A diary of my experiences

Radeon-Bike Science RT Road Race

“The most hilly race in the calendar.” One of the rumours that excited me most about this round! As the course style would likely determine the end result, we thought it would be a good idea to drive the 12 mile route. The climbs were quite short, certainly not Alpine. Less than two minutes.

In previous rounds, as a team we would often try to make the race as hard as possible, as soon as possible, then fire a rider up the road into a break away. This round we decided we were going to wait for other teams to make the first move and then we could control the break aways advantage. Doing this means we could send a rider up the road when it really matters, at the end of the race!

The first 8 miles were steady, with the normal solo attacks stopped before they had even started. We entered the foot of the biggest of the three small climbs, the pace was hard but consistent and I was hanging towards the rear end of the bunch as I wasn’t thinking of showing myself until the latter part of the race. This was a big mistake, as soon as we crested the climb the pace shot up! there was a strong cross wind on a 2-3% descent. Gaps were opening up all over the place in front of me. Imagine the finale of stage 11 in this years tour de France where Sagan attacked with Froome in the cross winds, only I was one of the poor riders who was caught out in the wrong place. I was on the rivet peddling flat-out at 42mph bridging across each gap, thankfully as the break away formed, it slowed down a touch and I was able nestle myself back into the main bunch.

After the panic the break away was able to pull a solid 1:40 advantage on the bunch. Jim Jones, Gareth Turner and I set out to drag the break back close enough for Matt Woods to bridge across, or counter attack if the break was caught.

We were 30 miles into the race, the break was still holding its advantage at around 1:30 when I heard the bad news that Matt had punctured. After spending most of the race on the front I decided there’s no point bringing the break back for some one else in the bunch, so on the third time up the climb I drove it hard, only checking behind as I got to the top. I had a small gap. I carried on pushing down the descent to try to consolidate my lead. The bunch had given up the chase and my gap suddenly grew quickly. I road at threshold for 3/4 of a lap trying to bridge over to the break. I got within 20 seconds.

Looking over my shoulder I saw another small chasing group of 3 behind me. I kept riding at tempo letting the group slowly catch me as I thought I would have a better chance of catching the break with a little help. But even with 4 riders we werent able to close that last 15-20 seconds.

On the final climb to the finish I tried to ride Colin off my wheel, I quickly realised he was too strong for this to work so I eased off again and waited for Colin to make his move. With about 100 meters to go he went, I was able to hold his wheel, with about 20 meters to go I tried to go round him. But I left it too late and he beat me by a wheel! With the 4 riders in the break away meaning I came 6th. Considering the disaster of a race I was pretty happy with the result!



Ride 24/7 Cricklade Kermesse

Overnight we went from March to July, after a largely underwhelming summer the sun decided to really show its power on the day’s road race; it was quite a shock to the body. The Cricklade Kermesse is the shortest road race in the Cotswold league, but its by no means the easiest. Fifteen laps of a rough pothole ridden circuit, with a KM long 5% drag every lap makes for some very difficult racing.

The first few laIMG_1256ps were fast, with lots of people trying to make early moves, the wind was hard to read and staying away was not easy! The road surface had already taken its first few victims, with at least one loud bang as a tyre exploded through a hole. I’m fairly sure a crash was caused by a catastrophic rim failure at some point.

After five or six laps there was a small break away group of four up the road, only ten to twenty seconds advantage. I was working on the front to keep control of the break, not so much to bring them back but to keep them within easy reach. This was quickly disrupted by a scary moment when two horses spooked on the other side of the road just as we started the decent. The commissaires rightly decided to neutralise the race, by doing this however really caused issues with the advantage the break had. AlthougIMG_1207h they stopped them too, the gap stretched from twenty seconds to over a minute within a lap.

With about five laps to go and the break still at arround a minute, I moved myself towards the front with Jim Jones to try to bring it back to give Matt Woods some sort of chance to jump across. Over the next 3 laps I was pulling 500w a minute at a time; the break away was getting closer and they started to panic as two of the breakaway were dropped and swallowed by the peloton. With two laps to go Matt attacked off the front. Thankfully my job of chasing was done, instead I was controlling the bunch, trying to remain second or third wheel so I was able to mark counter attacks and disrupt the chase.

