28 May, 2013

A slacker's apology

Fans, press, cycling community, (okay, mostly family members) this is what you've all be waiting for... The BIG update of what's been going on. I've been awfully terribly naughty and not really had a chance to think about this darned blog for a couple of weeks now but I'm back, with waffling aplenty for you to endure.

First big point is I'm back from Brittany now for a short while as there's a gap in the racing over there and I've picked out a few decent events to ride over here in Great Britain; the National 10 & 25 mile time trials and the BC National TT & RR. I've been up to a lot of different things since getting back, there's the obvious; eating REAL cheese (cheddarrrrr) and enjoying the intermittent hale storms (thanks Gulf stream). But I've also seen a nutritionist (oh fancy-pants!), ridden down the wrong side of the road for a good five minutes before remembering where I am.

Warming up for the National 10 mile time trial

I went to see Gina Boakes a few weeks ago as I wasn't feeling at all myself in the races anymore. In my last road race I'd been in the winning break all day, I felt amazing but when the attacks started coming I had nothing. I was caught and dropped by the bunch! Not cool. She used various methods and a very fancy machine with copper electrodes that you hold onto to diagnose what was going on. Don't worry people, I didn't feel anything, it was a tiny current apparently and something to do with energies and vibrations of the body. I can't say I understood the theory really and I was more than a little sceptical but from the results, and subsequent improvements I'm a believer! Gina discovered that I was lacking in amino acids and also suffering from not ingesting enough electrolytes and salts among other things. It's all useful information and I'm trying to take it on board and use it.

Taking 'stealth fashion' to whole new levels

Last Saturday was the National 10 mile time trial so I'd best report on that quickly. There's not really much that can be said about a short, flat time trial but basically it all went to plan and I did a good ride 'numbers-wise'. Unfortunately I fell a bit short of the win I was striving for, but 3rd place behind the two best time triallists in the country is not half bad I don't think. The margin to the winner was sixteen seconds which isn't much in the scheme of things and I've definitely closed the gap on them since last year. For any super keen beans here is a link to a write up: Nat10Report

So onwards! To a fortnight's time, when the National 25 mile TT is as that's my next target. It'll be interesting to have a rematch and hopefully get a bit more interest from the home crowd here in England. I've got a few other things going on at the moment so I'll report back soon with some (hopefully) interesting updates! Ciao.

10 May, 2013

He came, he saw, he crumbled

I'm back home after a rather disappointing Essor Breton. In hindsight, it wasn't a complete disaster but at the time it definitely felt like one. As those close to me will know (sorry girlfriend and JB for venting on you!) I was in a fairly vile mood throughout the tour. After a few days to reflect I can understand where I went wrong but it doesn't make it any easier for me. Last night lying in bed I was still getting butterflies in my stomach thinking about how I could have won a stage. They're not nervous butterflies though, they're angry ones; maybe hornets would be more appropriate. A belly full of hornets.

Fun and games before the start

Stage 1 went okay and despite not getting a bottle until 140km (it was hot) and the course finish not suiting me too well (it was up a 600m climb) I did what I could. I went for a flyer at 1.5km out from the finish, caught the escapees but then I cracked and we were swept up by the sprinters. I was disappointed but I had plenty more chances on finishes that would suit me much better, why stress?

The finishing hill on Stage 1

A wasted warm up for the TTT

Day two had a team time trial in the morning and a short stage in the afternoon. Everyone reading this will know that I don't mind a sashay on the velo chrono now and then but team events, well, they're a different kettle of fish. Picture in your head a flock of starlings flying in unison, displaying a perfect understanding of one another's motion, divine in their synchronicity. Well, it wasn't like that. It was a shambles. Half way through my Di2 gears stopped working leaving me stuck in the 56:12 just in time for the short steep climb. I changed bikes, never got back on and finished over a minute behind. The afternoon stage ended up being a training session for me, sitting in the bunch as my teammate was up the road.

