Guido Reybrouck 2018 – The Hardest Race of My Career… So Far

Saturday

Having decided at Kuurne Brussels Kuurne to go back to my old faithful breakfast of overnight oats, for Guido Reybrouck I decided to mix it up a bit –  I created carrot-cake-overnight-oats. As you can imagine I hardly got to sleep Friday night because of the anticipation of this new concoction.

I woke up Saturday morning ran downstairs and tucked-in. It was seriously good.

We headed out to pick up Zach Bridges from The Coldra in Newport en route to the best motorway services in the UK – Cobham Services – where we were to pick up Matt Shaw. Not sure which I was looking forward to more, seeing Matt or visiting Cobham Services again. Close call.

The majority of the journey was bike chat, with Zach going into detail about every time trial bike he knew.  But what was impressive was that at the same time he was DJ’ing – and my Dad approved of the music and the quality of the DJ’ing which is rare.  But Zach was deliberately playing to the crowd with stuff he knew my 50-something Dad would like. He even played “Men At Work” – which 17 year old would play “Men At Work”  – worse in the Karaoke competition later he even chose that as his song!!

When we arrived at the Eurotunnel we followed John (Barclay) through to the pre-loading bit… and were right behind him but somehow, we ended up on a train that was 30 mins later which then ended up being an additional 20mins late leaving, so by the time we got to Calais we were an hour behind schedule.

As we were driving along the autoroute in France Theo (Modell), Jim (Brown) and Ben’s (Tulett) bikes flew up off the top of Dave Story’s car. Fortunately, Dave does “belt and braces” and so Jim’s bike (still clinging on by the fork mount) saved the other two but it was fairly scary. We eventually got to the race HQ which was in the village of Damme just outside of Brugge. Every other building was a café !!!

After spending the whole journey thinking we were going to go to some nice pasta or pizza restaurant it was a massive anti-climax when we all realised that we were eating some spaghetti made by the race organisers. Now at the end of the day it’s just fuel but it was quite demoralising. When we arrived at the accommodation we all headed up to the rooms and sorted out our beds before Theo, Matt and Zach went for a walk around Brugge. Which left Jim, Ben and me in the hostel (meanwhile my Dad, JohnB and Dave Story had gone out for a NICE meal). Before long the lads had returned with water and biscuits, two very important staples when racing in Belgium. For the rest of the evening we were playing cards which is definitely something Ben needs to work on, but then I can’t really say that much as I was pretty shocking as well.

I think it’s important as a teenager that you get at least 2hrs TV per day, if not more. And that day I had watched none – it’s no way to treat teenagers.  I knew if I didn’t watch any it would definitely affect the way my race went the next day. So, after I’d lost another game of cards, and solely in the interests of top performance, I went to my top bunk and started watching Baby Driver, which is seriously good and I would defiantly recommend.

Sunday

After a good night’s sleep, we headed down to breakfast where I had my standard overnight oats and peanut butter, which went down seriously well.

We packed our bags and the cars before heading out to the race HQ. We did get there only slightly early (approx. 5hrs), but this gave us time to find a nice café and the changing rooms. Ben introduced us all to these rice cake tart things which were really good to be fair. Then we were taken to the changing rooms.

Team South East Sowing Circle (Zach Bridges, Theo Modell, Matt Shaw, Ben Tulett, Jim Brown, me)

Before we knew it we were on the start line waiting to race in the freezing cold.  But hey, only -2oC, as opposed to KBK’s -7 oC, balmy. Heading in the right direction at least.

The Race – The Hardest Race of My Short and Very Sheltered Life

Guido Reybrouck Start Line – Its COLD !!! Most of Team South-East in shot

The neutral section was the same as any other neutral section; so not very neutral at all.

However, I was near the front and out of trouble – all’s well. We came to a pinch point over a bridge and I was squeezed back along with Theo, Zach and Ben. Suddenly we turned into the cross-winds and a Dutch team nailed it on the front. Clearly a plan well executed.

It was a bit of a shock to the system as we hadn’t ridden the day before.  I thought “oh my god this is hard”. In my head I was like “s#*t I’m not in a good place here”. I made a massive effort to move towards the front but by that time the break had gone with 13 riders moving clear of the peloton.

