Getting back to basics

As ever I’ve neglected the updates. Life has been too busy of late to ride my bike let alone write about riding my bike. I managed to get in the club run or a few commutes/chain gangs through late March/early April. I’ve missed the specific sessions that I should be doing on top which isn’t ideal. Jumping on the turbo at 9 pm after a long day at work isn’t the one.

I’d started an update on the Ipswich Spring Scramble, which was the last race of the my early season block of racing, but didn’t ever get around to finishing it. Without realising it at the time (as I was dying!) it was a great race. The course is rolling and it was seriously windy. I knew the start would be tailwind before turning into cross/head wind after half a lap. Most of the course was pretty exposed too so sheltering from the wind would be crucial. The race started hard, the car (which leads us out to the circuit) drove hard up one of the hills before slowing over the top. The flag dropped immediately after so there was a bit of a concertina effect. I’d made a point of getting right up behind the car which paid off as the start was brutal! I found out after the race that 19 of the 60 rider bunch got dropped in that first half lap.

Fast forward 2 hours and my legs were toast. A team mate spent a good 45-60 minutes up the road so I’d made myself useful/annoying by marking any attacks or sitting at the front with a lad from Strada Sport (also up the road). I would have got a much easier ride just sat in the bunch doing nothing but with that comes the risk of completely missing any decisive breaks (which I and 46 others did at the Mid-Suffolk RR in 2015!) For me personally though I would rather get involved and help out a team mate than just sit in and do nothing hoping for a gallop. I got a few warning signs of cramp with about half a lap to go which turned out to be terminal. My legs cramped spectacularly on the finish hill with less than 300m to go when the sprint kicked off. I stopped accelerating like I’d deployed a parachute! I couldn’t then get off the bike at the finish, it was horrible! I’d been beautifully placed too, but a combination of not racing over a crit distance (60 minutes) since last year and being fairly active earlier in the race tipped me over the edge. The legs had felt great though so the form was in there somewhere.


Crampsville: Population me

  • Strava
  • Time: 2 hrs 30
  • Avg: 200w
  • NP: 253w
  • AVG speed: 38 kph
  • Points: Errrr nope

I had planned to do a few more races before my holiday but a combination of 10-11 hour days at work and an exam that needed some major attention meant that I missed loads of sessions. Fat Pete had also fought his way out with the long hours and stress. I wasn’t where I wanted to be so I sacked off the first race and chose instead to catch up with the guys on the club run. There’s no point forcing yourself to race, that will only lead to disappointment and frustration (lesson learnt in 2015). The second race was at Cyclopark and the weekend after my exam so I should have been keen for that but the enthusiasm just wasn’t there. I’ve been meaning to ride with the ColVelo boys for ages but never quite managed it. Usually because I had a race coming up or couldn’t justify a whole day biking. Turns out that coming weekend was the first of their five monuments, the 250k Ronde van Anglia. How Rob must have laughed when I asked if they had anything big planned!


Rip my fingers

This was something completely different for me but it seemed like a great way to just get out, ride my bike and remember why I fell in love with cycling. I managed to rope in a club mate, Patrick, who seems to think anything less than 100k is popping to the shops. I say rope in, he was like a kid at Christmas. So we met the Colvelo boys just outside Colchester at 7 am. There were a couple of guys I knew from other rides, including Will who I haven’t seen in years, since I first joined the shop rides and got dropped every week. He’s since done LEJOG and I’ve since lost about 4 stone! It’s good sometimes to consider where you’ve come from, it’s often a lot further than you think. There were about 11-12 of us on a mixture of typical carbon and alu road bikes, a few sets of deep sections, at least one vintage racer, two rather beautiful all road Surlys and Liam on a fixie. But then if anyone is going to do that, it’s the guy racing the transcontinental race in July. Most had frame bags or saddle bags. I just had pockets so I’d been pretty limited with my packing. No gillet, no leg warmers or gloves as I just didn’t have the space for when they came off. Gloves were missed in the morning for sure! The only changes to my regular kit was an extra tube, some gas, a small power pack for my ageing Garmin and a bag of Percy pigs, sorted! Next stop Cambridgeshire.


120k later and we hit Cambridgeshire

The weather had looked good for the day but soon it became apparent that we were in for a corker. Tan lines ahoy! I wasn’t sure what to expect other than a lot of strong legs. The guys were all really friendly and it was interesting to hear how many of them had tried out the other, more traditional, Colchester clubs (my own included) before choosing Col Velo. Patrick had told anyone that would listen that I only rode for 3 hours (cheeky bugger!) so I answered that question about eight times. There was probably a sweep stake on when my legs would fall off. The collective has a really chilled ethos with a much bigger focus on where you are going than how fast you get there. Don’t get me wrong we were chipping along quite nicely in places but the absence of heroics was refreshing (FYI, I’m often guilty of heroics) and it was fantastic just taking in the sights and having a chat along the way. The main topic being would Boonen go out with a win the next day.


It’s a bloody good looking kit IMO.

Newmarket was the first stop after about 120k so we were well on our way to 250k by the time we stopped. The sun was out and the other perk of long distances is real food! No cake guilt, just straight into a bacon toastie. After Newmarket we continued north before swinging east across the bottom of Thetford Forest. This was probably my favourite section. The sun was out, my legs were feeling good and the countryside was wide open. Smooth, quiet roads and a gentle tailwind kept the group ticking along nicely.


We swung into a pub in Thurston wth about 180-190k in the legs. Obviously I could feel that but considering I only ride 3 hours at a time (eh Patrick!) I was feeling pretty good. James in the shop (Cycle Evolution) has spent a fair amount of time helping me tweaking my bike fit over the last couple of years as we’ve changed bars etc beyond my initial fit and I think it’s pretty much spot on. I hadn’t even raised the bar height from my usual racing position and my back, shoulders, knees etc were fine.


Setting off from Thurston was probably the point it dawned on me how much further we had to go. Even with 190k ticked off we still had at least 60k left before getting back to Colchester. We took a scenic route in past Lavenham and Hadleigh, not entirely appreciated by this point! A final pit stop in Lavenham for a giant cookie, an Oreo ice cream sandwich and a can of coke and we were on the home stretch.


13 hours and 260k after leaving the house I grovelled home. I don’t ride this far often and it takes some getting used to having that much fatigue in the legs. I find it feels like your FTP is dropping point by point as you go on, by the end getting over 200w feels like 500w! Its difficult to fit this type of adventure around my racing but if you have the chance give something like this a try, I highly recommend it! It was so completely different to what I usually do and I loved it. Mojo fully restored. With a TSS of around 375 I still felt wrecked three days later. The tan lines are looking great though!


Where you at legs?

This is the start of my 3rd season road racing. Which means by now I’ve realised that I always go like a bag of spanners at the start of the season. Always. Some people seem to be able to just jump straight back into racing. Not me, oh hell no. I need to drag my legs kicking and screaming back to some sort of race fitness. Particularly after nearly six months of only racing for the club run sprints. I checked, I last raced in July! Wowsers. It’s not just the legs mind, It takes me a few races to get my race head back and stop cornering like a granny. Last season it took 3 or 4 races to get up to speed. I was hoping this year would be the same, few races and then boom, points galore. I covered the first race of the year here so this kind of brings you up to date in the world of Pete’s winter racing exploits.

