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”→
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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…
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.
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!
Part of my training for the National Road Race involves plenty of big rides, 4+ hours most days. Today was no different. So I set out, 4 hours in the saddle before my local midweek crit. I already felt pretty shelled out when arriving, but nothing a can of coke and a chocolate bar couldn’t fix!
The crit started out pretty hard. We established a 4 man breakaway before 10 minutes had passed. I wasn’t looking overly forward to another 50 minutes off the front after what I had already done, but all the strong legs of the group were in the move, with 2 more coming over after 20 minutes, so it was sticking.
Through and off it was for the remainder of the race, few attacks, nothing major until 3 laps to go. Lloyd (Catford Banks) launched himself off the front and quickly established a gap. It took some huge turns from me, Titch (VC Baracchi) and Josh (Pedal Power Cycles RT), but we brought him back with just a lap to go. So it came down to a sprint. Leaving it late I popped out from 3rd wheel and got my head down and for the 3rd time out of 4 in the series I got my arms in the air.
Saturday – SDCC Woodbridge Crits E12 – 3rd
Establishing a breakaway: 1min 18secs | avg 565watts | 181bpm
With quite a small field, it was clear it would be a hard race. A strong team from Richardson’s Trek, the race set of fast and a small group of 4 quickly established off the front. Me, 2 Richardson’s lads and 1 Catford. A drop of wheels into the strong headwind and that was it, the two Richardson riders were away, I was left stranded in the gap and the Catford rider blew his doors. And that was pretty much the race. The two leaders always opening a gap, me maintaining my gap on the peloton behind to roughly 1 minute. And hour later and that was it. At least I was the only rider not to get lapped, and I managed to lap the field! My first podium in a Nat B, 17 points closer to Cat 1.
I was slightly disappointed in the prize money however. £10 for 3rd place. I paid £20, plus a non-refundable £5 for the transponder to be in the race and I finish on the podium and don’t get my money back? Great way to promote cycling to young riders!
Sunday – Glendene Summer Classic E12 – 10th
First 30mins of racing: avg 44.7kmh | avg 283watts | 164bpm
Well this was one eventful race! Not a great deal happened for a large portion of the race, there was an early breakaway of 2 riders, then a winning break of 2 riders. Sadly I didn’t manage to get in either, Despite trying to get over. But at roughly 120km, with 1 lap to go, the drama started.
Some twatwaffe anti-cycling moron took it upon himself to totally ruin a bike race. After trying to drive his car into the peloton and pulling a 3 point turn between the break and the peloton, he started throwing tacks onto the course. Causing a large amount of punctures in the group on the penultimate lap. This caused the comms to get the race 1 lap short. Annoyingly, that is a message that isn’t easy to communicate to a speeding bunch. Annoyingly I found out about 1.5km from the flag. Which was just after drama two. An agitated horse trying to launch its rider at the sight of the bunch. I don’t know what was worse; The shouting to slow down, or the riders who weren’t slowing down. Either way, I was at the back, right at the back. Getting ready for the last lap that never came about. So I had 1.5km, to go from the back of a strung out peloton to a position to compete in the sprint. Riding up the outside, in the wind towards the bunched up front of the peloton. Unfortunately, in the drama, a few riders had managed to sneak off the front. But I managed to find a few gaps and came around the final corner and opened my sprint. Making up as much ground as I could, I managed 8th in the sprint to take 10th overall. I guess I will take that after the confusion!
Monday – Stowmarket 16km TT – 5th
Out leg: 10min 12sec | avg 367watts | 171bpm
Return leg: 8min 15sec | avg 389watts | 176bpm
A crazy early start! I was off at 7:50. It was not pleasant! After 2 pretty huge weeks of training, I was surprised I managed to equal my PB power. I’d like to think that means once I am fresh, I could up that power a fair bit. Unfortunately I think I used that power quite badly. I rode a traditional negative split. With a headwind out, it would have been faster to ride harder out and easier with the tailwind back. But I rode how I did, it may have cost me time, but I equalled the course record. So I was happy. Until I found out that was only good enough for 5th place. I would have liked to be much higher than that, but at the end of a tough weekend, I can’t be too disheartened!
Another afternoon start, which worked out well as I was working on the Friday night, so I could still get a full nights sleep. Got a lift out with TT Guru and local legend, Angus. We chatted courses and wind directions, and the possibilities of a CR. Despite being on good form, I didn’t feel 100% that afternoon, most likely the late night before. But either way, I went about my usual pre race routines and rolled to the start line.