Several times I tried to get across using the bends in the roads and short tail-wind sections as a spring board, but when you’ve got 13 riders going flat-out it’s hard to get across. Around 40 km in there must have been only 50 riders left in the peloton.  Decimation – I can’t remember such an attrition rate in a race before – and that continued to the end.

Video: The Break of 13

Theo, Ben and I attacked and pulled out a 45s gap on the peloton, and were about 1’ 30” to the leaders. Three others joined.

Video: The Chasing Six

After battling with a head wind we ended up getting caught by what I thought was the peloton but as it turned out it was only about 20 riders at the most. Meanwhile the gap to the leaders went up to well over 2 mins.

I knew that the group of 20 that just joined would be tired and my legs were feeling good, so after a few kms of rolling through and recovering I attacked through a village using the tight turns and chicane to break away. I turned around and the bunch was strung out but I kept my head down as I knew no one would commit to chasing down one rider. An Acrog rider came across and I could tell he was struggling, initially I had wondered if he was bluffing, but I kept driving hard into this relentless head-cross wind.

Jim Brown, Matt Shaw – Leading Bunch Pressing On

After about 15km of head cross wind we finally had a tail wind and I knew that would be in our favour. Sure enough we opened up a bigger gap – we had the tail wind all the way to the finishing circuit  (4 x 7.6km). On the circuit I looked behind and could see two riders coming across the gap they eventually caught us with 3 laps to go. I kept looking round at the other riders in my group and I could tell the two Acrog riders were spent, but anther Belgian was strong.  With 12km to go I attacked into the cross-wind section and me and the Belgian geezer broke away. I knew the last 400m were cobbled, and I knew I didn’t want to come to the finish with this guy and have to sprint on the cobbles. That lap it was obvious the original break was fragmenting and blowing because we picked up 3 riders.

As we hit the cross-wind section again I knew I had to attack the two riders from the original break.  Finally they rolled through and took a turn, but they were fried, and I took my opportunity to attack.  After about 30s of giving it gas, I looked behind and could see the Belgian kid about 20m behind me, now 30… 40, he’d gone.

jjjuddderrring ooovvveerr thhheee cobbblesss on the ffffinnisshing cciiirrrcuit – 2 to go. Just two of us chasing the break

I kept my head down and came into the finish in 10th. Without doubt the hardest fought 10th place of my life. And although I know I lost the opportunity to win the race at that pinch point right at the start of the race, I was really proud of how I raced from that point on. I raced to win in the hope that fate might twist in my favour.

Crossing The Line – Spent !!

Definitely the grippiest race I’ve done – cobbles, freezing weather strong cross winds, echelons, and a smart Dutch team who had a strategy –  it really did feel like a Classic – well as close as you could get to one. I finished  just over a 1 min behind the trailing edge of the break in which Jim, Matt and Ben Healey finished,  about 3 mins behind the podium positions. Results

I know there isn’t a race for the “rest of the bunch”, and I know I missed an opportunity, but I was proud that out of the what was left of the Peloton I was the first to roll in.

After having a nice warm shower, we all headed back to the cars before we started our journey back to the UK.

The journey back was uneventful but great.  Zach was DJ’ing and, Matt and me were in the back of the car talking about something like Rick and Morty, and my new theory for school, revision and home work.

Oscar’s Candle Theory.

You will understand why I called it the Candle Theory in a minute. Let me explain.

When we’re born we all have this candle (obviously it isn’t real, it’s metaphorical). This metaphorical candle represents your motivation to revise and work hard at school. Now everyone’s candle is individual to them, so some are longer than others (no euphemism here for those of you with smutty minds). When we all start school in Year 1, a little bit of the candle is burnt off, and this continues throughout one’s school career, every time you do a bit of homework or revise a bit more candle is burnt off. Until eventually you have no candle left,  which is the position that I’m currently in and with my A’Levels coming up its not great but what can I do I have no candle left so it is virtually impossible for me to revise. I should have paced myself better and not worked so hard earlier in my life.