Race 2 – Hillingdon E/1/2/3 – 11 Feb

I went back to Hillingdon a week later despite a stinking cold. It took me 4 hours to get there and back from Colch and it was snowing. I should have listened to my wife (standard) and stayed at home. Anyway, I got there literally just in time, having tried to divert to the nearer Velopark and missed sign on there by about 10 minutes. Thank you M11. I probably should have gone home after missing sign on at Velopark but I’m stubborn and I’d already invested 2 hours in this daft caper. So I made sign on and got changed quicker than Superman in a phone box. The legs felt pretty good despite the world’s shortest warm up but I was producing snot at an alarming rate. I got round ok, kept myself towards the front of the 3rds. I thought I’d finished better than the week before. Probably not troubling the points but progress you know. Hilariously I ended up 18th, again. I really hate that last corner and it pretty much makes or breaks your race. This was only race 2 though and another E/1/2/3 so no drama. Some deets of the race below:

  • Strava
  • Time: 73 minutes
  • Avg: 214 watts
  • NP: 238 watts
  • Avg speed: 42 kph
  • Points: Gold star for consistency…

Race 3 – Cyclopark 3rd cat – 25 Feb 

So, on to the 3rd race of the season and this time it was a 3rd cat only at Cyclopark. Very definitely my favourite circuit. Pretty much all my points from last season were scored here too. Having raced Hilly in an E/1/2/3 bunch I figured I’d go alright in a 3rd cat only, maybe pick up some points and get the season going. Cue day dreaming of podiums and finish line celebrations. I won one round and got 2nd in the other as a 4th cat last year so I had high hopes. Didn’t quite turn out as I planned…


Firstly, Hilly in an E/1/2/3 is like a stroll in the park compared to a mega windy Cyclopark. There were 25 starters in the 3rds, not ideal as I’d rather have a few more bods to hide behind. By the finish there were only 9 left in the bunch, oh and I wasn’t one of them. The rest of us were strewn across the circuit in various states of ruin having run out of gutter to hide in. I finished 16th despite getting dropped twice and then DNFing with a puncture. It’s some race when you are placed (and not placed last!) despite pulling out 4 laps from the end. It turned out to be a bit of a Colchester day out with 3 Rovers in the bunch plus me. Mixed fortunes I guess as 3 of us were stood on the sidelines whilst the other won the race!

  • Strava
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Avg: 238 watts
  • NP: 275 watts (rip)
  • Avg speed: 36 kph
  • Points: Starting to regret this line….

So I was pretty bummed with getting dropped. Like “this isn’t fun any more” bummed. After a few days of comfort eating (I’m pretty much the Bridget Jones of cycling) I had a look at the data and the numbers weren’t bad to be honest. I could see when the bunch imploded in the data and the next 10 minutes were at circa 280 watts! So chalk it down as a “Meh” and move on.

Race 4 – Cyclopark 3rd cat – 4 March 

Fast forward a week. A pretty mental week to be fair. February/March is always crazy busy at work so I was pretty wrecked. Tuesday and Wednesday’s sessions had gone really well. I’d skipped Thursday’s Z4 session as I was practically a walking zombie by then. Initial thoughts for Saturday were bail, just bail, eat more ice cream and hammer around the Rovers RT instead pretending its a road race. Given the several days of eating anything and everything I wasn’t expecting watts per kilo to look pretty, but I did have fresh legs, it was sunny and it wasn’t windy. Huzzah!


I made a point of warming up really well on the rollers this time, rather than just doing a couple of laps of the car park, a sprint or two and a few laps of the track. The temperature was in double figures so not only were the legs out, but the arms too. Amazing really in March. I’ve not experienced vitamin D since about September though and I’m not sure Kent was ready for the milk bottles coming out. There were more starters this week and less wind. Both good. The same dude that tried to grind off the front at about 50 rpm last week did the same again this week and like last week we left him to it for a few laps.

A couple of the London clubs had mega numbers in the race so I was half expecting some coordination and a good chance of a break going. It wasn’t to be though and there was only ever one attempt that got far enough to be a worry. I saw spots as we chased that one down. One thing I’ve noticed in 3rd cat vs 4th cat is that when an attack goes it really goes and its usually followed by an immediate counter attack. It settled down a bit as the board came out and people started to watch each other. Given how quickly the bunch was rotating there was no point sitting 5th wheel as the front was becoming the middle and rotating back through pretty quickly. A few crashes, a few excursions on to the grass and at least one pedal strike later and the bunch was on the finish straight. I was determined to stay out of the wind even if that did mean being a little far back, I guess I got greedy as the guy in front of me sat about with about 70 metres to go and blocked what was basically a sheltered clear run to the line. 70 metres, who does that!! That pretty much killed my sprint but it looks like I still managed to bag 12th. Bit gutted to miss out on getting a few points to be honest. Still, the form is coming and its only March I guess. Found a cool video of the finish. Waaaaay out of it.

  • Strava
  • Time: 61 minutes
  • Avg: 219 watts
  • NP: 267 watts
  • Avg speed: 37 kph
  • Points: Tantalisingly close!


To finish, I’ll just leave this photo here. In between the winter crits its also been reliability ride season. This weekend rounded off the winter miles with a grim 50 miles of cross winds and torrential rain. I’m not sure how the Rovers always manage to order such grim weather but they always get it. I spent most of those 50 miles in a 7 man paceline so we were pretty wrecked by the time we got back. So much so we couldn’t even face the ride home from the HQ. Thank you Mrs Starmer for collecting 2 rather damp, wet dog smelling empty shells of men and for driving home with the heater on full. That Rocky Road in my hand was totally worth 50 miles of misery.




Hillingdon E/1/2/3 – Race season is here!

I decided to sit out January crits this year, mainly as Hog Hill in a 2/3/4 did not particularly appeal. So it was back to Hillingdon a year on and a category up to see where my legs were at for 2017. Weight has come down nicely to around 73.5 kgs, which is pretty much as low as I’d got last year (albeit briefly!), training has been going well and I’ve felt pretty good around most of the early reliability rides so I was hoping not to be too far off the pace. Still, this is early days and more a toe in the water than a full on cannonball jump. There are some crits later in the month at Cyclopark which I plan to race with a bit more ambition.


Mostly dry and not much wind. Decent by winter crit standards!

I’d entered the 3rd cat only figuring the 4th cat only last year was pretty easy going until the terrifying 3 lap gallop at the end. I don’t really like Hillingdon counter clockwise to be honest, particularly the long left hander before the finish where I always feel like I’m going to lose the front or clip a pedal. There always tends to be a few silly crashes too and there’s not much room to avoid them if someone does go down. Not really selling this am I?

Anyway, my buddy Dan was also testing his legs in the 4th cat race so we stocked up the car and headed over. Dan was pretty reserved about his chances but I reckoned he had a solid shot at some points.


Bicycle origami is the other reason I like racing bikes

At sign on I bumped into a 1st cat buddy and found out pretty much by accident that the 3rd cats didn’t race on their own but instead raced with the E/1/2s for separate points. I must have looked like the wide eyed emoji. Shit, this wasn’t part of my plan! Cue Dr Pepper “What’s the worst that could happen” song ringing through my head for the next hour.

I had a little time before my race whilst Dan warmed up for his so I passed on the few things I’d learnt about crit racing. I figured learning from my mistakes may be of use to someone so I’ve listed them below. I learnt most of these the hard way!

