Birkenhead Victoria 2up 10

Last one of the season, another 2up, this time with Tim. The weather looked pretty promising until the very second I picked Tim up and he said the same. Literally within 10 seconds, it was raining.

Arriving at Farndon Sports club, I’m faced with my worst nightmare, a nearly empty car park!! After parking up twice, I finally settle on a spot around the back of the building, ideal, no cars anywhere close, plenty of wall space to lean bikes against. Tim’s laughing at my indecision asking how I go on at Aldi every week??

We pick our numbers up and sit back in the car watching the wipers clearing the screen. We have an hour until our start time as we discuss how short a warm up we can get away with.. We reckon 15 minutes should do it.. Bikes built up and leant against the wall. We marvel at a car to our right, pulling out a full size gazebo. An impressive warm up tent we think, only to realise that it is the sign on area for the local dog agility show that is sharing the HQ.

20 minutes still start time and we are both good to go.. Rolling out of the HQ and it’s freezing. Ride 7 minutes down the road and then ride back is the extent of the warm up. We arrive at the start line slightly less cold than when we set off.

We had already discussed changes, start order, who was going to give the ok on turns etc.

Onto the line for that countdown for the last time this year. The pusher off tells me it’s clear behind and off we go. Nice and smooth, taking the long line around a huge pothole. I look over my shoulder and and Tim is tucked right onto my wheel. Building the pace up and it’s pretty clear how much spray we are going to get from the road. As Tim comes past, I aim at his back wheel and get a face full of spray. I’m thankful to have kept my visor on. We work well together for the first couple of miles. Past Holt Lodge and the road starts to climb, I’m having to press hard on the pedals just to hold Tim’s wheel. There’s no point in trying to come past so I shout and sit in his wheel. At the first turn the road levels out and I can get past, a decent stint to the turn and I lead us around the greasy 180deg turn roundabout. Back to the first roundabout and a left turn, the road ramps up again and as Tim comes through I have to tell him to keep it steady.

Top of the bank, 180deg around the roundabout and we are heading back. Our speed has picked up with the assistance of gravity. Straight through the original roundabout and we are back working well together. Crossing riders coming the opposite direction and it’s not just us that was struggling up the drag, the speed difference between us and then is obvious. Into the last mile, crossing the border back into England and the finish board is in site. Full gas but it’s not getting any closer. Tim comes though and I just about get onto his wheel as we cross the line.

24:36 my garmin says. Neither of us are happy with that time. The effort certainly felt faster than that time. The HQ is within 200 yards of the finish so we spin the legs out for a few minutes before returning to the car. Both still not particularly pleased..

Around the result board, our moods improve. A long 22 is winning upto now so maybe we are not too far off the pace.. In the end 22:49 wins the Grand Prix Des Gentlemen event. We are 6th overall with 24:27.

The organiser gives the awards out and starts a Spot Prize Bingo.. Picking rider numbers out of a box, he manages to pick most of the non starters for the day and the draw takes a while!! It was worth the wait though to come away with a new wheel bag..

All in all a great event on a slow wet course. We will certainly be back next year..

Now it’s time to relax for a bit and enjoy a few months off racing..

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Liverpool Braveheart 2up 10

My racing head is back on, 2 more events to go and that’s the season done, let’s see what I can salvage from the season..

First of the 2 events was the Liverpool Braveheart 2up 10 on the Rainford bypass course.. Rob and me had talked about doing a 2 up all year so this was a decent event to enter. It’s fair to say that neither of us are climbers so this flat dual carriageway course would be perfect.

We talked a bit on the way to the event about how to ‘change’. The benefit of a 2up is that one rider, in theory, is always resting whilst the other rider is sat on the front taking the wind and maintaining the pace. This works great if the changes between the 2 riders are smooth and work well.. If the changes aren’t smooth the resting rider spends all of his time just trying to get back onto the front mans wheel and doesn’t get any rest.. The chain gang we have been running for the last few weeks has worked well with the front rider swinging off the front and then dropping into the back of the line. I was keen to do this. Rob wanted to change with the rear rider accelerating passed the front rider. My concern with this is that the front rider had to up his pace slightly to get onto the overtaking riders wheel as he came passed; if it’s smooth it’s easy, if it’s too fast the front rider has to make the effort just to get on the wheel.. We agreed to try both during our warm up..

