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Race reports

Discussion in 'Pedal Powered' started by One More Solo, Mar 15, 2015.

  1. One More Solo

    Capodecina

    Joined: Dec 29, 2004

    Posts: 15,646

    Location: Manchester

    National 12 hour - long overdue ride report

    I rode my first, and last, 12 hour time trial in 2016. At least, that’s what I told myself at the time. It’s also what I tell myself after any ride that spans every daylight hour and those that sometimes span more. Yet, it’s 6:32am on the morning of 11 August and here I am about to ride around the clock again.

    [​IMG]

    It’s a chilly, but dry, start to the day and the wind is already up. The start timekeeper completes his count and I push off; as all the pre-race tension and nervousness falls away there is no cathartic sprint up to speed, just a gradual acceleration as I settle into my bars and focus on keeping my start effort steady. Too hard now will cost me later.

    Sunday morning and the roads are quiet. Thankfully, my bike is too and I whirr through the lanes of the start circuit. I plan to ride mostly on feel but a quick check on my bike computer shows the numbers are where they should be and my legs feel OK. I catch a few of the earlier starters before we arrive at the main circuit. It’s a surprise but I trust my plan and keep the effort where it is, beginning the first of many runs up and down the A11 between Wymondham and Croxton.

    The first stretch heads north east. I have the wind at my back and progress is easy. I catch a couple more riders before hitting the rutted concrete of the final stretch on the run to Croxton and heading up the slip road to begin the reverse circuit. The high frequency judder of some of Britain’s finest tarmac pops the top off my handlebar mounted drink bottle. I make the decision to stop and try and find it – it’s early in the day and I’m worried about spilling more of my bottle than drinking it – but no luck. I decide to grab some gaffer tape on the next lap as the next best thing.

    The following week, I find the top inside the bottle when I come to clean it. Great.

    The bottle top is an unwanted distraction because the next leg is the one I’ve been dreading since the first weather forecast. An unbroken 20 mile stretch straight into the wind, which only happens once as part of the transition from the start circuit to the first loop of the day. I up the effort here, knowing it will gain me more distance in the long run, even if I pay for it later. It’s hard, and the second 10 miles is particularly exposed with some open sections creating crosswinds where the trees break. I am grateful for the roundabouts and a couple of rises which break things up a bit, even if my average speed suffers.

    Turning at the south western most point, the next 10 miles will be gently downhill and, with the tailwind, it whistles past. Stretches where I did 15mph on the out leg become 40mph on the return stretch. Nothing to gain once you hit those speeds so I rest my legs and enjoy the “free” distance I’ve earned from my preceding efforts against the elements.

    I’m lucky to have my wife, Chelsea, supporting along with my folks who have travelled down from Sheffield the night before. Logistics mean they haven’t arrived when I first set off, and I have 50 miles under my belt before I reach the planned waiting spot and see them all for the first time. It’s a small thing, but knowing now they are there puts part of my mind at rest. We nail the first bottle hand up – Chelsea is a pro now – and it’s into the first loop proper.

    That sets the pattern for the day. 10 miles of slog, 10 miles of speed. I’m averaging 24mph, but it’s a product of 21mph one way and significantly more the other. The wind is a challenge and takes real focus and concentration. I’m riding a shallower front wheel for stability but even that is a fight in places. By the 3rd loop, the drags on this out leg are starting to bite already and I find myself out of the saddle for a break and to keep the gear turning, rather than spinning up them in my aero position as I had at first.

    On the return leg, I ship my chain shifting up into my smallest sprocket. It’s a frustrating mistake: the bigger gear would grant me another fraction of a mph, a gain which is far outweighed by the time lost putting the chain back on and getting back up to speed. I treat that shift with kid gloves for the rest of the day but still drop my chain a couple of more times.

    You can’t underestimate the effect of mental fatigue on a ride like this. It plays to my slightly obsessive nature but I have mapped out what will happen when at various times and distances. When you are tired, you make bad decisions. The trick is to make as many of them as possible – what to eat, what to drink, how to deal with a mechanical – with a fresh mind and don’t second guess it later.

    On the next pass, I stop briefly to take on new bottles and food. I’m four, maybe five, hours in and averaging 24mph. On the face of it, everything is going great and I’m well in to the ride but I’m struggling already. It’s like a switch has been flicked, and while the power is still coming, my legs are protesting and feel empty. I take on more sugar and some caffeine and focus instead on completing this first lot of loops and on to the next set.

    [​IMG]

    Eventually, a marshal waves me past the turn I have made four times already, signalling the start of the next loop. This means a near 20 mile stretch of booming tailwind. It should be a real boost but the sun is starting to break through and every stretch into the wind becomes more attritional, more interminable. I am thinking only of how hard it will be to ride back. This is only added to by the rutted road surface at the far point of the loop. My forearms are taking a battering and it is taking total concentration to avoid as many of the potholes as I can. Each one feels like a race ender and I don’t have enough distance in the bank to absorb a long stoppage.

    Oh yeah, distance. Obviously the name of the game today is to ride as far as possible in 12 hours. My previous best was 255 miles, but I came away from that ride knowing I could do better. Once I saw our longstanding – as in as old as me – club record was 274.86 miles, the goal was set.

