at the first round about, but not hugely and flew to the turn, hitting 15m in 26min. the turn – WHAT AN IDIOT! I have ridden this course once, driven it twice so HOW did I get it wrong??!! I managed to go round the long lazy curve off the DC to the first min roundabout, where its a sharp left, over the DC then back for the 10m return leg… so WHY oh WHY did I go straight on and almost back onto the south bound carriageway?! I managed to catch it, dead stop and jump up the curb.. to re-start in 58×14 – not easy! ON analysis I lost 10 secs V my last event (also in the rain). I was LIVID and hammered the first couple of miles, way over threshold.. then settled. a ‘good ride’ was still possible…. that last 6m or so was HARD an accumulation of yesterday’s race, loads of driving and the nagging air resistance.
Coming to the last mile it was clear Brett’s record was safe – but could I get that ’46’. NO is the answer! I crossed the line in 47:05.. a new PB, but what might have been…
Back at HQ it was clear Gullen had done a ‘stormer’ – he clocked 45:33 for a phenomenal win by 92 secs.
James Gullen 00:45:33
Andy Jackson 00:47:05
James Copeland 00:48:04
David Allonby 00:48:09
Scott Burns 00:48:18
Justin Layne 00:48:25
Thomas Brazier 00:48:50
Paul Ashley 00:49:16
Ben Anstie 00:49:28
Gavin Hinxman 00:49:28
Jonathan Gates 00:49:29
David James 00:49:39
Christopher Gibbard 00:49:40
Anthony Jones 00:49:50
So all in all… a great weekend – a 25m PB, my 2nd fastest ever ’10’, just 9 secs off my PB, but sadly 3 goals missed – Vets 10 record by 2 secs (!!), Vets 25 record by 25secs and the magical ’46’ by 6 secs! ah well – there will be more to go at!
EUGENE: A week ago last Wednesday I went to Wales to compete in the biggest 2/3/4 stage race in the country. I was joined by three guest riders on the SSLL team: Archie Cross (my older brother), Freddie Jagger, and Chris. My final exam was on the Tuesday, so I was really throwing myself in at the deep-end having just backed off the cycling a little over the past 2 months.
The race started in the driving rain on a dual carriageway. With the first stage being a 5 mile team time trial, going down a hill then back up, we were aware that we weren’t going to win the race that day but with the poor conditions and poorly surfaced roundabouts we could definitely lose the race.
We didn’t. We did a pretty quick time of 11:22 coming 5th team. A real lack of riding as a team meant that Freddie and Chris did too much on the first leg, whilst I struggled to contribute on junior gears on the descent. This meant that at the finish Archie and I were left feeling we could have given more.
ARCHIE: With all the SSLL team just 22 seconds down on the yellow jersey we were in a good position going into stage 2. Looking at the route the previous night it appeared to have very little in the way of flat road but also nothing too steep to really split the race. The main feature of the course was a 4.5 mile drag averaging 2.5% to the finish line which the race would go up 4 times. With the usual start of race nerves, ambition and freshness, the first time up the climb was a series of attacks followed by more attacks and nothing getting any distance.
After deciding everybody was too fresh to allow a break to go this early I just sat well back in the group the 2nd time up the climb saving my energy. Eugene took 3rd over the top of the climb this time through, giving him a big 1 point in the KOM competition, an effort he would come to regret an hour later.
A steep 400m just before the long drag on the 3rd lap brought out attacks from the riders who would go on to be the strongest in the race. Richard Bussell(Team Midlands), wearing the yellow jersey, dragged 3 of us clear and for about 30 seconds I thought that could be race over for everyone else. Preparing for an hour of suffering on his wheel I was almost quite glad we were pulled back just after the top. It had shown people were starting to suffer however and I decided I was going to give a big effort to get a group away up the climb.