No luck! Matt was caught on the final assent up the climb. Shortly after Colin Parry from Ride 24/7 attacked. As Colin was also a threat to the Cotswold league overall I knew I had to put one more effort in to IMG_1255close him down.

The two remaining riders from the break away just about managed to hold on for the win. Colin was caught as the sprint started to wind up. I was on the front as we turned to the final 400m, a few riders went too early as there was quite a strong head wind. Matt managed to cut his losses and take 5th or 6th while I just about managed to hold my position to take 12th.


Cheltenham and County Road Race

The run of uncharacteristically good weather throughout the first three rounds of the Cotswold league finally ended; we were all shivering waiting to start in the poring rain. I had been looking forward to this race from the start of the season due to the challenging terrain which suits a lighter rider such as myself and I wasn’t going to be letting bad weather change anything.

The race was neutralised for a short distance from the HQ to the base of the finishing climb. The climb was just over a mile long at about 4%, so by no means difficult. The first time up the climb the pace was steady, just enough to quickly wa13415659_1019976001414248_5999321394939800829_orm up. I got myself to the front for the short sharp decent that followed as I didn’t fancy a bunch decent in the wet right at the start of the race!

I had spoken to Matt Woods during the first lap, and we decided to try to break the bunch up the climb. The turn into the climb was extremely slippery, this was apparent when a couple of riders seamed to slip off in slow motion a few meters in front of me. I took to the front of the peloton up the climb and raised the pace to 18-20mph, I had Tony Kiss on my wheel as he was aiming for the KOM points. He sprinted to the crest of the hill to battle the points with a rider from Dream Team Cycling. I repeated these hard efforts up the climb for the next three laps, eventually the elastic in the bunch snapped, leaving little over 20 riders in the main group. On the fourth lap, I went to do the same again, only this time I ended up gaping the bunch on my own. I made to decision to push on solo as it should force a counter move from another team that Matt or Tony could jump onto.

While I was away, I spotted another rider who was up the road from earlier on in the race, I wasn’t actually aware that someone slipped off the front. He still had around 30 seconds on me and I wasn’t really closing down on him. After crossing the line for the bell lap, still on my own, I looked behind me and saw Colin Parry and Rory Gilling bridging across with Matt on tow. I didn’t have much legs left at this point and was glad to see them! The moment I was joined, Matt attacked, Colin and Rory were unable to respond. I jumped on the back of the pair and let them tow me round. We caught the lone rider around 30 seconds after Matt, he was able to jump on the back of us.
13403324_1019978598080655_8679755407971923833_oComing into the bottom of the climb for the last time, I knew if I rode it hard as before I would be able to take 2nd place. I went for it from the bottom, looking at my power and hoping I could hold it! First Rory cracked and lost my wheel, colin shortly followed. Problem is, just a few peddle strokes later it was my turn to crack, my legs had nothing. The pair was able to slowly claw me back and get back on my wheel. The peloton was just seconds behind. Rory and Colin jumped past me, I stood to attempt to follow and could hardly stand let alone follow! I managed to roll the line and take 4th place. Rory managed to out sprint Colin to take 2nd. Matt finished with an impressive lead!

It was a brilliant race! with a well deserved win for Matt and the team! Will Crofts worked hard battling within the remains of the peloton and managed to win the bunch sprint to take 6th.

Time Trial… The Addiction

There is  just something about time trialing, racing at its simplest, or so you would think. Although a TT race is just you against the clock and the strongest rider will usually win, there is more too it than that. It only takes a few minutes and over hearing a few conversations at your first TT to realise it’s rather complicated. Everything from the; amount of times you have to re-morgage your house for the equipment you own, flexibility, body position and even how much air you put in your tyres.

I did my first 10 mile TT last year on my road bike and posted a time of 25:25, I showed up the following week and took 40 seconds off. That one improvement is all it took, I was hooked, first came a set of clip on bars followed by a skin suit. By the end of the year, with this set up I managed a personal best of 22:50.