    I came in to the National knowing it was very achievable, and that was cemented by the early hours. Here though, well past halfway and suffering badly, I watch my average speed begin to ebb away almost imperceptibly. You can make up a mile or two over 12 hours, but as the clock begins to run down, those distances begin to look as long as they are.

    I know the comfortable buffer I have built up has been eroded and a problem would mean not meeting the target I’d worked so hard for.

    In a tired moment, I try to swap bottles only to jettison the full one at the feet of another team of supporters, watching it roll helplessly under their car. After some brief scrabbling around, I carry on and rationalise I’ll be back through in another 50 minutes or so. A mistake compounds a mistake and I suffer badly on the next leg with no water to take on and the energy gels making me nauseous.

    Each of these loops becomes progressively slower. 48:18. 48:56. 49:37. 50:50. Not an explosion but a slow death. It’s a relief – a relative one, but a relief nonetheless – when I am pointed on to the more sheltered finishing loop. I will ride around this loop, with timekeepers stationed at mile intervals until my time is up.

    I finally start to rise out of my slump. There are plenty of supporters around this circuit cheering us all on and the undulating lanes are a welcome break from the busy roads of the day. I resolve now that I am going to finish, and I’m going to finish with a bloody good distance, club record or not.

    The finishing loop is my favourite part, and not just because it means the end. Finally, the field is brought back together and whether you are passing or being passed, there is mutual respect between all the riders that only comes from this sort of shared experience. The results will show plenty who started did not finish. Getting this far has taken courage, grit and fortune. Everyone gets a shout of encouragement as our paths cross.

    Three hours to go. With my head back together, I am riding these loops with proper focus again, even if I’m not physically where I want to be. I am chugging flat Coke, being the only thing I can stomach.

    Two hours to go. With a lap of the circuit under my belt, I know where to push on and where to hold back. Chelsea, Mum and Dad are in place and we are back in the swing of it. Throw bottle. Grab bottle. Keep going. Their support has made this possible.

    90 minutes to go. I start calculating. My average speed is still dropping but only slowly now. If I keep this up I will do it. I coax my bike around each corner and weave around each pothole like it’s a landmine. No room for mistakes.

    One hour to go. I reckon I am going to do maybe one and a half more loops of the circuit. That means I’ll finish as far as I possibly can from HQ. I am hoping someone comes to pick me up. You’ve ridden this far, what’s a few more miles? Ha. I eye up a comfortable looking spot on the verge roughly where I think I’ll finish.

    30 minutes to go. I am going to break the record if I just keep moving. Chelsea hands me a bottle and I chuck it. Not needed now I decide. Luckily she understands.

    7 minutes to go. 275 miles on the Garmin. It’s done. A supporter on the course catches the moment I realise.

    [​IMG]

    Time is up. I keep riding to the next time keeper. Can I stop? Yes, you can. I roll to the verge, unclip my feet from the pedals and lie down in the grass. Helmet off, skinsuit unzipped, the breeze I’ve fought all day is so welcome now. Christ, I’m never doing that again.

    [​IMG]

    https://www.strava.com/activities/2611939231
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2019
  2. SoliD

    Capodecina

    Joined: Feb 25, 2004

    Posts: 14,684

    Location: Portsmouth

    Beast! Congrats on the record, I couldn't even contemplate doing a 12 hour because I'm not mentally strong enough. Reckon the body would be fine.

    Few of my club mates did the same event I think, Brian hygate an 80 something man and Nigel Sign, I know nigel broke his record from the year before but can't remember the distance. All absolute lunacy!
     
  3. Roady

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 7,719

    Location: Hereford

    Love that intro and a fantastic report, thanks!

    Even more fantastic is that ride, the effort and skill required, huge huge kudos! Hunted your ride down on Strava to look at the data (unsure why you didn't link it), really consistent and impressive, also congrats for getting the club record (you didn't actually confirm you got it in your report!) :cool:
     
  4. One More Solo

    Capodecina

    Joined: Dec 29, 2004

    Posts: 15,646

    Location: Manchester

    Thank you, and thank you @SoliD. I should make that clearer and link the ride, will make a cheeky edit. :)
     
  5. Jonny ///M

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Nov 23, 2004

    Posts: 9,998

    Well done mate. Such a test of mental strength never mind physical strength.

    I have no idea how you pace such a long distance or ride in an aero position for so long.
     
  6. SoliD

    Capodecina

    Joined: Feb 25, 2004

    Posts: 14,684

    Location: Portsmouth

    A short report after last weeks home race.

    Up to Popham airfield, the last time I visited here was for my regional championships 2 years ago, 2 weeks after returning from the states and was the first nudge towards me getting myself a coach. Hopefully this time around would be more successful.

    The week before it was wet and miserable and I had been suffering from a cold since the Monday, but weather was looking dry for the weekend and so it was, my cold also had cleared up but I still had a bit of a cough and numbers from the rides earlier in the week weren't too bad, but I didn't feel my tip top (excuses 101). I arrived early to do my usual pit duties, but no help was required with the conditions hard packed and quick rolling, a quick recce lap showed it was all rideable compared to a couple years back where the shortest of slopes were almost unrideable.

