Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hove Park crits in glorious technicolour

Red Kite Cycles made a short edit of Friday night's race in Brighton. They missed my glorious fifth place high-five for Matt. That's life.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The value of a good warm up

Hove Park in Brighton is home to the friendliest summer criterium series I know. There's always a good bunch of spectators, the organiser always thanks us for taking the trouble to come "all the way" down to Brighton, and you invariably get given a beer when you give your number back. You can't really say fairer than that!
It's a cool little circuit too, a lot like Crystal Palace in a lot of ways, only shorter, and slightly less technically challenging. There's one hard corner, one short climb and a long, fast straight into the corner. It's narrow too, so you have to stay near the front to do anything.
Last night Matt and I travelled down there after work. The less said about Matt's race (or lack of it) the better. I felt fresh but a bit odd after travelling about this week for work, flying home the day before. Still, these races are only for 2/3cat riders so I figured I'd still be competitive.
And so it proved when I tried to string it out first time up the climb. I succeeded in stringing it out, but I failed in leaving anything in the tank to actually keep riding with. The next seven, eight or nine laps were hell as I found myself dangling off the back of the fragmented bunch. More than once I told myself I was a goner, and more than once the pace miraculously slowed and I found myself back in the bunch. Oh how I wished I had done what the cleverer riders had done, and brought a turbo trainer along so they could warm up properly by the side of the track while the 4th cats bashed round the circuit.
By the time I caught my breath the break was long gone, four riders all a class above, working well together to lap us after 40 minutes of racing.
I never felt great all race, but after the bunch worked in unison to catch back an escapee (a proper gobby tosser who'd been winding everyone up all race) with six to go, they sat up as they caught him and I spotted a window of opportunity. He who dares, Rodney, he who dares!
I slipped past the leading riders as we crested the hill, dropped into a big gear and rode away. I looked round and I was alone. I hadn't jumped, I hadn't even got out the saddle, I'd just rolled through at the right time.
They were sitting up, tired from chasing down the gobby tosser, and unwilling to ruin their individual chances by going even deeper into the red this late into the race to get me back.
Five laps to go.
I got my head down and pedalled, splitting the course into segments: get in a big gear on the descent, roll it over, save your legs; go small on the lower segment of the climb, save your legs; get into a bigger gear over the crest to get back up to speed for the descent.
It worked, I stayed away. And when I looked at my garmin after the race, it turned out the final five laps prior to the final lap (where I knew I was safe so rolled round a bit slower) were only 1sec slower than the first five laps where I was in so much trouble.
That tells me my big problem was a lack of warm up. Maybe if I had my turbo with me I'd have been in that break?
Hove Park crits are done for 2011 now, but I'll be back next year — they're about the most fun you'll have on a Friday night in Brighton if you ask me.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Vicious Beastiality

Pics by Aodan Higgins
With the cyclocross season fast approachng, some of the Vicious Velo odd-squad have been racing at Beastway, the mid-week MTB race series at Hog Hill. Paul Sheers started it all, then last week I started, and this week, Ben and Claire joined the fun.
At one point this week we had a Vicious Velo chaingang battering round the course, with us all on different types of bike, Wacky Races style: Paul on a lightweight carbon XC race bike, me on a steel singlespeed and Benji on his cross bike complete with tubs and canti brakes.
In the end Paul and Claire punctured out, guttingly for Claire whilst leading the women's race. Me and Ben still managed to win at least three categories: first singlespeed, first baggy shorts and first cross bike.
Only one of those categories is actually counted by the judges (first singlespeed) but the moral victory of the other two unoffical categories is reward enough.
With any luck we can persuade Vicous Kev, PsycheDelia Beddis, Birdy, Matt Hinshelwood and Gary Lingard to join our ranks before the end of the season. They haven't got long — last race at the end of July. Boo!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Searching for inspiration?

Then look no further than this RAD lot. The first badass cycling gang, Smashing shit up.