  1. Get to the line early and get yourself straight into the first 10 wheels off the line. Let’s not talk about Ixworth….
  2. Stay in the top 1o wheels. The elastic band effect will be smaller and it will keep you out of the carnage further back.
  3. Do zero work. Nothing. Nada. zip. Unless you are racing with team mates there’s no reason to work unless you are trying to get into or make a break. There will be plenty of characters that want to hammer the front so leave them to it. Breaks in 4th cat races don’t tend to work. They do sometimes work in 3rd cat races though so maybe worth a punt.
  4. Hold your line. Not as obvious as it seems as the line often changes. But basically don’t make any abrupt changes of direction mid corner. You can’t hit the apex if you tip into the corner with three guys on your inside. You’ll usually find the guy shouting “hold your line” isn’t in fact holding his…..
  5. Don’t put your front wheel anywhere stupid. i.e. don’t overlap the guy ahead. He might not be holding his line (and require some verbal coaching post corner), but it will be you that ends up with a face full of tarmac when your wheel is taken out from under you.
  6. If the there’s a crash ahead or a touch of bars try to keep a straight course. Usually the first incident is minor and often no one goes down, the mega pile up follows when someone throws out the anchor and tries to avoid whats happening ahead.
  7. Lastly, this one is Hillingdon specific when the circuit is being raced counter clockwise. You need to be in the first 5 wheels going into the tight right hander before the long final sweeping left hander if you want any shot at the points. The first 10 wheels can work but you need a little luck or to be an absolute hero through the corners. Often the hero is the guy that ends up in the long grass on the outside though.

I didn’t see the finish of Dan’s race but whilst I was sat waiting to get on to the circuit the 4th cat bunch rolled in on their cool down lap and he was up there with the leaders. Promising I thought. We had literally 20 seconds to chat before my race and he had only gone and won it!! Amazing, first race of the season and he bags 10 points. Plus, just look at that sprinting position!


Photo credit: Cliff Hughes

So, my race. Well I got to the line early…..After that I pretty much ignored most of my advice on positioning and proceeded to drift to the back. A slightly damp track, that inbuilt wariness of the last corner and not having raced in a bunch since July meant I was a little cautious for the first few laps. I was happy enough sat on the back getting my head back into it when the E/1/2s made themselves known and promptly strung the bunch out for several laps. It was brutal! We were not far off hitting 50 kph down the start/finish straight and absolutely hammering it through the bends.We were taking the corners faster and in much closer proximity than a 3rd cat only race which took a little mental adjustment, particularly after the time out. Saying that the manners were pretty good and there were only a couple of guys in the bunch that scared the crap out of me. One particular lap early on averaged 46 kph, 336 watts and 183 bpm so it’s good to know the legs are there.


Making chasing look off casually deliberate since 2017. Photo credit: Dave Hayward

I worked my way up a bit to mid pack but I was finding that the bunch was rotating pretty quickly and I didn’t ever really get much further forward than that. Despite the faster pace and closer cornering there was only one major crash and it was one of those crashes that you could see happening ahead of you in slow motion. A few guys lost skin but hopefully no major injuries. Doesn’t matter how many times you hear it the sound of metal and carbon crunching into the ground always makes me cringe.

Three got off the front at some point. Didn’t even see that and in fact I’ve just realised the chalkboard being held up was showing the time gap! Haha! I spent ages wondering when the lap board would come out, particularly as I was expecting an hour of racing. Still, the legs lasted and I was moving up through the last 5 laps as the pace built. No idea where I finished other than in the bunch but a solid start to the season. Back again next week and I promise I’ll get the elbows out.

  • Strava
  • Time: 73 minutes
  • Avg: 222 watts
  • NP: 255 watts
  • Avg speed: 42 kph
  • Points: Only a warm fuzzy feeling

Skin suit to wedding suit

So typically life got in the way of blogging. That’s no bad thing, I cycled a lot, worked too much, holidayed a bit, ate perhaps a little too much. More importantly though, I got married. A big year! And big years need to be lived in, except the work bit, I would happily not live that bit.


Anyway so i’m ill, cruelly struck down with man flu, which is a perfect opportunity to type up something that doesn’t relate to pensions, tax legislation or levels of pension income that my generation will never see. I pretty much lucked out with illness this year which is pretty sweet. I also stopped my annual tradition of throwing myself at the tarmac for which I (and my ever concerned wife) am pretty stoked about. Here’s a picture of an echelon. No reason, I just like echelons.


I had a pretty great season by my standards, actually make that really great, so I thought I’d pick out a few races from the summer that I at least found interesting. I ended the year a 3rd cat on 24 points having hung up the race numbers in August, roughly about the time a collar bone takes to heal before the wedding…She’s a smart one that Mrs Shaw.

Ken Wright Memorial RR – 2/3/4

So this was my club’s home road race, on home roads and this year NOT the regional champs. Result definitely possible for VC Revolution, or so we thought. Didn’t turn out that way but I had a blast covering moves, doing some work and generally not being pack fodder. Support from the club and friends of VCR on the road side was great as we (Ollie E, Andrew H, Tom S, Andy E and Grovesy) went round which really does make a difference. Anyway, we missed the break of 15 (all the points in a 2/3/4 Reg A) and I finished 27th, about 12th in the gallop which was half decent. Bah! Loved the course though, looking forward to next year already.

ken wright2

  • Strava
  • Time: 2 hours 52 minutes
  • Avg: 178 watts
  • NP: 235 watts
  • Avg speed: 41 kph
  • Points: Up the road
  • Sock game: Strong (see below)

VC Revolution, taking socks seriously since 2007

Abberton Road Race – 3/4

Call this one my second home road race. It’s on the same course as the Jock Wadley (see actual Wadley report here) and also put on by the Colchester Rovers. Organised this year by my good buddy Matt who stepped up and took it on. It was a target race for sure but I wouldn’t say that I had really trained specifically for it other than by putting a big block of racing ahead of it in May. Being a 3/4 I fancied my chances for this one much more than the Ken Wright. VCR had good numbers in the race (Tom S, Andy H, Ian F and Trevor) and we worked hard to make sure we didn’t miss the break this time. In the end no break stuck but one guy did get up the road solo and put 3 minutes on us. He was joined on the last lap (i think!) by another guy that I swear teleported off the front. I can remember realising he was gone when I couldn’t see his fluro polkadot socks near the front any more, no idea when he went. So the rest of us were left fighting for 3rd.

Teammate Trevor hit the front with a lap to go and put in a monster turn to string the bunch out over the bumps on the back side of the circuit. That effort really made the race for me as it kept the bunch together. The other half of the course isn’t hard enough to attack on unless its windy. Rolling up the New Road the wind was from the right, it wasn’t of Flandrian proportions but most of the bunch was busy fighting for the left hand gutter. The finish is sheltered though so I used this as an opportunity to move up. I ended up on the wheel of a lad from Ipswich BC, about 4 or 5 from the front and right on the edge of the bunch. Still not really sure how I managed that. I mean I often planned this, but it rarely worked in road races.


Photo credit: Natural photography

Ipswich lad went, I followed and we had a monster drag race for the line. Literally side by side, it was awesome. I didn’t dare look behind but we finished half a wheel apart and held off the bunch, Erin was at the finish cheering me on. Best. Race. Ever. Ipswich lad took 4th, I got 5th. Turns out our drag race had produced a monster lead out for Tom from Interbike who took 3rd by a clean 2 bike lengths. That wasn’t part of the plan…..Sure, a podium would have been perfect but I was so chuffed with 5th. All my points prior had come from 4th cat crits so it was a pretty big deal for me. Plus I got a decent cheer at the HQ from the guys which was sweet and I knew I had nailed my tactics so I couldn’t really be disappointed losing in a drag race when I knew I’d given it everything.  The finishing sprint was 720w for 20 seconds. Not earth shattering in isolation but that came halfway through 470w for 75 seconds and after 59 miles! Boom!


Colchester’s 2016 bike gurning contest

  • Strava
  • Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
  • Avg: 186 watts
  • NP: 238 watts
  • Avg speed: 39 kph
  • Points: 6

Cyclopark – midweek 3/4

I did a fair few mid week crits this year and seriously they are some of the most fun you can have on two wheels. No-one is peaking for these or taking them too seriously. Generally the strong guys try to beat up the weaker guys and see what’s left at the end. Rads (Paul R from the Rovers) and I had trekked down after work and this race stands out because the wind was exactly across the circuit. As the main straights are parallel this made both directions a complete slog and led to a fight for the gutter twice a lap.


