Mendips and Otley 10
Mendips National (2 day)
This was a race that I was looking forward to due to the hilly parkour on the final stage which I enjoyed last year in a painful kind of way. So the weekend started with an early get up on Friday morning to get the car packed and set off on our drive down. This time I was organised and packed my earphones hoping to drown out dad’s music. Unfortunately, it turns out the car radio is a lot louder than my phone! After the journey we arrived at Cheddar where we parked up and set off to recce the course. Later on after the ride we arrived back in Cheddar and went out to find some food for tea. I went all out and decided to go for a chicken skewer and chilli which was decent. After this we set off to the Youth Hostel where we would be staying for the next few days where I met Tom and Lewis, (Lewis arrived first to make sure he got the bed of his choice) after this Lewis went out for tea leaving me and Tom to our own devices. So once unpacked we headed over to Gainsbury’s for some snacks. When we were in there we got a phone call from Lewis asking where we were due to us locking him out of the room. So we headed back to our room and waited for Ben to arrive. When he arrived we chilled out and went to bed.
Saturday morning we woke up nice and early where we went down to breakfast to find Chef Jed making us porridge and omelettes, which were nice and would set us up for the race.
So the racing started off with a 4.2KM Prologue which would head out past the Chew Valley Lake I finished 9th on this which I was happy with considering it isn’t my speciality and it was won by Team mate Ben. After this it was time to get something to eat and get changed ready for Stage 2 in the afternoon. So after a few KM of neutralised the race set off. Straight out of the neutral it was the Stage 2 finishing climb which was nice to warm up the legs after the Prologue ;). After a rider got away at the bottom of the hill I crossed the line for the KOM points in 2nd with Lewis 3rd then the race slowed down allowing it all to come back together. Once we were onto the loops, attacks started to go and the first one got up to about 40 seconds roughly half way through the race. With Ben in the jersey I went hard through the feed zone climb forcing me and Ben off the front which meant we were able to bridge to the break quickly but we were followed closely by the bunch so it was all back together after a few KM’s. A few KM’s down the line another break away went containing some strong riders and with the bunch not really working the gap was out to nearly 2 minutes with just over a lap to go so I got on the front to help Ben with some pulling and with the help of a few others including Ben we were able to get the gap down to 17 seconds at the end. Good ride by the guys in the break. After the finish we had our recovery drinks and headed on the long decent down Cheddar Gorge back to the Hostel where we got showered and changed and ready for Elaine’s Spag Bol…just what we needed after a hard race, thank you! Later on we had a walk back over to the Supermarket for a few more snacks which gave us all plenty of morale. Then it was time to chill and get ready for bed before the hilly stage the next day.
Sunday morning we woke up bright and early for Jed’s speciality…much appreciated. Then we packed up and set off on our way to HQ. Once we arrived at HQ we got signed on and ready for the stage. Then we went to the pre-race rider briefing where I was putting oil on my legs, eating and listening to the commissaries. Once we’d done this we got lined up ready to start the neutralised. When the flag dropped the race started and quickly got underway with attacks going. Once we got to the foot of the first climb (Burrington Combe) a few riders went up the road and with the bunch not responding the gaps went out quickly, then a few KM’s out from the summit Lewis attacked where I followed and once I got onto his wheel I realised we had a little gap so I went round him and went hard. Then we were caught by the group led by Oscar over the top but I stayed on the front to pick up 2nd on the KOM. Then when the race slowed up no one in the bunch wanted to take up the chase which meant the attacks went up the road quickly and with the long flat run in to the 2nd hill which was the Blagdon climb the gap was around 2 minutes going into the bottom of it. The race was quickly lit up in the bunch by Ben right at the bottom which was then carried on by Oscar up through the feed. Once we reached the top bit of the climb where the gradient ramped up again I decided to keep pushing on with my legs feeling good. I had a gap of around 15 to 20 seconds and my only option was to keep going hard hoping that I would either get across to the break or be caught by a select group. After around a KM I saw that the largely reduced bunch was working well together so I eased up and waited for them to catch me. Just over 10 of us were doing a chain gang but we weren’t going quick enough and were caught by another big bunch of riders which took the momentum out of the chase. With the breakaway at around 20 seconds up the road the gap then grew to over 40 seconds at the bottom of the final climb which was Harptree Hill. The pace was slow at the bottom with no one wanting to take up the charge, the pace was then picked up by Oscar, after this I stuck it in the big ring and attacked not looking back until I got to the finish line, finishing 5 seconds ahead of the next riders.
Not quite the weekend that I wanted but with Ben getting a stage win, Zappis winning the team prize and me winning the KOM competition and 3 of the team in the top 10 on GC …wasn’t too shabby.
I was at home for the weekend and decided to enter a local TT. It was the Otley 10 on the Walshford course which is a rolling course. It started in the afternoon so it meant we had a chilled morning before setting off on our way. Once we arrived me and Henry went out for a ride on the course and signed on once we got back. After this we got our numbers pinned on and had a quick go on the rollers before starting the TT. I started the TT hard hoping the legs would feel good after quite a hard few days of training. Once I got to the turn I had caught a few riders so knew the legs were feeling pretty good. On the return leg I went full gas on the final few rises and finished in a time of 21.02. Which gave me 2nd overall and 1st Junior. I was happy with this and it gives me confidence going into the stage races which include TT’s. Big thanks to Dean Downing for his coaching over the last few months which has definitely improved my time trialling. Also big thanks to KCA for the support. After the TT I rode home with Joe (Howcroft) where I would be staying at his house for the night. After a nice tea out (thanks Kate and Tim) we went back and watched some TV before going to bed. We woke up in good time on Sunday morning to get a good ride in on the Horsehouses loop which would go into the Yorkshire Dales. After a fair press on we got round the 143KM loop in 4 hours and ¾ hours. A good end to the week!
Thanks to Pedal Potential for the continued support and Alex Reed for the photos.