Mel Wasley – Mallorca 312

At the end of April, trainSharp coached and SSLL Racing Team rider, Mel Wasley took part in the Mallorca 312 Km, a sportive that famously completes a lap of the Spanish Island. The 2016 version took a different route, but was no less challenging. Having ridden the previous year, Mel was confident she could push a little harder, especially on the climbs. The weather wasn’t playing ball, however….

“The rain started at 6:45 as we lined up at the start and continued for the next 6 or 7 hours. The first 40 km was spent trying to work through the big packs of cyclists. Once we hit the hills I tried to settle into a comfortable pace where I was working hard but not so much that I risked blowing up in the remaining kilometres. Riding the Haute Route multi-stage event last year had definitely helped me develop a feel for this and when you were pushing too hard or had more to give. “ In the first 2 hours Mel and her group had completed the climb up into Luc and the Puig Major, up to 865 meters above sea level, during which time she has averaged an impressive 217 Watts – not bad considering this was only one fifth of the total time recorded for the day!

Mel Wasley First 6 hours

“We spent 6 or 7 hours riding in the mountains hills. There is 4,000+ meters of climbing in 312km and most of this is in the first mountainous part. I am happy climbing so this bit was in my comfort zone”.

There aren’t many people that would say such a thing, but working with Mel on her sustainable powers and leg strength efforts over the recent months, she sailed over the first 150 Km, in 6 hours.

The route profile meant that the majority of the climbing was complete after 7 hours, an easy ride back to the start you might be thinking…this wasn’t the case.

Mel Wasley 312 Map and trace

“This bit was the toughest part, not least because at 80km we were taken past the finish line where the people doing 160 Km and 282 Km routes were peeling off to finish. It was really important that we got in with a group of people who were willing to work together. Luckily we managed to do this and with 5 of us sharing the work on the front we made good progress to get us to the 230 Km mark.

The last 3 hours were definitely the toughest and felt a lot like a very long tough turbo session. In the context of the 312 80 Km is not "far to go" but then you remember ordinarily that would be a decent training ride. The final 10 Km saw everyone find a second wind so this bit was a speedy run into the finish where I finished with a time of 11:12:27. Definitely one of the most demanding and satisfying rides I’ve done.”

Mel was the first lady to complete the event and came in 134 position overall. Her average power  was 227 W (NP), expending nearly 7,400 calories (Kcal) over the course of the day!

Mel Wasley Power distribution

Having completed the Mallorca 312, Mel has since completed the Tour of Wessex, and recently placed 5 th in the National 50 mile Time Trial (only her second ever 50!). From here the targets are for the National 100 and 25 time trials and getting a national medal.

If you are looking for advice on your next big goal, whether it is a particular event or individual target get in touch with trainSharp ( and they can discuss the best preparation for you.

Thanks to Elliot Lipski, trainSharp Coaching for his words and analysis.

National 50m TT 2016

Andy Jackson & Mel Wasley made the long long long trek to Plymouth for the 2016 National 50m TT.

A hugely challenging course that was a TT classic, out and back up a DC (A38)… but this was no ordinary DC!   Andy recce’d the course on Saturday…. 8m up some ridiculous long and steep drags and +50mph down… this was no ‘Normal’ 50!

The race attracted the who’s who of the TT world, despite the distance.  Mel approaching her first 50 TT of the year after some fabulous events last year was hoping for a top placing.

In the Men’s the competition was super tough, headed by defending National 25 champion Ryan Perry and National 10 champion Richard Bussell, as well as last years 2nd and 3rd in the 50, Matt Clinton and Brett Harwood.

Sunday am,  early!  Brought rain for the start of the women’s event at 5.30am.  Mel was off near the top of the field and fired up to the turn,  the return leg was a real grind for all. Back at the HQ as results cane in it was clear Mel had done a fab ride,  2:00:48, but was beaten into 5th pace by winner Angela Hibbs (Fusion RT), defending champion Julia Shaw (Drag2zero) and Becky Lewis (Wrexham RC)


Build up for the Men’s had seen Andy record a PB 1:41:05 in the Finsbury pk 50 4 weeks before and a 18:19 ’10’ the Thursday before,  form was coming…!

The Men’s event began just after 6am with Andy off, as 3rd seed at 7:50am due to his 4th place finish last year.

The out leg was fast, trying in vein to hammer the hills and recover down,  he hit the turn in just over 50m to begin the grind back.  Meanwhile Perry & Bussell hit the turn in 48mins !! WOW.

The course didn’t really suit,  give him a long flat DC and its perfect territory, but those ‘drags’ V the flying lightweights were always going to be a challenge!

A solid return leg saw Andy come in on 1:44:27…

BDCA 25 2016 2

Bussell & Perry were a class above and fought out a narrow 12 secs difference with Perry triumphing in 1:39:50 – amazing ride!

Kieron Davies (Drag2Zero) wrapped up the podium.

Andy’s ride saw him 7th, with some notable scalps behind, including Charles Taylor (100m record holder) , Steve Irwin and Phil Graves.

Roll on the National 100 in 4 weeks where SSLL RT will have a full mens and womens team racing and on courses that suit their strengths!



New AG World Hour Record!!

In March of last year, whilst I was 6 months pregnant, I attended a talk by Graeme Obree at Athlete Service, my local bike shop. I came out utterly in awe of this man who was not only revolutionized our sport but has repeatedly pushed his body to its absolute limits multiple in his bid for the Hour Record. It was impossible to resist his enthusiasm and I left wondering if I could ever anything like that.

Fast forward to October 18th 2015. David, a 3-month-old Zoe and I are driving back from my very lacklustre debut at the National Closed Circuit Champs.

D: Maybe you should do some track stuff

Me: No, I’m not buying another bike

D: But there’d be no cars and you can’t get lost

Me: No, I’m not buying another bike

D: You could be good! You could win medals at the Masters. Oh my god, you could do the Masters Hour Record. Go on, look it up, what is it?