After about half a mile of the climb I attacked but was given no room, I eased off and 5 riders came over the top of me so I slotted back in. 30 seconds later everyone eased off and I went again, a look back and I had a gap. I realised I had just over 10 minutes to the top of the climb so just got my head down and pressed on hoping a small group would get across to me before the top. Over the next 5 minutes Ross Phelps, Matthew Garthwaite and my teammate Chris Sleath came over and we started to work well, increasing our lead. Just before the summit Chris dropped off the back and we could not afford to wait. In hindsight this may have been a mistake as once over the top Chris would have had the power on the flatter part of the course to really help us put time into the main group.
Once onto the descent and flatter parts it became clear Matthew was the most powerful rider of the 3 left, he would do 3 minute turns, I would manage 30 seconds and by the bottom Ross seemed to be hanging on.
As we got to the final time up the drag we were told we had 48 seconds, this is when I started to believe we could make it to the finish and a new wave of energy hit me. A mile later Ross dropped the wheel and was soon back into the chasing bunch. As we got into the final 2 miles and I realised we were going to stay away, I let Matthew know if we pushed all the way to the line I would not sprint for the stage. At the time I was thinking of the overall GC, the time back to the bunch and that he had done far more work in the break so deserved the stage win. What I hadn’t considered was the 15 second time bonus for 1st place on the stage.
We crossed the line 33 seconds ahead of the bunch and I received a 10 second bonus for 2nd on the stage. This moved me into 2nd on GC and 1st in the KOM competition due to points picked up in the break. I will never know who would have won the sprint for the stage, but the longer the week went on the more I regretted that I hadn’t tried to find out, more on that at the end.
Chris and Freddie came in at the front of the bunch while Eugene, fresh out of A-levels, blew up spectacularly and lost 4 minutes inside the final 2 miles. A very impressive explosion.
EUGENE: The third day was a double day. It kicked off with a road stage in the morning followed by a TT in the afternoon. The morning was pretty flat with a short drag of a hill and a winding long steady descent back down. After a taking a real battering the day before I was sitting in for the start of the day. Archie and Chris had broken away with a very strong looking break containing members from many of the main teams. Freddie bridged the gap before an all-out effort by Radeon – Bike Science RT reeled back the seemingly winner of a breakaway. We were now back to square one with three of our riders having put in big efforts already.
A second break quickly formed and the peloton sat up allowing the break to go out to about 1min 30sec. At this point I came to the front and along with Harry Brook-Dobson of Bath University and one other we started to chase to limit our losses to the group of 9 up the road. The three of us were the only three chasing and were unable to cut that gap down. The stage finished up a slight drag on a dual carriageway. I was spent and the group came over me at around 3km and I lost a chunk of time once again. Archie and Chris were competitive in the sprint from the main bunch finishing 2nd and 5th respectively from the group. Unfortunately we had lost big time, 1min 11sec, and despite Archie still being in the top 10 he had still taken a large hit.
Then came the TT that afternoon. Richard Bussell was a clear favourite having won last year’s national 10 mile and hill climb championships. On the other hand the course was not a classic CTT course. The TT started up 2min 30 sec climb before a quick downhill section on an A-road. A stupidly quick run into a left hand sharp corner onto a single track road which went uphill for a short time before a quick descent to the finish. Richard Bussell held onto get 2nd but lost 2 seconds to Paul Double. Archie came 6th on the stage with 11:17, 5 second off the winner. Freddie, Chris and I did 11:46, 11:58, and 11:54 respectively. This moved Archie into 4th at 38 seconds.
On the Saturday we had 7 laps of a course that I had raced earlier in the year at the first round of the junior National Series. The course is mainly flat with a single steep 2 minute climb. It also consists of many corners which after 4 days of racing really start to take it out of you. A break went away and with very quick, long, slightly downhill sections there was little I could do to limit the gap to them. With little over a lap to go Freddie hit the deck on a quick straight section and despite finishing the stage, at 8:43 back, he did not start the next day. Meanwhile a break had gotten away and despite taking the stage win and time bonuses had no effect on the GC with the Archie, Chris and me finishing in the group.
