Everyone who knows me will understand some of the reasons I have been out of circulation but I’m increasingly becoming motivated to get back up to full speed. One example of this is writing a post on my blog and another is the Kinder Dozen fell run which I will be attempting with some very good friends this week. It’s a lovely route of some 35+ km and 3,000 + metres of climbing. A good link to the route can be found here.
It’s Dozen because that’s how many times we will climb Kinder Scout. Each climb is then followed by a wonderful looking descent although that feeling will be short lived. The weather is sounding ok tomorrow although cold and wet but visibility will be crucial to our navigation. Once again, I’ll be using an OSMAPS generated map to lead me round. That is one web service I could not do without.
Now that 2018 has started I really need to begin some new things. Whilst this isn’t entirely new I am going to do the Hopey New Year audax from home again.
This is the route which is on familiar roads but given my last few months it is a new start for sure.
I wanted to be brief but failed, sorry. There’s lots more non-racing bits that I have left out but needless to say we have had a cracking three day holiday.
I guess we all love cycling and the thought of three days cycling in a new part of the country is going to be a thrill. If you layer 4 stages of tough racing over the top of that then you have pretty much the perfect bank holiday imaginable, if you happen to be in the Black Country, and a cyclist. This is exactly what I have just been through along with Andrew Sedgewick (Langsett Cycles RT) and Rob Fowler (Rutland CC).
Stage 1 is a 5k prologue which starts straight up a pretty tough hill. A prologue of this length is a bit like a hill climb and you have to attack all of it from the beginning. Andy was the first Rutlander to go assuring us that he hates prologues. Admitting that he free-wheeled on some of the descents gave us a clue why a normally awesome rider finished mid table with Rob and me not too far behind. The winner of stage 1 was Kris Zentek from Team Chronomaster with a stunning time of 6:44.
Once the results were in and we’d had some food it was straight into stage 2. This was 66k of rolling countryside with some tough digs, rain and hail. Andy punctured early on and was then given a defective replacement wheel which he then had to swap. This meant he was too far back to get back on the group. Terrible bit of bad luck for Andy but he remained positive. A break got away which the yellow jersey holder, Rob and I failed to get in and they stayed away to the end. Rob finished the best of us in 10th with me a couple of places behind and losing a second to him. Stage 2 winner was Craig Battersby from Team Chronomaster.
Day 2 presented us with stage 3 and the longest 88km stage with 1,300 metres of climbing. Both Rob and I were active in attacks and spending time at the sharp end of the field. Andy was climbing well and picked up 9 points in the KOM competition which led him to make a long break with Martin Smith for the final but he was still feeling the after-effects of a recent illness and couldn’t quite get there. Once again, Rob showed his strength and pulled up the final climb and took yet more seconds off me. Stage 3 meant another change in the yellow jersey and this time it went to local club rider Mark Corbett from Worcester St John who had soloed away and had a 2 second margin over Craig.
When the third and final day started the field had shrunk from 39 to 31 with a whole bunch of riders packing in. Rutland never pack and we all left the hotel bright eyed and bushy trailed and eager to start. Well, not really – we were all exhausted but we were ready to race. Andy’s exuberance to score in the KOM competition caught the eyes of some of his competitors and he had been reported for crossing a double white line on stage 3. This seemed most un-sporting and those of you who know Andy will vouch for his riding ability and race craft. Anyway, undaunted we pulled up to the start and once out of the neutralised zone everything got up to race pace with Worcester St John looking in trouble. Andy got away on the first big loop and with Martin Smith and was then joined by Rob. They sped away from the bunch and got on to the first climb. This put Andy into some difficulty and nobody was more surprised than me when I saw him ahead being caught by the bunch. Rob stayed away and must have been pushing the pedals hard because it wasn’t until the 3rd climb before he was caught by the yellow jersey holder whereas I had been spat out the back, as predicted by my team mates earlier in the race. The overall winner was Craig Battersby who, with his team, managed to get back in charge and took a well-deserved win. Rob picked up 5 KOM points and finished 15 in stage 4 and 14th overall.
It felt a privilege to race and ride with this great bunch of vets and Rutland CC riders. Rutland CC has had winners in this race before with Simon Keeton and Darren Otter and I am sure Rutland riders will be collecting a trophies again in Great Whitley.
As the cyclocross season draws to an end there is a lot being said and written about the inevitability of disc brakes coming to everyone. Part of the problem, for me, is that I have seen no evidence to show that disc brakes are superior to rim brakes. There is, perhaps, just one argument that holds water and that is “frame clearance”. After struggling in a couple of CX races towards the end of this season I realise that part of my problem was the gathering of lots of mud around the canti brakes and the frame. This didn’t seem to be a problem to those riding discs. However, the rest of the season I was just fine with my braking setup. This is an excellent article on the subject
It goes deeper into what seems the inevitability that disc brakes are fast becoming the bike industry standard. They’re coming if we want them or not.
One of my goals this year was based on running. I had competed in the Percy Pud 10k twice before in 2013 and 2014 getting progressively closer to the ‘sub-40’ so, can you guess it..? My goal this year was to go sub 40 minutes in the only 10k running race I have ever competed in. It’s been my best year for running and I have already run twice the 2014 distance record of 367km and notched up a little over 800km. This has included a half marathon, a few fell races, 2 OMM lites, the OMM and several more parkruns but also more fell running in general as training. The goal always seemed achievable but I knew it needed some additional and specific training, a race day strategy and a lot of determination.
When the day came I felt woefully under prepared. After picking up an ankle injury during the OMM I was unable to run for the first two weeks of November. This left me with the race day strategy and determination to fall back on. The strategy was to find the 40 minute pacer and stick to his shoulder like glue until about 6km and then move away from him. This was all working fine until about 8km when I could really feel the lack of preparation knowing away at my tired legs. With only 500 metres to go the 40min pacer over-took me at, what felt like, the speed of a bullet. I realised that this is where the determination now took over and quickly adapted my pace to overtake him. The last 500m of the Percy Pud are up a relentless incline and I could see the timer already on 39mins counting inevitably onwards. My legs were completely destroyed by this stage and my breath was coming in hurried and giant gasps. The 40min pacer started to shout “last 30 seconds—-head up—-go for it” and ordered me over the line.
I made it with a gun time of 39:59 and a chip time of 39:53. The relief and the reward were instantaneous and welcome beyond anything else at that moment.
Lessons learnt include:
- Set a goal
- Create a plan that is multi faceted
- Stick to the plan as much as possible
Now I still need to complete a parkrun in sub 19 which I hope is still achievable this year.