I’m going to have to prepare for the inevitable feeling of opening the exam paper and thinking “… what the hell is ‘studentification’ I thought I was doing maths” 😉

But my point is if you try too hard too soon you won’t have a candle left by the time you are in Uni or Sixth Form, so on so forth.  And for this reason I think that the government should not allow homework in schools until year 9 and possibly year 10 this way everyone will be motivated when it comes to revising for their GCSEs and A’Levels .

All in all, it was a brilliant weekend, with great company and a hard race. Big thanks to John Barclay, Dave Story and my Dad for taking us.  Thanks to Pedal Potential and all  the sponsors of Team PH-MAS Paul Milnes Cycles for the financial support. Now onto the first round of the National series this weekend in Wales.

Life’s pretty good.

Kuurne Brussel Kuurne – 25th February 2018

Saturday

After getting up fairly early to watch the men’s 50km Cross country skiing race in the winter Olympics (which was pretty exciting to be fair – so many parallels to cycling) I packed the car and got myself some breakfast and a cup of tea before starting our trip to Belgium. The drive down was smooth and uneventful with a short coffee and pee stop just before we met up with John Barclay and the others. We got on the train no problem and once off the other side John announced that he needed to stock up on wine and coffee at the local supermarché.

After we’d collected John’s supplies we continued the journey, with the intention of stopping short of the Hostel to ride. It was seriously cold and blowing a gale – and unfortunately it was a cross head wind all the way to the hostel. I made sure I was strategically missing turns pretending I needed a drink to keep the legs fresh for the run to the pasta restaurant later 😉

After a quick shower we headed to the restaurant for tea. As is standard at this pasta place the cheese comes with optional pasta not the other way around. When we got back to the hostel I watched some of the new series of the Grand Tour before heading to bed.

Sunday

Race day!!!

I decided to try a different version of my overnight oats which ended up being a bit of a disappointment. I will be returning to the usual overnight oats next time but never the less it had peanut butter on it so it was all good.

After breakfast we packed our bags and headed downstairs before heading in convoy to the race start. It was COLD. We had a while before the start so I took the time to look at the wind direction and the course to see where it might split up.

Time to get changed. After changing my mind on what to wear a couple of times, I finally came to a decision – that consisted of 5 layers which was just right. Soon we were lining up at the start.

As always the neutralised section wasn’t very neutralised at all but I stayed near the font out of trouble.

Km 0. The race had started with the first part of the course being into a head wind no one really wanted to take up the race with a few people getting off the front but coming back pretty quickly as the kms ticked down to the first climb I was near the front in a good position. We hit the first climb and I was about 10th wheel I worked my way to the front and over the top we hit the first cobbled section I was now about 3rd wheel as we came off the cobbles I looked behind me and the field was in a very long line with gaps appearing. Tthe bunch pressed on again to try and split the race up a bit more. Over the next couple of climbs it was a similar story until we hit the 4th climb, a 2km drag on a nicely tarmac peace of road. I was about 8th in line and could see Remco sitting in 3rd wheel click down the gears I followed the rider in front as he reacted to get on his wheel but he started to fade about 500m before the top so I jumped off his wheel and bridged over to Remco. When I got across he kept driving –  at this point I knew my legs were good. I came through and pulled a turn when he came through again I looked behind and could see we ha about 15-20 seconds I came through to do a turn again. S**t! I then realised that there was a right turn that went round further than expected I had to scrub off a lot of speed and came to a standstill. Remco who was behind me made it round and pressed on as I was getting back up to speed I looked behind and could see the main field only about 80m or so behind I kept pressing on but with the cross winds as strong as they were I eventually came back to the bunch. I was really frustrated as I knew I was in a great position.

Never the less I kept focused. I knew the Kweremont was coming up so made sure I was near the front. We hit it and the bunch split up loads – afterwards there was a main peloton of about 30 riders.

As we stared heading to the finish we had a tail wind which I knew would play into the hand of Remco as the bunch wasn’t really making any effort to chase. As we hit the finishing circuit I decided to make my move. I kept getting off the front but the bunch would bring it back none the less I persisted as I thought eventually the bunch would sit up and with the tail wind I would be able to open up a gap quite quickly. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen and coming into the last km I was spent. But made a big effort to move up the group. I ended up finishing in the bunch. But I felt proud about my approach which had been to force a winning (well 2nd place anyway) break, rather than just sit in the wheels – it will pay off at some point.