If nothing else David is persistent and I knew I wouldn’t have a moments peace for the rest of the journey home… Slow mobile internet be damned, I Googled whilst D tried to contain his excitement — Adelia Reyneke, 41.386km.

Given my 25mile PB of just under 56 minutes, this wasn’t totally outside the realms of possibility. I just needed to do it without a massive downhill start, traffic assistance and on a fixed wheel bike…. Nooooo problem!

And so it was that on New Years Eve, despite being so unfit that I couldn’t finish a club training session the day before at Newport, I’d bought a bike and was putting together a power/speed spreadsheet whilst everyone else was getting merry.

It was a simple enough plan, I had to find 20 watts, get my CdA back down to pre pregnancy best on a UCI legal bike and spend as much time in the velodrome as possible.As for equipment, I took articles on Molly Van Houweling and Bradley Wiggins to be the start of a shopping list and happily found that David and I hadn’t done badly with our purchases over the past few years!

  • Cervelo T4 – on order
  • Dash saddle – check
  • USE Tula bars – check
  • Mavic Comete wheels – an old club mate agreed to lend us a set as spares but I would use a prototype Revolver disc front from Harry Walker (previous owner, one Dame Sarah Storey, if its good enough for her…)
  • Speedplay zero pedals – check
  • Giro Empire shoes – check
  • S-works helmet – yup, though it was not designed for comfort
  • Skinsuit – a Nopinz/Aerocoach tripsuit in team colours, of course
  • Cranks – I had a set of Infocranks on loan from Verve Cycling which Athlete Service had arranged for me.

I had Bob Tobin on my side so the improvement in power was never going to be an issue, especially given my previously lax approach to training. The problem was whether or not I could do it in the time we had and without getting ill.

Finances meant that I was only able to get 3 private sessions at Newport, the last of which was for the attempt itself. Luckily I had a very understanding club in GS Henley who let me gatecrash their training session and made time for me to do individual efforts. Being on maternity leave also meant that I was able to ‘pop’ over to Wales for a few drop in sessions and I made the most of living near an outdoor velodrome to learn the art of a fixie. I finally got the hang of ‘sagging’ my head and watched as my CdA dropped and dropped with every tweak we made. Things were looking good and I was clocking 42.5km/h consistently

Once we had lined up the UCI officials in April, we were ready to announce the attempt to the world and by that I mean, the poor folk who ‘follow’ me on social media. Almost as soon as we went public, the plan began to unravel. I had cold after cold after cold, training was erratic but we were hopeful that with some final tweaks from Xav and Aerocoach, my CdA was low enough that we could break the record without being at full fitness.

But, like I said, things didn’t exactly go to plan! The helmet that Xav had recommended arrived 2 days before the attempt missing the aerodynamically vital front cover! There was a mad scramble to find another in stock and delivered. The rear Mavic disc we’d borrowed didn’t fit my T4, which was massively confusing given the number of people who claim to be using this combination. A track conversion kit was hastily fitted to our Zipp disc and the glue in the new super thin tub was barely dry.

And so the 14th of May came by quicker than I could have imagined. I had a brand new custom made CFD Tripsuit from Nopinz, I knew this suit would be fast, I just didn’t know how fast. That, coupled with my lingering cold, meant that there was a bit of uncertainty around what power I would need to break the record and what speeds I was capable of. With Xav’s wise parting words of “Your first priority is to break the record, your second is to do a good record. Too many people get the priorities the wrong way round”, we settled on a target of 42km.

Even as I arrived at Newport with many thousands of pounds worth of carbon fibre in the car, things didn’t seem real. It wasn’t until I introduced myself to the UCI commissaire Julie Rodman that it began to dawn on me what was going on.

My crack team of Carl Whitwell and Justin Layne put my bikes together and through the bike check without any issue and then it was on the rollers (facing away from the spectator area for my sanity) to warm up. Not that I needed it as we’d cranked the heating to some 27 degrees. Actually, the hugely experienced Julie (she’d worked on the Boardman, Dowsett and Wiggins attempts but this was obviously going to be the highlight of her career!?) advised that we had the heating turned off midway so that I didn’t get too sweaty.

Bike in gate, Clarry on bike, no no gate in wrong place, Clarry gets off, gate moved and repeat 3 times. I keep looking at the clock, so much for my 7.15 kick off. Oh well, at least I’m getting lots of practice clipping in.

With a ‘Good Luck’, Julie leaves me and 25 seconds later I hear the ominous beep beep beep. It’s been over a month since I was last in a start gate and I’m not sure I remember what to do. I move my bum up and back but keep as much of my weight as I can on my front foot, ready to push down hard as soon as that last pip goes.

And we’re off. I’m in the saddle far far too early but I tell myself it’s OK. Better that than lose control and fall off. As I pass Justin for the first time, I hear a ‘four’. Shit, that must have been a really slow 34 second lap so I kick hard. Turns out that was a 24 second lap, over 3 seconds faster than I’d expected and completely threw off the timing spreadsheet I’d given Bob and Carl. Then with a 46km/h Lap 2, I was basically on target speed of 42km/h already.


From then on, we were aiming for a 21.4 second lap. Sometimes I’d hear a ‘One Four, perfect’ but more often than not I’d fluctuate wildly between ‘Oh Nine, calm down’ and ‘One Nine, pick it up’.

I completely lost track of time. Any attempt to look up at the big screen took almost 4 laps of mental preparation but it was a pointless exercise, as I didn’t know what time I’d started and I couldn’t read the whiteboard that was displaying my average speed and time. All I could do was keep reminding myself to breathe and stay on top of the pedals. Finally, I heard David’s voice on the back straight “Halfway, you’re smashing it”. From then on, I can hear the crowd get more and more animated. They’ve started to spread round the velodrome making the back straight a far less lonely place. I can actually identify some of the voices now and it’s a pretty welcome distraction.

