28 April, 2012

You're welcome!

I've not got a huge amount to say at the moment, what with living in Belgium (the centre of the universe when it comes to complete nothingness). Therefore I've chosen to share some very special teammate moments I've had recently.

Zombies have to carbo-load too.

It's cool because we weren't in the middle of Bruges and there wasn't a bus full of nuns going past at the time (I admit I made the nun bit up).

"Thing about time gaps is it looks like I lost 14s on the break, not that I attacked the chase group with 4km to go and put 17s into them.
@LlewellynKinch on Twitte · via Twitter

27 April, 2012

House Cru

Gus: The legend truly precedes him.
He took on the King of the ocean, aged ten on a brief swim,
Most people left the water, chose to play in the sandpit,
But he said “I’ve got lengths to do shark boy, so can it!”

Apples: Fruity by name and nature.
A good boy to the core, works the girls, ain’t no hater.
Addicted to the Facebook, he doles out drunken slaps,
I might have punched him in the face but he’s a jolly good chap!

Kinch: The daddy of the family.
He’s smashed a lot of women and has also had a three-
some, with two women. That’s the cool kind.
He’s a dealer of the ‘ting’ but we don’t mind.

Hunt: The bike mechanic extraordinaire.
Hacking cables with a saw the guy just doesn’t care.
At robbing cars and smashing windows he is one of the best,
But at the moment it’s just jerseys and a Prendas under-vest.

Yetman: Just don’t mention his head!
He’s an adequate human being with whom I share a bed.
I mean he’s top bunk and I’m bottom, ‘cause we’re totally not gay,
But his erotic physique is second to none it’s fair to say. (What?)

24 April, 2012

Team Duties

I raced an interclub on Sunday in Affligem and my plan of doing as little as possible until the final 20k went bottoms up when the manager told me to get in the early break. I'd spent the preceding few days psyching myself up to just sit in, rest up, save it for the finale, etc. etc. Same old story really!

I got in every move going to try and sneak off and do what the boss said but nothing stuck. I felt good over the Mur and the Bosberg and was in a big split at the front, which I was convinced was the break of the day, but then guys started attacking each other (why?) and we got bought back. A small group went on the finishing circuits and I clipped off the front with our road captain and a few others in a bid to get across to what turned out to be the winning break. I put in some big efforts but we were chased down by the Lotto team in the bunch (it feels cool to say that at least) and it came to nothing. So that was more or less the end of my legs and I spent the rest of the race slipping and sliding around the bunch. I blew completely with 5k to go and lost about ten minutes on what was left of the bunch (don't tell anyone though because I was given the same time). Classic Dewey! Oh and I nearly forgot to mention we rode through four different storms which included wind, rain and a cheeky bit of hail; good old Belgium. 

'Maybe this break will stick...' Nah.

I'm getting very conscious (because my girlfriend told me yesterday) of how all my recent posts are just about how I do too much in the race, it doesn't work and then I blow up, and I am trying to change my ways. I feel like this is my own personal AA meeting: 'admitting you have a problem is the hardest step', but I've done that now. I just need to sit in in the races now!

Lotto chasing the break, me chasing the wheel in front.

20 April, 2012

Reconnaissance Training

Yesterday Josh, Gus and I headed out to Geraardsbergen to recce the course for Sunday’s race. ‘Twas a characteristically windy and cold day in Belgium with intermittent rain doing it’s best to lift the spirits. I did the gentleman’s trick of sitting on the other two guys because I was feeling pretty empty and then attacking them up the Mur of Geraardsbergen and the Bosburg: all good clean fun! It’s going to be fun racing up such iconic climbs at the weekend and I’m sure I’ll be getting teary eyed and philosophical (for all the wrong reasons).

The mighty Mur

Today’s rest day has so far included such activities as foam roller self flagellation (supposedly for the gain of flexibility), trying to get Caruso the dog to jump onto the balcony from down in the garden and the staple diet of exchanging insults and seeing who can punch the chair hardest. Incidentally it was either Hunt or Yetman. It’s been a rich experience all round.

I hear that it’s been the wettest April on record in England which is nice to know because it’s been atrocious over here too. I’m beginning to get a little bored of horizontal hail - queue lectures from old boys about character building et cetera. A couple of us are off to France next weekend for a race which will be a welcome change of scene, and interesting to see how the racing differs. I’ll report back on Sunday after the weekend. Ciao!

