Monday, 10 March 2014

Gearing up for the Road Season.

It's been a few weeks since I last posted anything up on here, partly due to the fact that February was bit of a lazy month for me and the bike, but also a great deal of naval gazing and anger about the redundancy situation at work.  I just did not really feel like writing anything.  However when I started this project I said to myself that it would be an honest account of my year that would also give me some focus on my thoughts and feelings.

So where are we then?

The cross ended at the beginning of February and I had a few days off and slowly got back into riding, just long steady rides up to 70 miles and 4 1/2 hrs or so.  I don't do cafe stops on a Sunday prefering to get back home early.  If I felt tired or lethargic I just took a few days off, in fact I had 14 days off the bike but manage to do about 600 miles for the month.  I kept things going but with no pressure to train every day.

It also allowed me time to strip down my cross bike, clean the equipment and check it over for wear and tear.  To be honest most it was going back onto my race bike for the coming road season.  Everything looked fine and was not worn out, so with new cables and chain the old Ribble Sportive bike was rebuilt.  I had thought about a new frame but knowing that I may be without work by May, this was beyond my expectations.  I also had to rebuild the mountain bike that had lain dormant for over a year or so.  The brakes on  it were broken, my own fault as I forced the hydraulic fluid reservoir cap off in a rage and splitting it in two.  Naively I thought it was 'just an dust cap', but it wasn't.  I finally sourced a replacement and re-bled the brakes and replaced the pads.  First impressions look good.  I can brake!

It's an old bike about 8 years old with old kit and forks on.  Again I thought about buying new, but again abstained from using the plastic card.  There are a few local MTB races that'll I race this summer, mainly for training and cross skill work. the bike will get me through, but I won't be competitive on it.

I still haven't really decided on a programme of events for the summer, normally I concentrate on time trials but last summer saw me racing in the local TLI road league and this year was going to be a full-on road season.  The problem is the lack of races  in the region.  There are a few in Northumberland but due to restrictions placed on by the local authority hardly any on Teesside and North Yorkshire.  They have a load of closed circuit races.

So the plan is to mix and match, road races, mtb, time trials and circuit races.  Cross will I hope be my main focus.  So with all that in mind I travelled down to Middlesbrough on Saturday and entered a 3/4 category race around the closed circuit at Prissick.  It was fast and dicey with a great crash mid-race just to settle my nerves.  It seemed everyone survived apart from one poor unfortunate who broke a collarbone I believe? You must realise that this was my first British Cycling race for over 21 years!  I did ok, apart from loosing time on the corners as I hesitated a touch, which meant chasing to catch a wheel again.  I had a few digs off the front but sat up for the finish, I never was a confident sprinter!

A few shots from 3/4 Cat race at Prissick, I even hit the front!

So after all that I was persuaded by another evergreen, John Davidson to ride the E123 race later that day.  Well that was an eye opener!  Fast from the gun, I found myself hanging on for grim death for about 4-5 laps passing riders getting spat out the back as I kept closing gaps I lost from my poor cornering!  A break moved off the front after 20 minutes and the pace picked up to 28mph, gaps formed all over the place and although I closed 2 down the third was too much and I popped a gasket and got spat out.  I chased in vain with John and a Gosforth rider, but I should have taken John's tactic of sitting up to be lapped and slip back into the bunch.  By the time we were lapped my best riding was behind me and I only lasted  a few more laps.  Eventually I finished 2 laps down and 34 miles of racing in my tired legs.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself!  It was great to be back into a bunch and with some high speed racing in my legs, it can only bode well for the future.
John Davidson, Cestria Cycles CRT, showed me how to corner at speed and not to loose wheels!

So after all that at the weekend I'm now re-evaluating the summer programme, do I race on the road more?
I really want to do everything race all the time, I love it!  But I need to be a little sensible, it can be expensive and with not knowing where or what I will be doing with work by April I need to be a little cautious.  I may have the time to train but not the funds to finance it.  I have a road race entered on the 22nd March up near Ford in north Northumberland, perhaps after that I'll decide where I'm going.  As from now, the training starts getting serious!

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