10 minutes and I try to wind the pace up again. 30 laps to go and I count them down. Not long until I can use my favourite ever phrase ‘3 minutes! You can do anything for 3 minutes!’ It was a stalwart of my rowing career and I do like to use it at every opportunity. (You can see where that kicks in on my pacing chart!!)


I’m in the very fortunate position that the record is broken with a minute to spare so everything after that is pure bonus. The bell rings but I’m not actually sure if that means I have one more lap to go or I just finish the lap I’m on. Better safe than sorry so I put my head down and carry on until I’m absolutely sure. 42.116km, not quite what I thought I could do but a record’s a record.


Massive hug from David, I put my head in between my knees until the sicky feeling passes then I’m coerced into posing for the spectators. You want me to lift the bike above my head, are you kidding? Awkward photos done and I’m onto the much more awkward issue of drugs testing. Sadly, by the time that’s done the velodrome is shutting up for the night and most people have gone home before I’ve really had a chance to thank them for coming all the way to watch. I never expected that many people would come and I’m truly blessed that I have so many great family, friends, teammates who are willing to give up their weekend for me. Thank you all!!!


Thanks again to the fabulous people who’ve made this attempt possible and successful!

My team and sponsors, SSLL (I have a massive banner with my name on it!! Dreams do come true!)

Blake at Nopinz and Xav at Aerocoach for the custom tripsuit.

Verve Cycling for lending me the super accurate and hassle free Infocranks

Harry at Revolver Wheels for a truly beautiful front disc

OTE for the very yummy mint choc protein bar that I look forward to after every hard session

Bob Tobin at CyclePowerMeters for agreeing to coach me (I bet he regrets that now he knows how much of a drama queen I am)

Rob and Laurence at Athlete Service for all their hard work putting Beryl together for me

My lovely club mates at GS Henley especially Ryan and Bex for their brilliant photos

Carl and Justin who’s support, wise words and calming influence have been second to none

And of course my punch bag, oops I mean husband, David Woodhouse, who has always had more faith in my abilities than I do and is the reason I actually get off the sofa to do something with my life.

Ilkley Two Day Stage Race -7/8 May 2016

Ilkley 2 day.

Well this weekend brought the 4 stage race that is the ilkley 2-day, yep 4 stages in two days… Famous for its tough terrain and conditions that usually match.

Stage 1 – By Max McMurdo

Stage 1 was a very short but painful 2.37km prologue, designed to just shake up the GC and get everyone prepped for what was to come.

I had been told that the course was “all down hill” more times than I care to think, so I was expecting to struggle with my junior gearing. It turned out that it started with a slight rise in the road followed by a flat fast mile. Myself and Ali were at HQ warming up with Eugene warming up on the course. Our race start times were 10:57 10:58 and 10:59 with Eugene starting, myself second and Alastair the last of the SSLL boys. I had quite a sweat on when I got to the start line after Ali and I both getting slightly lost finding our ways to the start.
I got myself psyched up on the start line and waited to be called up. I got clipped in, shoes tightened, St Christopher out for good luck, Garmin on and I was ready. 30 seconds to go… Deep breathes, this is gonna hurt! 10 secs… Out the pedals. 3 secs to go… Lean back. Off! Sprinting up the rise, cresting it with a lot left in the tank, my thoughts were to finish strong not to tail off towards the end.
Now anyone who’s ridden the course they’ll know that this is probably one of the longest straightest roads around us! I could see the finish with just under 1 km to go, I started to run out of gears as expected as I started to sprint. I had emptied the tank and finished in 3 mins 3 seconds according to my Garmin. It was only till I got back to HQ where I realised it wasn’t quite as good a ride as id hoped. I had done it in 3 mins 8 seconds which although doesn’t sound like a lot, those 5 seconds split the top 20. I finished in 23rd, Eugene had done a stormer and beat both me and Ali coming in in 3 mins 2 seconds.
Everyone was then in to recovery mode for the afternoons road race round the infamous Pennypot circuit.

Stage 2 – By Alastair Wareham

Stage 2 followed the morning’s Prologue in which I sitting 9th overall, Eugene 6th and Max 23rd with just a handful of seconds separating us all. Max and I had already spent a few matches in the morning event and that was before the Prologue. We got lost trying to get to the start, and with 10 minutes to go we were drilling it in the opposite direction we had come realising our error and trying to get to the start on time. It was a good warm up nonetheless. This would be my first road race for 2 years. I had endured a few sleepless nights questioning why I even entered the event. 4 Stages, over 2 days, off an average of 7 hours a week training, what could possibly go wrong!

The event itself was filled with some of the country’s best up and coming talent. Adam Hartley, Harry Hardcastle, Kieron Savage, Archie Cross to name a few, as well as our own Eugene Cross (Archie’s younger brother) and Max McMurdo. I felt a little out of my depth if I am completely honest.

Lining up in the neutralised area and looking around me, I felt somewhat overweight and underprepared! My plan was to conserve as much energy as possible because I knew the 4th and final stage was going to be absolutely brutal. Obviously any pre-race plan goes out the window as soon as the flag drops.

The 2nd stage was held on the Penny Pot circuit which is fairly brutal itself. Penny Pot lane is a 5 mile drag at around 3-4% gradient. After 4 or 5 laps it felt more like 10% gradient. There were some fast sweeping descents and tough little drags to contend with, with each lap covering 11 miles. The day itself was beautiful. 20 degrees or so but fairly windy.