The 5th and final day was designed to be the queen stage, a pretty flat 50 miles followed by a climb of the tumble. Down to three men, we had Freddie in the team car and his bike as a spare on the roof. The bunch rolled out of the HQ and neutralised through Abergavenny. Not 1km into the neutral zone Archie had a rear flat and dropped back to the team car. He quickly took Freddie’s bike off the team car swapped his Garmin onto Freddie’s bike and caught back up to the group. Still in the neutralised zone he noticed that Freddie’s bike was massively too small. I kindly offered to swap my bike with Archie as he had much more to gain on this stage than I did. Archie was right, it was a tiny bike that I was now riding. We had however not swapped Garmins which meant that I could always tell if Archie was nearby by whether or not his heart-rate was on my screen. The racing was very steady, but quick, for the start of the day. You could easily sit in but with an average speed of 26mph it wasn’t too slow.
With about 10km to the foot of the Tumble me and Archie found ourselves at the back of the group and conscious that we needed to start moving up. Moving to the front was easily done but it became increasingly difficult to maintain our place at the front. Using the radar heart-rate on my Garmin I tried to stay up there making sure I didn’t drift too far from Archie. At around 3km to the foot of the climb the competition to be at the front was almost getting stupid with a real compromise between position and effort. On the run into the climb there was a short section of dual-carriageway followed by two small roundabouts, then a left turn in a village shortly after onto the climb. Archie, Chris and I all had managed to remain at the front and, with Chris narrowly missing a parked car on the left turn, made it onto the climb in a promising position. The pace slackened off almost immediately as we had all made it safely onto the climb. I went to the front to try and and make the race hard, Archie had a full 38seconds to make up. I thought I was making things hard doing 400W (at 60kg) at the foot of the 15min climb, however I was on the front for less than 30seconds before Peter Kibble started to push on at the front. I remained just behind with Archie on my wheel for another minute or so before flicking my elbow to indicate to Archie that I couldn’t help him anymore.
ARCHIE: With 38 seconds to make up on the yellow jersey and 31 on 2nd place I knew I had to split the race early on the climb in the hope of giving myself enough time to make that time up. As Eugene flicked me past I latched onto Peter Kibbles wheel and the group lined out. As we got round the hairpin onto the steepest part of the climb he eased off and I realised this was when I had to split it. I upped the pace until I was doing 450 watts and held it there, looking around the group was a line and my breakaway companion from stage 2, Matthew Garthwaite was on my wheel but letting it slip. Another 30 seconds and me and Peter were away from the group.
With Peter a long way behind me on GC this is exactly what I had wanted, I pressed on knowing I had to gain as much time as possible. For the next few minutes we swapped turns on the front then just before the middle flatter section Paul Double caught us and went straight to the front. By this point I was really hanging on and very thankful for the extra company. Soon however I realised neither Paul nor Peter cared how much we stayed away by so as Paul eased off I had no choice but go back to the front. From here I just tried to keep as much speed going to the line as possible, twice Peter attacked, Paul chased him down and I just tried to get to the line as quickly as possible. With 300m to go they started the sprint and I could not react. They finished 3 and 4 seconds ahead of me with Paul taking a well deserved stage win. 3rd place on the stage gave me 5 bonus seconds meaning the yellow jersey had 33 seconds to get to the line. He got there in 26.
Riding back to the HQ, unsure of if I had done enough, I was reminded by Eugene about a million times if I lost the GC by less than 5 seconds my decision not to sprint on stage 2 would really come back and haunt me. Thankfully I lost the race by 7 seconds which left team SSLL with 2nd overall, 5th team and top 10 on 4 of the 6 stages.
EUGENE: The race was a great experience and I hope not to have scooped my 1st Cat too early next season in order to enter again. The race was also a great recce for the Junior Tour of Wales which takes place at the end of August.
Guildford Town Centre Races always pulls in a big crowd, numerous sponsors, and plenty of prizes including primes and aggressive rider award. The course itself is a tight circuit around the cobbled high street that was used for the sprint finish in the 2012 Tour of Britain, won by Mark Cavendish. Each lap starts with a descent down the very broken road of North Street, a right angle corner into a climb up an alley way, before another right angle corner onto the cobbled high street and a climb back to the start.