    I was gridded first on the second row and put myself behind a regular top 3 rider who was called out second, now I'm gridded high up I usually aim to pay attention to who gets called and where they go. As the whistle went I had a dreadful start missing my pedal cleat and getting bogged down, not to worry I'd work my way up. I reckon I dropped to about 18th or so, and quickly got back on to wheels (I really need to sort my starts out) The first lap completed and I was up to about 13th, with a few riders ahead of me I knew I should be beating and a few behind who I had to drop.

    I settled into a rhythm and kept it there for the next few laps, on lap 4 I started to move up and got into 9th, with a couple of riders dropping off our wheels. I wasn't too confident in the woods section but had strong power on the open parts, but not enough to distance Alex Watkins who over the past few weeks I've beaten quite easily. It was at this point I knew I wasn't 100%. I stuck ahead of him for another lap or so and kept thinking I could hear my front wheel burp slightly over the bigger bumps but kept thinking it's in my head. Alex then went past me on the uphill drag through the woods and I just couldn't get back to his wheel. I concentrated on riding my own race at this point and keeping the guys in 11th,12th and 13th behind me.

    I came into the pits on the next lap and did a quick swap to get my front tyre sorted, it had lost a chunk of pressure and wasn't just in my head. This was sorted as I passed the pits the next time so I came back in to get back on the Canyon. Front wheel sorted and a lot more confidence, but a smaller gap behind and bigger one in front.

    As the 2 lap to go board came out, the guys behind were as close as they had been since they were dropped. So I put a real push on to get the gap out, as the lap passed I could see it growing and then just kept the push going to the line, coming home in 10th, not a bad result considering the strength of the field out front with a Canyon Eisberg rider coming in second and with the cold hanging around. I know I need to work on getting my confidence up on single track tight stuff and work on those starts!!! But hopefully power should be back next week for my second favourite course, although it's looking dry again so should be fast and furious.

    https://www.strava.com/activities/2804091990
     
  7. SoliD

    Capodecina

    Joined: Feb 25, 2004

    Posts: 14,684

    Location: Portsmouth

    Round 6 of the league this week, a nice local jaunt to Southampton and the first race on my new Inflite https://forums.overclockers.co.uk/posts/33112400 .

    After the day of rain on the Saturday I knew the course would be a tad muddy, but went for my sighting lap on my fat inter tyres to see how it was. I abandoned this half way round and came back and swapped to my full on mud tyres! It was very sticky and slippery in a lot of places despite the dry and windy conditions from about 4PM Saturday.

    As the race came about I had a warm up on the road and noticed my pit bikes mud tyred front wouldn't spin very well, looks like the rotor holder was rubbing somewhere! Nightmare, so just handed it to my pit man as I went to the start and asked him to change tyre, hopefully I wouldn't need it.

    With some riders at the National Trophy and recent strong results I was gridded on the front row and took up a position in the middle, as the whistle went I got a good clip in and then managed to botch my next few gear changes getting my fingers all confused in the heat of the moment and clicking to an easier gear rather than a harder one. I fell back to about 13th, but once again didn't panic knowing I could pick up places as the race went on. I usually go well at Southampton and even if I gave up a bit of time in the first half a lap I could make it up on the drag to the woods. On my recce I had decided I would be running in two specific places (the off camber section and then the stepped bank, both could potentially be ridden but had the risk of coming a cropper quite easily. As I hit the off camber I made up a couple of spots getting my legs moving and taking a low line, up to about 11th now after 1/4 of a lap. I followed the wheels through the narrow tight twists and then picked up another spot on the uphill drag to the woods.

    As I came out the other side and onto the dry half of the course I almost stacked the front where it was still surprisingly slippy, but stayed up and then got out the saddle to kick on as much as possible where the grip allowed. As I went onto the second lap I passed another rider, but noticed it spreading out ahead, so worked hard to move up again and try to get back to Alex Watkins who pipped me last week for the first time this year, he had had a blinding start, but I knew I could catch him, as the next couple of laps went on I adjusted my lines through a few corners and really got some confidence through the slippy turns and also my running lines improved making up some big time, the gap was coming down to Alex who was slowly slipping back from his high of second, although still 15 seconds or so at the beginning of the 4th lap. As we were heading up to the woods I noticed the gap closing rapidly and the other side of the woods I was miraculously on Alex's wheel, who was having gear issues. So I pushed on and got past, up to 6th at this point. Knowing an extended podium could be on if I carried on pushing and kept it clean. (prizes to 5th...)

    I dropped Alex a bit as he pitted for a new bike, but I took a few rubbish lines and gave up crucial seconds, however I picked up 5th place as a rider slowly dropped off about half way. At this point I told my pit crew I'd be in the next lap around for a bike clean up for the second half of the race, and to check my other wheels had been fitted which they had, so next time around with a few second gap behind I swapped over, and then lost 5th to Alex, but I was on his wheel, after a few turns I pushed on past him and got back to the pits ahead, where I got back on to the main bike and once again lost a place. But quickly regained this as I took an agressive line through the middle of 2 back markers on the very next corner on the inside of Alex. It stayed like this for the next couple of laps, with us making a gap behind us to 7th, but Alex sticking on my wheel, him being quicker through the tight turns and me making time on him through the quicker turns and running sections.

