First few races
I woke up that morning looking forward to seeing what the Clayton Spring Classic had to offer. It was a cold morning 3-4 degrees so I was sure that after the early get up the cold would wake me up. I had my breakfast, packed the car and we set off. After 1½ hours of Dad’s disappointing music (BBC Radio 2) we arrived at HQ. Then it was time to sign on and get ready. Forgot how much of a minefield choosing what kit to put on when it’s cold was. Once I decided what I was wearing it was time to get changed and pin my number on. Then it was time to get warming up whilst eating rice and drinking coffee and they say men can’t multi-task! Then time for one last toilet break before the briefing and rolling out to the start. After a short ride to the start line it was time to get into groups where I started in the middle group of three joining the other 1st and 2nd Cat Juniors and the 2nd cat men. As soon as the race started I went off hard trying to get the speed up quickly in a hope the group would work together well. After a good first half lap of chain gang over half of the group thought it would be a good idea to save their energy so the impetus had gone. A few of us were still tapping it through but we weren’t going at a fast enough speed. Two groups of three then manage to get off the front of my group so I tried to start a chase but there weren’t enough riders wanting to work so then I decided to try and save some energy waiting for the scratch group to catch us. Once they caught us the pace was evidently faster. We then caught the front main group but didn’t catch a few riders who managed to stay away from the first group. As the people in the scratch group began to stop working together I attacked getting across to a group of 5 of the scratch riders who managed to get off to the front a few laps prior with the scratch group now chasing again I knew I had to keep pushing on and so straight away started working with the riders before putting in 1 last effort up the last drag around 1 KM from the finish. Just 1 rider managed to come round me in the sprint from the group that I had caught. I then finished 9th.
The first Belgium Race was Zepperen Zepperen. This would be quite a typical Belgium race being flat with a few little bergs. It started with a quick turbo session on Thursday morning before setting off on our way to pick Ollie (Rees) up, who would be guesting for Zappis for the weekend. Due to the snowy weather we thought it would be good to set off early as the weather decided it wanted to make it difficult for us. After picking Ollie up we set off on our way to Lewis’s in the hope we’d get there before midnight. We arrived at Lewis’s after 3 ½ hours of travelling on a journey that should normally take 1 ½ hours. After arriving at Lewis’s we went straight for a session on the Tour de France game before a traditional Lancashire tea, kindly cooked by Elaine. Then it was time for a chill then bed. Friday morning we woke up in decent time ready for a group roller and turbo session to spin our legs out before the long journey down to Folkestone sure to be made longer by the weather. Eventually we got down to Folkestone after a lot of traffic and slow journey due to the snow, a decent 7 ½ hours in the car and a nice numb bum to finish. We arrived at the hotel, brought our bikes and bags up to the rooms and decided to get out for tea. After Lewis assuring me and Ollie that the Peri Peri chicken was ‘Peng’ us three all decided to go for it and it lived up to expectations. Then it was time to get back for a quick turbo session to wake up the legs after the journey and then bed. We woke up the next day, went down for breakfast and set off on our way to the terminal before getting on the channel tunnel. Once we got to France we drove for 40 or so minutes before stopping at a services for something to eat. Then we set off on our way to the course ready for a recce. After this we set off to find the hostel. Fraser, Chris and Jed had been busy making tea. Us lads showered and got changed ready for tea. Cheers dads! Then it was time to get ready and go to bed. We woke up the next morning to breakfast then we got our kit ready and came down for an early lunch. Then we were off to the race. A good few laughs later we arrived to start pinning the numbers on our bikes and getting ready. A warm up down the street came before the race. After a hectic neutral zone thanks to some Belgian choppers the race started. Due to being lined up quite close to the back I had to make my way up to the front of the bunch before attacking around 35KM out from the finish where I was joined by Ollie with it being quite a fast part of the race with no real wind the bunch weren’t allowing us to get away and after 10KM up the road the bunch caught us. After this we went back into the bunch as we were onto the finish laps. With there still being a lot of riders left, the run in was pretty sketchy and this didn’t give us much chance of moving back up. This meant we weren’t able to move up very far and in the sprint there was a crash which caused me to come down. Thankfully it wasn’t too bad just a few cuts and bruises which would make the journey home longer than it already was. Thanks to Callum for carrying my bike, much appreciated. Then it was time to get packed up and start our journey home. First trip to Belgium finished. Thanks to Jed for the journey and Alistair for the final leg.
So the second trip to Belgium began with me and my dad heading down south on Friday lunch time to some services near Leister to pick up Paul Whitton who would be helping the team for the weekend, big thanks to Paul for this! Once we picked Paul up we set straight off down to Folkstone where we would be crossing over to Calais later on that evening. We planned to meet the rest of the lads at the Euro tunnel as we were booked on for the same crossing but it turned out they needed to put their make up on which meant they were running late. Due to us being early we stopped at the Euro tunnel before boarding at ‘Leons.’ I went for the Sicilian chicken meatballs and a chicken and chorizo wrap which were nice. Once we boarded the tunnel we were told the rest of them wouldn’t be making the crossing so they would be coming over later. Once we got across to the other side we began to head over to Belgium to the Focus Hotel/hostel where we would be staying for the night. Once I got settled I waited for the lads to arrive by this time it was quite late so we got straight to bed.