The Guildford Town Centre Race attracts some of the best riders from the region including UCI team Pedal Heaven and women’s elite team Ford EcoBoost. In previous years, talent like Joanna Rowsell and Jon Dibben have ridden here.
I was to ride the women’s race. I wasn’t expecting much as I don’t train for these sorts of races. In fact my training has been pretty limited recently. My training volume and intensity was reduced in May/June while I was doing my finals, followed by three weeks of illness and exhaustion. Thankfully, I’ve been feeling better this week and was looking forward to some fun on the bike.
The evening started with the U8 race as the Guildford Town Centre Races caters for all ages (see top picture). They were to complete three laps of the circuit which looked to be challenging for such small legs! Some of these kids are really impressive though.
Then disaster struck in the junior race when three girls slid out on the final corner. Two ambulances were called out and the girls were isolated in neck braces and kept still on the course. The temperature was dropping and they must have been getting cold and they were kept there for 1h30. This held up the following senior races by almost two hours. The sun was going down, it was getting dark and chilly, and the seniors were getting stiff, cold and hungry on the start line, uncertain of when or even if their races would start. I regretted not bringing extra layers with me but did squeeze in a very quick second warm up once our race was confirmed to start in 15 minutes. The cost of choosing to warm up again was arriving last to the start line and starting at the back.
The first lap had a sprint prize so the pace was insane from the gun. I was averaging 191 bpm from lap 2 and peaked at my max of 196 mid race. The corners and the cobbles quickly split the riders up. I got a poor start from the back but was able to slowly pick riders off up the climbs and by taking the inside line of the corners. I was feeling sick and my lungs were burning. I glanced down to see how long we’d been riding. 2 minutes 50 seconds!!!! Oh dear. This was really really going to hurt. But if you’re hurting, others are hurting too. After 5 minutes I was already passing riders that had blown up. I started to blow myself 5 minutes before the end. In fact, my windpipe is still burning while I type this.
Thank you to Charlotteville Cycling Club, the many volunteers and the GTCR sponsors for putting on another first class event! And thank you to SSLL for continuing to support my racing, especially while I took a break from regular racing to finish my degree.
Well its been a very hectic few weeks for me, and there is no end in sight looking at the race calendar!
Straight off the back of the National Team Time Trial Silver medal it was back to Plymouth for the National 50 the weekend after. As is well documented this was on an extremely tough hilly course up and down the A38 – not one to suit a big diesel like me! Overall I ended up 7th and won my age group, as good as could have been hoped for against some really quality competition of Bussell, Perry, Davies, Clinton etc…
Anyway since then I have been juggling mid week ’10’s’ with prep for the National 100 next weekend (10th July).
I raced the famous E2/10 course in the East Mids VTTA event well organised & hosted by Pnut… the course is ‘famous’ for a certain Mr Alex Dowsett’s Competition record of 17:20!
I was off early at 7:10, due to work commitments and made it to all 4 events, despite the long travel distances. Unfortunately for us all none were blessed with great weather – in fact I think I got wet at them all, and almost every race this season…… Does my bike know about it with the groans and creaks coming form various bearings!
I managed to win each event in times of 18:19 / 18:39 and a joint 18:37 with Matt Smith from Team Bottrill. The final event coming after a manic day for me workwise which saw me hit the start line with 2 mins to spare – great timing!
In between I had 2 weekends off racing due to a Family wedding and a concious decision to ‘get the miles in’ ahead of the National 100.
This lead me into Sat 3rd June, the main event – another chance at a ‘fast 25’ in the Belper 25, run as the Mark Storey memorial event in which his parents kindly put up a winners trophy and medals for the top finishers. As SSLL racing team we had a great team riding in Joel Wainman, my self and Jon Surtees… all hoping for a good time.
Weather forecast was windy and showers – oh did we get those! On my drive up the A14 was a car park due to accident and then torrential rain… was going to be fun.