For the 2016 season I’ve decided to take time trailing a bit more seriously. I did a substantial amount of training to improve my FTP over the winter, with hope I will see the rewards throughout the season.

I wasn’t planning on buying a dedicated TT bike but the temptation was always there, it became a sort of habit after returning home from a race that I would trawl through the eBay ads lusting over the second saving rigs that

Photo by Ted Parrott

I couldn’t afford! That was until I was lent a bike…
The weather was good with a light cross tail wind on the outward leg of the u48 course. Perfect really. I actually felt a bit sick while waiting to start, probably to do with the expectations to perform well. The bike was uncomfortable and too big for me, but I could get my self into a good aero position, I was just a bit worried whether I was going to be able to sustain it. By the end of the first strait I knew I could be on for a good time, my legs felt good and my average speed was over 30mph. I crossed the finish line, press stop on the Garmin, The time was 21:08 almost 40 seconds quicker than my previous best.

Within 24 hours of that ride, I was driving to London to pick up my own TT bike. And within 26 hours I was home and in the dog house with the other half. I guess moving out is going to have to be put off that bit longer.  My aim this year is to smash through the 21min mark, preferably by some margin.

The new bike, 2011 Giant Trinity




South Cerney Road Race

As a South Cerney resident, I wanted to do well in my home race, only problem was is that its a pan flat course with barely a rise. so it was very  unlikely to be my day. The team gathered together at the HQ to head out for a warm up lap and talk over some ideas. I suggested that I try to get into an early move and pick up the primes laps within a break away and Matt was going to follow any attacks from people who were dangerous to the series overall.

The start of the race was neutralised from the start/ finish line for about 2 miles. From lap one we were throwing riders of the front. First Jack Thompson had ago, partially thanks to the camera bike his go on the front was short-lived. Gareth Turner went next, once caught Jim Jones attacked. The peloton wasnt letting anything get away easy, Jim was dragged back after a mile or two, It was then my turn to go, I was followed by Sam Adey and a Bristol City rider. We never got more than 5 seconds on the bunch. Just 13324263_10209508240327658_2048585898_obefore the peloton was able to swallow us up I attacked again. I was able to get clear. Now what? I was on my own off the front. The dream would be to solo it for the win, I had 40 seconds on the rest of the race and I would be lying if I didn’t think about going for it. I was still on my own when it was time for the first sprint lap. The plan of taking the King of the Sprints was going well so far. On the forth lap I checked over my shoulder and for the first time I saw people. Not the peloton happily, but a three rider counter attack. I was invited to work with them and push the break aways advantage. I was able to out sprint the rest of the break away and took the maximum point for the second sprint lap. When it came to the final sprint lap I was already on the front taking my turn so g13313561_1113897588633128_2066829880_oot nipped to the line and only managed second. But I was confident that was enough to take the King of the Sprints prize.

Back in the peloton both Bath and Ride 24/7 were chasing hard to bring us back, I had a suspicion that this would be the case as there wasnt a rider represented in the break from either team. So after the sprint laps much to my companions annoyance I stopped rolling through and doing turns.

We were caught with two and a half laps to go. As soon as we were attacks from all teams were going. Out of all the attacks only one was finally allowed some room. Tom Grigson riding for Radon Bike Science who’s solo attack would actually end up being the winning move.

The final bell lap was the slowest lap of the race, probably also the most dangerous. Riders were all trying to move up but not be on the front, so we ended up being spread across the whole road.

13316941_1117411228279180_4189686530557231258_oThe pace suddenly shot up when the finish line was within a mile and riders went for early attacks. The final sprint was won comfortably by Gareth, shame it was only for second place.



Gloucester City Road Race

Bad news on arrival. Finding out they have changed the route last-minute so as not to have the hill finish; the whole reason I entered this race in the first place. The route was exactly the same as the first round as the Cotswolds league, just one lap shorter. It was sunny with 20% chance of rain forecast. so I was debating the arm warmers. Gladly I wimped out and wore them as the weather was horrendous!

