CiCle Classic – First UCI Race

Now this is a race I have wanted to do for a very long time! So I am very happy to say it is my first experience of a UCI race and a classic style of race! That’s to say, long and fast!

I flew home early in the week, it was really nice to catch up with everyone. I’ve been following and everyone at home has been going really well this year, and that is really cool to see.

We travelled up to Melton Mowbray on the Saturday morning and I met with the team for the recon ride in the afternoon. It took us all by surprise with the severity of the sectors. But it became clear how important the positioning would be, with the roads being so rough and so narrow.

The evening was then very chilled out, the bikes were prepped and we were stuffed to the brim with carbs in anticipation for a big day out!

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The race started with two laps of the reservoir before heading into the lanes and starting the onslaught of gravel sectors and steep bergs.

I got stuck in early on, getting into a couple of groups off the front, none of which stuck and then I ended up settling back into the bunch to try and recover. the break went and the bunch sat up and filled the road. This made it very difficult to move around the group and everyone was pretty much stuck where they were. The bigger teams lined the race out as we headed onto the turn off the main roads and into the lanes and very quickly onto the first sector. As we had been told, and as I found out, if you are in the second half of the bunch and someone ahead punctures, half the group comes to a stand still un able to get round the people stopped in the narrow roads. From here on it was a game of survival!

around 90km in as we hit one of the sectors I got a rear wheel puncture. Just as everyone had told me, getting a wheel takes ages. with the cars being so far back as they are unable to pass dropped riders. When I finally got a wheel, I set about the mission of regaining contact with the peloton. It took about half an hour, but I finally got on, even if it did burn all my matches!

After that it was just hang in as long as possible. Spending a fair bit of time in and out of the cars as the bunch was splitting and the cars were moving through. I finally lost contact with the bunch at around 130km but stayed in the convoy for a long time and was determined to get to Melton.

Gradually slowing down due to the crazy effort. There were people pulling out everywhere, taking shortcuts back to Melton, but I was determined to get to Melton the correct way. I rode the whole course, minus the final finishing lap, so 175km in total. And I crossed the line. So I can’t be too displeased with that for my first race at that level.

I have to say it was the hardest race I have ever done by a fair margin! But it was great to experience the level of racing I want to be competing at in the next few years. I have to thank Team OnForm for allowing me this experience!

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Chapter 2 – Culture Velo

So the time has come to announce my plans for next year. Next year I will be riding for Culture Velo based in L’Isle-Jourdain in the south of France along with CSCA Proprete 2000 for races in Guadeloupe.

The year will start out with the team training camp in Girona from Feb 17th-25th, then after that it straight to the team house in Limoux. I will be getting a confirmed race calendar when at the team camp so I will be posting that up once I have it. But the principle seems to be a handful of the Coup de France National Series (racing for CSCA Proprete 2000), along with some stage racing in mainland France and Guadeloupe and the odd time trial. I will be starting racing for Culture Velo as a 2nd category, so we will link up a lot with the Culture Velo Junior team to travel to 2nd category ranked races. I will be staying in a house (here on known as the Wattage Cottage) with a couple of good friends. The perfect enviroment to train!

During the year, I will be spending a month or so in Guadelope racing for CSCA Proprete 2000 in two main stage races, including the UCI Tour of Guadeloupe. More races are tbc.

Along with racing in France, I plan to race some of the big races in the UK still for Team OnForm like I did last year. I am hoping to ride CiCle Classic, Beaumont Trophy and National Championships and then possible a few hill climbs at the end of the year.

Check out my sponsors page to see all the amazing people helping me make it happen!

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National 10mile Championships

For my last race of the year, I chose the RTTC National 10mile Championships. I’ve had this written down as a target from the start of the year and it has come around very quickly. I changed my position up a little from the National 25, I think I went a little too low there and it became a bit too uncomfortable and restricted me a little bit. So back to where I was at the start of the season when I was going well. Continue reading “National 10mile Championships”

National 25

Considering the week I’ve had. I will take this result. It isn’t the result I had been hoping for from this race as it has been a big target for me all year, but I gave it everything I had on the day and the power was not as bad as I was expecting.

I did break the number one golden rule of bike racing yesterday though. I sort of paid for it. Continue reading “National 25”

IoM!

So you may have noticed (you probably didn’t) I’ve been a bit quiet over the last few weeks. The truth is it has been pretty tough month for me now. Ever since finishing my heavy block of training and winning my first national title at the Circuit Champs, I’ve been faced with a lot of fatigue, just when all the important races are coming up.

I started my taper for Nationals after the Circuit Champs, cutting out the volume, but keeping the intensity and hoping for good legs. That was the plan at least. What it more or less meant, was time off the bike. And then more time off the bike. And then a little more for good measure. Believe it or not, this is not how you taper, how I was planning to taper or a successful way to get good legs.

Now a week before the Champs and there was no improvement. But I was all packed, and ready to travel over to the Isle of Mann. At least it would be an adventure!

I have to start by thanking Matt and Amy Hill for organising the trip and giving me somewhere to stay! The whole thing would not have been possible without you guys and I am incredibly thankful!