I took off. The first km was all downhill and tailwind, so it was weirdly a relaxed start. Before a sharp left hander onto the first and most substantial climb on the course. About half way up, I caught my minute man! Apparently I surprised him, by his Facebook comment later that evening! Cresting the climb, we took another left onto a main road and back into the tailwind. Comfortably cruising along at 50kmh, waiting for the turn back into the long crosswind that took up 2/3s of the course. Turning off the main road, and onto a country lane, the surface got rough and very grippy. I knew that this was the time to put the power down if I wanted to set a fast time. The road was winding, the wind fluctuating between a cross and cross head. Annoyingly, as in my recon ride the previous day it was a lot more like a cross tail!
With 8km to go, I turned back into the wind for the final push. Trying to gradually up the power every few minutes to get every last bit of effort out, building up to a full on final minute into Debenham village. I was really pleased with my effort once I got back to the car park and could check the power numbers on the garmin. PB power for the duration. Happy days.
Heading into the hall to see my name on the top of the board was very cool! Been getting close as the season is starting, but to finally get on the top step was awesome! I managed to take the CR by 16 seconds and finish 3mins faster than 2nd place. Also got to see an epic ride from ex-pro and good friend Prof. Chapeau.
Sunday – Fenland Clarion Nat B – 4th
An early start this time, to head over towards the A1 for the Fenland Clarion National B. 120km around a rolling course with some very exposed cross wind sections and a flat finishing straight. The race started well, I got into a small breakaway on the opening lap with some mates I trained with in Calpe, we got a bit of a gap, but were never going to stay out there for long. Sitting back in the group for the next few laps, keeping an eye on any possible moves and following a few but none came to anything. I have to admit, I have no clue when the winning break went!
But as we were approaching the final lap, the gap to the break started to fall quite considerably, thanks to my team-mate Robbie for that! Going up the climb for the penultimate time, I knew that was my last and only chance to get across and get a result from the race. Robbie kept the pace up on the climb, then over the top I took off and got my head down. The gap had come down to around 10 or 15 seconds at this point. So it only took a few minutes to cross the gap. Thankfully no one came with me, so i could ride my own tempo to the front group. As soon as i got to the front group, it was clear that there was a fair few people sitting on, so I started pulling turns immediately with the Catford, Spirit and Sigma boys. Heading into the last lap the gap started to grow again, until finally the cars were between us and the group again. On one of the climbs on the back side of the circuit the attacks started to come. The breakaway was thinning out. Despite getting distanced on the climb, I managed to get back into the wheels on the descent, and i stayed out of the wind all the way from there. With 1km to go, we were over the final climb and it was one straight wide road the finish. The road straightened out and people immediately upped the pace with the finish line in sight. I managed to get onto the back of the Nuun-Sigma lead out and was really happy with my positioning. Until the winner, Jake Hales from Spirit launched himself from the back of the group. I was well and truly eating my garmin at this point. I just had my head down and was pressing with everything i had left. I managed to close the gap to 3rd place but it wasnt enough. 4th in a sprint though! Not bad from a tester!
For most of the year, I will be riding double-header weekends, that being a race on saturday then sunday. Being the first one, i was interested to see how the legs would feel the day after a race, and if they would be good enough to go full gas for a second day. Here is how it played out…
Saturday – NCRA Handicap 2/3/4 RR – 2nd
Slightly strange for a RR, but it was an afternoon start, so I got to get a full night’s sleep which was nice. After setting up Pink Wheels with the race wheels and packing the kit bag, i got in a full breakfast then we headed to Bedford for the race. We arrived in plenty of time, so i got to warm up and sign on in no stress. It was really nice to warm up with a few other guys from the team. My first RR with team mates, so it was really cool to see some familiar kit in the peloton. It was a weird concept for a race. 4th cats go first, followed by 3rds then 2nds, in the “scratch group”. Sitting in the car park watching people ride off you were meant to be racing was a little strange. We set off 8 minutes behind the first rider, and immediately got into chaingang formation. It was a 3 lap race, and for the first lap the whole group worked together well. Rolling through and gradually picking up riders. But as the pace increased, less and less people wanted to pull through. Until it was just the OnForm guys on the front. The gap to the front stopped coming down. So action had to be taken. So heading into the last lap, when we turned into the headwind, me and Robbie hit the front and managed to drive a split. We got a group of 4 off the front of the scratch group and we set off in pursuit of the final remaining group. Half a lap later, the 2 other guys in our group stopped working, so with Robbie holding up the group i attacked off the front and got myself a gap. Once i managed to get a sustainable gap, Robbie managed to jump over to me. We passed the front group and round in a 2up to 2nd and 3rd place. A solid result for OnForm!