Signed on, bikes built up and we were ready to go. We had 50 minutes till our start time so rode the last 5 miles of the course, checking out the wind direction and changes.. It was pretty blowy, right shoulder to the turn and left shoulder on the return.. We agreed:

Changes from the back (the rear rider getting more shelter as he came past), longer turns with the tailwind and shorter turns into the wind, the rear rider calls if it’s clear to move out for junctions, just before the first roundabout is a tight chicane section – whoever was on the front there would take us through the junction..

On the start line and I’m leading off.. After the countdown we are off, steady off the line and we are away and together. Quickly up to 32mph, we make a couple of good smooth changes and find ourselves at the first junction, left on the dual carriageway and into the headwind, nice short turns and we are moving along nicely.

The draft sat behind the front rider in an aero tuck position makes all the difference, I’m almost feeling guilty sat there for the 20 seconds or so resting. A quick look over my shoulder and smoothly past Rob, keeping the speed constant as I’m on the front. I can see from the shadow that he is on my wheel, 30 seconds later he is overtaking me, as his rear hub is level with my front hub I accelerate and aim at his rear wheel. Bingo, I’m into the draft. Repeat this every 30 seconds and that is all you need to do for 10 miles.

At the M58 turn we are stopped by behind a car waiting at the junction and get separated. I slowly ride around the roundabout until I hear him shout that he is back on, we’ve lost maybe 10-15 seconds.. Upto speed again for the 3.5 miles to the next turn. Smoothly round this one, the marshals helping with a massive presence on a small roundabout deterring any cars from pulling out when riders are approaching, great job.

We sprint out of this turn, 3 miles to go, catch our 2 minute team and pass them. Approaching the turn towards the finish and the headwind is starting to bite. The final mile is full on headwind, we make shorter turns and up the pace the best we can, onto the finish straight and we are side by side pushing ourselves onto the line.

23:07.. A good time, it should have been a 22 though. More than that, I couldn’t fault how we rode that together. Nice and smooth, good communication and very evenly matched. All in all a great event..

Weaver Valley CC 25

Brandon’s idea was a good one, let’s target one event during the season, get as many Crewe Clarion riders entered and make it a bit of a social. We could even invite family and friends to support from the side of the road. Great idea. We all entered the event for the 7th of July, it should be a lovely, sunny and warm mid summers day. It was, however the event was postponed to the September 8th. Predictably, it wasn’t a lovely, sunny warm day. It was raining, and then it rained pretty hard..

If it hadn’t been Brandon’s event I would have spent the afternoon on zwift rather than the wet, muddy Cheshire lanes. I didn’t start the North Shropshire 25 two weeks earlier because it was raining, I couldn’t miss 2 in row, I’d be getting a reputation of being soft..

Arriving at the HQ I can see Robs van and park next to Andy and Alan – at least I’m not the only one.. A few knowing glances are swapped and we all agree that it’s going to be horrible this afternoon.. Tim then turns up, followed by Brandon and then Mark.. Quite a good number given the conditions.

A quick chat and I’m ready for the 5 mile ride to the start, nice and steady. It’s still raining but looks to be brightening up, I let a bit of pressure out of my front tyre as it feels a bit sketchy. Half a mile from the start a farmer has managed to drag most of the mud from his field onto the road for everyone to ride through, I’m covered.

Waiting for my start and the heavens open big time, I take my gloves off and wring enough rain to fill a tea cup.. I’m soaked through and have two options; either start and carry on getting wet or ride back to the start through the mud.. I’m starting.

The timekeeper is sat in his car with the drivers side window open no more than 5mm. The pusher offer, in full waterproofs is relaying the countdown to me and I’m off. Upto 30mph by the end of the lane, I’m committed really and hope I don’t have to slow down!!

Straight through the junction and splash through the rivers that are crossing the main roads. Through Chelford island, onto Ollerton and Three Sisters Lane. The roads are still horrible, my heart rate is where it should be but I’m nowhere near the speed I need to be. Holiday legs!! A week of sun bathing, drinking and eating hasn’t done me any favours for today. I sort of knew that before I started. I’ve had a cold from the plane all week so really the best I can do today is just get round and hopefully feature in the team prize..

Onto Twemlow Lane, dodge the grids on the corner and tip toe through some of the deeper puddles hoping there are no holes hidden!