40 odd started, within a lap there were less than 30. Attack after attack kept reducing that number and eventually 4 got away 20 minutes in. We worked a bit and maintained the gap until about 2-3 laps to go. Inevitably people started looking at each other and another 3 got away. In hindsight THAT was the move! Being lazy I had hoped someone else would close it down. Nope! Roll forward to the final lap and the field was blown apart with 7 off the front in groups of 3s, 2s and 1s. I sprinted to 10th, 3rd in the gallop just behind the remnants of the break, and picked up a solitary point. I’ve marked this one down as a favourite as it was a complete sufferfest. Sometimes you don’t come away with much but you know you gave it everything and that in itself feels pretty good.

  • Strava
  • Time: 55:34
  • Avg: 228 watts
  • NP: 267 watts (rip)
  • Avg speed: 38 kph
  • Points: 1

Berkhamsted Castle revolutions – 2/3

The Tour of Hertfordshire series has been around a year or two now I think and they have done a great job of getting local councils onboard to run a series of festival like crit races on closed roads in town centres. I grew up in Hemel Hempstead and Berko is only minutes away from my parent’s house by bike. In fact, I ride through the course every time I meet up with the guys back home for a ride so it was a must do race. The circuit did laps of the Berkhamsted castle ruin and has the start/finish alongside the old castle wall so spectators could look down on the racing from above. Being a street circuit it had tight corners, not to mention a short climb and a fast descent into a tight 90 degree left hander before the finish. Tough circuit for sure. There were food stalls, lots of beer, music, a few bike companies and an awesome atmosphere. Did I mention there was beer?


I was signed up for the 2/3 and a couple of mates (Jules T and Dan R) were racing the 4th cat. My parents had come down and a few of the other guys wanted to witness the suffering too. No pressure, particularly as the last time my parent’s spectated they ended up taking me to A&E…. Anyway, the guys had a mega race in the 4th cat with Dan picking up a couple of points in only his 2nd crit. Jules was committed to the hero move. Inevitably he was brought back but I’d say the committed cornering photo totally made it worthwhile.


My goal for this one was simple. Survive. Street circuits are definitely not my thing (see Ixworth) and this one had added 2nd cat, plus I’d invited half the world to watch me. I was racing out of region but there were still some familiar (strong) faces in the races. The Fast Test boys had taken a hell of a day trip over from Suffolk and would definitely be a team to watch. I lined up near the front (Ixworth lesson learnt!) and kept top 20 for as long as I could. Someone went down about 2/3rds in which split the bunch, I was just about on the right side of this but slipped back as a result and suffered. Oh man! It was like watching the Jack Bauer’s 24 clock ticking down in the corner of my vision. Every lap I could hear Matt shouting “move up” from the castle wall as I passed the finish line. Whilst useful advice it was pretty much outside my control by that point! Anyway, I finished 27th, so not last. Wahey! Hella good fun but such a kicking. I’ll give it another go next year for sure. Heart rate graph below for lols.


  • Strava
  • Time: 40:34
  • Avg: 234 watts
  • NP: 269 watts (rip)
  • Avg speed: 40 kph
  • Points: 0 (but not last)


VC Barrachi road race – 3/4

This turned out to be my last race although I didn’t know it at the time. The CC London road race, which would have been my last, was cancelled the night before, shame really as I was feeling really good. Strava was filled with angry hard rides that day, think a few others were feeling good too.

The VC Barrachi course was fairly flat and pretty fast due to a lack of wind. Being way up in deepest darkest Suffolk it was well attended by Strada Sport, Iceni Velo, VC Barrachi (obvs) and Great Yarmouth so if a combination of them went that would be it! Grovesy and I had made the trip and my plan was simple, don’t miss the break (again) and attack the prime. It would give me a feel for the finish and given the lack of wind would probably be the best shot at a break.


Photo evidence, occasionally I do some work

Well, I was right. The finish was fast and on a very short uphill after a gradual descent. The race strung out for the prime and a strong looking break got away on the one wind exposed section after the prime. I ummed and ahhed a bit too long and eventually went when I realised the composition was right. Cue my best 3 minute power ever (350w for 3:30ish). I got so close but ultimately blew up (hello max heart rate) and dropped back to the bunch. The course turned left, picked up a tailwind and the break was brought back pretty soon after. All for nothing but thats road racing.


After that it was all staying up the front and seeing what was what. There were a few of us committed to getting away and never really got anywhere. We made the race tough though so I had a laugh. It was my hardest race power wise which on a flat course was going some. I really did get stuck in. I ballsed up the finish and it came up faster than I remembered from the prime. Think I finished 15th-20th or so. Defo had the legs but wrong place wrong time! A definite favourite this one, bit like chess at 40 kph. More races like this please.

  • Strava
  • Time: 1 hour 49 minutes
  • Avg: 194 watts
  • NP: 247 watts
  • Avg speed: 42 kph
  • Points: 0

Just ride your bike

Last up of my favourites wasn’t a race at all. Once the racing was done I did a few stupid things that I couldn’t do in the season. I rode around 250 miles in 5 days commuting from Colchester to Ipswich for the hell of it. Rude not to in sunny August when you have no races to taper for. Erin’s hen do was at the start of September and would leave me on my todd for a weekend. Cue, daft cycling adventure.


Beautiful misty Summer’s morning

After a bit of excited messaging Jules and I came up with the brainwave of cycling from Berkhamsted to Ipswich via my wedding venue (conveniently near the Blue Egg, a popular destination cafe and occasional haunt of Alex Dowsett), skirting Colchester, meeting up with Matt for a few miles and crossing the Stour via the foot ferry from Harwich to Shotley. Approx 134 miles. My Dad (also on his todd as my Mother was on the hen with Erin) provided a late night taxi service so Jules drove over to Ipswich, dumped his car and rocketed back to Herts with us at about midnight on Friday. We set off at about 6 am Saturday after practically no sleep (Neither of us are renowned for our time keeping so I have no idea how we made it), spent a quality nine hours chatting shit, getting lost, ripped the side out of a GP 4season offroading on a road bike and got a tan on only the right side of our bodies. It was a mega day out!



So that was the summer of 2016, mega year. Promise i’ll update this more in the future, maybe. Thanks for reading!

Rest of my year can be found below if you are bored, ill or can’t sleep.

Ixworth autopsy

Ixworth 4

Photo credit: Stuart Weatherley

My biggest weaknesses are probably cornering and bunch positioning. I think I’ve got to grips with bunch positioning but the cornering still needs some work. So what better race for me than 30-40 laps of a 60-70 second street circuit with 90 degree corners, street furniture and drain covers right? I don’t think I can say I was looking forward to this one but there was a 3rd cat crit and I figured it would force me to work on my cornering. Ixworth village crits have been a feature on the Suffolk race calendar for nearly 20 years and everything I’d heard suggested it was even more horrific than Trinity Park. But crucially the circuit did laps of a closed village centre on a bank holiday and that sounded like a laugh. My legs were nicely rested after three days off the bike. Unfortunately the rest of my body was a ruin after a 13 hour wedding related drinking session which involved some terrible attempts at dancing and far too little sleep. Fantastic wedding though! I feel I should point out here that for anyone taking this racing lark (very) seriously a rest day is a day spent on the sofa with their legs in the air. For me, it’s usually the day I drive to work…..