    With 2 laps to go I put a bit of a dig in, although not intentionally dropping Alex, but made a good 10 second gap very quickly. I pushed really hard at this point and the gap extended over the next half lap, at this point I knew I could keep 5th providing I kept it upright, so ensured i pushed hard where I could but without taking unneccessary risks, which is easier said than done passing backmarkers. It stuck like this through the last lap despite having one backmarker question if I was lapping him and causing me to have to dodge round him. Came home in 5th and my best result of this season so far.

    The field was strong. but I definitely enjoyed the course and conditions, more running is always a benefit! :D The new bike worked a dream, just need to sort out my gearing on it to make sure I don't fumble the start next week. Few pictures on Strava.

    https://www.strava.com/activities/2821885860
     
  8. SoliD

    Capodecina

    Joined: Feb 25, 2004

    Posts: 14,684

    Location: Portsmouth

    Didn't write a report for last week as I had a stinker! :D This week was slightly better!

    Busy weekend of cyclocross for myself this past weekend, some of my club mates were riding in the national trophy in Crawley on Saturday and the Fianceé and I offered our services for pit crew as the race didnt start until 10:35 we went to Parkrun nearby and I got my running shoes on and took it easy or so I thought (more on this later) with a 21:29 and 9th overall. We then went over to do our pit duties which were definitely required, the course was in essence a bog and required lots of running and lots of pitting for our riders which meant lots of jet washing and running to and from the pits. But we did our job and our rider came home midpack which was a great result considering he started on the last lap and fell off about 4 corners in!

    Onto the Sunday and I woke up with my legs shattered from the previous days parkrun...decided to have a bath to try to loosen them up but didn't really work but following the first images of the course from the parents of our younger riders I thought of any day to have achey running legs today wouldn't be too bad, overnight had caused carnage and the course was more akin to the Somme than a CX course, although they do obviously have similar roots.

    I got up to Swindon bit later than normal as I didn't need to pit for anyone prior to my race luckily and had a ride around the course, it was horrible with about 40% of the course needing your running legs, luckily the mud wasn't too sticky, but it'd be pitting every lap. As the race got gridded up I noticed nobody was really here probably at the national trophy or attending Remembrace Day events, and I was gridded second, it was a narrow grid but on tarmac with a short run to the first corner, so I took a middle slot. As the whistle went I got going and had the best start I can ever remember. I was clipped in immediately and got into the first corner in 2nd place. As it tightened up I got my elbows up ensuring I stayed upright and held position through the next set of bends. I felt confident and pushed on having faith in my tyres to grip up which they did. As we came around the lower part of the course and back towards the pit up a right handed slight incline my back wheel slipped away and I lost about 6 positions, but I was quickly back up right and fighting through again. I'd decided before the race exactly where I'd be jumping off each lap and as I dismounted and ran I made up positions, as we got back to the end of the lap I'd worked my way back and took a really sweet line as others jumped off and got back up to second.

    After the start/finish we passed the pit and my pre arranged routine was sorted, this section was really boggy and I'd agreed to be handed a bike off the floor and straight onto my shoulder to run this first unrideable section. After this very first pit I closed the gap to first by about 10 seconds and extended my lead over 3rd by about 10 seconds. I focused on catching the guy in front, unfortauntely most of the race went into a bit of a blur after this and I don't really remember a great deal. The stretch to the guy out front extended out slowly apart from when he had a minor hiccup with some tape in his pedal, and I had a bit of a tussle with the series leader for 2 or 3 laps, he'd gain on me in certain sections and then I'd pull away from him mostly through the running parts! He eventually got past and made a kick away. About 35 to 40 minutes in I was suffering with the cold and could barely feel my feet but this didn't stop me, as I heard the bell I was quite relieved the race would be under an hour and I knew I had a big enough gap behind to really focus on finishing it off but staying upright all throughout that last lap. I took my clean bike at the half lap point which I hadn't before but as it was last lap it made sense if it was clean.

    I eventually came home 3rd for my best result to date just over a minute behind the winner. Really happy with the result and happy with how I raced, yes I dropped it a couple of times but nothing that really slowed me down. My legs are in pieces again today, so will see how the rest of the week goes!

    Got a new garmin watch unfortunately the recording was set to ultratrac which is why it looks so ropey but there are some pictures on there of the hell that we hasd to ride in. Although it was slightly better than at Crawley where our club was represented by one of our female riders who said she was doing 17 minute laps!!!! on the saturday they were doing 7mins :D Couple of videos showing it here too

    https://www.strava.com/activities/2856205355

    https://www.facebook.com/tim.hyde.35/videos/10215921157601430/?t=1

    https://www.facebook.com/1136798959/videos/10218576238733978/?t=7

    https://www.facebook.com/tim.hyde.35/videos/10215921159081467/?t=3
     
  9. SoliD

    Capodecina

    Joined: Feb 25, 2004

    Posts: 14,684

    Location: Portsmouth

    Short update from last weekend, my last race before the CX nationals in Shrewsbury this weekend.

