Family Vision Monmouthshire GP – National Series # 6 – 25th June 2017

After going out to recce the course the Sunday before I knew exactly what was in store for today. A tough 125km of grippy roads and some big climbs ūüôā

Race Day

That’s right you guessed it, ¬†a huge bowl of overnight oats got me out of bed and packing the car just before we left at 8am to get to the race HQ for 9am, where we met up with the rest of the Welsh Cycling team. Riders – Dan, Rhys and Ethan; Support Crew – Stuart, John, Archie and Luke.

Really proud to be wearing a Welsh jersey once more.

The atmosphere was pretty chilled at the race HQ.  The team helped Dan hand out some Backstedt Bike Fit fliers,  before signing on, getting changed and heading over to the rollers to get a warm up in Рwell apart from Dan who only needs to listen to a bit of Ariana Grande to warm up (whatever floats ya boat I suppose).

First on the race agenda was a big 48km loop through Abergavenny  and then to the 22km finishing loop of Grosmont, which we completed 3 .5 times.

About 10km into the race a group of 4 containing Dan (Wales) , James Tillett (Giant Halo Films), Joshua Sandman and a rider from MDCC drifted off the front of the race. While still on the main loop a few riders including Joe Nally bridged across.

The main bunch were moving quite slowly and I knew the time gap would be significant.

When we went past the finish in Grosmont for the first time we were given a time check of 3:30 mins.  Thats when I knew I had to attack and get clear on the climb.

When I got to the top of the climb I looked around and it was only Ben Healy on my wheel. We worked together well and by the time we came round the next lap the leaders were only 1: 30 min off the front.

We were constantly picking off riders that were being dropped from the break. With 1 lap to go we had the break down to almost a minute.

With half a lap to go we were only 20 seconds off the back and we had them in our sight. That’s when Joe Nally started to attack the break, which pushed the lead group further ahead.

Ben and I kept driving to try and get across. We caught Josh Sandman and we could see Dan, as we hit the bottom of the climb for the last time.  I knew I had to go early so I attacked up the steep part of the climb and gave one massive effort.

I rolled in 40 seconds off Joe and 6 seconds behind Dan.

Chapeau to the two of them for attacking so early and holding it, especially Dan who was out there the longest.

It was one of the best parcours I’ve done all year and the atmosphere in Grosmont was unbelievable – bunting, painted bikes, a real party atmosphere, with so many people standing along the course.

I really enjoyed the race – very special.

Thanks to the village for making it so special and of course the organisers, Commissaires, the NEG crew and everyone else that pitches in.

I’d also like to take moment to remember a good friend and fellow cyclist Pete Donnelly who died this weekend. ¬†We all shared a lot of laughter and shared experiences on the bike. ¬†RIP Pete, we’ll all miss you.

 

Photo Credits:  Alex Reed

Thanks to Sunset Cycles for helping out with wheels, tyres and other support. Thanks to Cyclopeadia for keeping my bike on the road, the spectacular fast service and the advice.

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Spokes Kingdom Classic #5 National Series – 10th June 2017

Friday

My Dad and I travelled up to Fife on the Friday afternoon. My Dad had to stop to make some calls to clients whilst we were driving so it took 10 hours (!!)  to get there. I had made pasta bake the night before to take with us for our tea -and it was pretty good to be fair.   When we finally arrived we watched a bit of the Dauphiné, and went to sleep.

Saturday

Today’s stage was 113km with some rolling roads with one big climb to finish. After waking up and having a bowl of the obligatory overnight oats we drove over to have a look at the finishing climb, before heading to the start. ¬†Bit of rush to get to the start for signon.

It wasn’t long until the race was underway. To begin with the race rolled off fairly steady with not many moves going away. As we hit the second circuit the race got more active with a few riders managing to get away. ¬†As we came off the second circuit onto the flat road heading towards the summit finish small groups were jumping clear of the bunch, some of them I knew I had to get across to. ¬†We hit the bottom of the finishing climb and straight away the pace was lifted. I was sitting about 10th wheel so I could see what was going on. With about 1km to go Louis attacked, I hesitated, then with about 400m to go I went for it. I was closing in on Louis and just caught him on the line. It came down to a photo finish.

Spokes Stage # 1 Photo Finish with Louis Rose-Davis

Unfortunately I finished 2nd by a few millimetres.

That afternoon we went back into St Andrews to visit the Spokes shop (main sponsor of the event). I’ve been riding these Vittoria Corsa Speeds graphene tubeless tyres (@Vittoriatires). ¬†They are spectacular tyres, but very vulnerable to punctures. My Dad as chief sponsor is going to pull the plug on Vittoria I think. The sealant does its job, but the roads ¬†in the morning were covered in detritus causing everyone a lot of punctures. ¬†My tyres made it to the end, but I wanted to top the sealant up since I had sprayed most of the peloton on the way round so figured the level might be a tad diminished. ¬†The mechanic in Spokes was great – could not have been more helpful.

