April saw my second month of road racing in Youth A, my first few time trials and another tenner!
Barton Wheelers 5 mile Time Trial
Riding to Headquarters, the cold weather was not attractive: 7 °C and gusty winds led to tights and a thermal being worm. I started the relatively hilly time trial in a good condition, and I felt good for the first mile. However, fatigue and a lack of fuel prior to the race soon began to take affect. The burning session began to dominate my legs, and I tried to push through this ‘flood of lactate’, but the pain just wouldn’t subside. Riding on the rivet, I clocked a time of 12:26. I wasn’t really satisfied with this performance, however some time later I began to feel happy with my performance. My time was good in comparison to others that raced, and I beat some competitors that beat me last year.
York Sport Circuit Race #1
My first road race of April saw myself back at York Sport Village, and the weather was enticing for a change – sunny spells, relatively warm and a little breeze. The gun fired, and instantaneously I positioned myself in the slipstream of others as the pace ramped up. We were riding around the circuit well, holding an average of more than 25mph for the first 5 miles. I tucked in amongst the other riders, and thought about how the race was going to unfold. The occasional attempt to break away occurred by other riders but their attempts would not last long. As we got ever closer to the final stages of the race, the pace began to increase and 26-28mph soon became the norm. Entering the final hairpin before releasing what was left in me, I was put off by a few riders who appeared to have no fear at entering this hairpin at an angle.
Near-collisions were imminent, and as I began to sprint out of the corner, a rider’s chain fell off in front of me. Disturbing my effort, I had to restart ‘the engines’, but within a few seconds I was back up to speed. I managed 8th in the end out of around 40 riders, and I was pleased with the effort. Analysis after showed that I was sprinting for the line at a greater speed than that of the winner – 37mph in comparison to 35mph. I believe that positioning is key to finishing a good result on a circuit like this. I am satisfied with the way I rode this race, and my morale was (and still is) high 🙂
Lincsquad 9.6 mile Time Trial
My second time trial of the season, I was relaxed before starting my local club’s time trial. My first ten mile trial of the year, I set off at a reasonable pace, and with the wind behind my back I was cruising along nicely. The outward leg of the course is slightly uphill, and I arrived at the turn-around point with an average speed of 24.3mph. Sprinting out of the roundabout, I tried to get up to cruising speed as soon as possible, to limit the time loss cornering. The return leg of the course is technically downhill at a slight gradient, but for some reason this is not very noticeable. The headwind did not help either, but I continued to push on. I averaged 25mph for the return leg, and I clocked a time of 23:22 to take 12th place out of 50 riders. Photo credits to Nigel Pennington – Fantastic photos as usual 🙂
Barton Wheelers 10 mile Time Trial
After two days of consecutive racing, I was a little unsure about whether I would perform well. Despite being longer and hiller than the Lincsquad Time Trial course, the times I produce on the Barton TT course are comparable to my Lincsquad times. Riding over from my house to HQ, the weather was encouraging – Clear skies, low humidity and an 8mph southernly wind. I set off at a relatively intense pace, as the first 2 miles are quite hilly and this is where a lot of time can be made or lost. Riding into a headwind, I rode the first two miles at 23.4mph. Turning 90 degrees at a junction, the next 3.5 miles were slightly downhill.
I averaged 30mph for the first stretch, hitting 35mph partway. Steering the bike through two bends, I was faced with a hill which cut down my speed. Nevertheless, the hill ended and I was back up to speed. I averaged 25mph for the third part of the course, and 25.6mph for the final part of the course. This gave me an average speed of 25.3mph for the entire ten miles, and I clocked a time of 23:21 – 22 seconds faster than I had ever done before on this course. I was 4th out of 32 competitors, and I had also beaten my Lincsquad TT time the day before by 1 second. I was very pleased with my performance! 🙂
York Sport Circuit Race #2
Back at York Sport Village, I was ready for another round of action-packed racing. Strong winds howled across the circuit, and it looked as if positioning in the bunch was crucial for today’s race. We set off (as usual) at a high pace, averaging 25mph for the first 5 miles. I positioned myself close to the front of the peloton, so I could respond to any attack, or respond to and stay in the leading group if the peloton was to break up. Conversely, the pace began to decrease and soon we were only averaging 22mph.