I arrived about 3.15pm to what appeared dry and fine conditions, albeit windy. WU went well, until getting stopped at the level crossing in Hilton and only just making it back to the car……. then it rained! Oh did it rain! I arrived at the line as Mark Holton made the sensible decision not to ride – TBH I was in 2 minds it was that wet and cold, and tha is unlike me – I normally start anything. I then remembered back to the Walsall event the previous year, I was 2nd last seed (as here) and just as I started I got a soaking – and the PB’d – sod it lets go!
The start was treacherous, I literally crawled first onto the A-road then round the roundabout up to the DC. then the wind HITS and did it hit. its interesting how the esteemed TT forum is adamant the ‘late starts got the best conditions’ (or was that all those who felt they had a sub standard ride and need yet another excuse?) … ok then, if 8 degrees, p*** wet through and a power to the turn, greater than the ’10’ I rode on Thurs night – for my slowest time EVER to the turn in that event, then fine, but I think not. It was hard and it suited powerful riders as I found it a fight almost every pedal stroke, crawling round roundabouts for fear of wet and traffic .
Coming back was fast, no doubting – but still that was me pushing over 380W in my best aero tuck, *which we all know isn’t very aero but hey!
So I shot down the finish ramp onto the finish approach and managed a HUGE 1 sec PB! TBH I was amazed and pleased. I do not care what anyone says I gave 150% and put out a ride up with my very best in regards power, race planning and execution and time.
So overall it was 2nd for me, just 9 secs behind Steve Irwin who rode a phenomenal ride to return at an average of >56kph!
So overall happy with the result, and the benefits of ‘being old’ – 1st Vet >40 = more prize money!
We were wrongly told SSLL racing team had not won the team prize, on 2nd counting we think we have – so well done team mates!
Many thanks to the organisers, marshalls and the family of Mark for putting the event on… National 100 now next week!
Some of you may know others may not, that eight weeks ago I was told that I had a pulmonary embolism.
Several small blood clots in my right lung and scar tissue from exposure to asbestos were discovered after several weeks of feeling off colour and an aching right side. Several more C.T. scans and a consolation with a specialist; I had to start using a blood thinning drug – Apixaban.
After the initial shock and the panic of what will I be able to do?? A few weeks of light training and a pre-arranged family holiday, the soreness on my right side and the restricted breathing improved.
After a couple of telephone calls with my coach Matt Clinton it was decided to start doing some races and harder training sessions just to see how my body reacted.
My first race back was on a very cold and wet Wednesday evening over 21 hilly miles, organised by Halifax Imps. Although placed 3rd this was a massive shock to the system and took several days to recover. I knew this was just the beginning and hopefully things would improve.
My next race was on the super-fast V718 but this was abandoned following a car crash on the course, after 60 riders had started….
The following week was the YCF 15 mile on V728 again a renowned fast course. I arrived early and managed to get in a good warm up on my rollers before going to the start, 10:50. The conditions were very good and the fast times had started rolling in. Now it was my turn, I started like a scared hare and completely made a mess of the first left turn, (some very strong verbal words to myself to get my act together) and I was off again, working as hard as I could watching both my power and heartrate. I was soon at the turn and feeling o.k., I’d been lucky enough to pass one or two riders so I knew things were going well. Working just as hard on the return leg and finishing in 30:13, I was very pleased with my time knowing that I had performed as well as possible, with just a few speed sessions under my belt. I had made it round the course in one piece, able to fight another day.
With the result in and my overall position being 8th, I had just managed to set an age group record 51 years young and 30:13, even if for only 43 minutes. Thanks Michael Ellerton, great ride mate.
Onwards and hopefully upwards to the next race this weekend and more hard training. I’m still having good days and bad days, but I’m still able to race at quite a reasonable level. With time it should get a lot better.
I would also like to take this opportunity to say a massive thankyou for all the kind messages and the fantastic support from my team members and sponsors.
Sitting in the car outside HQ waiting for the freak hail storm to pass so that we could go into to collect our numbers, I wondered if the long drive up to Derby to tackle the A50/6 would be worth it.