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So preparations went well. I got my numbers, personalised with my name and club (so cool!), got my kit together and did 5-10 laps of the track to get my eye in and warm up. Matt, having broken himself riding a stupidly long distance for charity, was my Director Sportif for the day and a damn fine one he was too! Although now I expect Twix milkshakes after every race which is going to leave me disappointed. There was a proper hard copy race programme which had my name on the start sheet. Whilst staring at my name in print I’d spotted the names of several strong riders from the cyclocross circuit on the start sheet that clearly fancied a day out circuit racing. Dougal Toms, Ross Tricker and Sean Dunlea to name a few. With cyclocross being their main discipline they were lowly 3rd cats on the road like me despite being nationally ranked juniors and seniors in cyclocross. Oh sh*t. And that’s before I realised just how many pesky juniors made up the rest of the field. I say pesky because they weigh about 50 kgs, are literally full of energy and completely fearless. I keep hearing that they will all be knackered and fed up by June so there is hope that someone over the age of 17 might score some points soon.

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Guys started gathering on the line pretty early. So early in fact that the Commissaire sent them round again. The first two corners were to be neutralised behind a National Escort Group moto. Great I thought, I’ll get another couple of laps in just to make sure I was nicely warmed up seeing as the start wouldn’t be the usual sprint from the line. Oh wow, how wrong was I! So in fact the neutralised start just became a motor paced start with the moto leaving us sprinting into a block headwind. One lap before the start there had been a handful of guys on the line, next lap there were 50 (i.e. everyone else….). Oh pants. My race was pretty much decided before it had even begun. First rule of crits, don’t start from the back. The video at the bottom shows just how aggressive the start was (around 2 mins in) and on a circuit like this that leads to an almighty elastic effect further down the field.

Ixworth 5

Moving up was practically impossible with the sharp corners and narrow roads. There were places to be made up by diving up the inside but on a narrow circuit like this with bumpy braking areas I wasn’t going to push it too hard. No-one wants to be the guy that ends up upside down in the fence on turn 2. I narrowly missed getting tangled up in two guys taking themselves out by touching wheels on the back straight but other than that the race was pretty tidy, surprising I thought given how tight the circuit was. Unfortunately for the second guy in that crash there was no run off so it was the fence for him. We nearly wiped out the bicycle paramedics that tootled round the track to get to him in the following laps.

My cornering is coming together it seems. I was carrying speed through the corners so that’s something but every corner was followed by a full on kick. This hurt, a  lot. If you want to see just how much, the table below shows the proportion of the race I spent in each power zone. I spent over a quarter of the race in zones 6 and 7. That’s not unusual but have a look at how little time was spent in zones 2 to 5. Basically I was passing right through those zones going full gas, soft pedal, brake, corner, full gas and repeat every 20 seconds for 40 minutes.


That doesn’t tell the full story either, 20 minutes in zone 1 you say, that can’t be too bad? Whilst my legs were back in zone 1 after each kick my heart rate was anything but! Basically my heart was doing a hilly TT whilst my legs were doing sprints every 20 second. We road racers have a strange idea of fun.


Having started at the back my head told me to move up but when you are already pushing 800 watts out of the corners its kind of hard to find that extra zip on the guy in front of you. I closed a few early gaps but when another bigger gap went after five or six laps I had nothing (extra) left to get round the guy blowing up in front. I ended up in a group of 6-8 guys fighting for 30th place. At this point we still had at least 25 minutes of the race left but we toughed it out and kept working until the flag and finished about a lap down on the leaders. So all in all a thoroughly unpleasant experience you might think.

Er no. Actually it was one of my favourite races simply because the atmosphere was fantastic! It’s not often that as a 3rd cat you can race on closed roads with an actual crowd the other side of the barriers. I could hear Matt, Bernard and the Rethmans, amongst others, shouting for me each lap and that really does give you a boost. Not to mention the cow bells, the cheers and the David Attenborough-esque commentary over the PA. Although the commentary was kind of like hearing the narration of my own eventual demise. I felt like a wildebeest being chased by a lion.

ixworth 7.jpg

Photo credit: Bernard Morrison

West Suffolk Wheelers have put together a decent video of the day. My race is from 2:00-3:40ish. I hadn’t realised how loud the crowd was! I will most definitely be back next year. Hopefully my legs will have forgotten what it felt like by then. I’ll be the guy camping on the start line the night before.

Next up for me, the road race season kicks off. Woop! Starting with St Ives CC in Huntington, then my own club’s road race, the Ken Wright the week after. A return to the Crest circuit a few weeks later before the Rovers Abberton Road Race in June. The Ken Wright and the Abberton are on circuits less than a mile from my house. Can. Not. Wait. I’m not sure what my ambitions are yet for the road season, well, I do but I’m not telling you until I know where my form is at! I would like to feature though, none of this rolling round worrying about getting dropped. Time to go big, or ermm, well get dropped.

  • Strava
  • Avg: 241 watts
  • NP: 268 watts
  • Avg speed: 37 kph
  • Points: Hah!



So, it’s been a while. I haven’t done much racing since the Wadley but I have managed to keep the training miles up. Mostly in the mornings before work as it’s the only free time I’ve had. I made myself a pretty decent 35 mile route chasing every gradient on the way to Ipswich so now that the season proper is getting closer I’m making my efforts shorter and harder. Once I got my head around waking up at 5:30 am the sunrises made it totally worth it.


I mentioned last time that my #4thcatproblems had become #3rdcatproblems but didn’t quite get round to writing about it. Mostly because I can’t find one single piece of media recording the momentous occasion. Typical really, as there’s always someone around to jump out of a bush and photograph you getting dropped at Hog Hill! I took my first trip to Cyclopark as a 3rd cat last weekend so I thought I would have a look at how 4th and 3rd cat compare.

San Fairy Ann CC Spring crits – Final 4th cat race (5 March)

I was like a kid on Christmas eve in the week running up to this race. In my mind 3rd cat was a certainty (only needing 6th or better), it was just a question of whether last week had been a case of the stars aligning perfectly or was there potential for another decent result? I’m not sure how I got any work done that week to be honest as I kept replaying the last race over in my head looking for ways to change the outcome. Kind of like a lycra clad Groundhog Day. Tactics obviously play a part in racing, but sometimes the other guy is just stronger. In hindsight I reckon I rode my race perfectly and 2nd was the deserved reward.

So rolling back to this race. I’d bumped into last week’s winner before sign on and we got talking about the rematch, I mean race. He and his team mate were keen to get away with a few laps to go so after the usual polite conversation charade (whilst secretly trying to figure out each other’s fitness) I expressed my interest in joining said break. In reality I’m much more suited to a bunch sprint but I would go with them if it looked like we might get away. In the last race we had caused some damage when the field split with 5 to go so I was all for making other peoples’ legs hurt. I’d found in 4th cat races that you often had a few protagonists that were clearly stronger than the rest of the bunch, a fair size mid field that could get a result if the race played out as they wanted and then a pretty big remainder that would get dropped somewhere between the start and finish. I’d realised at the Hillingdon crits that I had gradually moved from the mid field towards the pointy end of the pack. Not that I had managed to convert any of that form into results! If we and a few other strong riders got away at Cyclopark there was no way we were going to get brought back. People would shout in the bunch, but no-one would commit to the chase. Such are 4th cats. This time the wind was up the finish straight though which changed the dynamics of the race completely. It would be a much less selective race as the wind would counteract the drag to the line, not entirely, but enough to knock some watts off the effort each lap and that adds up over an hour.

The race was pretty nondescript for the most part.The graph below tells the story. Average watts of around 210 (Strava has overstated slightly), and average heart rate of around 161. Heart rate uncomfortable but not unsustainable. Nothing ever looked like a realistic prospect for a break so I spent the race holding position in the bunch and doing zero work, which is reflected in the watts. Loads of guys say they do a good job of staying out of the wind but I reckon I was deserving of a degree in wheel sucking such was my lack of contribution. The usual steady increase in pace occurred when the 5 lap board came out. My legs felt pretty good so I was confident at this point that I could get a result. I tend to be fairly passive in the bunch but once a race gets into the last 5 I try to switch off my club run manners and fight for wheels. It takes a while to become utterly ruthless in a bunch but every time you help someone out by letting them in (or out) is an opportunity for them to take points from you. It does still make me chuckle that there is always at least one chopper that shouts “slowing” coming into the tight corners or “on the left” as he dive bombs up the inside. It’s not a club run!