At the finish I had mixed emotions as I knew if I hadn’t have messed up that corner I am confident I would have been with Remco at the finish.  But one of the big positives that I took away from the race was just how good my legs felt, the fact that I was able to follow Remco over the top of the climb and then have enough to keep attacking the bunch at the end has given me a lot of confidence going into the rest of the season.

At the end of the race Richard Moore from the cycling podcast came over to me to ask me about John and how my race went.  This was a really good end to a decent day out on the bike. Shame I didn’t get the result I wanted but that’s bike racing.

A massive thank you to John Barclay and Dave Story for taking us out, and to Pedal Potential to help me paying for it. Looking forward to Guido Reybrouk in a few weeks’ time.

British Cycling Awards Dinner – 10th February 2018

I started the day bright and early before heading out on the bike for a quick spin, making every effort to avoid what I call “Flanders field” on the route back home. I’d just cleaned my bike and there was no way I was going to drag the poor thing through 3ft deep mud for about a km stretch of road where they are building these new houses. I can tell you now I failed because I left the house late and knew I had to get back quickly. So unfortunately the only route I could take home to get back in time was Flanders field. To make matters even worse it had been raining the night before. Worse still my new Ridley (complements of Ridley and Paul Milnes Cycling) is of course gleaming white…. As soon as I got back I hosed the bike down to make it more recognisable as a bike, let alone a white bike. I threw all the kit I needed into the car for the Woolly Mammal race at Stourport en route to the the British Cycling Awards Dinner at the NEC in Birmingham.

I  got to Stourport with my Mum and Dad on time. I layered up and before long I was in my first race of the season.  I decided to test my legs early in the race, so rode hard to begin with and found myself sitting off the front of a chasing group of 4. After sitting there for a while and not getting very far I dropped back to the chasing group. We all worked together really well. Unfortunately I messed up my finish, getting third, but I enjoyed it, and it was great to be racing again.

Woolly Mammal, Stourport

We then headed straight off to the awards evening at the NEC. When we arrived we met up with a few friends and had a good chat while we waited for the awards ceremony to get started. I was up to receive the Peter Buckley Trophy for winning the Junior National Road Series. This really meant a lot to me for a couple of reasons.  First, it is a very prestigious award, reinforced by the list of previous winners engraved on the trophy (for a more complete list see Peter Buckley Trophy Past Winners)

Previous Winners of Peter Buckley Trophy

Second, Pete Georgi and I had set winning the series as my main goal for 2017, and I am only the third first year junior to win the series.  At the time that goal seemed crazy – so the lesson is dream big, aim high. If someone had told me at the start of the year I would have podiumed in 5 / 8 national series races I entered I wouldn’t have believed them. It has given me a lot of confidence going into this season.  Lots of people to thank for the achievement obviously – Pete Georgi who was my coach and Mr Motivator, Welsh Cycling for all the support and guidance, Pedal Potential for the financial support (which helped me get a really nice set of race Wheels) , Cyclopaedia for the unquestioning last minute fixes to my bike, Sunset Cycles for helping me out with some great kit, John Barclay for all the Belgium racing experience.

Anyway back to the ceremony, they called me up and as I stepped onto the stage I saw the size of the trophy –  there was no way I was going to be able to hold that let alone walk back with it.

Picture courtesy of Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com

Fortunately, all the gym work over the winter payed off and I was able to bring it back safely.

Pete Georgi & Me

We then went for the meal, we were sat with Alex Haindes and his family. We talked about Belgium and other things cycling related. By this time I was absolutely starving and I would have preferred it if the food came out all at the same time and possibly if they had increased the portion sizes by maybe 100000000 😉 but it was really nice. Time to head back home.

Anyway, very proud moment. Enjoyed it. Goal achieved. Now moving on to 2018.  Can’t wait for it to get going.