I found that the way this 3rd and 4th cat race was road was very different to the Regional A races of the Cotswolds league. If anything it was harder. Due to the race now being a sprint finish I knew the only way I stood any chance was to be in a break away. This is the way the race differed, no mater how anyone attacked the bunch instantly 13262095_1567263866909696_47519168_opanicked and chased it down. It was as if everyone on almost every team wanted to be in the brake. After about 10 hopeless attempts to get a gap between Will Croft, Sam Adey and I, It was looking highly likely for a bunch sprint. There was also a bit more dodgy riding within the peloton, the rain didn’t help either. At one point going up a rise the pace slowed to the point that a dozen riders including myself crashed into each other, bending one of my spokes and knocking my wheel out of true.

Throughout the race Jim Jones had been making solo moves of his own, this was to work out the sorts of speeds the bunch was able to move and what sort of gap a break would need to succeed. On the second to last lap Jim put in another one of his attacks stringing the bunch up a small uphill drag, he was caught just over the top, before the pace could slow I went over the top of him. I had a gap, but I knew I couldn’t do the last 13-15 miles on my own! So I held back just enough to allow someone to bridge
across. He caught me just after the short climb. We worked together through the bell. We had maybe 30 seconds. I wasn’t convinced we could hold it, but I knew I had to give it my all.

Back in the bunch Jim was policing the pace. Trying to keep it below 25-26mph to help keep me away.

We had about 2 m13221134_1006774692705064_8687203494389359477_oiles to go, the bunch was really moving at this point and we were back in sight. I knew the finish was going to be close! I took to the front to put one last effort to stay away, I managed to unintentionally pull a gap on my break away companion. This showed he was at his limit. I eased off to allow him to catch up and take the front, 200 meters to go, I looked back and saw the bunch closing down fast, 100 meters to go, I opened my sprint and managed to take the win by about a bike length.

Seconds later the bunch sprint came to the line being led by Jim to take a well deserved third.

Cotswold Veldrijden Road Race

I preferred the late afternoon start. 1:00pm. Gives you enough time to eat and chuck everything in the car, and hopefully not forget anything. The first round I forgot my drink, and then the next race I forgot my Garmin. This time though, unbelievably I had everything! It was a warm day with very little wind. The course could almost be classed as rolling with a leg sapping drag to the finish line.

The race was neutralised out of the race HQ to safely get us on the circuit and another mile or so until we crossed the start/ finish line for the first time. The pace shot up as a few hopefuls attacked from the gun. It was all in vain though as quickly as the race had started it was stopped again by a herd of cows that decided that now was the best time to cross the road.

The bunch stayed as a whole for the next few miles after, with riders chatting and laughing about the whole ordeal. It wasn’t until we reached Malmesbury, where the road drags up a bit after exiting the round about, this is where Jack Thompson attacked over the top with a Bath CC and a Radon rider. 13262303_1107433029279584_857899361_oThe peloton let the gap go, without much in terms of a counter. As a three-man break is very unlikely to succeed from this early in the race, Tony Kiss, Rory Gilling and I decided to bridge across to the brake to make it a group of 6.

Shortly after joining together the radon rider punctured leaving us with a group of 5. 3 of which were Performance cycles, which put us in a very good situation. The miles ticked by with the nerves and uncertainty that come with the feeling of being c
hased by the raging peloton.

We were about halfway round the final lap, one of the motorcyclist gave us a time gap of around 2 mins, which was perfect, but by no means safe.Tony, Jack and I had decided on a plan of attack that we were ready to perform in the final 3 miles. When suddenly out of nowhere we were joined by James Stewart, Matt Woods, Hayden Burton and Sean Townsend. This came as a big surprise to the brake away and confused the situation. The motorcycle gave us no information about a chasing group.