It’s an extension of the super fast A25/11 with a ‘dog leg’ up a stretch of single carriageway. It was also the reverse of the J course I had set my PB of 2.04.13 on in 2013 and I was hoping for a well overdue update to something much more respectable. Given my notorious ability to get lost on a straight road, I had taken no chances. Friday night was spent scrutinising the course on Google maps and drawing a tiny map on a strip of tape to attach to my handlebars. I marked on every roundabout and expected mileage. The only thing that stood between me and a PB were my legs (no pun intended), or so I thought.
Preparation clearly hadn’t stretched to packing any waterproof kit so I was forced to ride to the start in my oversized pink raincape (with Dalmations all over it) that is normally reserved for windy wet days when I can’t manage an umbrella and the pram. Nothing like being inconspicuous…
First two and a bit miles to the A50 flew by and it wasn’t long until I could see my minute woman up ahead. Mental note to calm down, 50 miles is a long way. First 10 miles done in just 21.45. I hit the ‘Concrete mountain’ and the head wind but even then my average speed has barely dropped below 26mph. Speed was way above what I had anticipated but my power told me it was sustainable. By the time I got to the top turn I had passed almost everyone up to my 9 minute woman with the exception of Angela Hibbs (Nat 50 champion) and Alice Lethbridge (4th at Nat 50).
Back down the Concrete Mountain at some 30 mph and onto the single carriageway. I glance down at my map, straight over the first mini roundabout then turn at the second. I approach the second, the mileage looks wrong, but I’m sure that there were only 2 on the map so I turn. The marshal must have popped off for a comfort break. Almost immediately I regret that move. I squint at the map again but by the time I was sure that I’d turned early I was nearly back onto the DC. (In retrospect, I could have turned, re ridden that section and still got a PB).
Despite that fatal error, I was keen to prove to myself what I was capable of so I carry on back at race pace. If nothing else, this would be good training for the National 100 and provide valuable data. And there was a miniscule chance that maybe I was wrong about being wrong.
Back onto the A516 for what should have been the last mile and a half. I pass the finish time keepers at 49.1miles. Damn, Clarry you really are a complete idiot. I continue until my Garmin says 50 miles and I stop the clock at 1.54.15. That should have been just enough to sneak into the Top 20 on the All time Fastest Riders list but sadly, it was officially a DNF for me. GUTTED.
PS. It turns out the map on Strava is out of date. Don’t trust Strava.
Following our success in March in the Hull Thursday RC 2 up 24, myself and super espoir Jon Wears decided to see how quick we could go over 10 miles as a team.
The perfect choice was the relatively local Bolsover event held in the single carruageway A60 course at Cucknet near Worksop.
With Jon Wears currently on top form with no less than 6 sub 50 minute rides over 25 miles, it was always going to be a tough race for me but training has been going well and my new Giant Trinity Advanced Time Trial bike courtesy of our sponsors SSLL, dialled in, I was looking forward to this event immensely.
So the day arrived and while others were getting a soaking in flood conditions elsewhere, we were blessed with warm sunshine and a crosswind breeze.
Off last of 30 teams, we were pre race favourites but took nothing for granted as several other teams were quality outfits including former team mates Robbie Krygsman and Rich Dean of Team Swift and Ian Guillor and Sean Eden from Mapperley CC.
So following a good focused warm up on our turbos , a fuel top up courtesy of OTE , off we went to the start. The start of this course is halfway down a fairly steep climb and so we were up to 40 plus mph within seconds. My new 58 tooth chainring courtesy of Fibrelyte was running perfectly and all was well. Jon Wears came through super smooth to lead us out of the first village which we flew through courtesy of the excellent marshals stopping traffic from pulling out on us. He was flying and although comfortable on his wheel, it was a while before I could come through to take a turn. However it didn’t matter to Jon as he turned 56 x 11 with ease.
30 plus mph avg after 5 minutes of racing and all was looking good, but then just ahead we saw a problem. A traffic jam had been caused by a Range Rover trying to turn right across the road into a market!! We had to slow and then freewheel dropping from 30 mph to 14 as we somehow squeezed past. Obstruction clear but it took another 40 seconds to get back up to race speed – gutted!
