Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I had perhaps my best ever start in Southampton on Sunday. Starting from the fourth row, I somehow snuck my way through a whole heap of riders to find myself up in the top 20 at the end of the first lap. Unbelievable. Kevin was stood trackside yelling at me about how great the situation was, and I believed him. I was up with the strong guys, I just had to keep it going.
One lap later, things started to go pear shaped. I was getting knackered; I'd been punching above my weight, and I was starting to get hit back. Billy Whenman and Darren Barclay got across to me on the only real descent of the circuit, and as I tried to get round the hairpin at the bottom of the hill, I caught my STI on the course marking post and knocked myself off.
The group rode away as I untangled myself.
I sprinted off, but with the foresight that I needed to relax for a bit and recover if I wanted to avoid making mistakes. The errors kept coming though, and I crashed twice more on the next lap before I pulled my finger out and started riding well again. The whole race, I was up and down like a yo-yo — literally and figuratively.
I found myself riding round with Andrew Nichols, and together we caught Mike Cotty with about three laps to go. Things were looking good for a while and I took the lead. Nothing much happened from there on, except first, Cotty rode away — fair enough, he's a very good athlete — and then on the last lap, Nichols dropped me. He's a skinny little under 23 who goes up hills somewhat easier than me. Oh well. I came home in 31st, outside the points, so technically no better than a DNF. What a load of bollocks.
Realistically, it was quite a positive ride as I had an amazing start and I was mixing it with some good riders all race. Negatives were the lapses of concentration and the lack of strength in the final. Lessons learned — more miles needed, more skills required.
Two weeks till Bradford, scene of my first decent ride at this level when I came top 30 at the 2009 National Champs. At last year's Trophy however, I had a thoroughly shitty ride, so who knows how I'll go. One thing — my fingers are crossed that fewer than 10 Belgians turn up in Yorkshire. They're taking all the points scoring placings and ruining my ranking!
Thursday, November 25, 2010
I sent off my rotten Dugast Rhino to FMB last week, and then this arrived by UPS this morning. Totally unexpected to get it so soon, and an amazing service as I was really expecting everything to be done on a French time scale. It wasn't cheap, in fact it would have been less costly to buy a new Dugast Rhino or new FMB by the time you've factored in postage costs and the bank charges for money transfer (they don't take credit cards on the FMB website). It's worth it though as the FMB comes with the carcass pre treated to prevent rotting so it should be more durable than the Dugast one. Money well spent I hope.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
A luckluster race at the National Trophy last weekend was saved by sneaking a sprint finish for tenth place, a small victory in and otherwise poor race for me. Although starting well from the front row of the grid and keeping it together through the first few turns I lost motivation in my legs, but more importantly in my head, and was unable to keep up with the leaders. By the end of the first lap any hope of another top 5 had vanished along with any fight that I had left in me.
All became clear on the long drive back south to London, I felt worse and worse during the journey and was barely able to unpack the car. By the evening I felt terrible and was sick all night. I've only just started to feel better two days later. At least I know that it wasn't my lack of race fitness causing me to feel so unmotivated and weak, when you get ill, that's it, nothing you can do but to sit it out. Bring on Southampton in a fortnight, I've got unfinished business.
Andy Jones's photo here on cycling weekly illustrates my mood after the race perfectly
On a more positive note I'm really excited about getting Vicious Velo off the ground for 2011 and hoping we can get the new kit sorted out in time for Nationals in January. We're bound to get noticed...
Monday, November 15, 2010
Mallory Park has an unenviable reputation as a venue that eats bikes, riders, and the enthusiasm of all who step over the threshold. I'm glad to say that I, my bikes and most of my enthusiasm for cyclocross are still intact, despite a completely mediocre result.
I ended up coming 28th yesterday, which on paper is my second best result at a National race, but I still feel a bit disappointed. I never really got going in the race — a lack of traction and enthusiasm being the main culprits. The Vittoria XM tubs I'm using have no central ridge to them, unlike the hallowed Dugast Rhinos I borrowed from Kevin to use in Ipswich, so I was finding that I had very little cornering grip on the greasy, flat grass corners and cambered straights that made up much of the Mallory course. That lack of confidence meant there were only a few places on the course where I was able to really push on the pedals without fear of crashing. Excuses excuses...
Next round is Southampton in two weeks time. I'm hoping for a return to the top 25.
Photos are all by Dave Haygarth, who came fifth in the vets. Loads more on his Flickr