My first closed-circuit road race.
It has been one year since I bought my first road bike and I had so far fulfilled 2 out of my 4 main objectives:
1) Joined a club (Twickenham CC) – done.
2) Raced in a Hill Climb event – done.
3) Raced in a road race
4) Progress to Cat 3
I must admit I was a bit nervous during the morning before the race – mainly because of the pressure I was putting on myself. It was hard not to picture myself sprinting first over the finish line and gaining an immediate promotion to Cat 3, but having never even been to Hillingdon I really had no idea how it would all pan out.
I had a rough plan – stay in the top 10 and avoid trouble.
Once we rolled off the line, my nerves disappeared and I quickly got into the rhythm of the 1 mile circuit. I felt strong and so often unexpectedly found myself on the front but made no attempt to ride off solo. Unfortunately, I had no experience of how a circuit race would end. I was expecting a last-lap bell so when the sprint actually started I quickly lost position and had to come around the outside in the strong wind for a semi-respectable 12th place.
Final thoughts: Happy, energized but slightly frustrated by the finish.
Thanks to Lucy and the Imperial Cycles team for a very professional and smooth race.
Photo credit: British Cycle Sport
Crimp Hill, near Windsor.
Length 1.1 miles. 2% Avg / 17% Max gradient.
I had been looking forward to my first hill climb since I had heard about them.
I had worked on getting my weight optimized in the weeks leading up to the event and I had already ridden the hill a few times previously and knew my tactics – sprint over the first incline, maintain speed on the shallow mid-section leaving enough energy for the brutal ramp at the end.
However, a chest infection put paid to any really rewarding performance (but ironically may have even aided my effort as I paced myself at the start!). Either way my 5th place in the Seniors at 00:03:34 was pleasing and has set a good benchmark for me to aim to beat in 2014.
I was lucky enough to be selected to do a bit of reconnaissance of Stage 7 of the 2013 Tour of Britain with one of the UK’s leading pro teams, IG-Sigma Sport. A small handful of us, including fellow TCC teammates Mo and Rob, met at Sigma Sport in Kingston for coffee and croissants while Team Manager, Becky Frewing, organized logistics and the support vehicles were loaded.
Two teams would head out, I rode with James Moss, Pete Williams and Matt Cronshaw.
The 100km+ route took us out towards Dorking, up and over the back of Leith Hill and back over Coombe Lane.
It was fantastic riding with the IG Sigma Sport boys as we chatted about all things cycling, including training, team selection, bikes, tactics, recovery etc.
Once we hit the slopes of Coldharbour Lane the pace picked up and it was every man for himself. I managed to stay with the 3 guys up Leith Hill even though my head felt like it was going to explode! It was great to see first-hand how they could inject pace on the steeper sections.
The ride back to the shop was smoother in classic chaingang formation and I had an interesting talk with Simon, the Directeur Sportif, about marketing and other logistics.
A great ride with fantastic people. Good luck in the tour!
I was looking forward to the chance of riding with the one and only Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2013’s Ride with Brad up in Lancashire. Additionally because Laura Trott, Dani King and Joanna Rowsell from the Wiggins’ backed Team Wiggle-Honda were along for the ride too.
However, it turned out to be a very lonely ride in Lancashire for me. Luckily the route had an interesting ending in some brutally steep, rough farm tracks up and over, back into Barnoldswick.
I knew it would be impossible for them to meet everyone at the event but I had anticipated something along the lines of when Sir Chris Hoy rode around Box Hill promoting his new bikes, where riders were graded on speed, the fastest going first with Chris, then he would slowly drop back along the road allowing everyone to have a chat and a ride alongside the Olympic champion.
The organizers had also mentioned Brad would mingle in his cycling ‘festival’ afterwards so it was a surprise to see him finish the ride and head straight out-of-sight into the VIP area – as did the Wiggle-Honda girls.
Would I do the event again? No. It’s a long, arduous drive and an expensive weekend trip for little return.
I was lucky enough to be selected to ride a loop of Box Hill with the one and only Sir Chris Hoy to help promote his new HOY bikes range.
The event was organised by Evans Cycles and started early on a weekday. I was planning on doing a long Surrey hills loop before meeting him but a windy day left me precious little time to get to the debrief – at the top of Box Hill!
So, after relaxed introduction from the man himself, we were divided into small groups based on ability and off we rode. Sir Chris went in the first group and slowly dropped back ensuring he was able to spend time with all of us.
The first thing that strikes you about Sir Chris Hoy is his calm and commanding demeanour. Quiet confidence surrounds every move – on and off the bike – and he comes across as such a genuine gentleman. Pure class.
Rising beside Sir Chris Hoy was quite surreal and we discussed training, recovery and general chit-chat before he moved back to the next group.
After the ride, he stuck around for tea and cake at the top of Box Hill. It was at this point that I realized just how massive his thighs were! Crazy.
Thanks to Evans Cycles and Chris for a great morning.
Bike packed. Hotel booked. Route planned. Mallorca here I come!
Within just 6 months of getting my first road bike I was standing at the top of the infamous Sa Calobra in Mallorca.
The famous road, like a ribbon draped over the mountainside, just looked so stunning and inviting.
Within seconds of starting the descent I was cruising around the famous 270 degrees hairpin, and then straight into a fast open section. However, it was all too easy to get conditioned to the speed. A few tighter switchbacks tested my cornering skills, with one left-hander tightening up a bit more than the others, leaving me over run, narrowly missing a drainage channel off the side of the mountain!
The rest of the descent was a joy, weaving though rocks, boulders and trees straight down to the small harbour.
I was looking forward more to the climb back up than the descent and I wanted to push hard. I was spinning well and getting into a smooth rhythm during the lower part so I was extremely disappointed to be stopped by a man with a radio around the half way mark. Mercedes were filming a new car commercial and had closed the road ahead. Half an hour later and off I go again, trying hard to get back into the rhythm but starting a-fresh half way up a mountain isn’t so easy.
After the summit it was back up and over Puig Major for the run down into Port de Soller. All in all a fantastic days riding.
My race tactics are usually notoriously bad. Patience is not my virtue!
Having grown up watching John Tomac do his ‘Tomac Attack’ (basically attacking like crazy so that nobody could follow him – and then hoping that he hangs on until the finish!) I tend to enjoy the thrill of race and eagerness gets the better of me.
However, this race I had a tactic and was determined to stick to it.
MTB races usually start at maximum acceleration for best placement into the first singletrack section so my aim was to allow a handful of riders go ahead and try and pick them off as the race progressed.
I counted 10 riders and slowly pulled them back over the laps. My lack of red-lining at the start had left me with enough energy to do progressively faster laps.
I caught the last rider with 1 lap to go and held on to the finish.
A very rewarding race – I hope it’s repeatable!