It's been pointed out that it's been a bit on the quiet side on here, so time for a mildly abridged update of my vaguely competitive pedalling exploits from the spring of 2013.
I came into the year with the plan of not really having a plan. Rather than get too tied up in one particular thing or an other I thought it'd be a good idea to get stuck into a bit of everything. So far I've pinned a number on for a bit of road, TT, cross, XC.... Even a sportive.
It kicked off back in February with me breaking my road duck, entering a crit for the first time. That went OK. I had a couple of digs at getting away, but it was pan-flat so no moves stuck. Predictably came down to a sprint, which bearing in mind my spindly legs, didn't really suit me. Still hung on for 7th though.
The following weekend I headed up to Halifax for the inaugural Movelo City Cross event. When the organisers first announced this new format I was peachy keen - loved the idea of racing in an semi-urban environment, hopping piles of rubble rather than planks. But an enforced last minute venue change meant that the course would be a pretty straight forward cross course. Still, there was different format to play with; two short seeding races in the morning with the top half of each going through to the final in the afternoon.
I wasn't feeling all that rosey after a couple of practice laps, however I got stuck in as best as I could in what was the tougher of the heats. The course was suitably brutal - A fast start, straight through a big sandpit, fast field section, then under the bridge and into a super-boggy drag before a flat out hardcore stretch to go up & over the bridge. Off the bridge and we then hit a big horrible grassy wall to crawl up. Remount at the top to tear down some cobbles, then left up a steep climb, down, up, berm or jump down, round a lump and repeat. There really wasn't any let up. It was pretty much a 20 minute start effort.
Safely through to the final I had several hours to kill. Thankfully there was plenty of other racing going to watch. Once the sun was past the yardarm I got myself a beer, caught up with some folks and shouted at some people racing. Eventually it was time to get kitted up again and deal with the final. After a day wandering around my shabby legs were not in prime condition for the effort needed for the race. It hurt like hell. Finished 10th.
Then it snowed for a couple weeks.
Once the snow had finally cleared I was busy, both on & off the bike. I've been working a lot, commuting a lot and racing a fair bit too. I had a go at another crit. This time a longer one at Darley Moor (which incidentally is a right shit-hole). They're funny things these crit. Every other type of racing I've done over the years is very honest; typically the fittest/most skilful rider wins. In these the sneakiest rider prevails - he who hides best, wins. I don't really go for that so I thought "What would Jens do?" & launched a series of Voigt-inspired unrelenting & ultimately doomed attacks which left me out of gas for the finish. I finished in the wheels somewhere happy in that I'd had a good ride out.
The next day was a 70mile 'recovery' ride with Uncle Rog (he's not my uncle, but he is called Rog) in a howling gale. Then on the Tuesday it was race day again. But first a couple of us went out & did a hilly ride into the Peak District clocking up another 50. Come early evening I then rode out to have a go at our local club's hilly time trial; 10 miles with 450+ metres of ascent. After the previous three days riding my legs were feeling tight, but you know what it's like when you pin a number on... Ended up winning, 15 odd seconds ahead of local bike racing legend type chap Mark Lovatt. Woot!
No let up yet. I've not got a car at the moment so I spent the rest of the week commuting 50miles a day, having to come home headfirst into a damn windy wind. Come the weekend & I was back on familiar territory at the Midlands XC mountain bike race. I'd missed the first round as I'd gone to watch Milan-San Remo, so started at the back of the grid. No bother though as the race started up a stiff climb straight into that big wind that was refusing to go away. A hard start up a hill suits me and I steadily worked my way to third wheel before we got into the woods. Going up was fine, I can do that, but I keep forgetting to spend any time riding my mountain bike other than in races so my descending skills are somewhat lacking & I lost places on the way back down. That did make for an interesting race though. All too often in XC races, after the first lap, you can find yourself riding on your own for the rest of the race. So, it was great to have a real ding-dong with a few guys. That made it feel like you were really racing the whole way through. My legs tied up in the last 100m so I dropped 2 places on the line to finish 8th. Usually that'd be irritating, but as the race had been so enjoyably tough I found myself really happy.
The next week was another 250+miles of commuting and feeling ever more fatigued. I took the unprecedented decision to take a couple of days off, drink some ale and watch Liege-Baston-Liege instead of riding.
Two days off & I was back at it. Rode to work, rode to a TT, raced that full-gas, then rode home. The weather was pretty pleasant so loads of folks turned out for it. Many of which with intimidatingly fancy TT bikes, disc wheels, funny pointy hats n' all. I just had some clip-on aero bars on my normal road bike. Whooosh!... came in 4th with a reasonable time of 23:16 (that counts as a moral victory as 1,2 &3 all had jazzy-pants TT bikes).
Next up in my season of things and stuff I had a dig at the Fred Whitton. It was the first time I'd done the event consisting of 112 miles of Lake District ups and downs. Even though the weather was crappy, I rather enjoyed it. To be fair, I am pretty decent at riding up silly hills, so I was in my element. It took me 6hrs38 of pedalling time to compete be route. A brilliantly organised event, finished off in fine style with a complimentary Cornish pasty, mushy peas, biscuits & a brew.