August had felt like it was going to be a good month. Weight back down after hollibobs, decent fitness and legs that felt pretty good.
Lee Valley Velopark 4th cat – 1 August
I’d felt pretty good after Cyclopark considering the kicking I’d taken so I was hoping to take some form into this race. I’m not greedy, a point would do. Even one point would double my total for the year. I’d raced here back in May and that had been a messy affair with a couple of crashes. I’ve still got the cassette imprint in the back of my neck as a memento. Matt had come down with me and we were both hoping for a good race.
The circuit is fast but it flows nicely and it seemed no one was particularly interested in first lap heroics. A prime on the third lap wound the pace up a bit so I used this as an opportunity to test my legs. I crossed the line 3rd, legs seemed good!
A few breaks went away but only one ever looked like having the legs to make it. Matt had made it across to this one and they looked to be working well. After a few laps the bunch saw the threat and brought them back. Matt and I tried our own break a few laps later and were joined by a guy from London Dynamo. I say we, it was mostly Matt. Our mid race break planning session hadn’t been exactly subtle either so it’s no surprise that we were brought back pretty quickly. That and the fact that I only contributed one pitiful turn to our effort.
The bell was ringing before I knew it and with half a lap to go I was way too far back. Sprinting for 20th hadn’t been in my game plan. I don’t think the circuit is hard enough which makes the last lap terrifying. It’s a shame as it’s a fantastic facility but I think I’ll save this one for 3rd cat. If that ever happens.
- Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/358721795
- Avg power: 216 watts
- NP power: 240 watts
- Avg speed: 26.1 mph
Little Bentley 10 – 5 August
Little Bentley had been on my calendar for a while as I’d heard it was a fast course. I’d gone well in both my previous (and only!) tens and put in respectable times considering the road bike handicap.
In a familiar routine I went out way way too hard before settling down into a rhythm. I took the first turn and found myself staring at the finish. Great you might think but it was about 8 miles sooner than I expected. Shit.
After rolling back to the start somewhat sheepishly I had another crack at it. I got caught pretty early which gave me someone to follow through the turns. I would have ended up in Clacton otherwise. The course is rolling and with the turns I found it hard to pace. Seems the 300 watt ten is still eluding me but I was stoked with 24:45. Have to admit a TT bike is getting increasingly tempting…..
- Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/362027852
- Avg power: 286 watts
- NP power: 285 watts
- Avg speed: 24.2 mph
Mid Suffolk RR 3/4 – 9 August
I’d raced two road races earlier in the year (as opposed to circuit races), one the Divs and the other a 2/3/4. The Mid Suffolk was the first of two 3/4 entries I had lined up so I was hoping for a more level playing field. I’d recce’d the course beforehand with Matt and scared myself silly having seen the hill before the finish. Prep had been good with a decent taper and a gentle ride out the day before to spin the legs.
I’d travelled down with Matt and Jamil in what was fast becoming a despondent 4th cat support group. Sign on and warm up had gone by in a blur of silliness which helped with pre race nerves. Besides, its supposed to be fun! VCR had numbers in this one with Ollie, Justin, Ben plus me. It was a course that suited all of them but me really. A certain Joe Skipper had appeared on the start sheet so if there was ever a break to make it was the one with the elite triantelope in it.
As if on cue Joe went away with another from the gun. A brief neutralisation two laps later saw the race brought back together and when we were racing again no one was quite sure whether the break was being given their time back. Net result was 12 men getting up the road with representation from pretty much every major club except the Colchester clubs. A proper face palm moment.
Ollie, Justin and Matt attempted to bridge over to the break after it became clear that the bunch was happy to spend the remaining laps like a club run in the sun. Ben, Jamil and I did our best to disrupt the chase and mark the moves that followed but they came back with a couple of laps to go. I’d been climbing well and feeling much better than I expected I led the bunch into the last ascent of the hill only for my legs to cramp and fall off at the bottom. Still haven’t got to the bottom of that one but with the break gone and no points on offer I rolled in 31st or so with a rather broken Matt. Jamil did well to keep the bunch at bay for half a lap and finish 14th. No result but I was starting to feel like I was capable of getting round a hilly course and racing for a result rather than just making up the numbers. All in all a good day’s racing. Decent tanning too.
- Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/364961074
- Avg power: 204 watts
- NP power: 237 watts
- Avg speed: 23.6 mph
Birthday crit (Hog Hill 4th cat) – 15 August
I’d meant to be racing on the Thursday before but that race had been cancelled due to weather. As a result I had fresher legs than I’d had all year and good form to go with it. Surely this was my day? I’d made a point of warming up well and I was feeling great to be honest, 300 watts was feeling like 200 watts and I had a plan in my mind. The whistle went and I got myself into the first ten wheels and prepared to do as little as possible for the next 45-50 minutes.
It was a little too early to say ‘it was all going so well’ but on the second lap I caught a wheel in front approaching the bottom hairpin and threw myself at the floor at around 32 mph (thank you Garmin). It was one of those things, I thought he was going right, he went left and wheels clashed. My wheel shouldn’t have been where it was to be honest but I’d been keen to stay well positioned, perhaps a little too keen. The bike looked decidedly secondhand and I seemed to be leaking from a few places. At the time I only noticed the mess I’d made of my legs but I soon realised that my right arm wasn’t quite doing what it was supposed to.
I’d brought my parents along to watch what was to be their first circuit race. A spectacular crash viewed from a distance and an agonizing wait whilst the first aider carted me back up the hill hadn’t been what I’d had in mind for their first race. With the adrenalin wearing off in the car home it felt pretty bad. My head was pounding and I’d landed heavily on my shoulder. Having broken a collar bone before it was all feeling rather familiar.
Watford A&E did a great job of patching me up and checking out my shoulder it must be said. They even made me a cup of tea! No broken bones but a heavy concussion and a torn AC ligament meant some enforced rest coming up. At least thanks to Tinkoff Saxo I can say it happens to the best of us (UCI World Champs – Richmond 2015).
The crash bid goodbye to a carefully cultivated late summer peak but a trip to the pub that night for my 30th served as a reminder that there is much more to life than racing bikes. The time off the bike gave me some time to rest up and spend some quality time with the future wife. Sharing her hand on FB wasn’t perhaps the greatest idea, but I won the next five hands without the help (honest).
How was the bike I hear you ask? My beautiful month old Black Betty was looking decidedly secondhand after the crash. I’d also trashed my helmet and wrecked my skin suit. The boys at Cycle Evolution did a great job making her as good as new again. Yellow Jersey were also fantastic and had the bike repaired and the claim settled within two weeks.