I’ve not written a blog post for some time – either I’ve been training a lot, or I’ve been lazy – a bit of both actually!
After the road race in Cumbria I felt fatigue – grumpy, niggling muscle strains and no motivation to train. So I took a weekend off from racing, I was down to do a tough 2/3/4 road race in Northumberland but I recognised my body needed rest, or at the very least, less intensity. It’s been a long year, I’m still a new cyclist and pretty new to exercise so I can’t push hard all the time. What I must say is I did do the Gosforth Road Club confined road race; all club members can compete and the race is handicapped for fairness. It was here I felt fatigue, I was doing fine but felt tired, and had a knee strain (not something I usually get). I came home second to Nick Spencer, my training/racing buddy – a much stronger and confident rider (now 2nd cat, well done!) – I was gutted when I crossed the line, I lost Nicks wheel a fraction coming round a quick corner and that was the race over.
Garmin Stats: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/203850103
Thankfully there’s always another race to improve at! After my rest period I headed to Harrogate for a hilly 3/4 road race. The course was pretty suited to me as it consisted of either ascending or descending, not much in the way of powerful flat racing. 60 odd riders took to the start on a pretty nice day, I think I even sweated in the heat! I relaxed in the bunch a fair amount and moved up towards the end of the race, cycling up the outside of the bunch I quickly noticed something – I wasn’t feeling as tired as most of the riders – you become accustomed to reading fatigue in the style and faces of riders. Most decent cyclists ride with the poker face, you breathe through your nose when someone looks at you, you stare straight ahead, you don’t blink – even if the pain inside your legs is killing you. Eventually, at your limit, you can’t put this act on and your tongue comes out, or you rock from side to side, or your head lurches to one side…I noticed some riders were in this place…great! Things got a bit nervous up the final mile to the finish, I think people were ditching themselves into verges trying to move up but I picked a good wheel, stayed strong and relaxed. The road got steeper (12%) towards the finish and this is where I went, pressing hard on the pedals and getting into a good strong position in the drops – I really motored up here and managed to come third, grabbing myself £40 and some more points towards my licence. A good, strong day.
Garmin Stats: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/206939590
The following weekend I raced down near Darlington at another 3/4, this was a flatter course than the previous week. I’ve never seen so many crashes at a race, and it is not one I’ll do next year, the lanes are far too narrow and twisty for a road race, with minimal in the way of scooter/car support. The first lap was raced at a hard pace, which saw the sizable bunch (around 60 riders) reduced, this first go round the lap didn’t leave much hope for me, it wasn’t hilly in the slightest and gaining any advantage would be really tough. On the last lap there was an almighty pile up, bicycles and riders everywhere, I narrowly missed going down and once I’d twisted my way around the carnage I had to ride at a decent pace to catch the bunch up, which was about 15 riders strong. A number of decent riders tried attacking at this point of the race, and the winner eventually got away about 5 miles from home, a really strong ride! The rest of us would sprint it out, unfortunately I had to brake pretty hard coming in to the last corner (I tried to cut it, before realising that wouldn’t be ideal!) and that meant I lost a number of bicycle lengths. I finished 9th, a decent result but as so many times this season I was left wanting a bit more.
Garmin Stats: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/209607055
And that was that. Without a car, or anyone to share with I could make no more races, stuck half way between Cat 3 and Cat 2 – I would of made Cat 2 if I could of made it to a few more races but that’s the way it was! Now to build on this season and try and win more races next year!