With half a lap to go a dude from North Road CC took a punt on a long one and attacked into the headwind on the back straight. The crucial corners at Cyclopark are the two left handers at the end of the back straight. Get through them in the first five wheels and you should be on for a result. On to the finish straight and I was probably a little further back than I should have been (no obvious excuse springs to mind), I was sheltered though and had a decent line out of the bunch so no biggy. North Road was still dangling off the front but the long drag to the line looked to be taking its toll (first rule of Cyclopark, don’t go too early). I can’t remember who went first but I jumped hard out of the bunch with a dude from Oxted (interestingly last week’s winner’s team mate), he was on my left and slightly ahead with perhaps 20 seconds to go. Ahead of us North Road started to veer over to the left (from the far right) in slow motion, kind of like a drunk walking home from the pub. I found myself headed for a closing gap between him and Oxted. My first thoughts are not repeatable but despite the gap continuing to shrink, so much so that I had to get back in the saddle to squeeze through the gap, I got through. I think we brushed as I went past but a final acceleration once clear was enough to pip Oxted by a bike length or two and win my first bike race! Holy shit!!!!!! A year of hard work, frequent disappointment and much suffering had finally paid off. And no bugger took a photo or recorded a video. There wasn’t even a podium. Sob. In the absence of proof otherwise I’m pretty sure it looked exactly like this.


The final sprint had only been 12 seconds at 770 watts (see below). Of that, 3 seconds was the final gas to the line at 890 watts after squeezing past North Road. Crucially though the last lap had been at near 300 watts, a threshold effort for me, so that 770 watts came after 3-4 minutes of suffering. I’d also made an earlier 900 watt kick to get onto the right wheel out of the hairpin before the back straight. You can see that the pace jumped up nearly 4 kph on the last lap and its this change in pace that strings out the bunch and weeds out the optimists. I’ve realised that once the 2 lap board is out the finish is usually less than 5 minutes away. How ever much you are suffering here its going to be short lived. The other aspect is confidence, so often last year I doubted myself and missed an opportunity by hesitating. If you have a half decent sprint taking the initiative could be enough. Remember the guy that goes second will have to put out more power in a shorter space of time to come round you. Equally, anyone that is behind you when the sprint kicks off has more distance to cover and will likely be gassed by the line. If you can’t see them when you go forget them! Seems obvious but it took me a season to put that into practice.


  • Strava
  • Avg: 202 watts
  • NP: 242 watts
  • Avg speed: 37 kph
  • Points: 1o (6 carried over towards 2nd cat)

I’d promised myself #sockdoping last year if I made 3rd cat and that’s exactly how I rewarded myself. Someone had linked me a photo on Instagram to these bad boys and despite the need to pay for air mail from Australia it just seemed meant to be! Who can say they have their surname on their socks? 3rd cat Pete had arrived!

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Crits at the Park – First 3rd cat race (16 April)

So roll on five weeks and I headed back to Cyclopark as a 3rd cat. I’d been ill for most of the week beforehand and hadn’t really touched my bike for a week. Needless to say I didn’t have the same confidence as my last outing, hell I didn’t even know if my legs were going to show up. Before the illness I’d been going pretty well though so I was hoping that I would at least get round and I was curious to see how a 3rd cat bunch compared to 4th cat. I had no real aspirations in terms of results, especially after losing a week to illness. It was a big bunch, a good 50+, and we were missing the top hairpin due to a circus being set up. The comm said because of dogs on the course, “dags” if you’ve seen Snatch, I have no idea if he was being serious.

The race started with a dude faceplanting off the line after missing his cleat. More than a little embarrassing. He took someone else down with him and the resulting hold up took a fair few out of the race from the start. The wind was up the finish straight again and the lack of the top hairpin actually made the circuit harder. Now the pace up the finish straight was carried around the top bend straight into the headwind on the back straight. Compared to 4th cat there was a noticeable increase in pace, not a Trinity Park when the scratch group comes through increase, but 4 kph more was enough to make it much harder to move up. I spent the first half of the race just about hanging on to be honest. Despite a decent warm up the lack of miles made my legs feel wooden. I don’t think I’ve seen a full 50+ bunch strung out before but I looked up more than once to see my teammate Tom doing just that. That didn’t help my suffering legs. He had several cracks at getting away but it seems 3rd cats are no different to 4th cats in terms of not letting breaks go. Plenty would bridge over to him only to sit on his wheel. Tom sensibly disappeared back into the bunch for the remainder. The rest of the race was pretty nondescript for me. A dude that I raced with as a 4th cat last year nearly, so nearly, got away with a couple to go. Didn’t quite make it stick though. Tom offered lead out duties which I duly took up but I didn’t have the legs left to hold his wheel. I rolled in about 35th or so but generally I was pretty happy to have survived. As well as my team mate, Tom, there had been Mark (the dude that nearly got away) and another local dude, Andy, in the race so it was pretty cool racing as a 3rd cat with guys that I had raced and watched move out of 4th cat last year. Tom falls into his own special category as the 3rd cat that loves to suffer. “Remember, you’re having fun” being the catchphrase that usually comes with a complete and utter kicking. A few more weeks training and I reckon I’ll be tip top for the start of the road season. First though, Ixworth town crits on the bank holiday weekend. I’m expecting this to be unpleasant.


So comparing this to the 4th cat race that I won…….did I mention that I won a bike race? You can see from the chart above that my heart rate was much more consistent in this one than the previous 4th cat races, reflecting that the pace was faster but more consistent without the stop/start bunching of a 4th cat race. So much so that you can make out the finish straight drag spiking my heart rate each lap. Average heart rate was higher by about 10 bpm, partially due to my lack of fitness and remaining illness, but also because of my poor positioning in this one. I would have got an easier ride at the front of the bunch. Interestingly normalised power was pretty much the same as the last 4th cat race. Average watts were 10 watts higher over the race, not a huge difference but enough for your legs to notice.

  • Strava
  • Avg: 209 watts
  • NP: 241 watts
  • Avg speed: 40 kph
  • Points: 0

I thought I’d summarise the differences I spotted between 3rd and 4th cat crits. Probably repeating myself a bit but it might be of interest having them in one place.

  • Faster pace, seems obvious right, but a more consistent pace too. If you slip back it will be harder to get back on, but stay near the front and I dare say you’ll get dragged round quite comfortably using less watts than in 4th cat.
  • Riding standards weren’t the step up I expected. Quite surprised by this but there were still plenty of choppers and guys that can’t hold a line through a corner. They’ve just got a little faster.
  • Much more confident and vocal bunch. Don’t be intimidated (see above).
  • A break is just as unlikely to stick here as it would in a 4th cat crit. You will get chased down and very few will work with you.
  • Less bunching (when the bunch compresses quickly due to a slowing of the pace on the front) than a 4th cat race, but when it happens boy does it compresses fast!

My final pointer for 3rd cat crits is this, if you are going to rock up on a Tinkoff branded Specialized Tarmac, wearing a Tinkoff branded Evade (because it matches your club kit) don’t shout your mouth off in the bunch. Especially when you seem to spend more time off the track than on it….





