I raced in the Otley GP at the end of June. I really enjoyed the atmosphere, and it was a great course. The racing was also great so an all-round awesome experience. I was left abit wanting with the result and found the race much tougher than I should have done. When thinking about it afterwards I realised that I was struggling because the race started 20 mins before I’m normally fast asleep. Even in the pen I could just feel my body wanting to go to sleep which meant I couldn’t perform at the level I wanted to. By the last 10 mins of the race, I had started to feel abit better but not really that good. I did a decent sprint at the end to come in 35th. As a result of this experience, I have got some caffeine to use in evening races to improve my performance in these races.
After Otley I was into final preparations for National Champs, I felt confident going into them as I knew the legs were there. The tt was on Saturday, after a nervous bike check which I passed 1st time having seen the people Infront of me fail I sat in the car with music on trying to keep calm before warming up, the wait was made even longer by everyone’s start time being delayed by half an hour. After wrestling myself into my skinsuit I started to warm up. Before I started I checked the weather forecast and it looked like it was going to be dry for my race so I chose to keep my vizor on. This was a mistake. 10 mins into the tt it started to rain abit and it got gradually heavier until it was bouncing off the road for the last 10 mins. As a result of this my vizor fogged up and I couldn’t see anything. This meant I wasn’t riding as hard as I. wanted to be. I ended up taking it off and holding it for the last bit of the tt which cost me even more time but 14th isn’t too bad.
The road race on Sunday started well, I drilled it up the first climb and strung the group out. I think I caused a few little splits as well. But on the decent of that climb the race got re-neutralised due to a crash that resulted in no ambulance cover for the race. The re-neutralisation caused another crash because they slowed the race down on a really fast downhill. This meant that a few riders had to take evasive action and go on the wrong side of the road to avoid the crash. This got them disqualified from the race. After 40mins of standing around waiting for the ambulances to come back the race was restarted. I raced super aggressively for the whole race, always in moves off the front but all came to nothing and with 3k to go the race was all together in a reduced peloton of around 35. I was positioned really well in around 7th wheel but up the little drag with around 2k to go I got ridden into and had to unclip to not fall off as everyone sprinted when Josh and Max attacked. This meant I was out the back of the group chasing desperately to get back on as the race was going up the road. I only got back to the back of the peloton with under a k to go so I was in no position to be able to move up before the sprint, I started my sprint as soon as a gap down the right opened up. But I was still sprinting from the back, so it really was a case of damage limitation. I made up loads of places and did a really good sprint, but it was still only enough for 17th. Most defiantly not the result I wanted but I guess that’s bike racing.
After nationals weekend it took me a couple days to come to terms with the ending of the race. I had a free week of riding planned to recharge after the intense preparations for nationals. I spent time on my MTB which was refreshing and by Thursday I had accepted what had happened and turned my attention to the Bath RC national the following weekend. It wasn’t that far from my house so on Saturday I drove down and did a lap of the course as recon.
The Sunday of the race was super-hot. It started super aggressively and early on I made a big effort to bridge up to a break of 7 riders which the peloton was not chasing. However, the breakaway broke down pretty quickly because too many people were not pulling through. Lots of attacks and promising moves later nothing had gone away but I was paying for my efforts early in the race and had to drop back deeper into the peloton in an effort to cool down. While doing this the winning move went up the road and I missed it. With a lap and a quarter to go me and one other rider attacked out of the peloton to try and bridge to the front group, at this point the gap was around 1 min according to the people shouting the time gap to us. We rode flat out together and caught the remains of the breakaway inside 1k to go. After pausing for breath for a couple seconds at the back of the group I moved up toward the front to get in position for the sprint. I opened up my sprint potentially slightly early and held on for 3rd in the bunch sprint which got me 10th overall. After the race I collapsed trying to get off my bike and was retching on the ground. A combination of riding flat out for 40mins to bridge up to the remains of the breakaway then a big, long uphill sprint and dehydration meant I was not in a good way after. It was the deepest I have ever dug. I am very proud of the result and even prouder of the ride to get it. It was also a useful learning experience to keep my powder dry at the start of the race because the race is not going to be won in the first few breakaways.
After that there was the Phoenix 2 up champs which I towed dad around for the win, not the hardest tt ever but it was lots of fun and it was nice to race with him. It was also an amusing role reversal of the 2 ups we used to do when I was younger where I would try hang onto his wheel.
The next weekend was a Nat B at Hog Hill, I raced super aggressively the whole race and was always on the attack from the first time up the hill. I rode hard the first time up the hill and dragged one other rider clear with me. We rode together for 2 laps then I dropped him up the hill. The peloton caught me and then I rode hard again up the hill dragging another couple guys with me. After a few laps some more riders bridged up to us and that was the breakaway for the race. I can’t remember everyone who was in it but there was Zeb Kyffin from Ribble Weldtite, Jake Crossley and Tim Lynch. We worked well together, and the break thinned down to us 4 by the last few laps. Zeb attacked when we all started looking at each other. I kicked to follow him after a few seconds but didn’t get separation so just ended up leading Jake and Tim out. Tim launched round me to take the win and Jake rolled me so ended up coming in 4th. A good result but not quite what I wanted. But I raced really well and picked up some good points.
The final race in July was a smash round Hillingdon Tuesday night, a rapid race with a basically 30mph average. After riding aggressively for the first 10 mins I got in a break with Tim, Oli my teammate and Euan from Canyon. We stayed away for 20 mins, and I thought it was the race winning move until we got caught, the last 25 mins of the race were carnage with constant attacks. With 3 to go I was in a move of 4 riders with a 5 second gap but 2 of the riders started thinking about the win too soon and were skipping turns so we got caught with about a lap to go. I was in an ok position for the sprint but a little too far back in about 10th wheel. I launched with about 200 to go and made it up to 5th. It was a super-fast sprint with a max speed of 70kph which on junior gears meant I was spinning like crazy. I’m really pleased with the race and the result.
Moving into august I have a big block of junior racing coming up with Cadence Tour of Mendips and Tour of Wales all of which I am really looking forward too.