Tag Archives: bicycle

2013 Season Wrap Up

Looking back, overall, I think I had a successful season with some really good results. It’s easy to move the goal posts throughout the season ultimately leading to disappointment – and then it’s impossible to justify the winter, more like autumn, more like late summer cake induced fatness. Time to reflect….

Goals

Remember the early targets set at the beginning of the year. For me, this was getting my 2nd cat license, and hoping to place top 10 in E123 races at some point in the year. For others this could be at TT time, a sportive, or riding any distance.

Achievements & notsoacheivments

Did I meet my goals? Yes. I got my second cat license and placed top 10 in E123 races throughout the season. Did you get the time, finish the sportive, make the distance? It was meeting my goals that made me want to move the goal posts. Upon reflection I should be happy with my progress… and I should continue to make realistic achievable targets.

One of my failures was the lack of strength and fitness in the second part of the season. My riding dropped off, energy and enthusiasm was low and fitness fell short. Maintaining or re-building “form” throughout the season will be something I’m aware of next season.

Future

What do I want to achieve next season? I tempted to set getting my 1st cat license as a goal. But I wonder whether this will just lead to stressing over the number of races I do. So I might set that as some kind of secondary goal. I don’t want to be riding as many races as I can and scraping through for a collection of lower placings. I don’t think a wishy washy target of “mixing it up with the big boys” really counts, but that is kind of what I hope to be able to do. Ride the bigger races, with stronger fields, and be somewhat competitive. 

So, as I sort out my winter training, I will be thinking about proper goals and  races to target. Having the future goals is critical for me in being motivated throughout the cold, wet and dark winter rides and for gauging the success/failures of the following season.

Winter Training 

Winter will involve basing and building, with continued efforts to raising my FTP but with a much stronger focus on my sprint. I will be doing some gym work to keep me warm and dry, More MTB! More running this winter – aiming for a 20 min 5k.

2013

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Shrewsbury E123 race (30/03/13)

  • Strava details can be found here.
  • Average speed: 41kmph
  • Average heart rate: 176 bpm

The track

The circuit is a dog leg shape with a sweepeing corner at the north and a very tight ( and tightening) corner that comes back on its self slightly, to the south. Its a drag heading north and then fast down towards the tight southerly corner. Every now and then people try and make up places by diving down the inside of the tight hairpin *tut tut, and then everyone sprints out…. and repeat.

Shrewsbury criterium track

Shrewsbury criterium track

My excuses

As when reporting any race, I open with a barrage of excuses that range from a bike mechanical to a dodgy Banana I consumed on a training ride last week. This time my excuses are: The tail end of a cold, stress with job interviews (stress is always a good one) and “heavy legs” after just returning from holiday.

The race

Unfortunately I don’t have much to report owing to my mediocre performance. For me the race can be divided into three distinct parts.

shrewsbury

1) Attacks: Early on I was going a few small attacks with the hope of being out front and getting swept up if and when a major break goes. I felt quite good at this point… but, typically I was just expending energy beyond my endurance abilities. What eventually happened was not so much a break as a split which went in chase of 3 (ish) guys that had a gap. Stupidly I was too cooked to go with this which leads me on to part two.

2) The chase: So now relegated to the back-end of the race I was conflicted as to whether to sit in, chase or bridge. So I did what any great tactician does…. all three, rendering each chosen tactic feeble and ineffective. I put in a few turns, resting between, and put in a few digs only to get closed down. There was were two hopeful points in the race at which there was a glimmer of return to the front group. The first, was when the gap reduced dramatically and I thought to myself “just recover a little longer, then bridge” by the next corner they had tripled the gap, probably thinking “we wont let them recovery and then bridge the gap”… so that was obviously a bad move and should instantly. The second perceived opportunity was when two guys were hovering in between us (at the back) and the larger front group (who were chasing a smaller break). I bridged across and began to recover with the mind of attacking again and bridging to the front group…. within seconds we were back in the group… eugh.

3) Resignation: After trying everything I could to save my race I just sat in the bunch and waited for the finish. This was probably the most painful part of the race, as I was just riding to finish.

All in all a bit of a downer of a race report. strength = no good enough, Tactics = poor. The clocks have changed now so the calendar starts to fill out with races… I hope to have a more positive report soon. I’ll be having a go at my first time trials over the next couple of weeks….potentially against the recommendation of the UCI (see here).

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E123 compared to 3rd cat racing – Hillingdon Winter Series 02.02.2013

Last week I decided to race with the E123 rather than 3rd cat race at Hillingdon. My hope was to get involved in some faster, more tactical and aggressive racing. 

How my race played out

The race was pretty aggressive at the beginning with lots of attacks going off, to which the bunch was very responsive. I attempted to get into breaks, but nothing lasted anything longer than about 1 lap.

My biggest mistake of the race was trying to mix it up at the front end way to much, way to early. I thought a break would stick at some point and I wanted to be in it. So I nervously tried to get involved with as much as I could, pretty much without any tactics. Anyway, by the  split happened I was completely cooked. The selection of  (I think) 8 guys up pulled away and fought it out between them. The race write up is available (here).

Burning matches

Burning matches  – nothing else….

I backed up my earlier match burning by dangling off the front of the remaining bunch for about a 1.5 laps when the 3 lap board went up, well and truly emptying anything I had left in the tank. This made sure I had absolutely nothing left for the sprint…. just rolling over with line with the remaining bunch.

The strava data for my race is here. It shows that I’m working pretty hard. I am pleased to see the one point at which I sat in I did recovery quite well. I decided to sit in because I was almost very nearly dropped after a big effort…

Speed and Heart rate

Speed and Heart rate

Now some positives! (or one positive) …. I finished the race, which is always a good start.

Comparisons to 3rd cat

My race was pretty uneventful, but, the comparison to 3rd cat is interesting to me. The race was much more tactical and aggressive. The pace is higher and often lines out into single file so it is much harder to just sit in and sprint at the end. I love breakaway riding, and there   is much more opportunity for this in the E123 racing (not that I will necessarily be able to get in it, or stick with it).

The danger for me is going to hard in attempting to break away, going into the red, and then being dropped when the bunch screams past and I’m desperately trying to recover. This is not the case in the 3rd cat races, where when the bunch catches a break the pace drops significantly and there is not really a counter meaning its fine to slot in and recover. This also means that the race often finishes in a bunch kick with lots of fresh legs… again, not the case with E123.

For my Australian readers: The comparison of E123 racing to 3rd cat its the same as the type of racing you get when you compare A grade to B grade.

So I will race E123 criteriums throughout the season, and attempt to get enough points to reach 2nd cat.  But I’ll stick to 3rd cat ( or 2/3) road races.

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