The three types of race

Last weekend already seems like a long time ago. Work is crazy busy, like every March, and I’ve got an exam in a little under a month. What joy,  time to revise! Which brings to an end my first “peak” of the year. I realised last year that you (or maybe just I) can’t be strong all season, so I pick a group of races and try to get the peaks in form to appear somewhere vaguely close by. Doesn’t always work but it seems to prevent those almighty pits of fatigue and illness that follow long periods of mashing yourself into the ground. I had two days rest after Sunday’s race but even by Wednesday the legs had nothing, not a thing! I’d been going full gas since January so it was probably time to rest.

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Magnificent pinning no?


So, last Sunday you ask? What was that all about? What began as a joke became my first daft decision of the year. Possibly also my best decision of the year. On paper entering a National B road race a week after getting 3rd cat probably seems like madness. Bear with me here and I’ll explain. So to my mind a race can go one of three ways, which are:

  • A result. Points win prizes baby! That’s fairly self explanatory. Good result = buzzing. I’d been back to Cyclopark a few weeks ago and won the second of the San Fairy Ann 4th cat spring crits (earning my 3rd cat license upgrade in the process). I’ll come back to that another day, but on the back of second place the week before I was pretty stoked. Have I told you that I won a race?
  • A disappointment. There’s nothing worse than crossing the line feeling that you haven’t given it everything. I had so many races like that last year. Partially procrastination, partially lack of confidence, partially a complete fear of getting dropped.  Moral of the story though, leave it all on the road! I’d much rather not finish having tried something daft than sit in the wheels and roll in 43rd.
  • A complete and utter kicking. Generally you know beforehand that you are going to get one of these. Sometimes though its just a pleasant surprise. Finishing, or at least achieving whatever you have set as your goal can feel just as good as a result in these circumstances. You might not get anything out of it, no points, maybe not even a finish and to onlookers you’ll probably look like just another guy blown out the back. At the end of the day though this is all a bit of fun and sometimes its good to race just for the sake of racing. Going back to that National B road race, it was definitely a complete and utter kicking.

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Really impressed with the OTE and Stealth products. Vanilla OTE = amazing. No idea what Betaine is in the elderberry gel but it seemed to get me round though. Note, concentrated banana gels will turn anything they touch radioactive, including skin suits, race numbers and carpets. Don’t ask me how I know.


So, this National B. The Jock Wadley Memorial Road Race is the season opener for many of the big domestic teams. It also just happens to be held on a circuit less than 2 miles from my house. The Wadley is open to Elite and 1st cat riders in addition to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th cats that I usually race with. For my non racing buddies these guys are either already pros, semi pro or seriously strong amateurs. Don’t get me wrong 2nd cat is a world away too but I can just about cope with a 2/3/4 road race, maybe even more than that this year. As a comparison a typical week for me is anywhere from 5-8 hours of training. Due to a clash of calendars the only UCI team entered this year was Pedal Heaven. They are doing a pretty good job of turning the podiums of the South East black and green and would be the team to beat. Plenty of other serious outfits (complete with team cars and spare bikes) were entered but the absence of some others big names meant the start list was a little shorter than usual. I had thought the 2nd cats in the club might fancy it when I shared the link below. What I didn’t expect was a barrage of “get signed up Pete” “It will be a great experience” “Just hide in the wheels” Oh how I laughed……

Velo UK article

A week later, now with my 3rd cat upgrade in the bag, and the chance to race big teams on home roads became just too much to miss. That’s something I love about road racing, you can end up sharing a start sheet with serious talent. Turns out there was a former track world champion and British road race champion on the start sheet, not to mention plenty of youngsters that have big futures in the sport. Crumbs. Slightly daunted at this point, not helped by the most common reaction being laughter and that expression that suggests you have grown a second head when I mention I’d entered. Predictions ranged from getting dropped in the neutralised zone, after 2.3 laps (very specific James) to an optimistic 6 laps (thanks Graham!). I genuinely had no personal expectations, obviously I wanted to hang on as long as possible and I was keen to see the lap board at least once. I fully expected to get blown out the back with very little warning, like being jettisoned into space. With a field like this it was a matter of when not if.

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“Blissfully unaware” Photo credit: VeloUK on Twitter


Dave Hales (and his friendly megaphone) was the Chief Comm for the race. Not often you get you numbers repinned personally closely followed by a £5 fine for folding them. D’oh! Dave would become a useful reference point. i.e.  If he gets louder i’m slipping back in the bunch and need to move up. So, off we roll and the road from the HQ to the main road is possibly the worst road in Colchester. If I’m honest I was secretly hoping for a puncture “Oh well, I gave it a try, wasn’t to be etc etc”. No joy, so we rolled out on to the circuit en masse. I bloody love this part. 80 guys rolling out in close proximity, motorbike escorts,cars front and back and plenty of confused looking old dears popping out for a pint of milk and wondering where the Tour de France came from. So cool. The race is neutralised until we reach the circuit, but everyone wants to be at the front and there’s a hill just before the turn onto the circuit so it’s not really neutralised at all….we reach the circuit, right turn, hammer down, and straight into a descent and a rolling drag up to the top of the course. I got out of the neutralised zone at least. Wahey! I was happy enough at this point to proclaim mission complete to my club mate Tom. He was the only other from theclub daft enough to enter. He had picked this race as his first after seven years out. Wowzers.


This, then repeat Photo credit: @Spikervelo


I didn’t have time to celebrate sadly, given the experience and the size of the teams involved I was expecting a complete smash up until the right composition of riders got away in the break. This is the bit of a race you never see on TV. The break will only get away when the bunch lets it so for that to happen the right teams need to be represented. Until then it will be attack after attack until the bunch lets it go. Thankfully, it only took about a lap. “Not so bad this” says Tom. Famous last words….

Courtesy of Jamil. 800 watts out of a 90 degree bend, with a marshal point on the other side and a 45 mph descent shortly after. Felt so pro.


Average watts only tell part of the story  here as they take into account the freewheeling and soft pedaling in the bunch but I’ve tried to give you an idea of the relative intensity of each 7.2 mile lap.The maximum wattage gives you an idea of how hard the kicks were out of the corners, we were doing that every lap, several times a lap and its that really wears you (me) down. As you tire, the gaps start to get bigger and the kicks need to be harder to stay on. By now it’s just a matter of time until the gap gets just a little too big. The heart rate figures compare with a maximum of 196. Don’t often see that to be honest, a race winning sprint at Cyclopark only peaked at 188.2016-03-22_2105

  • Strava
  • Avg: 21o watts
  • NP: 236 watts
  • Avg speed: 40 kph
  • Points: lol

My usual road races last about 2 hours so it was no surprise that my legs fell off before the finish. To be honest I thought I would have got dropped long before 67 miles! It was the kicking I expected, a bit easier in some places would you believe as the bunch really flowed. Provided I stayed up in the bunch I seemed to be ok but these guys move around and move up so effortlessy I often went from safe mid bunch to near the back pretty quickly. Moving up took either a good few miles or a big effort. On around lap 5 or 6 I found myself on the windward side of the bunch (I know, I know) and wasn’t quite quick enough to get into the gutter. Obviously no one will let you in and you can’t help but take some satisfaction when the position is reversed and you are coasting along in someone’s draft whilst they suffer in the wind. I’d been merrily plodding along at 150-200 watts, minding my own business, when suddenly i’m doing 400 watts and fighting to hold the wheel in front. That burnt more than a few matches let me tell you! Given the field I was in I couldn’t help but feel that my match box was a little inadequate compared to those around me. Obviously I forced a smile each time I passed the finish but it was murder, agonising leg sapping murder. Totally worth it though! It was a fantastic experience racing on home roads with friends and club mates cheering from the side of the road. Next year you never know, I might even finish. A 19 year old lad that went from 4th cat to 1st cat (that’s 252 points and the equivalent of 25 of the crits I won) in three months last year won the race, just edging Lloyd Chapman of Pedal Heaven. Chapeau Spirit Bikes, beautifully ridden.