 

The background on Peter Buckley (source: Wikipedia):

Peter Buckley (Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Peter Buckley (2 August 1944 – July 1969) was a Manx and British racing cyclist. He was a gold medallist in the road race at the 1966 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica. Buckley died in an accident whilst training in July 1969 when he hit a loose dog. The Peter Buckley Trophy was named in his honour, and is presented annually to the winner of the British junior national road race series winner. If you’d like to know a little more see  Peter Buckley

 

The Next Generation, Apeldoorn, Netherlands 13th-14th January 2018

We started our drive early Thursday morning. Instead of overnight oats I decided to go for something different nothing special just porridge really. Then I headed down to Newport where I met up with everyone else. We packed the van and soon we were on our way. Thankfully this year we didn’t end up going the wrong way and missing tea although if we had me josh and ryan who were in the big van would have been sorted as ryan had brought enough food to last the through the apcalypse. After a bowl of pasta at the accommodation we headed to our little houses which we were going to stay in for the weekend, wacked on some Dutch TV and then headed to bed.

Friday

We had a relaxed start to the day as we weren’t racing until 19:00 that evening, and was just a single event, albeit a TP. After breakfast we all put our feet up and watched some more Dutch television, and me being extremely studious I did some school work ;). Before I knew it we were on our way to the velodrome.  We had time to do a quick roller session just to get the travelling out of our legs before heading for tea- must be some sort of pasta shortage in the Netherlands as we got the smallest portion of pasta in the world thankfully Ryan had his apocalypse stash so we didn’t stay hungry for long. We then got changed and ready to warm up for the TP. Soon enough we were all lined up ready to go. I felt good and was happy with how our team rode.  Unfortunately, the 2nd Welsh team didn’t have much luck as Owain had a mechanical causing it to go a bit pair shaped.

Saturday

Today I had the Scratch, Elimination, Tempo and Points. I decided to ride a 98” for the Scratch as it’s usually pretty strung out and fast. I was watching what was going on in the bunch, and then I saw my opportunity to attack. No one came with me but I gained half a lap pretty much.  I got to within ¼ of a lap of the bunch and they started to squeeze on quite a bit.  I noticed that Jim Brown had come across to me so I swung up and jumped onto the back of him. We were working well until a German rider decided to join us, and just do no work.  Unfortunately we were caught with a lap to go. I was quite frustrated at this, but I had to move on because shortly after was the Elimination.

I started off at the back and then moved up quickly.  I stayed near the front until it was the final 4. Unfortunately I made a tactical mistake that cost me that lap and I ended up coming out but was fairly happy with the result.

Next race was the Tempo. I have now decided that this is my least favourite race ever – whoever came up with it must just really like hurting people. You either get it right or wrong and I got that race very wrong. Lessons were learnt and I moved on.

The Points was 50 laps, quite short, so I knew it was going to be fast. I tried to attack a few times but was just in the wrong position. By the end of the day the legs were feeling it.  I think I should have geared down a bit as the constant changes in pace were too much on the 98” –  but hay you live and you learn.

As we were packing our kit up Brecon pointed out that the Austrian team clearly don’t know what a changing room is – all of them were standing pretty much stark naked about 5 meters away from us. The lads in the Welsh team seemed particularly interested in the Austrian girl. who I’m sure if she knew the lads she was getting changed next to well enough she probably would have gone to the changing rooms instead. That night they managed to find her snapchat but nothing came of it.

Sunday

Today I had the Derny race and Madison. I was really looking forward to the Derny race as it is something that I’ve never done before. I was told to shout “Allez” at my derny driver.

To begin with I thought we’ll ill see how it goes.  Then I started to shout.  Nothing happened. So I shouted even louder.  Still nothing happened. That’s when I started to scream my head off at this derny bloke.

For about 25 laps my voice went from that of a 17 year old to some high pitched 13 year old having voice breaks trying to get the bloody derny driver to go faster. But apparently my derny driver only likes to race on the last lap where we must have gone from 35mph to about 100mph in the space of 125 meters.

The Madison was pretty sketchy, but that’s the best bit about it.