A mile away from Chelford island for the second time a decent stream of cars pass me, a great draft but I can see what’s going to happen here. As predicted there is a queue upto the island; easily 20 cars. There’s no point sneaking through, my HR drops to 160bpm and I’m crawling upto the junction.. It is what it is.. Back up to speed for the last 8 miles and I cross the line in 1:03:13. I’ve got round, not the best time, but it will do.. As I cruise back to the HQ, Alan comes alongside me, nearly catching me for 4 minutes.. A great ride today..

After drying off and putting my bike away I’m onto my third cup of tea, gripping the cup hard in an attempt to warm up.. A good chat with the guys at the end and I’m freezing, I head off home with the heaters on full!! It wasn’t this cold in Portugal..

At least we were second fastest team and have £10 each to show for it..

Next week is a 2up with Rob on Rainford, let’s see if the legs are sorted for then. Before that I’ve got a bike to hose down!!

Rhos on Sea 10

After weeks of drought like conditions, the mid week forecast predicted a thunder storm and accompanying rain for Wales on Sunday, with a particular concentration around St Asaph.. Hourly forecast checks started… By Saturday evening the prediction was light rain. In reality I was just looking for an excuse not to ride. The combination of not enough miles, not enough fitness and not good enough form had caused my racing head to ‘fall off’…. In short I didn’t really fancy it.. Listening to the rain bouncing off the patio at 05:00, I text Tim to see if he really wanted to go. He did. Bugger.

I picked Tim up at 5:45, loaded the car up in the rain any off we go. An hour later we were sat outside St Asaph cricket ground with Tim rollicking me about how he could have had an extra 30 minutes in bed…

We collected our numbers and signed on, went to the loo whilst if was still possible to breath in without the aroma of embrocation and poo causing you to retch and then wondered back to the car to put the bikes together.. Looking at the clouds that were building it looked like the weather from Crewe had followed us. Tim set off for his warm up and I got myself ready for the off..

I had a chat with Ed Chiltern making sure he knew where he was going this time and then set off for the start. Tim was starting as I waited at the first roundabout, looking like he was going well..

On my warm up I could see that the roads were drying slightly but there were still plenty of damp patches, in Formula 1 terms, I needed intermediate tyres, but I had slicks and they were pumped up hard!!

As I sat on the line I snapped my visor into place at the last minute to stop any chance of it misting up. Off we go.

With the first few pedal revolutions I felt quite good. Approaching the first roundabout I took it wide making the most of the dry line, through the business park to the next roundabout and I’m well up to 30mph. I scrub some of the speed off for the second roundabout, even so my back wheel slid out on the roundabout, I lose all of my momentum trying to stay upright, just as I start to climb the slip road. Great…

Onto the A55. This feels fast. The gentle breeze was pushing me along at 30/31mph, turning the 12 sprocket smoothly. The road dragged up slightly past the Kinmel Park services dropping my speed down to 27mph. Down the other side and back up to 30mph. I’m onto the turn before I know it. Down the slip road at 35mph, I brake early on the wet roads. Right around the roundabout nice and steady, my disc wheel is still wanting to skip sideways. I’ve defo got too much pressure in today. Back up the slip road mountain and I’m struggling to hold 20mph!! The next mile doesn’t see my speed peak too far above 23mph.. Back past Kinmel Park and I’m getting a bit of pace back. The return leg is more of a drag than I thought.. I’m caught by my minute man with a mile to go on the A55, there not much I can do, I’m at 190bpm. Climbing up the slip road towards the finish area, I’ve got 3 roundabouts to negotiate. The first 2 are really slow and wide, the 3rd is straight over with the finish 50 yards past it. I shout my number and stop my Garmin. 22:52. Not bad, I’ve not set the world on fire but it’s given me the motivation to continue the season for a few more weeks.. Let’s see what I can salvage from it..

