In my latest post I talked about how I reached my 2nd Cat Licence in June 2014. Well from here on in, there are two options ahead of you. Move forward, commit and go for it. Or stay in local racing and don’t go for the big time.
I decided I wanted to go for the big time. Showbiz 😎
Its not all showbiz behind the scenes though.
My first race as a 2nd category rider was the NCRA 2 day. An event brought back after a couple of years away. It was my first 2 day event and I actually rode really well. As it went on it was also what turned out to be a very hot weekend however, it started with heavy rain for Saturday mornings first stage. A 3 mile time trial. I did it in under 6:25 and 365w (5.59w/kg). Truly phenomenal, and I think it is still among my best power outputs for that period. It was enough to finish in the top 15. That may sound like much but with my weight it was very good. There was also some very good testers in the field. I would imagine it would have took about 6w/kg to win that TT.
The rain had stopped for the afternoon, and it was very humid and dry. Jack Beezer was the race leader. James Gelsthorpe and Joel Lewis stayed away late on to take the top 2 places. The bunch sprint was won by Jack Beezer. I vividly remember having cramp with about 5 to go, it hurt a lot. Something I would put down to dehydration now but back then I didn’t really know why it happened. I was able to ride through it but I could not get ups there for the bunch sprint and finished inside the peloton.
The race was a points based system for winning the overall rather than time. That had an effect on the third stage next day. A 58.6 mile race around Southwick. After one lap I put in a big attack on what would be the finishing climb (562w for a minute), stringing out the bunch. Not managing to break it I went again on the descent. This time I was allowed to go and the bunch had slowed right down which allowed me to get a big gap quickly.
I was off and this was going to be the race move. Justin Garon from Arbis Colbert was the first rider to bridge over and then Joe Clarke. I cannot describe how much pain I was in at that moment when they came across and I relied on them heavily for a while. I was paying the price for a big effort I might not be able to afford. I had bought my ticket though and they also accepted me so we rode on. The last ticket buyers where Andrew Cartledge and Mike Cowland. For at least two laps I was being carried in that break before I could pull regular turns.
Once I got into a rhythm however things got better. As it was a points based overall the bunch were content to allow us up the road. We got to the finale and we knew this was it and slowed down. Again though for me, cramp, this time on the other leg! I just rode through it though which probably isn’t recommended but did it anyway. I just kept pedalling and we got to the climb and I almost forgot about it. Waiting for someone to make the first move it was Mike Cowland! I just couldn’t catch him. I did however finish 2nd! A great ride which was to put me 8th overall. Arbis Colbert took the top three with Jack Beezer, Justin Garon and Joel Lewis.
I had proved myself a good local rider and following the race I had a bit of a breather from racing. Apart from Time Trialling the only other road race I did for about a month was the Cycle Live GP in Nottingham which was in late June, I was originally down for the regional omnium but had gone up a category before the closing date which meant I was ineligible. I had the option of the National B race or have a refund. It was a Crit and baptism of fire to say the least! I was dropped after 20 minutes of hanging on. I finished the race with one other rider and I think we were lapped probably more than once.
Despite this, I still had some plans and I thought I would give National racing another go but before these plans were to take place, it was just a good mid season break. That included a weekend away to see the Tour De France Grand Depart in Yorkshire. This was a great weekend away. I traveled up with Bunny Bunn and Matt Plews. Setting up the tents on arrival in the morning following a five hour drive to get there through the traffic we got set for the weekend. I actually went on a ride that evening with Jon Durnin which included quiet a bit of rain! Most on people thought I was a bit crazy as I had been out at 5am that morning so another ride in the rain didn’t make a lot of sense to most!
The following day we were scheduled to watch the Tour. We went to Kettlewell which included a large climb to the top of the valley from Pateley Bridge. Myself and Jon knew what was in store but everyone else did not, and we did warn them. I would also admit I suffered a bit on that morning ride but we all got to the top.
Waiting in anticipation the caravan came and what was a party atmosphere. Once the tour had past we traveled to the next stop which included a 1 in 4 climb. I remember it was long enough to really hurt and we almost missed the riders going through the next village we were scheduled to be at. On arrival back to the campsite we had clocked up over 40 miles during the day.
Another similar day followed on Sunday. It was really a great weekend and it is hard to describe the excitement from the local towns and villages which the Tour had brought along with it.
Back to racing, and it was the Ken Lush Memorial Road Race. My first open road Nat B. I did not know what to expect and I think I counted how many 2nd cats/1st Cats and Elites were in the start list over 10 times before I got there to see if I had much of a chance of getting over 30 miles. I performed well before hand and should have given myself more credit but its not something easily felt at the time. Especially after the Cycle Live GP.
It was a different story however on the road were efforts were more suited to my attributes at the time. A break was away and I am not sure how many was in it but I wasn’t not to bothered either. I just wanted to get round and to my surprise coming to the finish I felt I could get up there. I gave the sprint ago which had a sharp and small incline just before the finish. I came away with 13th. Delighted with the success that I could ride at this level!
Next up, the Duncan Murray. A WVCC race. I was on the start lie with club mate James Moore. All in all it was a bit of a strange race and one of those where if you’re up the road you’re quids in if you’re not then you’re out the race and in this case the bunch just disintegrated. I did get round but one of the last finishers.
Getting back into it races they were coming thick and fast. Rockingham and a 2nd place from Stuart Travis in a bunch sprint in one of the handicap races midweek and then a drive up to Yorkshire to ride in the Rutland Tumby Road Race. Again I made the break and spent most of the race up to the road. Remembering something I was taught by Phil I suggested to other riders we swap the rotation of riders according to the wind direction. They also thought that was a good idea, and it was one of the best working breaks I have been in.
However towards the end of the race the move was rode back, something at the time I was not expecting to happen but it did. The race then exploded with riders in ones and two clipping off in the last five laps. Riders were all over the road and the biggest group was the bunch. Stuart Marshall won the race and I was almost on his wheel when he rode off! I still think to this day that if I had put more effort in I could have followed him, and maybe got something a little bit more out of the race. Even if I could not follow him to the line. I didn’t need to to get into the top 10! I ended up back in the what was left of the bunch and finished outside the top 15 however I still had the bug.
But first it was Ride London on the 10th August where it is to be continued. This was a big year!