    Headed up to Abingdon, where I raced earlier in the year and didn't have the best of results so was hoping for a bit more with some good legs coming off the back of my Christmas block and shifting the last of my cold that had been on and off for about 3 weeks.

    I got the to the gridding and was lined up on the front row next to the series leader. As the whistle went I had a great start, and was second into the first corner. I held my lines and was feeling strong after that in the power sections, after a third of a lap I was passed by 2 strong riders and then held my own for a couple of laps. Unfortunately I didn't quite have the confidence of the other riders in the off camber sections and lost a bit of time getting off the bike for the hurdles (NY resolution will sort that for next year, learning to bunny hop). I was holding 5th position until about 35 or 40 minutes, but then unfortunately slowly fell back and finished 9th after a strong last lap trying to catch back up to 8th place, partly as my legs faded and partly through a slow pressure release in my rear tyre necessitating a bike change on the last lap. Felt good throughout and I had a really strong first 40 mins. This is hopefully good form for next week, with the bikes given a thorough going over for new grease, bottom bracket, chains etc where required and giving them all a nice tighten up and clean. Hoping the wet weather continues and the course is destroyed for our race on Sunday so it's a running race as I know this is usually when I'm strongest. Hopefully I'll last longer than the 34 minutes of racing I got last year before being pulled by the 80% rule.

    https://www.strava.com/activities/2984967319
     
  10. SoliD

    Capodecina

    Joined: Feb 25, 2004

    Posts: 14,684

    Location: Portsmouth

    So now I have finally recovered after the nationals at the weekend and had a few days to reflect here is my write up of this years CX national championships. It will probably be quite long which I apologise for in advance.

    Preparation

    After last weekend I spent the week prepping the bikes up fully, one needed a new Bottom Bracket which I had to order direct from Rotor in Spain, but luckily it turned up in time, and they generally needed a good clean and full grease up after the punishment they've had over the last few races. I also had to swap my tyres over from the 40mm I run in dry races to the UCI compliant 33mm. All fairly easy stuff, but spent extra time putting the effort in to make sure everything was ready by Wednesday night, ready for packing Thursday so I could head straight from work on Friday afternoon. Which is no easy task, bearing in mind my kit list off the top of my head is in the spoiler tags below. My Fianceé also came with us, so she had all her running gear and waterproofs to help out in the pits, along with all her massage equipment (no table though...)
    2 Bikes
    2 Spare Sets of Wheels
    Turbo Trainer
    3 25L water containers
    Skinsuit
    Number Armbands
    HRM
    Garmin Headunit and Watch
    Socks x4
    Helmet x2
    Sunglasses x2
    Cycling Cap
    Warm up Leggings
    Warm Up Jersey
    Dry Robe
    Bib Shorts for Saturday + Sunday warmups
    Waterproof trousers for warmups
    Long Sleeve Jersey for Saturday
    Base Layers x5
    Waterproof Coat
    Hiking Boots
    Clothes for Saturday
    Clothes for Sunday
    Towels
    Washkit
    Drinks bottles
    Gels
    Energy Powder
    Recovery Powder
    Recovery Shaker
    Thermos
    Race Licence
    Di2 Charger
    Lube
    Cleaner
    Spare Tubes (even though running Tubeless)
    Track Pump
    Hand Pump
    First aid Stuff

    Probably loads more stuff chucked in the bag that I've forgotten about


    Long Way to Shrewsbury

    Got out from work a bit early and started the long slog to Shrewsbury, which on a Friday afternoon went fairly well, with only a couple of slow downs and one accident pretty much as we got to Shrewsbury. We arrived about 7.45PM at our hotel where Trinity Racing and Current National Champ Tom Pidcock was also staying. Got all checked in and unloaded some of the gear and headed out for dinner, with my eyes already on Sunday I had no beer and tried to get a fairly healthy bit of food.

    Headed back to the hotel and got a mini massage from my partner and chilled in bed watching rubbish on TV. I had an early start the next morning as I was helping set up our pit area for the Vet and Junior races we had club members riding in on the Saturday. I had a rubbish night sleep waking about 2AM and then not getting back to sleep until about 4.30 or so with the alarm going off to 6.30, not an ideal start for a long day ahead being in the pits and helping out club mates. I got to the venue just before 7 and lugged 100L of water down to the pits along with our pressure washer and stand etc. Getting there early meant we could take a much shorter and more tarmaced route to the pits saving quite a bit of effort. Our pit organiser is spot on and experienced at doing this, so despite the early groans it is definitely worth doing, as we saw people later in the day slogging water over the flooded bog in absolutely agony, whereas we had all the water we could need for the rest of the day.

    Saturday Struggles!

