Well, great few weeks for me!
On the outset things didn’t look too great. As a 1st Cat roadie and someone who aspires to do well in future Elite UK road races, the total lack of any British Cycling E/1/2 events around August time means things get very frustrating. After being injured at the back end of 2015 and not beginning by training in earnest until January, I was never going to be flying in March, so had to be patient until later in the year.
Unfortunately the whole e/1/2 season seem to have shifter to February-July, which seems crazy! Anyway…… I have been getting myself into Time Trialling as a means of using the good form that I have. Oh and using the mega Shark TT bike and Pro-Lit TT wheels. A couple of weekends ago I had an Open 10 event only 6miles from my house on a good course that attracted some top testers. My TT skills have been steadily improving and I gave the event full beans – I was delighted with a top5 overall but more importantly a time of 19:48. A sub20 min 10TT- chuffed with that, and something many serious testers are proud of.
Back to the road again and to the TLI National championships. TLI is an alternate organisation to British Cycling that organise races based on age categories. I have never raced a TLI event before, but I was impressed with the quality of the event, organisation and crucially the post race cake offerings!
I knew the event was a key one for the team and it is an opportunity to call yourself a British Champion and win a stripey jersey. We as a team have a good history on the TLI events so I had a little bit of pressure to keep up the performances.
The race was based around the village of Audlem and the course was rolling, no real climbs and a fast overall course so it shouldn’t suit me on paper, but with the wind and 75mile distance I knew it would be a grinding down affair. My fitness and strength at the end would come into play. Basically my sprint/kick is not great BUT I can do it over and over and over……I also seem to tire a lot less at the end of races and can do my peak 1min power again after 3 hours.
Early doors in my race (Senior under30) I had missed the key break as I simply was too gassed to go with the move. Not to worry I just went to the back of the bunch and sat in the wheels. The riders I had identified as my key rivals were all still there so I wasn’t overly concerned. At about half distance the break had over 1m20s advantage and some riders on the front of the bunch began to work well to peg the breakaway’s advantage. I refused to work though, to the annoyance of some and sat in the wheels.
I could see the front of the bunch begin to miss turns and the impetus went out of the chase on the 3rd of 5 15mile laps. At this point I attacked and dragged a group of 8 or so clear, leaving my main rivals and the guys who had been working still in the bunch – right job1 done!
I knew then I had to commit and start riding. Many of our 8man group were missing turns and not working at all, but I couldn’t worry about them and along with 3 other riders we pulled the group along and caught the break within half a lap! Job 2 done!
I caught my breath a bit when we had caught the break. I knew before the event I had to go to the line solo as I wasn’t going to in the race in a bunch or even small group. The now merged lead group was around 15 strong. Like I say my peak 1min isn’t great but I can do it over and over…….and this is what I did. With 1.5 laps to go I launched a flurry of digs and EVENTUALLY got clear. 1/3rd of a lap later I was joined by another strong rider from the Isle Of Man and we worked well together over the final 15mile lap.
We were both going really hard to hold off the chase group and our gap grew and grew….Fortunately coming to the line and I had enough to get the WIN! Weyyyyyyy I won a bike race, and was a ‘British Champ’ Job 3 done….
Well thats basically that for me for 2016 road racing. A great way to end the season. I still have some more TTs remaining to keep me focussed on something…..oh and Hill Climbs, but we will see about those closer the time, as I have been hard at it since January and the body AND head is becoming weary.