Back at the club 10

I think like most of the planet emerging from lockdown, there was an element of nervousness in me as I threw a Fendrien jacket over my club skinsuit and fixed the lights to my time trial bike before heading off to the start of the race last Wednesday.

I didn’t know how I would feel or what my performance was like. Things that help you understand performance, such as power meters had been sold last summer to keep things ticking over at home so this was a real step into the dark for me.

The first drama was some light drizzle as I crossed the A16 and got on the country lanes, that was followed by the East Coast Mainline stopping me for two trains at the crossing. This was stuff that in previous years would have phased me, it would have affected my concentration and added to the nerves of bike racing.

This year though, it just feels so nice to be out there that I took it all in my stride as part of the experience. It’s like lock down has actually given us more time to do things and think about what’s going on.

I collected my number, socially distanced of course, and fixed it to my new number belt. Yes I know I look like a triathlete, but skin suits aren’t cheap so any avoidance of pin damage is fine by me!

I stashed my jacket and bottle in the undergrowth near the car park and started to get my act together as other riders were arriving.

My start time was nice and early so I was able to do my 10 miles (25:15) and get back to the finish before layering up and riding home.

This reminded me of when my kids were first born and I did little in the way of training. With that in mind I rode the St Ives (Cambs) CC 10s mid week as where I lived meant I could easily ride out to the event and back for extra miles, usually it was a 50km evening. Those tired rides home with my lights twinkling and the fens looking splendid were some of the best I can remember.

The same applied here and as I waited for another 2 trains at the crossing going home I reflected on a successful evening for the club and enjoyed those last 8km home without sprinting for village signs or eyeballing the heart rate numbers on my computer.

And if a weekly stress relieving ride home each Wednesday is as good as my truncated cycling season gets this year, that will do just fine.

I would like to go a bit faster in the race though!

Introducing our new race cut 2019 classics jersey.

Featuring the original Fendrien black coloured jersey with the contrast red.

Despite moving across the border into Lincolnshire we have retained the gold and green of the Huntingdonshire flag for this jersey.

The design has a plain front with bold wording to stand out on the back and coloured pockets.

Technical features include tighter fit, bottom of jersey tape to keep it in place and body for stitching.

We love it!

Our final Giro thoughts.

We’ve left the dust to settle and the controversial comments fly before posting our Giro thoughts.

First off it was an epic race. We aren’t here to politicise cycling so won’t comment on the start in Israel. If you want to know how we feel, ask when you see us out on the road.

The sprint battle was supposed to be dull based on the number of top level riders missing, but in Elia Viviani and Sam Bennett we were treated to a great duel.

The mountains battle was compromised somewhat by GC contenders as is the way nowadays.

That battle was lit up early on by Simon Yates who almost made it to Rome in the Maglia Rosa before a late collapse instigated by Tom Dumoulin and finished off by Chris Froome.

Are we comfortable with Froome?

No.

It’s nothing personal but his Salbutomol case needed resolving way before now to give his win a level of security. Throw in the style of the race winning attack and it’s clear the cycling world needs some answers.

Overall our man of the race was Dumoulin. Harsh on Yates it may be, but the Dutchman is big and powerful and would go well in the fens. And that’s important to us.

Season 2016 – The 2nd half

The second half of the racing season started with a lot less blizzards but me feeling really under cooked competitively. 

The main objective of that middle third was the time trial attached to the Tour of Cambs. I had ridden well the previous year but even better in the Gran Fondo. I wanted to qualify again for the GB squad but with the understanding that the worlds in Australia would not be viable for my family or I.

The time trial is on roads I know well. I have trained and raced on them for over two decades so there was no nasty surprises in store on that front. 

However the midweek club ten I had earmarked for final preparation was cancelled and I was sick with stomach cramps. I didn’t say anything at the time as it looks like you are getting your excuses in early. But I was hardly eating and had a fever. On the day before the event when I was signing on I was looking for what I hoped would be quiet places should I need to be sick before the race next day. It was a horrible feeling as I had sacrificed family time to train for this event, hours I would never be able to get back. And here I was stricken the night before knowing that it would take some real effort to do myself justice. 

The day of the event was overcast and really humid. It was the start of really warm spell of the summer. I rode from home to the event and started my warm up… 

The start ramp was nerve wracking and I had to concentrate hard (again) on not falling off. I am really grateful to the 10 or so friends and family who were there solely to cheer me on. When people put themselves out and give up their time for you it makes sure you stay honest when you are out on the course. 

I started well and caught a number of riders still on the Excel grounds. However a tough middle of the race after the big climb left me too much to do and despite a complete disregard for the plan and my power meter heading back I was done. 

At the finish I clung on to the railings whilst a helper tried to get my helmet off and give me water. That was the hardest thing I had ever done on a bike. I was oblivious to who was around me for a minute or so before my eyes started to focus. 

I had missed qualification but had done myself some level of justice. 

The time trials carried on coming and the cancellations as well. It got so ridiculous that one week a police chase and stand off closed the motorway near us and the ten course was being used to re-route traffic which was at a standstill and was not safe for a bike race. 

However with two rounds of the series left we finally got the night that I wanted and the 25m07s and 25m06s and 25m11s that had plagued me since May was destroyed in the golden August sunshine. 

I knew I was on for a decent ride at the turn having obeyed coach’s orders and ridden out easier using the power meter as a check. It was headwind (that there was) coming back and yet somehow I actually got quicker. As I hammered round the last roundabout and launched a sprint with what was left I knew it was now or never. 

24m44s was the result and it was job done for the season. The relief was palpable and the ride home against the Fenland sunset beautiful. 

My season was effectively over (I went a few seconds slower the following week), but I had learned a heck of a lot about myself and bike racing. Something that after 22 years of racing I never thought I would be in a position to say. 

The final act of the year was the Alps trip which was covered elsewhere on the website. 

Now I am training with 2017 and some even tougher goals in mind.