    I quickly went back to my hotel for some breakfast after this and picked up the missus and one of my bikes, and then headed back to the venue whilst she went off to do Shrewsbury Parkrun. As course practise was limited to 4 sessions over the weekend and you could only go out at certain times for your specific race, I went out first thing Saturday morning to check the course out, I had my tyre pressure a bit too low initially but got them up to the right levels and went back for a second lap. as I got to the final 3rd of the course I remounted my bike for the descent down the bridge, as I got half way down I realised I couldn't clip in, got to the bottom and realised I had no crank....nightmare thoughts go through my head whilst I look back to the top of the bridge with someone holding my crank in their hand...I had to laugh. I'm guessing when I put it back together I must have got some grease on the threads and didn't tighten it properly combining to dislodge it on the bumps on the Saturday! This cut my warmup short but I'd learnt enough of the course, it was generally rideable at that point. After this I then went around trying to find a T50 Torx head to tighten the crank back on, luckily neutral service had something and I sorted it out.

    [​IMG]

    Went and got myself all tidied up after the warm up and ready for my first pit duties of the day in the Vet40-49 race. I would be pitting for our club rider Graham Hollidge, who would be starting quite near the back, but was hoping for a strong race. Just before this I had a bit of a watch of the V50 race, and the course was already absolutely battered towards the end with guys running bits of the course I wasn't expecting at this point in the day, but the mud was getting very sticky and looked pretty tiring struggling through certain parts of the course, this boded well for Sunday as I was hoping for a running race/mudfest as this is usually where I am stronger.

    The V40 race went by so quickly with Graham pitting 5 times in total across 5 laps, I was catcher with my missus pushing him off (not literally), it was quite noticeable how even the top riders struggled as the race wore on, one guy crashed into a static barrier and laid there looking completely out of it for a good 30 seconds, it was quite worrying to see as the kids would be up later in the day. Graham had a good race and came home 71st after starting 95th. Solid performance. We then had a bit of a break with no riders until the last race of the day at 15:15. I went for a little leg spin back to the hotel and had a shower and a bit of food before heading back to the course, which was looking even muddier and stickier.


    I was back in the pits this time for the U16 boys race and our club rider Toby Houghton, he's made a good step up this year with a proper coach and is currently leading the Wessex series for his age category, unfortunately he had a bit of a poor start from his gridding of 20th and was running about 40th or so after the first lap, he slowly made up places but unfortunately I could see his head had dropped and he didn't have it in his head to push on, he eventually came home 32nd after a long old slog through the mud. The day was finished but we once again had to get the pits sorted for the next day, so lugged some more water down in preparation for the Sunday.

    Quiet evening after that with a long soak in the bath, and an evening meal with the club, I afforded myself a beer to help calm me down and then back to the hotel for another massage and a bit of taping for the Sunday. Managed a much better nights sleep, although woke up bit earlier than I'd hoped, but much more refreshed.

    Race Day

    I slowly trudged around my room in the morning before heading for breakfast and then packed up the car for the race. I got to the venue just before 12 and signed on and sat around keeping warm and going through my usual pre race routine, making sure my bikes were all set up. I headed out for a quick practise lap at 12:30 as the course opened again, and came back to the club van to get properly dressed and kitted up for my race at 14:30.

    The course today was an absolute mudbath after a night of rain, and had turned into a course that was half run, half ride. Neither of which with the mud was easy, the only real recovery areas were the start finish straight and some sections in the woods where it was fairly dry still.

    I went through my usual warm up routine and then headed down to the start line to be gridded, after last years calamity with tyres too wide, I breezed through the pre race commissaire checks and got gridded up in my slot of 52 (up from 92 last year). I was starting on full on mud tyres on my mechanical bike, knowing there oculd be a crash or two, I didn't want to risk a Di2 mech! With the 3 minute board going up, I got more nervous, but felt confident with the course conditions I could go well.

    As the whistle went, I got a good clip in but the first little bit was a blur, I got into the first corner holding my position it felt but it really bunched up, with it being an off camber mud bank, I took the high line on foot but everyone was walking, when you have 80+ people into that first corner there just isn't enough space, I then pushed through the next few corners with nowhere really to go but I was still on foot. After the first few corners I managed to get a bit of a gap and then pushed on sprinting past a good 5 or 10 people. I had definitely dropped back as I had spotted some local riders I knew were starting quite far back. as I got back on my bike after the first 1/4 lap I managed to grab the wheel of another Wessex League rider (Tom Budden) and pushed on through the mud, as I came to the pits for the first time I knew I would come in as the pit lane was easier to ride, unfortunately the rider in front wasn't as strong and I clipped his back wheel in the deep mud, he went down very quickly as I rode on, with a brief unclip and then swapping bikes. I quickly emerged out the pits and passed a few riders on the next section, that a lot of people were running but I managed to ride just fine, and off into the woods. I was on the tail of my fellow league riders who usually podium so knew I was going ok, as we got out the other side of the woods there was a small group of 4 of us and a surprising gap behind already. I tore through the mud passing a few riders and came back into the pits to swap bikes again, once again the pit lane was quicker so pitting made sense every half lap.