We rolled out of the neutralised zone and made our way to the start area. One of my main downfalls from when I used to road race was positioning and almost immediately I found myself at the back of the bunch. Two years none-the-wiser it seems. As soon as the flag dropped it was carnage with attacks going off left, right and centre. The first hairy moment of the day was the descent of Pot Bank which is 17% gradient with 75 riders jostling for position. The screeching smell of carbon brake blocks was delightful and all I could hear was somebody flying off to the right of me and into the bushes. Man down. Not me luckily (I saved that for the final stage) and the race continued at breakneck speed. By the time I had made my way up to mid bunch, a break had already gone BUT thankfully it contained one of my teammates, Eugene (more about him later). Post race reports say that riders were getting dropped in their droves. It really was a tough race but with so many national standard riders it was no surprise.

I slowly started making my way towards the front of the 2nd group where I was joined by my other teammate, Max McMurdo. Max reminds me a lot of myself when I started road racing. Bags of power, very good at causing mischief in the early stages of a race, great at dishing out some pain, but using too many matches early on and missing the vital move. I had made a note of the strong riders left in the 2nd group and those doing the work to try and reel in the breakaway. After Max had finished his latest pull on the front, things settled down momentarily until a rider from HD Revolution (Mike Harris – he won this stage last year) and Ed Hooper from Audlem CC broke away. Michael is a local rider to me and I know he is very strong – particularly on the hills so I knew it was a move to chase down. I got out the saddle and chased after them. Once I’d got on the back of them I had a quick look round and noted that nobody had chased me down and there was a decent gap between the three of us and the second group. I relayed this to the other two and we then proceeded to spend the next 2 laps, 22 miles, trying to reel in the front group. I am not entirely sure what the gap was to the leading group, maybe 60/90 seconds, but it took an almighty effort to try and catch them. Ed was the most vocal breakaway rider I’ve ridden with. It was like being back at school. ‘’Is this pace ok’’ ‘’easy over the hills’’ ‘’is everyone ok’’ ‘’ease off a touch’’ ‘’are we all still together?’’ ‘’don’t get too excited boys, they are still 20 seconds in front’’ ‘’big effort now boys’’. I on the other hand barely mustered a breath as I was so tired! Penny Pot lane was so draining. The road surface is terrible and the incline just goes on and on. We rode really well together, each doing their turn and contributing to the cause.

We finally had the breakaway in sight on Penny Pot lane and reeled them in with just over 1 lap to go. Ed briefly suggested that rather than sit on the back we just drill it and go round them. I suggested he was a lunatic and told him that I’d be having a breather. He gave me a very disappointed look. I pulled alongside Eugene and he briefly looked disappointed to see me as he thought that the bunch had caught them. I reassured him that it was just the 3 of us. Suffice to say, there was no rest, now we had caught them, the lead group was up to 15 riders and everyone started attacking. I begged for mercy but it fell on deaf ears. With half a lap to go, Eugene’s brother, Archie, took his chance and went for a solo break. Nobody followed. We all looked around at each other and nobody wanted to chase. 1 lad from Adept Precision did try to catch Archie but to no avail (although he did finish 2nd on the stage). Archie won the stage. The rest of us jostled for position for the minor placings. I tried to sit on Eugene’s wheel up the final hill but I had absolutely nothing left in the tank and lost 11 seconds in the final 100 metres. I had bonked big style. 2 gels and 2 bottles of OTE didn’t quite cut the mustard. The 2 laps we spent reeling in the breakaway had taken all my reserves. I finished 15th on Stage 2. Eugene was 12th. Max came in approximately 5 minutes down and looked a broken man. He will learn to read a race better, and conserve more energy, with more experience. Eugene on the other hand already seems to have a great knack of reading a race. It also helps that he is a very strong rider across all terrain. He is also the politest team mate I have ever ridden with. Although we are all doing individual write ups from the 4 stages, it would be remiss of me not to mention what he said on the 4th and final stage. With 2 laps to go, one of his GC rivals broke away. He turned to me and said ‘’excuse me, Alastair, but would you mind chasing that move down for me. He’s one of my rivals’’. Legend. Whilst I momentarily thought to myself, no, I’m only 11 seconds down on you on GC, I duly obliged and did what was asked of me. I was impressed with both our junior riders this weekend. Eugene is already at a great level and will only get better. Max has power in spades but not quite the racing craft. It’ll come. Of that there is no doubt.

Stats for Stage 2.

65 miles (inc neutralised section)

24.4 mph average.

283 w average.

319W NP.

202 TSS.


Stage 3 – By Max McMurdo

Stage 3 was a TTT which was run on the last 9km of the Dacre road circuit. It was here where it would tell who had recovered well and who was left wanting after a tough day in the saddle on Saturday.
SSLL were strong favourites to do well here, but we were at a slight disadvantage to some teams as both me and Eugene were on junior gearing, meaning we would be struggling to do turns at times. We were gonna give it everything we had none the less. We drove up in the team car to see the course, and set up turbos and rollers by the start of the course.
It quickly became our turn to start, my legs felt like they had recovered well after a hard day. That ice bath, foam roller and protein shake from OTE must have done the trick.
I was the front man who would get us up to speed, Eugene sat second to get us into the rhythm with Ali, the Diesel engine, at the back ready to put in a big shift.
It felt very smooth and fast, and considering we have never ridden together like that before I was very impressed. And meant the finish came far quicker than expected! We had let Ali do a lot of the turns on the downhills with myself and Eugene doing turns on the flat and rises where we could.
We came onto the prologue course and I knew we had only 2.37 km to go. Eugene did a big turn up the rise and I was hanging on for dear life!
We all stayed together well and the last 1 km sign had appeared. We started to sprint with about 500m to go where we fanned out to three abreast to get the fastest time possible, as it was the third rider across the line who’s time was taken. I stopped my Garmin at 10:57 for the 9km course. I was buzzing that was over 30 mph average!
Unfortunately it was only good enough for 3rd but it meant Ali and Eugene had moved up on GC to a strong position going into the 4th and final stage. I moved up aswell however I was not in contention like the other two were, having not been able to get into the break on stage 2.
It was time once again to dine on pesto pasta and chicken, before getting changed for the last time to race once again on the final stage.