The trip started with what is possibly the worlds longest ferry. Heysham to Douglas. Didn’t help that it was at 3am. But in the early hours of the morning we arrived, and seen as nothing was open, we went to drive the time trial course. It’s fair to say it was a shock. This was no time trial course, this was hill reps on a TT bike. The first km was technical. A rough little back road, grippy to say the least, with a short but steep descent into a chicane over a little hump back bridge. I won’t lie, first time I rode it I almost ended up in some persons garden. Then comes a steep berg up to the main road, where there was a few moments of rest before climbing again.  Then we popped out onto the coast road, in general slightly downhill, but it included a fair few steep ramps, making it very hard to get into a rhythm. My plan was to hit the first few km’s hard, then try to recover on this longer section in preparation for the longer climb to come. Turning in land, and we started the long climb. Just over 5km and only an average of 3%, but with multiple kicks up to 7% made it very hard to ride consistently. Followed by a long descent almost all the way to the line. It started off steep with 2 big sweeping corners, left then right. Then it was just slightly downhill all the way to a 90degree right onto the finish road, where it was 700 metres to the line and full gas.

I feel like I got everything out on the day, there just wasn’t as much in the legs as I would have hoped.

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But onto the RR. It was hard. I got spat.

That’s the brunt of it anyway. But I have to say the experience was incredible, and I am not sad about the result at all! Being in a huge peloton alongside all my cycling heroes was insane, something I will never forget. It also showed me the level I need to be at to compete there in the coming years. I know that now and me and Mark can work on that. I will be back next year for sure!

Overall it was an up and down week for me on the bike. I will not pretend to be happy with my result in the TT. 22nd overall and 3rd first year. I think it could have been much better, considering I was only 1 minute off the top 10. But I know where I need to improve now and I can focus on that for next year. The RR was amazing and the trip as a whole was fantastic!

Now I need to get packing, I fly to Martinique this evening, see you all soon…

Thanks as always to all the sponsors that make this possible (check them out below), my coach Mark Walker, my Dad and a special mention to Matt and Amy for putting up with me for a week!

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First National Title

Well this is a B I G one!

Major goal for the year ticked off: Cat 1 achieved! Along with something I didn’t expect for quite some time…my first National Title! Here’s how it went…

Wednesday – Eagle Crits Rd 6 E1234 – 1st

Key Stats:

Winning the Bunch Kick:  10secs | 1340watts | peak 1403watts | 190bpm

I’d been at work all day, so heading straight to RAF Woodbridge with not the freshest legs for the evening crit. It was quite clear in my head, a win meant cat 1. No pressure.

The race was hard from the gun, with lots of attacks and lots of chasing. The group being dominated by Pedal Power Cycles jerseys was always going to make it hard. Their sheer numbers were impossible to crack. But with other strong legs in the group, It was hard to establish a breakaway, as there was always someone to chase.

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Nothing was sticking for more than a lap. Which meant it would be coming down to a bunch kick. Not bad, but never ideal. I managed to nap 2nd wheel, interrupting the Pedal Power lead out, but putting me in the perfect position to launch my sprint. The finishing straight was into the wind, and stupidly I launched my sprint way too early. But at least it got me a new 10sec PB power, and a 1st cat! So can’t really complain!

Sunday – RTTC National Circuit TT Championships 32km – 4th Overall – 1st U23

So here it is. National Championships 1 of 4 over the next 3 weeks. 1 week of taper down and firing on all cylinders! Thanks to Matt (Creator of the 4 Man Chopper – check it out) for the pre race rub down, it certainly helped after a week on the Shiv! After catching the Nocturne on Eurosport and wishing I was there, it was off to bed for an early start.

All packed and ready to leave, we headed for Cranfield. Greeted by the friendly faces of Gareth and Simon, the team physio and manager. I went through my usual pre race routines and then rolled to the start. I had heavily studied the routine, so I knew the first rolling but mostly downhill stretch would be a tailwind. Nice and easy to get upto and hold a high speed. Next was a big left hand turn onto a wide open main road, heading south-west, straight into the gales. I knew this was the time to go hard, it was where the time would be made up. When I made it to the turn off the main road, turning back on myself and regaining the tailwind. The road became more twisting, heading through a few villages and ending with a long drag and then a sharp left back to the start/finish. We went round this loop twice, for a total of just over 30km.

Second time along the headwind section I tried to up the pace again, and then when I turned back into the tailwind I tried to up it again rather than trying to recover. Upping the pace every kilometer I got closer to the finish. By the last corner, with 200 metres to go I was on my knees, but I knew it was just one big effort to the line!

Rolled back to the HQ and Simon told me I was in provisional 5th place and top U23. This was great news! The second place rider, Hamish Bond (Aerocoach) not being a UK citizen made him ineligible to any prizes, which bumped me up to 4th, and maintaining the U23 title!

Big congratulations to Dan Bigham for yet another National Title!

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Thanks as always to all the sponsors that make this possible (check them out below), my coach Mark Walker and my Dad for putting up with my expensive and rollercoaster ride of trying to make it as a pro cyclist…

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CR Number 2

Heading over to the flat lands of Ely this weekend for the Ely 10mile TT. It was a course I hadn’t ridden before, but I’d noted down the course record, and believed it was achievable with a strong ride.

The course started with a gradual ramp and then was flat and open there and back. So I rode out hard up the ramp to get up to speed as quickly as possible. Thankfully with the tailwind out I could recover over the top and ride out to the turn at a high speed without much effort. This worked out very well, as when I took the roundabout and hit the headwind, I had plenty in the tank to open the taps and really push on in the second half.

Key Stats:

Return Leg: 7.5km | 10min 7secs | 44.5kmh | 390watts | 174bpm

Coming into the final roundabout with 800metres to go, I had to touch the brakes as there was some traffic behind a slower rider, but I knew as soon as that cleared I could just give it everything to the line! I crossed the line at 20min 18secs, taking the course record by 11secs. Happy days! Now with 2 course records to my name, I can confidently say the form is building nicely ahead of the run of National Championships later in the month!

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