When we reached the 3 mile point, I put in my attack as planned, and managed to get a bit of a gap, but not enough to shake the fresh legs of Hayden. I continued to pull for about half a mile or so before I decided to sit up a bit as he was refusing to pull through. This allowed Rory to catch us up. Almost immediately He put in an attack to try to pull a gap, but both Haden and I were able to respond. I glanced behind and saw Sean closing down on us. Fearing of losing the podium altogether, I took to the front, sacrificing any sprint my legs might had left to make sure we weren’t caught. Hayden managed to put in a strong sprint over the top of me to take the win. With the emotions smashed from loosing, I didn’t have anything left to sprint and Rory took second and I followed for a close third.

Overall it was a good result for Performance Cycles, With 5 riders all in the top 10, myself on the podium and putting Matt Woods in the overall leaders jersey.  It just wasn’t as good as it could have been.

Thruxston Summer Series Prolog

It was a bitterly cold evening of racing thanks to the 30mph winds at the Thruxston motor circuit. I was in the 3rd cat only race. After a poor attempt to warm up in my hoody, it was time to take to the start line.

I was in the second row and was eager to sprint away from the gun but instead I had a rather embarrassing clip in attempt which instead almost left me falling out the back. Not the best start. After composing myself I started to move up and attacked off the front to test the field. I had a small gap for around half a lap. At least now I was finally warm! On the second lap another small attack went up the road a bit, it was a group of six, quite a dangerous number, so I took the front to shut it down before it could become anything. Soon after closing the gap Ride 24/7 junior Josh Price made a small attack. No one seamed to want to put the effort in to close it down, I didn’t want to be the rider to respond to every move. I made the decision to sprint across to him, making sure I didn’t take anyone else with me.

It took a hard 2-3 minute effort to catch him, IMG_1951.JPG
thankfully when I got over to Josh he was able to put in a strong turn on the front which allowed me to get my breath back. The gap was solid and we both knew this brake should stick if we worked well together. 7 laps remained of the 2.3 mile track. On the down hill
section where we were reaching speeds of 35+ mph Josh was struggling with the pace, so we worked out that the most efficient way to work together was for me to take the fast tailwind down hill and for Josh to take to the front on the uphill section and we would share the horrendous block headwind part.

This worked well and we kept a substantial gap. When it came to the last lap it was time to stop working together and let the ride 24/7, performance cycles rivalry show. I could see Josh was a going to be strong in a sprint and knew he would probably beat me, so when we came to the fast section of the corse for the last time I used my 53/11 to my advantage and went full gas and managed to ride away from him. I came onto the finish straight and enjoyed my first win of the year.

The stamped13091744_1095022527187301_275561447_oing bunch sprint followed around 30 seconds later where team-mate Will Crofts managed to elbow his way to 6th place. 

Rob Willmott Road Race 2016

Round one of the Cotswold league. My first road race of the year. It was a cold but sunny start, with very little wind, overall good racing conditions.

The start of the race was neutralised to get image1
down the hill to the A417, to be fair this was probably the sketchiest part of the race, with sharp braking and nervous riders. I started near the back of the bunch and had to spend the first few miles getting closer to the front as I wanted to try and follow some of the early attacks. The first few attacks were small and negative and didn’t stick. I had a gap with a couple of riders for around 5 minutes that was never going to work as no one believed in it. As soon as we were caught there was quite a large move including Tony Kiss which would become the successful brake.

As most teams had at least one rider in the lead group the pace in the peloton settled to a steady pace. I just sat in at this point as there was no point in me trying to close the gap with Tony up the road. The next few laps just ticked by with very little happening.

On lap five of six James Stewart signalled to me to take his wheel and to turn it up. So between us we motor paced to bring the brake away back close enough to bridge the gap. It was just like the Tuesday night chaingang; pulling strong turns stretching the majority of the peloton into single file. I took the front again for the lead up to the short climb, I flicked my elbow to signal someone else to come through as I didn’t want to be on the front on this part of image2the corse. No one was willing to take a turn. So I held the pace into the foot of the climb, this is  where James was able to make his attack along with Gareth to time trail each other up to join the brake away.

The move gave us four riders in the lead group, which could have made for a very strong finish.

We finished with Matt Woods in 2nd and James Stewart in 6th. So a good result for Performance Cycles in the first round of the Cotswold League.


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