Stage 4 – By Eugene Cross

After 3 stages the GC race had been set up nicely. Archie sat in 1st but this was definitely the day that the the GC could go any direction. The course was short. 4.5 laps of the Dacre circuit. Due to the horrific road surface on the descent the race would be neutralised for the descent. To sum it up this race was 5 hill climbs. Each climb would take about 12 minutes. The hill was split in half with about 1 minute descent in the middle of a 7 minute first half and a 4 minute second half. There was a tail wind up the climb and this worked in the favour of lighter people like myself however meant that the race was more likely to split up. I was sitting 1st Junior and 3rd overall after the TTT and just had to finish with the other juniors to take the 1st junior prize home.

The first time up the hill University of Sheffield Cycling Club (UOSCC) started as they meant to go on. One rider would sit on the front at a pace that strong people could live with, but that was quick enough to deter people from attacking off the front. Archie would sit second wheel behind a teammate, with the other UOSCC rider never far behind. I would sit a few wheel back, aiming to sit in the around 8th, sheltered but at the front.

The majority of the race became a routine. UOSCC would drill it up the hill, someone would attack over the top for the KOM points and we would roll back round, at a steady pace bar the intermediate sprint, and start the climb again. Having said that it wasn’t easy. The heat was incredible. The race was only 36 miles but people were still taking on extra bottles. On one of the ascents I watched second placed Chris Sleath drop his bottle. This was seriously bad news for him. Without a second bottle he was going to suffer a lot to finish this race. At this point Archie (1st) took a swig and passed Chris the final ⅓ of his first bottle. This was either the best piece of sportsmanship I’d ever seen or the bribe that sealed Archie’s overall. I guess we’ll never know.

After the 4th ascent Harry Hardcastle had jumped clear, and I was not going to let him slip away. I asked Alistair who was still right at the front of the race if he would mind chasing for me. In hindsight this was a selfish request as Alistair was only 11s behind me overall and most likely had his own ambitions. Having said that Alistair went above and beyond. He shot off the front of the bunch chased down Harry and sat behind him. Reluctant to tow Alistair round Harry sat up and the group caught up.

Ultimately I’d asked Alistair to chase because I was starting to feel tired and I knew that the final ascent would be quick. I was right. Kieran Savage on the front setting a stupid pace. I was struggling to hold it together, and Adam Hartley (2nd Junior) knew about it. We crested the first half of the hill and I got some rest , kieran was spent and pulled off. Adam flew down the corner at the bottom of the brief descent and got a couple of bike lengths on me. At this point he knew that I was struggling and that he had to take time. He didn’t sprint off the front but rode as hard as he could. I tried telling myself that I didn’t have long to hold on but with about 150m I blew and flicked my elbow to tell whoever was behind that I was losing the wheel in front. Nobody came through. People came alongside me but only archie had managed to stay with Adam. At the top of the hill I was spent, but mildly optimistic. I knew that archie had nothing to gain from working and would just sit on to give me a fighting chance of chasing. I tried to get a chase going, openly begging people to try chase, but my whole group, which still contained Alistair, couldn’t muster a chase. Meanwhile Adam was riding away with my 3rd place and first junior. I drilled it into the last Km knowing that I hadn’t done enough. The group behind me all sprinted around me with a few hundred metres to go. I’d blown it. I watched the sprint from behind and saw Alistair and Paddy Clark (UOSCC) both crash to the floor hard after incredible races from both of them. Torn kit and plenty of road rash, but otherwise ok. Rumour is that Paddys skinsuit will be framed by UOSCC or worn for “shit lycra socials”. Adam had put 30s into my group, nailing me down to 4th, and taking 2nd for himself overall. Archie had won the stage (by an overly small margin considering Adam had towed him the final 5km).  Archie had also won the GC, but owed this 98% to his teammates.  The way Kieran and Paddy had sacrificed themselves all day for Archie was admirable. I think Archie was very grateful to them both. Ian Savage came over to me after the stage and wagered that Archie would break down to tears at some point that evening over how moved he was by the performance.  Again, I guess we’ll never know.

Max had dropped from the front group due to a mechanical with under a lap to go hence his absence in the finale. Max did not sit up. Whilst many people had quit once they’d been dropped Max fought for each second. It was entirely this attitude of not quitting that secured SSLL the 2nd team overall.

Max, Alistair and I all owe a huge thanks to Jon Surtees who supported us both days. All three SSLL riders had a great time and are definitely looking forward to racing as a team in a stage race again soon.

Ilkley 10 V212-keep it rolling…

After last week`s disaster when I punctured in the warm up and missed my start, I just needed a solid ride to get me back on track in this event. I had the week from hell at work and training has not gone to plan with my power really suffering and for the first time I struggled to finish a couple of Matts sessions. In his usual confidence building style he coaxed me through each one and promised me it would return in time. He was right. It shows what a great coach Matt is, not just giving me the work to do, but having that relationship where he knows his riders so well and saying the right things at the right time to keep your head on.

 Friday night when I usually have an easy ish ride, Matt gave me a ridiculous session with some top end power intervals mixed with sweetspot which I thought would end any chances of a good ride the next day, but he clearly knows what he is doing so I did it exactly to the letter and staggered in to see my wife (who`s a brilliant physio!) and she rubbed the pain away with a sports massage. J

Saturday morning the legs felt fine and I never had the time to consider the event given I had to drive to York with my son for his bike training. Two hours stood at the side of the track was nice in the cold followed by a drive back, get my kit ready and off I went.