The next morning we woke up to a proper Belgian breakfast and then we got on our way to drive round the course as the race didn’t start until the early afternoon. Once we arrived at HQ we parked up and went to find something to eat. Luckily we found a nice café where we had spaghetti. After this we went back to get changed and get our numbers pinned on. Then it was time for the team presentation and time to line up. Once we were lined up the weather seemed to be coming in so I decided to put on another layer which it’s fair to say I was glad about. After the typical Belgium neutralised (big crash) the race started into a headwind then it turned onto a narrow section where it strung out a bit more. After some cobbles the race began to thin down a little and coming into the small circuits the bunch was definitely smaller. Coming into the Nokere berg I realised a few riders were around 20 seconds up the road so I decided to try and bridge across to them, after a bit of top tube pedalling I made my way across which made 3 of us with another 2 then getting across there were now 5 and the peloton wasn’t going to let this up the road so after a few more kms were we caught. The race stayed on after this for around 10km before another lull in the race gave me another opportunity to try and get away but with no one else following and there still being a big group left there was no getting away. Once I was caught there was a crash which meant the race was split a lot and no one who was caught behind it made their way to the front again due to the pace staying on. This was now my race over and once we got to the finish line with 1 lap to go we were pulled out. I was disappointed but happy with how the legs were going into Guido the next weekend.
This started with the usual trip over to Lewis’s on the Thursday night. Friday morning we woke up to the usual banter and breakfast made by Lewis! Then we got ready and went out due to me having and easy ride and Lewis having some hill efforts to do I went to the café while he did them. Once he had finished we headed back into a dece tailwind which was appreciated. Mr ‘sense of direction’ decided to take us on a different route back, unfortunately the road was closed but it was alright Lewis knows his way round (says so anyway) so we went down another road which ended up being a dead end. Retracing our route we went on we found a road we could go down then smashed it back as we were running a little late. Once we arrived back we showered got changed and had something to eat then got on our way. We stopped for tea near Folkestone and once we got to the hotel it was TV then bed. We woke up in good time on Saturday morning to get a good breakfast before heading onto the Euro tunnel then into Belgium. Once we got into Belgium we went for something to eat then headed over to the circuit for the recce. After a good recce around the loops we went to where we would be staying, got changed and set off out for Tea. Once we arrived back we went into the main part of where we were staying for some good
Wi-Fi then went off to bed. After a good sleep we woke up and had something to eat before packing up our bags and getting our kit sorted. Then it was time for some pasta and to set off to the race. Once we got there we got the numbers on and got changed fair to say it’s a mind field what to put on when it’s as cold as that. Once we got to the start line we set off and started the neutralised section, at the end of this the race was stopped then started again. Straight from the off the race was on in the cross winds and the chesty cough I hoped would be alright for the race wasn’t feeling good so after 40 or so km I decided it would be best to pull out to make sure it wouldn’t get any worse. This was disappointing but I knew it would be better than having weeks off later on. After this we got changed and packed up then we set off back home.
First National of the Year – Cadence
So the weekend began with a drive down to Wales with my mum and dad to a place called Glasbury where me, Ben and Jameson would be staying. Once we arrived I went up to the room to find out that Ben had shot gunned the double bed and Jameson had shot gunned the single leaving me on the temporary bed! Teach me for being late. Then it was time for me to quickly get changed and out the door for the course recce…somehow managing to lose my banana in transit. Once we had done a few laps we arrived back at the B & B. Then got showered and changed before giving our bikes a quick clean over. After recovering from the mucky Welsh roads. Following this we chilled for a bit before heading down for tea. I went for the Hake with mussels along with Ben it was a proud moment witnessing Ben’s first try at mussels. After this we went back up to the room and chilled for a bit before going to bed remembering that we had an hours less sleep. 8am… the morning started with the usual alarm we had 15 minutes to get ready and down to breakfast. Porridge it was possibly the biggest bowl of porridge I’ve ever had then it was time to get the cycling kit on ready to ride over to sign on. After the usual queue for the toilet we set off over to the sign on. After a bit of a catch up it was time to sign on and get ready. It wouldn’t be a race without another trip to the toilet. Then we had the rider briefing followed by some keen cyclists running to the start line. One the neutral started I made my way through the maze up to a decent place in the bunch. Then the race started and a few attacks went with a group of 6 riders who managed to get a gap off the front which soon grew out to a few minutes due to the bunch not working together and I knew then I needed to try and get away so I managed to get a gap and pushed on hoping some riders would get across to me thankfully after a lap solo a group of about 5 riders caught me and we worked well together slowly bringing the gap down to the break coming into the last lap we were told 1 mon 20 knowing we still had a chance if the group in front messed around. With half a lap to go I did the usual shoe tightening which I regretted at the end. Coming into the bottom of the last climb we saw the group in front and I had a dig pretty much as soon as the climb started trying to catch them. Once I got to the top of the steeper part I got cramp in my foot meaning that I was struggling to push on the pedals, still feeling that I had some legs left. Giving me 7th in the end. Positives to take from the race my legs were definitely there… looking forward to the Mendips in just under two weeks time.
Big thanks to Paul and Diane Quarterman for the weekend and the parents for helping.
Sad not to see Euan Cameron there after a bad crash in training. Hope you heal quick. Also unlucky Ollie Rees for crashing in the race speedy recovery.
Thanks to Pedal Potential for your continued support!