Undeterred we cracked on and still hit the long slow turn in 10 minutes still an average of 30 mph. I ploughed a route through the traffic at the turn and got us back up to 31 mph before Jon was once again pushing the pace upwards on the front . We seemed to be getting faster and very soon the finish line (thankfully before the start hill!) was ahead. A strong sprint at 35 mph and we crossed the line side by side in 20:20 for an average speed of 29.6 mph. Was it enough to win? We were hopeful. However on arriving back at the HQ, we were greeted by the Team Bottrills who gave us the bad news that Guillor and Eden had beaten us by 6 seconds and the Swifts by 1 measly second. Both of us were disappointed but happy that we had tried our hardest.
On returning home I analysed all data and it was clear that with the delay and the huge scrub off of speed that several seconds had been lost and a likely win with it. This is however part of racing on open roads and thats that.
For me I was happy that I could hold a the flying Jons, 24 yrs my junior, wheel . He is really proving to be a superstar and long may it continue.
as usual a big thanks to the SSLL Chiefs Simon Fearnley and Keith Davey for providing us with the best in frames, nutrition and coaching from Giant , OTE and our Coaches Gary Kristenson and Adam Hardy .
My topsy turvy season continued this weekend with the Bridlington 10 around the undulating course at Burton Fleming. Fresh from a week’s training in Tenerife with plenty of climbing in my legs, I was hopeful of notching another win in the series which would hopefully push me closer to the YCF Spoco title.
I travelled to the event with my good friend and team mate Blair Buss and we spent 2 hours in the car trying to psyche each other out… Just kidding. We spent 2 hours talking politics! Yawn.
On arrival at the HQ I collected my number, got the bike ready and commenced a 40 minute warm up on the turbo trainer in the glorious sunshine. The legs felt pretty heavy after the week in Tenerife and my negative TSB was at the forefront of my mind as I tried to ramp things up and get my lungs ready to do battle. Final preparations done I rode the 2 miles to the start. The wind was in the wrong direction for this course. Last year the westerly wind assisted in me nearly breaking James Gullen’s course record, but this year the Easterly wind, albeit fairly light, was to provide little assistance other than for the first 3 mile climb, which definitely helped me take the KOM on the day for that particular segment.
After a few weeks off racing I knew I would be a little rusty to begin with but hopefully as the race progressed I would begin to get into my stride. As the starter began to count down I took a few deep breaths and then I was off. As mentioned, the first 3 miles are uphill at an average gradient of 2%. With the tailwind helping riders up the incline I negotiated the first section of the course pretty well and began to settle into a rhythm. After you crest the 3 mile climb you begin a fast descent; flicking quickly through the gears my di2 derailleur decided to throw my chain off, I managed to catch it on the crank arm and reach down quickly to put it back on. A few seconds lost and with oil all over my hands I settled back down into a rhythm and concentrated on catching my minute man, Andrew Askwith. This is a course Andy knows well and it took me an age to reel him in. Course knowledge is really beneficial on a course like this because there were a few sweeping bends were I needlessly braked too hard and scrubbed too much speed off, and a few other bends where I didn’t brake quickly enough in advance resulting in me slamming the brakes on and losing momentum.
As the miles ticked by the average speed was slowly creeping up to 28mph and I briefly had thoughts of getting close to last years time, but as you take the T Junction at Wolds Newton and commence the run in through Burton Fleming, the headwind put a stop to the increase in the average speed and it began a fight to keep it above 27mph ave. The last 2 miles are really undulating with two lung busting climbs before a very fast descent to the finish. I managed to catch Andy at 8 miles, just before the first climb back up to the finish line. I ramped things up as hard as I could to the finish line, averaging 410 watts for the last 2 minutes, and stopped the clock in 22:04 which was almost a minute slower than last year. On riding back to the HQ I forgot I had oil all over my hands and as I brushed the flies off my skinsuit with my hand I managed to get oil all over my sleeves! Another item of kit ruined.