16 April, 2012

Back on top

On Saturday it was my first race back after a few weeks of taking it easy. I was determined to sit in for once and actually save myself for the best sprint I could manage at the end of the race. It turned out that the race was rather more hilly than usual and had a 1.5km climb in it, which made it quite hard to save the legs up there. I had a worrying bodily message before the start of the race when I went for a pee and realised that I was dehydrated; what a schoolboy error!

Phil minding Josh in Bruges.

Naturally, despite being a canny fellow for most of the race, I still started cramping with 40km to go and had to ride ‘gently gently’ and roll onto the wheels. In the sprint I ended up going stupidly early (350m) because a gap opened on the right and I didn’t want to get boxed in, so I switched all the guys behind me (it’s the Belgian way) and did it! I got a good gap but when I hit the uphill bit and my speed reduced to about 20kph with 50m to go a few (about 21) guys came round me.

Aside from the riding (cycling this, bikes that!) I’ve got my friend Phil visiting this weekend which is great fun. We saw the sights of Brussels on Saturday night, and minced around Bruges on Sunday like the annoying English tourists we are so it’s been nice to have some relative normality. I’ll be building up the training again this week before a bigger race on Sunday in Affligem. I’m looking forward to getting back into the routine. Peace out people.

13 April, 2012


So, the last few weeks haven’t gone ideally for me, and at the risk of coming across like a whiney little teenager I’ll do my best to explain why. I was suffering from some fatigue with the amount of training and racing that’s been going down this side of the water and when I crashed last Friday (twice - did I mention?) I cracked a bit. Deep down I’m very much a believer in the old ‘You’re only as good as your last race’ adage, which is stupid I know but something that I can’t quite shake. This tends to lead me into dark corner when it comes to racing as I  think I have to smash every race, otherwise I’ll lose my touch. I knew something was up with my form a few weeks ago when I was feeling tired and sluggish, but naturally I ploughed on regardless in search of results and personal gratification. The problem is that when you’re over here living with a bunch of guys who all race, and everyone knows that’s what we’re here to do, there’s an air of expectant tension when it comes to actually having to perform. No one puts any pressure on anyone else but we all clearly want it, and that adds up to a bit of a head screw.

I think I’m over it now though, thank heavens. It’s taken me a while; four days off the bike, a visit from my girlfriend and plenty of… pancakes, but I think I’m good again. Emily and I spent a night in Lille (which made me realise France is loads better than Belgium) and a couple of nights away from the house in a lushious B & B which was perfect. Having unlimited hot water for the shower (by the way we have very limited hot water here) was incredible!

I’ve been back on the bike for two days now so I’m getting back into the routine of things. My first ride back I did have to double check that I’d got on the right bike because it felt so alien! Onwards and upwards now though; the season is long so I have plenty of time still, I just need to relax and let it happen. 

01 April, 2012

And that's the way the cookie crumbles

Cycling is a damn hard sport. I say this as I’m sitting on the sofa, drinking coffee and watching De Ronde Van Vlaanderen. This might sound like a piss take but I think I need this after what happened on Friday. I’m not alone either; Llewellyn Kinch is also next to me on the sofa, legs up. We both started Triptyque des Monts et Chateaux on Friday, a three day stage race in the Flemish Ardennes, and finished our respective races several hours later. I managed to hit the deck about 20k in, got up and chased back on, hit the deck again at about 40k, got up and chased back on and made contact just before the first climb. 

Nature photography last week, naturist this week.

It was the worst timing possible and over the top I was in the box hanging on to the back of the bunch, the last wheel of the big long line, heading downhill, with a tailwind, at about 70kph. I lasted about 10k on the very back of the bunch and then blew up. Llewellyn did a little better than I did in one sense, he made it to 115k, but he did end up in hospital after smashing his face onto some cobbles. Six stitches later and his face has seen better days, but he’s doing alright. Another of our teammates, the Australian Gus, got taken out by a Kazakh who rode straight into a traffic island with his head down, but he managed to get back on and finish with two broken levers which was impressive.

Kinch faced up to the cobbles.

All in all it was a pretty awful day for the team: none of the remaining riders from the team were in the front groups and therefore are probably out of contention for the GC unless there’s a serious shake up in the final tough stage on Sunday. It was a personal disaster for me too. I couldn’t suffer enough to get back into the race after the second crash; after I’d gone down again I just lay there for a while in disbelief. Having the team manager watch from the car as I slowly unravelled at the back of the race is an experience I don’t want again too soon.