I haven’t written on this blog for a little while, to be honest I’ve been too busy decorating in preparation for a Tour de France baby, going to work, and riding my bike. Recently, motivation for the latter has been greatly assisted by the discovery of Strava. The bike geeks amongst you will recognise Strava as a website that allows you to download your rides for the purposes of building a training diary, analysing your performance and (perhaps most importantly) racing your mates on custom made segments. Anyone can nominate a segment and once uploaded everyone who rides that stretch of road and uploads it to Strava automatically has their time on that stretch compared with everyone else. If you are the fastest then you are the King of the Mountain and earn a KOM. I had 400 rides stored in my Garmin stretching back to 2009 so I dumped them all in, a nice easy way to earn 50 KOMs while sitting on a sofa. Steve Lampier doesn’t agree, apparently “Strava isn’t for racing”. Good job he feels that way, or he’d smash them all!
Anyway, back to riding. Since my most recent blog I have completed the first NCRA handicap series of the year. I think the scratch group managed to catch the long markers once so I was able to contest one meaningful sprint, in which I finished a creditable third. I gave the second series a miss and spent April trying to get some training in, although Strava tells me I only managed 22 hours for the month, maybe I didn’t use my Garmin for all of it because it has 0 hours for the final week but my brain can’t remember that far back.
May started well, 23 hours in the first 3 weeks culminating in the first real test of the year, the 80 mile Central Regional Road Race Championships. I lined up in Bedfordshire alongside a strong field, which included the strong Corley Cycles and Zappis squads. It was pretty clear that the pointy end of the race would involve both teams but my aim was to sit in the bunch, test my legs every now and again and if an easy opportunity arose to get in a break then I would take it.
The first 30 miles went well, I rode near the front, closed gaps and felt good. A decent break went at around 35 miles, I missed it and it looked as though it was going to stay away but it fell apart near the end of the race. Two riders from Zappis managed to get across and the podium read Zappis – Corley – Zappis. No huge surprise there. I rolled over the line in 25th place, not a great result but I felt ok.
I’ve always told myself that I will target the regional championships one year. The first year I rode them was in 2006. I was a little 3rd cat in the Eastern Region and I’d never ridden such a long race before, I would probably have still called myself a mountain biker, I didn’t know what to expect. From lap 1 I somehow managed to find myself the right side of a split of seventeen riders that lasted until the end of the race, I finished 12th. I told a friend of mine after that race that I’d win it one year, he scoffed at me, apparently only Elites win the regional champs. Maybe he was right but I won’t be satisfied until I’ve given it a proper shot.
Since that 12th place I have finished 16th in 2007 (winner – Gordon McCauley, Elite) and 12th in 2008 (winner – Tony Gibb, Elite). I didn’t ride in 2009 (I was in America) or 2010 (I was injured) but I’m sure the winners were Elite, and I pulled out in 2011 (winner – Roy Chamberlain, Elite) so 2012 was kind of a comeback!
I felt positive after the regional champs and decided to pop up to Mallory Park for a little circuit race two days later. The field was big, the sun was out and I was feeling strong. Then it happened. 5 laps into the 25 lap race I was happily sitting on Raphael Deinhart’s wheel, usually a safe place to be, when a couple of numpties touched bars at 28mph. It looks like one of them panicked and took Raph out, I went over the top. Raph has a broken collar bone and elbow and I have broken my arm. My bike is in Grafham Cycles for an inspection but things don’t look good. It’s funny how sport can change so suddenly. To make matters worse my KOMs are falling like hailstones.