Sunday – Chelmer Hardriders 38km Hilly TT- 3rd
My second time trial outing for the year was the Chelmer Hardriders. On yet another shortened course due to road works. The course was a challenging 38km. The first 10km were into the wind, although it ended up being quite a light breeze on the day. I knew I had to go out hard, and then try to recover in the tailwind, middle section. I was happy with the pace i was setting, and i felt that i was going well. But around the half way make i hit some traffic going into a village. There was a queue of traffic behind a slower rider, then me. For about 2minutes, i was stuck at 40kmh, which in the tailwind flat section of the course, it was vital to keep the speed high. I think i lost out on a bit of time, but that’s racing on open roads i guess! It did mean that once the traffic cleared i was on a mission to try and catch back some time. The last 8km of the course was quite interesting. The event collided with a Wiggle Sportive. So there was riders all over the road, not exactly a good advert for cycling. Trying to focus on passing riders 30km into a 38km ride way over threshold isn’t all that easy! The last 8km were signed posted out, so i was trying to turn the screw a little more at every sign until the final climb. From then on it was just FULL GAS! When i got back to the HQ, i was happy to see i was in the hot seat, with 2 of the favourites to come in. Lloyd came in with a blistering time of 49:37 to take the race from Ashley Cox by over a minute, with me in third.
I managed a PB power for 5min, 10min, 20min and ftp over this weekend, along with a 2nd and a 3rd. Overall a successful weekend, but back to training and maybe i can make it the next step up the podium next weekend! Thank you to OnForm and all the sponsors for the support!
First race of the season done and dusted…and it’s awesome to say it was a good one!
First early start of the year, but surprisingly it didn’t feel out-of-place and I was straight into my pre race routine, something i had planned out very carefully. On the drive there, the threat of rain made the pre race feeling quite tense, but finally the sun broke through and we were in stall for a particularly mild weathered Hardriders! Having collected my team kit the previous day, it was the first outing for my new Ellmore Clothing Aerosuit. I have to say top marks all round, fitted wrinkle free and was very comfy throughout the race. Very thankful to have such good kit for the season ahead!
As my pre race plan dictated, I started my warm up in plenty of time. Headphones went in, got myself in the right mindset and all focus was now on the race. I like to prep with one or two bottles of SIS electrolyte drink, a product I have always used, which made me very pleased to hear they would be provided our nutrition for the season. From here on out, there was no chatting or faffing around. My head was in the game and the legs happened to feel pretty good. It was clear i had recovered pretty well after such a heavy block in Calpe. With nothing more than a quick, quiet word with Lloyd, I rolled off to the start line.
Everyone had told me about the dreadful road conditions to be expected at Hardriders. But I always took it all with a little pinch of salt as I had no experience of it myself. But it’s fair to say they were not wrong! I knew it wasn’t long until the first climb, so i got myself into a rhythm nice and early. We were treated to a tailwind for the first 25km, which made a few of the climbs easier, but only made the descents even scarier. A Shiv with a disc is not known to be the best handling bike in the world and on some of the rutted descents that certainly showed.
Riding mostly on feel, with nothing more than a quick glance down at the power numbers, I felt like I was riding well, the sensations in the legs were good considering what id been through this winter. Once i reached the main turn in the course at 26km, turning into the wind, i knew it was a mere 10km to the finish and i had to start tightening the screw. This got harder and harder and i was probably paying for the efforts on the early hills. But i had to just keep digging in. As i sailed past some club riders up the final climb into Essendon, with a few cheers from the crowd (yes! a crowd on a TT! madness!). I dug deep for the final few kms, trying to just up the pace as much as possible. The sight of the finish flag was bloody nice that’s for sure!
After rolling back to the HQ, the joy to see I was sitting fastest was massive! Something I didn’t expect at all. I went to the race hoping for a top 5, podium if i was really lucky. Too see i was currently leading with only Lloyd to come in! Like a miracle!
I would like to say a big thank you to all the organisers and marshalls! Safe to say the best organised and marshalled event I’ve ever participated in. There must have been 3 or 4 marshals on every junction, with prior warning on dodgy parts of the course too. It made the experience even better. So a big thank you for such a great event! You will be seeing me next year!
Also a thank you to Cycle Team OnForm and all their Sponsors for the support this season. Heres to many more great results!