Entering the last 1.5 miles, the pace rose sharply and we averaged over 28mph for the remainder of the race. Entering the final hairpin before the finishing straight, I was swamped by riders again, with suicidal intentions by the look of things. In around 25th place, it seemed challenging for me to claw back a lot of places with just 20 seconds left. I unleashed everything I had in my legs, and soon I began to pass people. In fact, I managed to finish 4th, just a second behind the winner. Post-race analysis showed that the winner sprinted at 30.4mph; I sprinted for the line at 34.7mph. If I hadn’t been swamped by other riders (lesson learnt), I think that a podium was definitely in reach, and a win was possible. Again, I was pleased with my performance. Photo credits to Simon Walker.
White Rose Youth League Early Bird 6 Hammerstones
Located in Elland, Halifax, the Brooksbank track was a new circuit to me. Turning up a little early, we walked to the track to be confronted by numerous displays, stands and cycling tents, promoting their products. The atmosphere was alive with excitement as the Under-8s began to ride. After fetching the rollers and my racing bag, I settled down and began to warm-up. The weather was unpredictable; heavy cloud lingered over the circuit, but the sun occasionally broke through. Fortunately, the threatening weather cleared and the skies lightened up. 40 laps of the track seemed a little imposing, but the first 20 or so went by quickly. Numerous attacks early on by different riders had split up the peloton, and I was comfortable with the high pace. Nevertheless, as your usual youth race does, the pace began to quickly subside and it seemed a high pace was a thing of the past. Riders began to weave about, and began to chat.
Where had the racing gone? Riding slowly usually happens after the finish line! The high pace returned with around 3 miles to go. I was in 9th-10th place entering the last lap, and I knew that I had to move up the leading group soon otherwise I would finish where I had started the last lap. Passing riders around corners, I moved up to 3rd with two corners to go. Swinging around the last corner, I began to sprint and I was pipped to the line by another rider for 3rd place. I had to settle for 4th place in the end, but I was satisfied with my performance. I was even more satisfied to receive information that I had won some prize money too – A tenner for 4th 🙂
York Sport Circuit Race #3
This race was a little different to usual as we rode around the circuit in the opposite direction, so the organisers could catch our numbers when it came to the finish. I positioned myself well throughout the race, and I was again comfortable with the pace. We averaged 25mph for the first 7 miles, before the pace slowed down to a ridiculous speed. Attacks soon spiked the pace up, and once more we were moving along well. On the last lap, I was situated near the back of the peloton, a position I did not want to be in. I moved around the road in an attempt to move further up the peloton, and I found myself in the top 10 with two corners left. A tight right turn squeezed us all together, and being on the inside was difficult. Sprinting out of the second-to-last corner, there was only one sweeping right turn before the finish line. In around 8th, I swung around the corner at speed, passing a rider. Now in 7th, I had to make the most of what was left of the circuit – 10 seconds worth. Sprinting for the line, I managed to pass 2 more riders to finish in 5th, just a second behind 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th. I was definitely catching the top 3, and so it is now just a matter of positioning myself in the right place before I get onto the podium.
Darley Moor 4: East Midlands Road Race Team Selection.
Saturday April 25th was the date set for the first East Midlands Road Race Team Selection event, held at Darley Moor race track. Nearly a 2-hour drive from home, I hoped that the weather would be settled – Clear skies, sun, warm and little wind. I arrived to find this, and so I signed on and got on the rollers. After a few steady laps of the track I was ready to race. Gathering on the finish line, it was clear that there was a strong wind. A backwind would push us along a straight just after the finish line, and we would be faced with side/headwind elsewhere. To no surprise we set off a high pace, hitting 37mph on the back straight. The weather was fine for the first few laps, before we began to ride in some kind of ‘mini hurricane’. The winds did not ease, and it began to rain, seriously, rain. I thought it was hail, as it was battering my face and it was hurting, but apparently it was rain – just massive rain droplets. Suddenly, the storm stopped. The sun came out, only to be covered up by clouds a few minutes later, and the freak weather came back into action for the final lap.
The pace died down as riders began to become a little concerned at the condition of the track with a lot of standing water. Entering the final straight (with a chicane halfway through), we all began to sprint. I began to move up the peloton, only to be confronted by a chicane. Riders weaving about in front of my wheel put me off a bit, and the chaos did not stop. Riders beside me ‘bunny-hopped’ over the rumble strips, to find themselves colliding with the ground. My vision was a blur – partly because of the effort, and also because of the tropical-like rain. I managed 9th in the end out of around 35 riders. I wasn’t too satisfied in all honesty, because of my positioning. However, I can only learn and improve on my performance.
I decided to take the bike out for a little spin after I got home, just because I ♥︎ riding my bike… The 214-mile week ended nicely with a nice training ride in the Lincolnshire Wolds with my Dad 😉