Strung out, I’m in there somewhere….Photo credit: VeloUK on Twitter




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Photo credit: Dave Hayward (DaveHaywardphotos)

Through January I’d been doing my best to put Fat Pete back in his box and turn this flabby excuse for a cyclist back into some semblance of a road racer. Part of the plan was kicking off my season in January and returning to East London Velo’s winter series at Hog Hill. At the time I figured I was lighter than last year, not to mention stronger and smarter with it, so I thought I’d just plod around for 40 minutes and then hammer it off the front to victory and a triumphant escape from 4th cat. Right? Errr no, It didn’t quite work out that way….. I got dropped, not once, but twice. Cue much head scratching and a return to the drawing board. I’m not sure what was more embarrassing, getting dropped or explaining at HQ that I’d raced this series last year and yes, this was my second go at it. Without realising it I’d become an elder statesman of the 4th cat ranks.

  • Strava
  • Avg: 252 watts
  • NP: 283 watts
  • Avg speed: 34 kph
  • Points: 0 (12, still)

Like any good road racer I’ve come up with several excuses for my shocking early season form but I’ll come back to those and my training plans another day. The plan for February was pretty simple to be honest. Keep racing, 2 x 20s (shudder) to bring threshold power back up and turn myself inside out on the winter club reliability trials.

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Serious training is serious (VCR RT)

  • Strava
  • Avg: 221 watts (slightly up on my 2015 peak for 2 hrs, so higher than any RR last year)
  • NP: 230 watts (inc there and back)

Whilst back at my parent’s one weekend I decided to take a trip over to Hillingdon rather than get another kicking at Hog Hill. Its a fast circuit, narrow, not technical really but the finish is tricky (racing anti-clockwise) if you wanted to stay near the front. Crucially, it does not have a berg in the middle of it. The race was terrifying to be honest, 60 odd guys on a narrow track tooling round at a pretty comfortable pace,  which means questionable lines, prolonged conversations (seriously!) and far too much bunching. It made me realise that I really needed to focus on my positioning within the bunch if I wanted to get results. If you’re outside the top five on the final lap here points are pretty unlikely. I raced here three times in all and whilst I didn’t trouble the top ten I learnt a lot about my bunch skills, what I needed to work on, which wheel to follow and getting a feel for who is likely to feature at the end. Still not smashing off the front to 4th cat glory but I’d been far more active than ever before, animating the races, trying to get in breaks and generally playing around to see what would work. The fitness was clearly there and I was beginning to feel that I was racing on my terms for once.

  • Strava
  • Avg: 227 watts
  • NP: 244 watts
  • Avg speed: 38 kph
  • Points: 0 (12, still)

I had to wait until the end of February for a 4th cat race at Cyclopark. Without doubt my favourite closed circuit in the South East. It also seems to suit me as I scored 9 of my 10 points here last season. By now I had a good number of races, turbo sessions and winter RTs in my legs so I was feeling pretty good. I’d retested my power mid way through February and leaned out a bit so I knew I was in better shape now than I had been at any point last year. Not quite at that elusive 4.0 w/kg but well on my way! So off we go, a fairly gentle start whilst the bunch figures out the wind direction (cross/headwind down the finish straight like pretty much every other time I’ve raced here). The pace stayed pretty steady for the first 35 minutes, a few digs here and there but it was only really with 5 to go that the pace picked up when a good size break nearly got clear (with me in it I might add). That photo up the top shows my one turn on the front. The race had blown apart behind us so I was keen to keep the pressure on up the finish straight and suss out the headwind for later. There is a certain satisfaction that comes from the heavy breathing and coughing noises coming from over your shoulder at moments like this.

Roll on 4 laps and we are on the bell lap. Cyclopark has an almighty run to the finish, uphill slightly and its a long way out with a head wind. The temptation is to go early but you will be punished if you don’t have the legs to go all the way. I got round onto the bottom of the circuit about 6th or 7th wheel and on the sheltered side of the bunch as we came up to the bottom of the final straight. I think I’ve got Hillingdon to thank here as I’d fought hard for my position on the last lap. Last time I’d been somewhere like this in the final I’d got on the podium so I was keen to go first this time, but not too soon given the headwind.


That hesitation saw me get beaten to the jump but the pair of us caught the rest of the bunch off guard it seems as we were well clear by the line. All in, it was a 24 second sprint but it seemed like an eternity, especially mashing away for an average of 750 watts. Not my best, but I’ve yet to see any sprint power PBs at the end of a race. I got up to about a bike’s length behind but couldn’t quite finish the job. Second place though, 8 points and a massive confidence boost with it. Totally stoked. I’ve also finally got that photo I’ve wanted almost more than the points. Just look at it, it’s magnificent! I’ll bore my future children with this one for decades. Did I tell you about that time I nearly won a bike race?

  • Strava
  • Avg: 210 watts
  • NP: 247 watts
  • Avg speed: 36 kph
  • Points: 8 (4 to go)


W/kg be like what?!

Fat Pete managed to get completely off the leash in December and, frankly, he went nuts. Like really nuts. I figured why fight the Christmas excesses, so instead just embraced Jaffa Cakes for breakfast and the frequent cheese boards. By the time January came around I was glad to be back to good habits and keen to get the weight back down in time for the winter crits and reliability trials. You might not believe it but I did, finally, get sick of cake.

I now have a full year of power data so I was curious to see how the excessive Jaffa Cakes over Christmas had affected watts per kg. As I keep track of my weight I figured I could knock up a chart to see what damage I’d done to W/kg (at FTP for comparison). I have to admit, the results were pretty shocking. I’d pushed myself beyond my 2015 starting point! The FTP figure is fixed, based on a test in late December, so the variations are purely driven by changes in weight.


Since the New Year I’ve been steadily chipping away at the kgs and got back down to about 75 kgs, which is the top end of last season’s race weight range. Not too shabby for this time of year but there is still a little more to come off.

As you can see its far easier to improve your performance by knocking off a few excess kgs (assuming you have them!) than it is to murder yourself with intervals. Particularly once you are beyond the point where you can add 20 watts to FTP in a month. Those were the days!

Obviously though, do both. Which is exactly what I’ve been doing through January and into February.

2015 – A season in numbers


Abberton 1

Photo courtesy Matt Wing


Rather than the usual Strava video or whatever I thought I’d take a slightly tongue in cheek look back at my season.

54,887 – Number of cakes consumed, wait, no, that’s metres climbed

9,197 – Distance covered. In km, because its pro. Maybe also because the number looks better…

299 – Hours spent on the bike.

261 – Number of individual rides. Excluding commutes, as they’re not on Strava they don’t exist right?

197 – Max heart rate. No two ways about it, you can’t get a decent result without suffering.

191 – What I thought my max heart rate was. See above.

184 – Longest single ride in kms (Ronde Picarde).

150 – Number of minutes spent hanging on for dear life and wishing that the Divs (Regional RR Champs) would end.

145 – Number of minutes spent secretly enjoying racing the Divs as a first year 4th cat. I didn’t last, but then I wasn’t expecting to get beyond the first lap anyway. Nat B as a first road race anyone?

24.45 – Best 10 mile TT. Note, taking the right turns can be conducive to good times.

16 – Number of races finished.

10 – Total points scored.

3.82 – Watts per kg at threshold. Power not bad. Little more weight loss required though. More to be done on 1, 3 and 5 minute power too.

3 – Best result of the season. Woop!

2 – Trips to A&E. I’m calling this the ‘Thrasher ratio’. Hoping to not improve on this particular stat in 2016.

0.25 – Watts per kg lost due to ‘slight’ overindulgence at Christmas.