Desperation crits – Part one

So then, eight points, that’s seven more than the goal I set myself at the start of the season. Back then I just wanted to be strong enough to get round a 4th cat crit without getting dropped. So that’s all good, mission accomplished you might think? Errrr no, not quite.

As ever, goals change and ambitions grow. I’d said earlier in the year that I wanted to earn #sockdoping. I’m more than capable of looking all the gear no idea without the socks so that meant 3rd cat. Joking aside I was keen to get my 3rd cat license so I could stop worrying about points and start racing for decent results.

sock doping 2

Maldon CC Road Race 3/4 – 4 October

First up though, my last road race of the year. I’ve not ridden many road races but I’d felt like it was coming together at the Easterly Leaves in September. A road race is a totally different beast from a 1 hour crit, not least because of the length, but also because they are almost like a chess game on wheels. I’d just been trying to get round them really and gain some experience for next season but it would be good to end the road race season with a decent result.

The course was fairly flat, even for the Eastern region. It had one nasty sharp incline that felt like your legs were turning in treacle when you hit it. The usual early attacks meant that the first lap flew by. A group got a gap on the second lap and started working together. I had flashbacks to the Mid-Suffolk where the early break was never seen again and with it the prospect of any points so I bridged over with another lad. I had just about got past stuffing my lungs back down when the bunch brought us back. It had been worth a punt.

Next thing I knew the bell was ringing. Why am I so far back? The final mile or two went nasty hill, fast gradual descent, tight 90 degree left, then a short sprint.  By the turn I was still too far back (as ever) but I had a clear path to the line which came up far quicker than I expected. Arse, I really must start moving up sooner. I think being new to the road there is almost a nervousness about going too early and blowing up. In reality most of the other guys are in the same place and often those that make the first move gain an advantage that requires everyone else to go that much harder to mark it. At least I got Jamil on the line though so it wasn’t all for nothing!

Andy Sheridan photography: Maldon and District CC road race Cat 3/4 15 &emdash;

Latest edition of ‘Where’s Pete’. He’s there, somewhere in the distance…

  • Strava
  • Avg: 195 watts
  • NP: 224 watts
  •  Avg speed: 40 kph
  • Points: 0 (26th)
  • Points needed: 3

Cyclopark 4th only – 10 October

So then, round 1 of what Matt and I had dubbed the desperation crits. Earlier in the season you could avoid the chaos by riding in the first ten or so wheels. By October the chaos seemed to be everywhere. I’d only ever seen one break get away in a 4th only crit so I was taking a punt, call it an educated punt, by loitering at the back of this one. Matt was doing the right thing and staying in the first 5-10 wheels and doing as little as possible. Fast forward 15 or so laps and we had made it to the 5 lap board. Along the way I’d been overtaken on the grass and Matt had near been forced off the track by some dude trying to ride out the side of the bunch. I mean wtf? Can you see why I want my 3rd cat license? Anyway, the pace picked up and we had a race on our hands rather than a disorganised club run.

On to the final straight and I was near the back of the bunch (there’s a theme developing here). I had moved up on the back straight so I’m not too sure how I ended up here again. A chap ahead of me panicked and gave me a great lead out so I made it back to the pointy end of the bunch by the last 100 metres or so. Nice! The bunch was beginning to spread out ahead so I picked the sheltered right hand side and nailed it. I found myself alongside Matt in the final 10-20 metres with a narrowing gap in front of me. If it had been anyone else I would have bailed but I knew I could trust Matt not to do something daft (could have been an awkward drive home!). We crossed the line practically side by side. Matt was a wheels length ahead and got 7th, I’d managed 9th. Somewhere in the bunch there had been a wheel between ours on the line which is pretty crazy. I left Cyclopark a bit frustrated thinking I could have got a better result, but also encouraged that I’d managed to get a point despite my terrible positioning. Matt was happy, this ended a terrible run of luck for him and a points drought that went with it. He only needed 6th place now to reach 3rd cat. I needed 7th.

  • Strava
  • Avg: 229 watts
  • NP: 252 watts
  • Avg speed:38 kph
  • Points: 1 (9th)
  • Points needed: 3
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Up up up!

The Ronde was followed by a few days bumbling around Paris with the future wife. I even managed to fit a few miles in between the patisserie, baguettes and crepes.

fat tire tour

Obligatory strava

With the Ronde behind me and fresh legs after a week or so off the bike I was keen to get back to racing. The crash in August had set my fitness back and also knocked my confidence a bit. I’d felt fine at the Easterly Leaves but I’d found it difficult to relax at Cyclopark even though it’s a track I know well. Road races tend to be calmer, partially due to the distance but also I think due to the fact that they are held on open roads and people look out for each other. There’s something about a closed road/circuit that makes people do daft things (yes, yes, myself included).

Cyclopark 4th only – 26 September

Jamil and I had trekked down together and devised a master plan. It was hardly rocket science but moving up early would be key.The race started pretty steadily and stayed that way due to a strong headwind down the finish straight. It’s always windy at Cyclopark but I think this was the strongest wind I’d raced in here. It did a good job of keeping the bunch together as any breaks ultimately went pop by the end of the straight. A few attacks stayed away longer but they all came back.

With 3 laps to go I moved up a bit, crossing the line on the last lap I was probably 3rd or 4th wheel. I stole a glance at my heart rate and wished I hadn’t, note to self, ignore data whilst racing. When we hit the back straight a mountain of a man jumped on the front and proceeded to inflict some serious damage. This was good though as we were strung out for the second half of the lap which tends to take away the opportunity for silliness and weed out the weaker guys at the same time. I managed to stay fifth or sixth wheel into the bottom corner before a pedal strike in front of me followed by a massive high side for the poor chap promoted me to fourth wheel. Good example as ever of why it’s so important to get in the first few wheels.

At this point I was starting to think “Hang on, nothing has gone wrong yet”. Mountain man went early and put us in the gutter, does this man ever tire?! With no shelter from the cross wind it was hard work just staying on his wheel. Looking at the data it took 750 watts just to get back on his wheel. A chap from Dulwich Paragon got the jump with about 50 metres to go, I followed and found myself in clear air but unable to get round mountain man before the line. 750 watts for the final 15 seconds wasn’t enough but it got me 3rd place. Yes!!!! Jamil bagged 8th too so a good day all round.

cyclopark_data

Power had been unremarkable, perhaps because of the 6 bpm I found above what I’d thought my max heart rate was? 7 points in the bag though, maybe 3rd cat could be doable this year? Clearly though more suffering was required to make that happen. 186 bpm for a lap proved that points don’t come easily.

  • Strava
  • Avg: 225 watts
  • NP: 253 watts
  • Avg speed: 38 kph

Bonus points for anyone that makes the link to cycling from the photo below?

Berties