We then had to rush to pack all the kit up in the van as we wanted to get home in reasonable time. Again, it was myself, Ryan and Josh in the van on the way home – time flew with Ryan giving us his versions of many different songs.  Unfortunately, I think the original versions are the best. Ryan’s style is an acquired taste to say the least.

We got to Cobham services on the M25 at around 00:30. Which was pretty good considering the time we left the velodrome in Apeldoorn. Everything was shut, so for tea I had 3 tubs of the Macdonald’s BBQ sauce and a pot of their curry sauce – which is actually really good (would definitely recommend).

Soon after we got back to the velo in Newport (02:45). My Dad picked me up and as soon as I got home I flopped into bed at arpund 3:30 in the morning.

As I said before because I’m such a studious person I found myslef lumbering into school with one eye open, half-awake later that day. I thought “wow I’ve been pretty productive here”, until I went into school the next day and read through what I had done the previous day. Apparently when you are half asleep there is no right way to spell words as about 500 out of the 501 words that I had written for my Welsh Bacc were completely unrecognisable – almost as unrecognisable as Ryan’s version of Whistle by Flo-rida.

Great weekend. Good racing. Good company. Thanks very much Welsh Cycling, Stuart Meek and John Holt.

 

Photo Credit goes to Pete Georgi

The Dave Rayner Dinner – 4th Nov 2017

Friday

After standing up on a train for 4hrs I arrived at Wakefield where I met Mason (Hollyman).  We went straight to Costa as a coffee was definitely needed after that journey. We found Masons Mum (Ellen) and headed back to their place where fajitas were waiting for us kindly made by Masons Dad (Nigel). I then got a thrashing on Forza from both Mason and his brother Henry – clearly got too much time on their hands those two. However that’s when we got the Wii out. Mason had come down to my place a couple of weeks earlier and we had probably spent more time on Wii Sports Resort than on the bikes. Played for about 5hrs on the Wii and eventually headed to bed at around 1am.

Saturday

Jordan met us at Mason’s house, and headed off into the Strines for a hilly hack around some good Yorkshire roads.  We stopped at a really nice cafe but had to head back pretty soon as Mason needed to do his make-up etc. for the Dave Rayner dinner that evening.

Preparing to leave

The taxi arrived and off we went, meeting up with Jordan and a few others in the Holiday Inn.  Then headed over to the main hall.  From here on my memory of the night becomes quite blurry…… nahhh I was sensible ;).

We found our seats and got our meals.  I then had some really good conversations with the great and the good of the cycling world, including John Barclay, Rob Hales Gerard Hartley, Pete Georgi, Giles Pidcock.  I do like cycling people – fabulous

Lewis Hartley, Mason Hollyman, Matt Shaw, Jordan Reed, Your Truly, Mark Donovan Photo Credit: Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com

We then headed to the bar and probably had a few too many before getting our taxi home at 1am . The first thing me and Mason did when we got home was Wii Sports Resort – which it turns out it’s a lot harder when you’re seeing two of everything.  At 4am we headed to bed.  Thank God Mason got me to drink a pint of water before going to bed –  this definitely saved my head  when I woke up.

The plan had been to go out on the bikes, but neither of us were really in any fit state,  so instead we decided to play some…….. yeah you guessed it Wii Sports Resort. Probably the most under appreciated game.

I hoped that the train journey back would be more pleasant, but I spent yet another 4hrs on my feet.  Thankfully Ellen made me some lunch which was well good and lasted me the whole trip.

Hopefully I’ll be back again next year for the Dave Rayner dinner.  It was such a good night and I would recommend it to anyone.

Thanks to family Hollyman for the hospitality, really great weekend.

First Gym Sesh – @ Sport Wales – 19th Oct 2017

Returning From a Break – It’s Not  Easy Doing Nothing

I enjoyed a 3 week break off the bike. It’s actually not easy to do nothing !  I know its important, but a struggle at times nonetheless, I got a bit of a sniffle at the end of the second week which is really unusual for me because, touch wood, I’ve managed to avoid colds over the last few years.

But I’ve been back on the bike for a couple of weeks – feels good.

The Meeting Point

After a lot of organising I finally managed to sort out going down to the gym at Sport Wales in Sophia Gardens.