Upon arriving back to HQ I was told I had won the event by over 30 seconds from an ever improving Stewart Gormley of Team Swift. A fairly comfortable win in the end which resulted in me going to the top of the YCF Spoco Series leader board. On checking my data afterwards I pleased to see a power PB for the season with my levels slowly getting back to the levels I set last year. Thanks to my coach Bob Tobin for his patience with me this year. Things are now settling down at home with the little one finally sleeping a lot better than she was 3 months ago meaning my training has been more consistent. Thanks as ever to our great sponsors, SSLL, No Pinz and OTE.
Race Report from Harrogate Nova RR where Max Placed 6th
Fathers day should mean the father is spoilt and brought breakfast in bed… a lie in and waited on hand and foot for the day, right? Well not my dad! He came and woke me up at 7 to get ready for racing! I got downstairs to see he was already making me my pre race meal of beans on toast. I knew I’d have to make it a good race to make it all worth it.
We are only a short distance from the infamous Pennypot circuit that todays race was held on, just outside of Harrogate, so its one I know well and regularly train on.
Todays race could be described as a proper Yorkshire local bike race, 15 mile from home to HQ, hang out with my mates, then race, then eat cake after… it was a right laugh. All that pre race banter was flying and it’s such a nice break from revision (As I’m still taking my A2 finals; 8 done 4 to go…)
I got to sign on saw there was a decent field of 80 odd riders of Yorkshires finest, including Ex pro and eventual winner Jamie Sharp. You could say he was at the sharp end of the race…
I know I’m not in peak condition as far as fitness as trainings having to take a bit of a backseat while i get these exams out the way, its been more of a case of maintenance rather than building, with most weeks training totalling 7 hours at absolute most. So looking at the field I could tell I was gonna be in for a tough day.
Nevertheless my mindset remained the same, enjoy it, pay attention to the riders you know are strong and the advice I was given by the legend Tom Barras- “Don’t take shit from no clowns”
Things kicked off at 10 am sharp, it was a steady start with the ever optimistic solo attacks going 60 mile from the finish. I stayed sat in about 15th wheel most of the first lap, knowing… ok, hoping the break wouldn’t go on the first lap and me miss it. The good thing about this lack of training is that 99%of the time I’m feeling pretty fresh, so I felt good early on.
About 2 and a half laps in a break went, 4 or 5 riders went up the road on Pennypot road- Basically the longest draggy bumpy pothole covered road in the world. I wasn’t going to start chasing anything this time trying not to unnecessarily waste energy, I thought it’d come back and it did, but from then on I stayed more alert to attacks. Sure enough another attack went with about 8 or 9 riders, one of them was me! After having seen a few go up the road and still feeling strong I bridged the 200m gap and sat on for a bit to recover. In the next few miles another 4 riders bridged to us to form what was the winning move. 2 laps to go… I was confident I’d made the right decision getting in this break. With one lap to go we crossed the line with about a minute gap on the main field. Nothing was guaranteed with 12 miles still to go but it was looking likely that the winner was going to come from this break.
It felt like we were riding too slowly and that we were going to get caught so I probably did more turns than perhaps was necessary, but I would rather get 15th and last man in the break than the main group catch us and me get nothing. So I endeavoured to get a chain gang working, it worked well enough that we weren’t caught but they had certainly closed in on us at the finish.
The final time up Pennypot road was steady, the fireworks hadn’t been lit yet, but then we turned the corner onto the descent where a rider attacked, me on junior gearing was left searching for gears as I had to sit in and watch him drift off at 40 odd mile an hour. The road kicks up past a famous bikers pub which is where another rider went away, the road then turns left past the HQ and into the final mile or so. I wasn’t cooked but knew I wasn’t the strongest rider there, so I stayed sat in and let others chase the breakaways breakaway riders. There’s a short descent that leads into the final climb, I was sat 4th wheel there with two still off the front, so 6th on the road. It really kicks up with 250m or so to go, I gulped in the air, swung out and gave it everything, but as I said already, I wasnt the strongest rider there and came in 6th place, but 1st junior rider.
After winning my local hilly TT the Thursday prior to today and this result its been a decent week. Now time to crack on with some revision again.