The V212 was once the mecca for cyclists when it was part of the old A1 at Boroughbridge, but these days its even described as a sporting course with the horrible `red wall` climb about 3 miles from the finish. Its ended many a decent ride by me in the past, but the one thing I think this course is, is fair to all. Hardly any traffic to assist and no luck with lorries dragging you along. Perfect.

This was one of the best fields I had ridden in this season, Adam Duggleby whos off to the Olympics and a great rider, Steven Burke MBE and Olympic gold medal winner, then some of the best Yorkshire Tt`ists, not least my two SSLL buddies Joel and Ali.

As I was so early I went out to the course to watch a few riders who seemed to be slogging in the strong crosswind, hail, sleet, rain…..I have to say I was not looking forward to it. With 45 mins to go I pulled my kit on and set off on my usual warm up. Legs felt ok but started to grumble whenever I touched it up to 330 watts plus for any length of time. With 10 mins to my start time the sun came out, hoorhay!!

What I learnt in my ride today was that you really need to keep going regardless of how you feel. You would think I should know this all of the years I have been riding but the head can play many tricks on you when on the limit. Its no exaggeration to say that after 3 miles I very nearly sat up and packed which would have been inexcusable and ruined the team win chances! Thankfully I had a word with myself and immediately I felt better. With the turn wet I went round gingerly and made my mind up to go as hard as I could back to the finish. When I reached the red wall I suddenly felt brilliant, banged up the power and to my amazement was able to hold that to the top of the climb. Once over the top it’s a hard 1.5 miles and like riding through glue, but again no problems and actually increased my speed and power.

I crossed the line in 20.57 which was about 30 secs better than any previous time on here and I was really pleased to do a 20 in a power PB this season. My first thoughts were that I would be lucky to be top 10 as it seemed a decent day and that the better riders would be in 19 territory. However, speaking to Adam it seemed he had only put about 15 secs into me which I was more than happy with. Back at HQ it seemed I had done a good ride and finished 2nd to Adam with Burke in 3rd in 2105 and Ali Wareham 4th with 21.15. Not a lot between us at all. With Joel putting in a solid ride we also managed to win the team.


Great event and so thanks go to my second claim club, Ilkley CC and in particular Ged for organising. Ilkley are a great club and put lots back into the sport on all levels.





Teesdale Mountain Time Trial. 24th April 2016

Teesdale Mountain Time Trial – 24th April 2016

It has been 5 years since I last rode this epic race, and even then, I didn’t finish the course having suffered a puncture with about 10 miles to go so there was a bit of unfinished business. The year previous I had ridden and managed a half decent time of 2:02:13 albeit I was still relatively new to time trialling back then. Personally I would class anything under 2 hours on this course as very good, given the amount of climbing and unrelenting nature of the course.

I had been checking the weather forecast all week and each day the forecast got worse to the extent that on Saturday morning I had decided I wouldn’t ride because of the snow that had been forecast for the morning. I didn’t want a wasted journey. A check on the weather later that evening showed an improvement in the forecast so I made the final decision to ride, whatever the weather.

Sunday arrived and my alarm clock didn’t even need to go off – I was awoken at 4.30am by my little 8 month old daughter. I got the car packed, tried to eat some cereal (I hate eating at that time of the day) and set off at 6am from a gloomy Huddersfield. I arrived at Barnard Castle at approx. 8am and it was absolutely freezing! I was beginning to have second thoughts and I began to rehearse excuses in my head as to why I couldn’t start the race… I soon snapped out of it and told myself that I hadn’t driven all that way for nothing.

I duly signed on and collected my number. I decided I’d wear as much clothing as possible (I really suffer in the cold) and opted for a fairly thick baselayer, some compression socks, some compression quad guards, overshoes and 2 pairs of gloves! I’d also opted to ride the full TT set up, so Scott Plasma, disc wheel and Zipp 404. In hindsight I would probably have ridden my Scott Foil with clip on bars because the Plasma without wheels weighs in at almost 10kg. My gearing of 56/39 – 11-25 was also a bit optimistic! But hey, all in for the win as they say. I had a quick spin on the turbo trainer and before I knew it, it was 9.25 and I had 5 minutes to get to the start.

Rather than do a reconnaissance of the course in my car beforehand, I had tried to memorise it from my last visit but I genuinely don’t remember it being as hilly as it is! The first few hundred meters are downhill and then your begin climbing for what feels like the next 30 miles! I kept looking down at my Garmin and the average speed was barely above 19mph. This was going to be a long morning of suffering. At 7.5 miles you take a sharp right hander to start the very steep climb of Carlolin which peaks at about 13% and goes on for ¾ of a mile. I dropped it into the small ring and twiddled away until I reached the top. The next 6 miles or so are a mix of fast sweeping descents followed by steady 6% climbs, although the head wind made this feel twice as steep at times. Having had a big crash in the winter my descending skills are fairly crap and I peppered the brakes far more than I should have done. That said, there were several hairy moment when the odd gust of wind caught my disc wheel and I genuinely had a few poo in the pants moments.


The first big test of the day was the descent, yes descent, of Unthank Bank. It’s about 20% gradient and you approach this at speed (or not much speed if you are a wuss like me). There are marshals waving their flags to warn you of the approach. My brakes were screeching so much that I thought they were going to set on fire! After successfully negotiating the descent you then do a short 5.5 mile loop before retracing your steps. It was at this point that my chain had decided it didn’t want to engage in the 11 sprocket (once home I had dissected the issue as a loose cassette lockring) but given my fairly big gear it wasn’t too much of an issue until the supersonic last 10 miles home. My average speed to this point was approaching 20mph having done about 3000 feet of climbing already.