We had a really nice lunch just down the road from Spokes.  On the way back we checked out the course for Sunday.  Back to the hotel and had a take away curry for tea which went down very well.

Sunday

Today’s stage was hilly, with lots of climbs on each loop. ¬†Again the race went off fairly steady, with little moves going until we hit the first major climb. ¬†I bridged across to the break, but unfortunately there weren’t enough people wanting to drive the break forward.

Spokes – Approaching the KOM Point in the KOM Jersey

The bunch came in together. I placed  5th on the stage, 3rd in the bunch sprint (good for me, so pleased with that part).  Which meant I  secured 2nd overall on GC.

Spokes – End of Stage #2

In all it was  a really good weekend with some great courses and very welcome hospitality.  Shame the weather was a bit miserable but thats the way it goes.

Spokes Fabulous Hospitality
Spokes Podium

I then had an 8hr drive home to look forward to. ¬†In fact it wasn’t that bad in the end as I fell asleep for most of it. ¬†I think my dad would disagree ¬†ūüėČ

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Junior CiCLE Classic, Melton Mowbray – 4th Junior National Series – 4th June 2017

I decided it might be a good idea to go recce the course on the Saturday ahead of the race. ¬†I don’t have many good ideas but this was one of them. Although I probably ended up recce’ing the course in the wrong direction it gave me some idea of what was to come tomorrow. After the recce my Dad and I drove back to the hotel and ordered a Indian takeaway. As I was hungry I ate it a bit too quick and soon was regretting it. I had the biggest food baby ever. ¬†My worst fear was what might¬†come the next morning :/

Race day

First thing I had when I woke up was the obligatory bowl of overnight oats with banana and peanut butter.

When I arrived at race HQ in Melton Mowbray I went and got signed on sorted my bike out whilst my Dad disappeared off to find himself a coffee and a bacon sandwich.  I started warming up and then headed over to the riders briefing.  The whole race then rode in convoy to the start of the race.

We had a minute of silence to remember Joe Guy who sadly died earlier in the week Р just reminds you how dangerous our sport can be and how at the end of the day none of us are invincible. R.I.P Joe.

After a 5 second count down we were on our way through the neutralised section and onto possibly one of the most complicated but fantastic national series courses ever.

The race rolled along with no one really making a move for the first 20-25km. When we entered the short loop at the southern end of the course that we would complete three times a few riders tried to jump off the front but no one really got away.  Harry Hardcastle got away over the second KOM and stayed in front all the way down the Somerberg sector 2.

I knew I had to be near the front to avoid getting caught behind crashes and also to enable me to pick my own line. The race was lined out as we came out the other side of the Somerber, but as we headed back onto a shorter sector to start the loop for the 2nd time the race was back together again.

This lap was fairly slow with riders blanketing the road so no one was able to move up. As we went through Owston for the last time to start the third and final lap the race started to pick up a bit. The field was lined out as we came out the other side of the Owston, as we hit one of the climbs three riders (Ben Healy, Matt Shaw and Jake Stewart jumped clear) they extended their lead to around 50 seconds at one point but I knew with the Somerberg coming up the race would split and we could bridge across to that leading group.

When we hit the Somerberg, this time going up it the riders on the front on the front of the peloton really pressed on when, so as we came out the other side a group of around 10-12 of us had a decent advantage on the rest of the field.

We started to chaingang and soon we had the three leaders in our sights.  Just as we entered the finishing 15km circuit which we would complete one and a half times, a the group bridged over to us making it  a much larger group. As we turned onto the main road with Matt Shaw and Ben Healy still up the road (Jake having sat up), I carried my speed into the corner and pressed on out of it.  When I looked behind I had a gap with just Will Tidball on my wheel.  So we both thought why not, and pressed on hard.  After about 3km hard work we got across to the leading two.

As a group of 4 we were working well together and had about 40 seconds as we started our final lap. Four soon became 3 as Matt who had lost both his bottles lost contact just as we entered the Sawgate sector (the final sector). We then had a tail wind all the way along Sawgate, so we pressed on.  As we turned left onto the road that linked the back road to the main road Ben unfortunately punctured. This left me and Will with around 9km still to go.

On the main road there were a few kicks up, I knew Will was stronger than me int the sprint so I decided to attack him going over the rises.  Unfortunately he came back to me on the downhill on the other side. By this point we still had a 40 seconds gap with 3km to go.

We came into the finishing straight, I laid off the back and rushed the gap and came round Will with about 200m to go.  After about 150m Will was beside me and took the win.

Although I missed out on the win I was so happy that Will and I finished in a two man break. After getting soaked by the champagne it was time to head home.

A massive thank you to the organisers of the Junior CiCLE Classic for creating¬†such a good race. ¬†It was by far the best course I’ve ridden this year in the UK and was an amazing race. Hopefully be back next year for more.

Photo Credits: Alex Reed (@alexreedcycling).

 

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My days exploring Yorkshire, and the Motherwell and Durham Tour Series – 23rd/27th May 2017

Motherwell Tour Series

I travelled up to family Pidcock’s house on the Monday evening. The train journey seemed to go on for ages, but thankfully Candy Crush made the trip go a lot quicker.