The plan was for me to meet up with James T, Sam T, Emily T, and Will Roberts on their way down to the gym.  Being the organised person that I am I woke up probably around 5 mins before I was supposed to meet them.  I stress changed into my  clothes.  Shoving cornflakes and milk into my mouth at the same time I headed out riding as fast as I could, whilst milk and cornflakes dribbled all over my kit and poor bike.

After riding 15 mins flat out I was beginning to see stars.  Fortunately I had arrived  at the meeting point.  I stopped to check if they had just ridden on  without waiting for me, as there was no sign of them.  I decided I’d just wait to see if they turned up and sure enough 15 mins later they did.  This made me realise that my 15 mins of turning myself inside out and putting my body through a whole other world of pain just 10mins after getting out of bed, as well as leaving half my cornflakes on the some Cardiff roads had been utterly pointless.  Sam explained to me I had got the wrong time that we were supposed to be meeting( I’ll blame Sam as its never my fault).

Anyway we then continued to ride to the Sport Wales gym at Sophia Gardens.

My First Gym Experience – The Bare Foot Novice

After we arrived we headed into the changing rooms. This was when I realised that during my attempt to get out of the house as quickly as possible I had forgotten my shoes – a few words went through my head which I won’t repeat here. But anyway, at least I had socks.

When I got into the gym I met up with Chris the head S&C coach for Sport Wales.  He talked me through the exercises and let me get on with them.

To begin with I felt like a complete novice pulling some interesting shapes and getting some quizzical looks from the other people in the gym, confirming that my technique was unique to say the least. This thankfully was corrected by Seb who was helping me out.

I really enjoyed the sessioned the whole experience. It was good to be bring something new into my training, and to be taking another step up.  But it was also a chance to train alongside Luke Rowe and Scott Davis.

After we had finished we all headed home back home.

The  Morning After the Day Before – The Board Awakens

I woke up the next day with legs and an upper body that were stiffer than a wooden board. And then had to go to the Welsh Cycling track session. My legs felt terrible. But I am sure this is going to strengthen me, no gain without pain.

It’s an awesome facility, the staff are really helpful.  Looking forward to the session next week.

Thanks to Sport Wales and Welsh Cycling for the support.

 

Johan Museeuw, Gistel, Belgium – 5th August 2017

Friday

I was traveling over with my family to meet John  Barclay and the rest of the team in Kortrijk, on our way for the family holiday near Annecy. When we arrived in Belgium we went to the shops to get some food in preparation for completing our trip down to Anncey after the race on Saturday . I was absolutely starving when we arrived so bought some granola from the shops and started to eat it on my way to meeting John and the other lads. Once I got dropped off at the hostel, John and the team walked to the pasta restaurant. On the way down Jacob  Vaughan was telling us how the junior Kurnne race had been through here  – this later became a recurring joke.   After a massive bowl of spaghetti bolognese we headed back to the hostel via the ice cream shop. I watched a few episodes of Rick and Morty then headed off to bed.

Saturday – Race Day

In the morning I had what was left of my granola from the night before, then quickly packed away and headed to the race to have a look a the course. The course was pan flat with a wide open section and a twisty section through narrow lanes in Gistel.

The race went off quite fast, I knew I needed to be near the front at the start of the narrow section, and a couple of times used it to try and cause a split. Then eventually a splinter group just edged its self off the front.  I attacked into a corner and caught up with them shortly after.

There was about 9 of us in the break and we opened up the advantage to about 1 minute.  With about 2 laps to go we were caught by a group that had just got off the front of the peloton containing another 3 of our teammates.

Fred Wright attacked with another rider and it looked like they were going to stay away until Me and Ollie attacked, with Ollie doing the majority of the work we got across to them with about 2km to go.  I made an effort to go over the top but the group reacted quickly.

It eventually came down to a sprint which Ollie won convincingly. I came in 7th. We had 4 of our riders inside the top 10 – a fabulous result for John’s team. Just as we finished the heavens opened.  I hurried into the changing rooms to get a shower before my family and I headed off to Annecy for our holidays.

 

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 🙂

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 – well 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.

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  😉

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 –  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).