    As I got to the end of the first lap, I reckon I was in about 50th position, but could see a number of riders up ahead, I was sticking on Toms wheel and went through the running section again, taking the low line at the first corner, this lost me a bit of time, but saved my legs as I hopped off and ran the next 5 or 6 corners at this point I thought i was going to throw up I had gone so deep, as we got back on the bikes I pushed on and passed my way through a number of riders before jumping back into the pits and pushing on through the bog afterwards, as I entered the pits i had a small gap behind and a rider ahead by about 10seconds, who then promptly fell off right across the racing line, not budging I had to run over his back wheel instead of him. as I came out of the woods I had no real riders behind me, the faller must have caused a bit of a crush point. Unfortunately I didn't have many people in front either to catch, the race had strung out massively, but I carried on and tried to make as much time as possible and taking my own lines running my strong sections, but really feeling it catching up on me.

    The third lap then came about and I saw the board saying 7 laps, in my head whoever was leading would be doing just over the hour so I reckoned I was on to get 4 laps in, but I was once again on my own and taking my own lines, I managed to pass one rider on the third lap, but that was it, a very quiet lap with not much I can remember, apart from almost dropping my bike on the huge stairs! as I approached the finish line I saw the 80% board out and realised my race was up at just 32 minutes. A real disappointment, I was hoping for 40 and thought I had enough in hand to make it to the 4th lap, unfortunately Pidcock had different ideas and had smashed it from the off flying round in 8minutes 45 on his first lap and winning by over 2 minutes, whilst I managed a 10:52 first lap, then a 10:20, his interview later he stated he wanted to eliminate all but 10 riders, that would explain a lot.

    I came home in 42nd overall, so 10 places up from my gridding and managed to beat 2 riders who have got the better of me in 90% of the races I've raced against them this year. So although disappointed to only get 32 minutes riding, my position and who I beat was good and an improvement on last years 54th. Once again it was a great weekend supporting fellow club mates and a really great experience. Now to kick on with the last 2 races of the season in my local league and hopefully a couple of podiums if the rain persists!

    [​IMG]

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    https://www.strava.com/activities/3005186444
     
  11. One More Solo

    Capodecina

    Joined: Dec 29, 2004

    Posts: 15,646

    Location: Manchester

    Great report @SoliD and gives an idea of the effort involved in both prep and riding - well done on your placing.
     
  12. SoliD

    Capodecina

    Joined: Feb 25, 2004

    Posts: 14,684

    Location: Portsmouth

    Cheer OMS, I actually quite enjoy the organisation part of it, plays into my ocd nature. There's other stuff like the pit rota and few other bits reliant on other riders to get through every weekend. Without club mates with the winter we've had it would be nigh on impossible to finish where I have.
     
  13. SoliD

    Capodecina

    Joined: Feb 25, 2004

    Posts: 14,684

    Location: Portsmouth

    Right last couple of CX posts of this season.

    These two are quite local to me compared to many other rounds, with a 45/50 minute trip to each! Treating myself to a lie in for both!

    First round was down in the New Forest. A nice dry and warm day for this time of year, unfortunately the car park wasn't so much as my car got stuck, luckily club mates on hand to get it out whilst I carried out my warm up! I was gridded on the front row and despite an initially good get away I got bogged down and dropped places quite quickly having the non optimal line through the first set of corners. I was about 15th or 16th after 4 corners, however I knew I had good legs from my warm up and there is a good open flat section on the back of the course I'd targeted to put power down. I got here after making up a couple of spots and put the power down (about 600w for 20 seconds looking back at the data) and moved my way up to 7th and just off the back of the front selection. As I came off the flat it climbs up and I latched on to this group, and sat on the back and recovered a bit.

    Stayed here for the next half lap and as the second lap started few mistakes were made by the riders in front and I made up a couple of positions, once again smashing it along the back straight and getting up to second as I passed the pits. I knew looking around I could beat a couple of the riders, but if everyone was performing I would be looking at 5th place. It regrouped a bit after this back into a group of 7 but as the 3rd lap started, we lost a couple of riders dropping us to a group of 5. I was 3rd wheel and a few position changes up and back over the lap kept me there. As we went on to the 4th lap, the leader had broken free but I was still tussling with Tom Budden in 2nd and Karl Norfolk in 4th, at this point the other riders had dropped significantly behind and it was between us for the podium, but as the lap went on Karl dropped off and Tom managed to get a bit of a gap on me as I slipped on a tight left hander in the woods. Not much more happened from here on, Karl managed to keep the gap to me fairly steady and I did the same to Tom ahead, got to about 40 minutes and my back was really struggling, the course being very bumpy and mostly ridden on the hoods or in the drops meant everytime I had to get off the saddle for the hurdles I was in agony, but I carried on and came home with a comfortable 3rd position! My equal best of the year.

    Got to the podium and talking to the top 2 who told me they wouldn't be there the following week for one of my favourite venues Southampton! See more in the next post below.

    https://www.strava.com/activities/3025662916

    First lap 4th corner - 16th place or so
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    Second lap last section up to 3rd
    [​IMG]
     
  14. SoliD

    Capodecina

    Joined: Feb 25, 2004

    Posts: 14,684

    Location: Portsmouth

    And onto the final race of the 16 race Parentini Wessex CX series at my second favourite venue, Southampton Sports Centre (I don't know if I really like the course that much but I always go very well here as it is usually an absolute mud fest! going into the race and looking at the riders who had already entered I knew I had a good chance again of a podium and deep down knew if I raced well I could get 2nd.