The next big test is the ascent of Unthank Bank. It’s steep. Really f*****g steep! I grovelled my way up it, puffing and panting and just wanting the pain to end! It goes on, and on and on a bit more before levelling off and then climbing steadily before the next fast descent. My legs were really beginning to suffer at this point but I managed to keep the cramp at bay (thanks to the quad and calf guards). The penultimate suffering of the day is the long climb back up Bollihope Common, which peaks at 1700 feet. I did this in the big ring but in hindsight should have twiddled away in a smaller gear but alas I never learn. I was counting down the miles to the summit before the super-fast descent back to the finish. At this point my average speed had dropped to 18.7mph and I was fairly convinced I had a job on to even do a sub 2 hour ride. Little did I know just how fast those last 10 miles were going to be and I really could have done with the 11 sprocket!

The miles were ticking by at speed and the average had at last climbed above 20mph. The last test of the day is a short 10% climb over Folly Top which is really not welcome at that point in the race with the lactic acid literally coming out of my eyes. I wept in pain over the climb, cursing the gradient, before engaging top gear and it was now flat out to the finish! The finish is on a slight uphill but with the following tailwind the speed didn’t drop and I crossed the line in 1:54:40.

A brief visit to HQ and I was the early leader, having even beaten Jon Sturman (very classy roadie) and Mark Donovan (reigning National Junior Cyclocross Champion). I had to dash off home but later found out I had been comprehensively beaten by Carl Donaldson who equalled the course record in a stunning time of 1:48:48. I finished 4th overall and whilst I certainly didn’t expect to win I equally didn’t expect to have been well and truly stuffed. However, on reflection, given the training limitations I now have I am actually pretty pleased with how things went. It was only my 4th race of the season and I think I am still finding my legs. Next year, with a lighter bike and hopefully some more training time, I hope to go a bit quicker.

Many thanks to Teasdale CRC and Bob Murdoch for hosting the event. It is genuinely the hardest event on the calendar but also the best organised. I tried to thank every marshal I went past although with the state I was in I could barely muster a word to some of them. But thank you. Standing out in such cold conditions can’t have been fun.

Stats for the race:

40.3 miles.

4303 feet climbing.

21mph average.

296 watts average.

170 TSS.

Today I am a broken man. Legs well and truly buggered.

SSLL Racing Team & ‘Tounge in Cheek Productions present’…

… How to beat Phil Graves

Superstar Triathlete Phil Graves has been making a bit of an impact on the UK TT scene in the 2016 season… 11 wins from 10 races, course records and PB’s galore he has beaten all comers… Only racing TT’s because he is run injured, Phil is single headedly handing there ‘asses on a plate’ (*quote Brett Harwood)  to the great and the good of the UK Time Trial scene…. But one man, SSLL Racing Team’s Andy Jackson inflicted the only defeat of this fantastic early season on Phil in the BDCA 25 on 9/4.

Jackson beat Graves by 32 secs with a time if 47:46

BDCA 25 2016 2

How did he do it?

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Joel’s race report from the Yorkshire Coast Clarion Spoco 24

Yorks Coast Clarion Spoco 24. 17th April

Aghhh, not another dreaded time trial?

Huh , isn’t that what this is all about? Well of late, no!!

What it was all about was myself riding an horrendously ‘exit down the bog’ race before analysing the anal analysis followed by an optional selection of 2300 lines of excuses framed on my garage wall.

The week previous to this event I had DNS’d the popular BDCA 25 due to dental issues so had a catch up week of training but at least the Mrs was happy as the Tesco delivery bill only amounted to about £80 instead of £150 due to my second hobby of consuming Band Aid containers of food. I never thought I could really get any lower than my current 62 kg but just 4 days of hardly eating and drinking showed I could with a new record of 59.8kg!!

Morning starts have always been a ball ache for me so knew I was going to need a long warm up for this one.

So , race day and a 10.30am start time so everything was a build up to that.My plan started at 6.15am.

After a small breakfast it was onto the turbo training in a warm fitted out garage and a L2 ride for 40 minutes with a 10 minute warm down then 10 minutes of extreme stretches on the usual suspect areas that seem to hurt in races.

Quick shower, more breakfast and a browse on the tt forum to see who the key board warriors were about to opt for a firing squad this weekend.

Once at the HQ there was the usual attempt of getting in the ‘zone’ and avoiding everyone but again like every other race this failed!

It was known beforehand that pre race favourite, pro triathlete Phil Graves was a DNS so teammate Ali Wareham stepped up to new favourite although I don’t think there would have been a lot in it had Phil started.

A concern for me was that Ali was only 3 minutes behind me on the starting order and knowing how good he is going compared to how bad I’m going lead me to be concerned of being caught in the closing stages. If he did catch me he was at the very least going to get his arse pinched!!

With 35 minutes to go I did another warm up on the road using top gear to somehow shock the muscles into the sense they had already endured 2 hours of L4!

The countdown was gone and I was on my way. I’d purposely screen switched on my Garmin unit to just view current and average speed (something Billy Beldon suggested) instead of looking at power and getting demoralised by the low numbers.

It was a cross headwind out blowing on the left shoulder but after a few miles I was comfy in the 58x14x13 mainly all the way out along the smooth flat initial 10 miles to Driffield.There were a few moments where I had to just back off slightly as I felt my legs were being overloaded with fire. Average speed at this point was about 26.4mph I believe but now it was onto the shoddy surfaced undulating second half.

Feeling better and pushing harder now on the short climbs riding most at L5 (checked afterwards) it was nice to actually catch riders especially after an early season of miserable thoughts.

I must admit to riding this race like I used to which was to push hard on the climbs and ease off over the top and recover before lifting the pace again. Although over geared comfy and strong , it felt more natural than trying to spin and something Bob Tobin and I thought would be worth testing.

The further the race went the better I felt and longed for another lap as I neared the finish. Average speed now nearly 27mph as even coming back it seemed a tad sticky.

Into Dog Kennel Lane TI and a 528w effort towards the finish, the finish that was never coming. Power dropping to high 300s and gasping for air when the chequered flag finally arrived in a time of 51.17 for the 23.1 mile course shortened due to road works.

