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…

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  • 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)
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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.

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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!

abberton-2016

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Strava

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!