A great day out

The next day is my most painful recent memory. After surviving well in the wind, staying out of trouble and being at the front at the right times I got to the circuits pretty thirsty. I missed two bottles. Then, ignoring my overall feeling of deadness I attacked 6km from the finish and bridged to the front two. We had about 25 seconds over the bunch and it was looking like the perfect move, until, my legs gave out. On a small rise 1.5km from the finish I couldn't push the pedals any more and the two riders just rode away. One went on to win. I proceeded to break my front mech and go out the back of the bunch.

Bridging to the front two riders on Stage 4

Cleaning up the mess after Stage 4

Final stage, and having built my own spare bike up the night before in the car-park, in the rain, spirits were high in the Dewey camp. During the stage I had the novelty of a different groupset (changing from Shimano to Sram overnight) to keep me amused, as well as the brakes being reversed a la 'continental' way. I didn't literally crash but my morale took a serious nose dive and after being caught out behind the split one too many times it was time to crawl home in the grupetto. The highlight of the tour for me was when, on the finishing circuits, the breakaway group rode past with team leader and all round boss Sam Allen in it as virtual leader on the road! Unfortunately they were clawed back, but it was a gutsy move and one of the best tactical guises of the entire tour to try and steal the lead on the final day. Sam finished a solid 8th overall on GC.

The Mammoth and I, all smiles before the off

Apologies for the overriding depressing feel of this post: I will now draw many good things from the race/up my sleeve.

1) I'm really good at riding when dehydrated.
2) I'm actually stronger than most on the longer climbs, as the pictures below will definitely prove beyond any reasonable doubt.
3) My tan is coming on just great, thanks for asking.
4) I'm supple as a gymnast, according to my ol' soigneur buddy Serge. 

03 May, 2013

Re-remembering the winning ways, and rainy daze

Since my last post I've had another decent week of training and last weekend I had two smaller second category races: well, one and a bit. On Saturday Sam and I rode 45km out to a circuit race and despite some horrendous tactics on my part (missing the break of twenty five riders and having to solo across alone) we both made our way into the decisive break. I was caught out by the different style of lower category racing and that meant I did mince my legs a bit early on in the race. Thankfully Sam was on the ball and took the reins, attacking solo to shred the group, before attacking the trio of him, myself and fellow Brit George Moore to take the win solo. I was a big meanie and sat on George to take the sprint for second. Our elder teammate Fred also clinched 4th so all in all a very good day for the team. It was good fun, although the ride home did get fairly trippy as we drifted in and out of glycogen debt. 

Me looking like an absolute child!

Sunday started out with such promise as we cruised to another local training race with high spirits and the sun on our backs. There was one drawback though. We forgot our legs. The race began, but neither of us really got going. I knocked it on the head about forty minutes in when I had confirmed I was truly turd. Sam lasted a little longer. Still, it had been a tough old week so I was happy to have pushed the boundaries. 

This was before I realised I was ruined on Sunday

Wednesday was a first category race on a circuit in what turned out to be fairly moist weather. My summary of the race would be this. I felt deaddddd for the first ninety minutes, missed the break and the counter break and thought the race was all over. But then.... Then, it started raining and this seemed to oil my joints! I came to life and started to feel better and better. The break was around 45 seconds ahead at this point and I just rode off the front up a hill, taking Sam with me. We were getting good at this! We caught two guys in front and were closing the break but the road was running out. I clipped off alone to try and bridge the final 25 seconds but didn't quite make it, witnessing the winner's celebration from just behind, which is always a little heartbreaking.

A box of broken dreams on Sunday

Nevermind! Off to do the biggest amateur stage race in Brittany on Sunday - Essor Breton. The guy who won it last year, Warren Barguil, (used to live down the road and a local hero) now rides for Argos-Shimano and was smashing it around the Tour of Turkey last week. It will no doubt be an 'experience' and time will tell whether this means good or bad things. Wish me luck!

Ruining my only team socks: a sad day