On the Tuesday morning I went for a quick ride out from Leeds – thanks to Tom’s Dad Giles for the route directions. ¬†When I got back Sonja made Tom and I a Spanish omelette which went down a treat. ¬†Soon we were off to Neils’¬†¬†house to head up to Motherwell (Neil is the manager of PH-MAS/Paul Milnes/Oldfield ERT who I was guesting for). The journey up was pretty good, I had Will King, Tom and Nicky telling me how your not a proper cyclist until you’ve ridden in Yorkshire, and how polar bears live in Yorkshire in the winter ūüôā .

When we arrived we had plenty of time to ride round the course, get signed on and changed. ¬†Thanks to Will for making me the pasta (was mint). ¬†Before long we were lining up for the start of the race (1hr plus 5laps). To begin with it was really fast but it soon settled down. ¬†I always tried to stay near the front, out of trouble. It was an ¬†honour and quite cool to think that I was racing with professional riders that I’d seen on TV. ¬† With 3 laps to go I hit the front with Tom on my wheel. ¬†I think I was a bit too excited and the next time I came round on the front I realised I still had 2 laps left. ¬†I was still near the front but was slipping backwards with one lap to. ¬†I was a bit too far back in the bunch sprint, and ended up finishing 21st. ¬†I was a bit disappointed but was really happy that I was up there and competitive.

 

Wednesday – Staying with Jim Brown’s Family @ Holmfirth

I woke up quite early considering I only got to sleep at 03:00 in the morning. When I came downstairs Tilly and Danielle (Jim’s sister and Mum) had already made me a coffee which was desperately needed. ¬†I then discovered the best granola ever. Danielle makes her own¬†granola and it was soooooooo good (I had it every day I was there). ¬†Jim was off at school doing his maths exam. ¬†Soon after Lee left to go to work then it was just me and Tilly left. ¬†That morning i had to phone school to figure out how I was going to get my art course work in on time – but thanks to my amazing Mum and my amazing negotiating schools we managed to do it. ¬†Which¬†meant I could stay up in Yorkshire for the rest of the week.

After I had finished my art course work Tilly and me went into Holmfirth to get lunch (or dinner as i was told it was called in Yorkshire) and to do the shopping. We went to a place called Bloc, a toast orientated cafe  Рwe were both looking forward to avocado on toast.  Unfortunately they were out of avocado so instead I had goats cheese and fig which was quite nice.  After that we went shopping for tea. Once we had done the shopping we got the bus back to the house and started to prepare the food for later (and made the protein lemon cheese cakes).

Soon after Jim got home from school so we set off for a quick spin on the bike.  A soon as we set out I realised how much I loved Yorkshire Рthere were hills everywhere, and sun (I was assured that it always is sunny in Yorkshire). Jim took me on the windmills loop just a short loop around the peak district. When we got back it was time for tea and our protein cheese cakes which were awesome.

Thursday

After a big bowl of the Danielle’s granola and lots of coffee, ¬†I was off out with Jack Ford and Mason Hollyman. ¬†They took me around most of the climbs in the area, the weather making¬†it even better. When we finished on top of Holme Moss I realised that this is the best place to ride in Britain. When¬†I got back we all watched the end of the Giro stage before Jack and Mason headed home. ¬†Soon after Jim and me left on the bikes for his 10-mile TT. ¬†After arriving we rode round to warm up because the cafe didn’t have any food I could¬†feel a bonk coming on ūüôĀ ¬†After Jim finished his TT Danielle, Tilly and I went to the shops to pick up some food for tea. Tonight was chicken katsu curry. ¬†Was even better than the one a Wagamamas.

Friday

Today after Tilly had had her last day at school we went¬†back to Bloc determined to have the avocado on toast. Thankfully they did ! After this we went¬†back to the house where we met Jim having returned from his last day at school. ¬†We went of a short ride to spin the legs with Ollie Rees. Half way through we stopped off at Yummy Yorkshire (an ice cream shop) for some, you guessed it, ice cream. ¬†To be fair it was seriously good. After that we left Ollie to head home. That evening we had Danielle’s granola for pudding and I even got to put some peanut butter on it – thanks to Danielle and Tilly for picking it up for me.

Durham Tour Series

You’re always going to have good days and bad days on a bike, and today was definitely¬†a bad day. ¬†Before the race I had put some high expectation on myself. ¬†But things started to go wrong right from the warm up. ¬†Rather than sucking it up and getting on with it, I let it effect me. ¬†By the time I did eventually suck it up and get on with it was too late to effect the race. But I still managed to enjoy the event in a weird way. ¬† Most importantly I took some very important lessons away from that race – which I took into the Junior CiCLE Classic¬†which had a very positive impact the result there.

I’d just like¬†to give a massive thanks to teamPH-MAS/Paul Milnes/Oldfield ERT for having me as a guest rider for the Tour Series.

Big thank you as well to the Pidcock and Brown families for the hospitality ūüôā

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