As expected Ali won but no bum pinching as I was safe from being caught but he still cruised in with a 50.42 despite a delay near the finish.

So still some way to go but a step in the right direction or was it just a fluke?

Checking the power file afterwards it was higher than my last 10 at least.

Still deciding which number excuse to mark down for this one, maybe I’ll leave it blank……

Joel Wainman

Otley 10 – Race report by Mad Max McMurdo

This weekend brought two races, one either day. Saturday was the Otley 10 mile open time trial on the V212, not a course renowned for fast times. But it’s pretty local so it would’ve been rude not to ride.
I woke up Saturday morning to some rather grey skies and low temperatures, and a forecast that looked like worse was yet to come.
On the half hour drive there I encountered rain, hail and sunshine. We parked up signed on and I went to get changed. Pinning numbers on now is a thing of the past with my Nopinz skinsuit, so I’ve now got more time to “get in the zone”
My dad, (team hero) had got my bikes out and turbo. Ready for me to start my warmup. I’d slapped on some deep heat on my legs to try and give myself a chance of keeping warm.
I got on the turbo turned on my Garmin plugged my headphones on and got pedalling. 200 watts… 300 watts… 400 watts… 500!! Today was gonna be a good day!
I took a gel and rode to the start line, getting there 5 mins before to relax for a few seconds.
30 seconds to go I clipped in, 20 seconds to go I tightened my shoes, 10 seconds to go I started my Garmin. 3…2…1… Off I went straight into a 20 mph tailwind, I was off!
I started off with a measured effort with that headwind 5.5 mile return leg clear in my mind. I got to the turn at the roundabout in about 8 mins having averaged over 55 kmh.
I got myself into an uncomfortable but sustainable rhythm. Looks like I was in for a right hard time to the finish. There are quite a few drags on the way back and these weren’t half exaggerated with the force of the wind battering away. I could see more dark clouds closing in and all of a sudden pitter patter on my helmet. It was rain…
Thankfully I was in the final run in with about 2 miles to go. I saw my teammate and 3rd place overall pass me on the other side of the road, I didn’t envy him one bit!
I got to the end shaking, not just because of the cold but because of the effort! I’d gone pretty hard and I’d forgotten how hard these Time trials can be!
My dad was there at the finish to congratulate me, make sure I was ok, and what was most important to me right then was get warm! I got back to the car quickly put on my trackies and jumped in the car.
I was happy with my performance. I felt good, but I wasn’t expecting too much in the overall results in what I considered a strong field. I looked through the times and I was 4th! One place behind my teammate Jon wears. 1st and 2nd were Phillip Graves and Stephen Burke.
Grinning like a Cheshire Cat, we drove home and I went into recovery mode for tomorrow’s road race.

Danum Trophy, a big Elite race in the calendar. 60 miles (10 laps of a 6 mile circuit) and hilly ones at that. A strong field on the start list with riders from Raleigh, Madison Genesis, Neon Velo, VCUK just naming a few.
I got on the start line and was first wheel behind the car, I thought I’d give myself every advantage as I could. The flag dropped and it was carnage! As expected! I hadn’t seen the climb prior to the race so I was expecting the worst. We flew up it the first few times. Big ringing up a 10+% climb covered with potholes wasn’t easy.
I’ve heard from a few mates that a 10 before a road race is a good warmup. I felt strong and was really enjoying myself. I was loving the circuit, even if it was rather too hilly for me to really figure.
I was popping gels and eating as much as I could, to keep me going up that climb over and over each lap.
A break went and I tried to go with it up the climb but unfortunately couldn’t get on the back of the group and ended up rolling round in the group for the remainder of the laps. I put in a dig going over the long drag up to the finish with 1 lap to go in an attempt to close the gap or even bridge solo to the break. It was to no prevail. I accepted the fact that I would be sprinting for minor placings. I downed the rest of my bottle, slot into the main group and went with a couple of last minute digs all of which were brought back within seconds. I gave it everything in the sprint and finished towards head of what was the second group on the road. I was very pleased with that for a hilly (4000+ft of climbing) road race.
I’m happy with my form and loving racing!
Bring on next weekend at Rutland.

1 measly second…

So after the joys of my 49.10 last week it was the pain of what could have been this. On Saturday I took to the start line of the YCF 10 on Hatfield Woodhouse, a course I like. Last off, a decent field appeared to have had mixed results through the afternoon with a Northerly wind with sunshine one minute and rain the next. Having scanned the board, it looked like the leading time as I left was a 21.59 by the ever improving Richard Sharp from York. All to do today.

As usual my luck kicked in after I started when it started to hail, but I started steadier knowing how hard back it would be. The wind launched me to the turn in less than 9 mins at an average speed of 32.9mph, but I knew the pain was to come. Once I started back the hail was bouncing off of my lid and the block headwind was like riding up a wall in places, but I felt good and kept it rolling. The last mile is really exposed and despite banging the power right up, I felt like I was riding through glue to cross the line on the garmin in 20.59. Quite pleased with that today! I returned to HQ to see my time was rounded up to 21.00 but Richard’s time had been put up wrong and was actually 20.59. Gutted! Don’t tell me marginal gains don’t count….

Having had time to examine my ride, I have to be positive. Firstly the temperature dropped from 43 to 39F during my ride, I had a good negative split in power, my power was decent (better than my 18.30 on the 718), and best of all I took Jacko’s KOM for the outleg! Comparing my ride to Richards I lost it all in that last mile. I was 20 secs up on him all the way around until that point so chapeau to him for such a great ride, he beat some very good riders today, not least the great Julian Ramsbottom. I think he is someone we will se much more of this season!

Battle of SSLL next week with 5 of us in the YCF 25. I’m pretty sure many others will be out to take the spoils.