I know I am posting this a little later than usual, but I was ill for the last 2 weeks, so life has been quite dull. But here is how my best weekend of the season so far went!
Saturday – Stowmarket Hilly 20 TT – 1st & Course Record
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!