    Southampton is known to be pretty muddy, but a dry week before meant it was fairly dry around the course when I got there, however it was due to start raining at lunch and get worse as the day went on! I did my pit duties for a couple of races before and the mud was quite tacky and sticky needing changes every lap, went and did a few practise laps to spot a few sections and then went to do a proper warm up after drying off.

    I almost missed the gridding, getting there as my name was called, but managed to get a front row place on the outside, looking at the runaway series leader Sam Allen (9 wins of the 11 events he's entered) he was starting on foot, so I would copy him. His brother was next to me decided to start on the bike just to be different :D
    As the whistle went I sprinted away quickly, probably first for a few moments and got mounted on my bike a good 10m before my competitors, this meant it was a bit wacky races shifting back and forth at the beginning, but once I was on the bike I grinded through the next 100m to the first section and was in first place, leading the way up through the woods which were purely running due to the bog fest and then into the technical section. I held the lead all through the first lap but was then passed and dropped to third on the way back up to the starting bog. However due to the conditions, the front three had already made a sizeable gap on the riders behind. One of the riders was Sam Allen, the other Barney Clacy, who I hadn't seen in the pre entrants, he was the previous years Junior winner by a long way, so a strong rider, but I didn't let this daunt me. I latched onto his wheel and then got back past up the start straight (note this is different from the finish line) and then into the woods. I was riding strong and within myself, but Barney was quite a bit quicker through a number of corners than me, but I was stronger on the grinding drags through the mud and on foot.

    We stayed 2nd and 3rd for the next few lap, with Sam stretching his lead ahead and then Matt Wakefield behind me staying fairly static at about 30-40 seconds. I said to Barney on the 3rd lap, lets just make sure we work to pull away from the rider behind which we did over the next couple of laps, each taking our own lines but ensuring we didn't impede each other or let each other get away. The rain was getting worse, but this meant my bike was staying relatively mud free (well sticky mud free, it was covered with sludge) however everytime we went through the woods where it was very claggy it would pick up some leaves and mud. On the 5th lap I pitted for a clean bike, this dropped me about 15 seconds behind Barney, but I knew with 5 laps still to go, there was a long time to gain time back. As we got to the 7th lap I'd managed to pull the gap back and sat on Barneys wheel for a bit, before powering past grinding my way up the start straight and pushing a gap through the running section. However this didn't last as he was soon back on through the off camber section. Coming into the pit again at the end of this lap I got back on to the Di2 equipped bike. Over the next couple of laps we passed each other a couple of times, and on the 9th lap I managed to once again get a gap through the wood section. My brakes were pretty much toasted on the next downhill corner so I quickly made the decision as I had a gap to come in and get a fresh bike for the last lap and a half. A slow stop meant Barney got ahead for the off camber and made a gap, but I pulled this back quickly and was ahead going into the last lap.

    I knew if I could keep him behind for the off camber, the drags to the finish and the single line would mean I had a good chance of finishing second. He was right on my wheel for the whole of the lap and I couldn't get the gap throguh the wood section, he then tried to put a spurt ( could hear him coming) in to get ahead for the off camber, just after the pits, so I just mashed the gears and managed to stay ahead, I took my own lines here and kept him behind. I tried to get a bit of a gap leading into the final 3 corners, but he was right there. as we entered the final corner I blocked the whole line and put the power down on the one tiny part that had grip and managed to beat Barney by a second for 2nd! My highest ever CX position and a good couple of minutes in front of 4th place.

    Really happy with how my season has gone and the progress as it went on, as per last year I managed to get some good results, this year has reinforced that I can fight with the front riders and regularly finish top 5 (1x5th,1x4th, 2x3rd, 1x2nd), but need to work on my power in the drier flatter races which has been where I've given away most points this year. I've finished the second in 6th place overall in the league an improvement of 3 places from last year, but with a good gap behind, and unfortunately ahead. More regularly in the top 7 would have had me much closer.

    https://www.strava.com/activities/3046074582/
    First into first corner
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    After the woods section first lap
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    About 3 laps in, note how dirty it is
    [​IMG]
     
  15. Berger

    Capodecina

    Joined: May 22, 2003

    Posts: 10,295

    Location: Wigan

    Looking pretty pro there!

    Expecting big things from you this season now cross is the way to go in the off season for big road results ;)
     
  16. SoliD

    Capodecina

    Joined: Feb 25, 2004

    Posts: 14,684

    Location: Portsmouth

    Didn't feel it! :D

    Shall see how I'm going, not even sat on the TT bike for probably 5 months! Will get it on the turbo next week and start riding it. First TT is on 16th February! Got to put a double chainset on it before then otherwise I won't be getting round!
     
  17. Roady

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 7,719

    Location: Hereford

    Saw someone selling an immaculate 54cm Felt IA frame for good money on one of my local buy/sells. Would absolutely trust him (ex clubmate & great rider) and it sounded a very good price. Trust me if you want me to hook you up/find more details/link etc.