Birkenhead North End 25

I’ve almost got my own parking spot at Tilstock Village Hall at the moment. My third event here in the last few weeks. With an 8 man line up of Crewe Clarion riders my eyes were on the team prize. Chester RC and Birkenhead North End were the only other teams with enough riders in the field. Speaking to a few others at the midweek 10, we were all up for it..Race day dawned like every other day has for the last month, warm and sunny!! A light NW’ly wind meant a headwind back from Ternhill but a fast finish potentially. A 05:30 alarm didn’t inspire me to jump out bed, but a porridge and coffee had me in the car and on the way. Arriving at the HQ it was almost a Crewe Clarion meeting.. Alan, Andrew, Brian and Rob were already talking about how good a day it was.. Bikes ready, riders ready and we more or less set off as a peloton towards the start. Splitting up along the way we set about our warm ups, a few sprints, a gel, a pee in a gateway and a few more sprints and I was rolling up to the line. Being held at a precarious angle I was leaning further and further as the timekeeper counted down, at ‘1 second’ I couldn’t take it anymore and had to move off forward, otherwise I would have been on the floor on the word ‘go’!! Flying down the bridge I’m quickly onto the flat and the headwind is starting to slow me down. Hopefully when I turn at Prees the wind should push me along. Turning at Prees and it didn’t. Half a mile after the roundabout and a motorbike is coming up behind me, he is screaming along, as he passes me at well over a ton I get sucked along by the draft – it’s pretty clear that most of the wind today will be created by vehicles.. I catch my minute man bang on 5 miles. Onto the dual carriageway and the surface starts to deteriorate and slow me down – too much pressure in my tubs perhaps for this broken surface? Upto now every truck in Shropshire seems to be heading to Whitchurch (against my direction) creating plenty of wind. As I approach Ternhill a HGV cruises past helping me up the last drag. Right to Hodnet, the last drag to Hodnet certainly felt like a headwind, coming around the roundabout I was expecting a tailwind. Wrong again, it’s going to be a long ride home.. Crawling up to Ternhill again and then the drag past Ternhill back onto the dual carriageway, I can feel my speed ticking down, any hopes of a 58 have gone out of the window. I pass Brian Chell on the dual carriageway and yell at him not to let Alan (his son 4 minutes behind me) catch him!! My Garmin has beeped for the 4th time. 5 miles to go. At 190bpm there is not much chance of upper the pace, a decent line of traffic comes past me a mile before Prees and my speed picks up a touch, left at Prees and push for the finish – 194bpm I’m not going to get any faster than I am going. I hang on for the last mile and cross the line. I stop my Garmin exactly on 1:00:00, bugger!! I reckon I’ve gone over the hour then..I roll along for a bit and then head back to the HQs. I stop for a chat with Alan and Brian, the latter pleased not to be caught by the former. Back at Tilstock the result board says 59:54. Get in! Pleased with that, the final sprint saved the day. The team prize looks to be on too.. Despite a few errors on some of the times Crewe have won the team prize, Messrs Chell, Peel and Curley all leave with a £10 cheque to cash..There is even time for a team picture in the sun

WCTTA 50

One of my goals for this season was to ride a 50 mile time trial, a distance I’d not ridden before. The first aim was to finish it, the second part of it was to finish before the clock ticked past 2:07:00.A pretty rubbish week at work didn’t really put me in the best frame of mind for the event, but come Saturday I spent most of the day stood up helping to build a bike but was ready and keen to get going. My alarm was set for 04:55 on Sunday morning, ready to leave the house at 05:45. Plenty of time for the snooze button, a decent breakfast, a coffee and to load the bike and gear into the car.Arriving at the HQ before 06:30 on a wet Sunday morning was testing my resolve. Plenty of people were joking about how they could be at home having Father’s Day breakfast in bed rather than standing in Tilstock village hall wearing Lycra pretending to want ride a 50 mile time trial..I collect my number and sign on, get my bike out and ready. Last trip to the loo and then I’m ready to get going. The 4 mile ride to the start is plenty enough warm up for me, I’m warming up in my gilet – it’s pretty cold and wet this morning. I’ve got a decision to make; ride with my visor on or have it on the top of my helmet.. Aerodynamic or the ability to see…???As I’m sat waiting for my start time the rain eases, the visor is staying on. I say hello to Ed Chiltern starting 2 minutes behind me, I reckon he’ll catch my around about Tern Hill after the Market Drayton leg – 15 miles..I give my gilet to the timekeeper and sit on the start line waiting for the countdown. Off we go. It’s a downhill start so I’m well above 30mph pretty quickly. My HR is upto my target with 2 minutes, normally it’s a good 5 minutes before it is where I want it to be. I’ve targeted a HR of 175bpm for this event, working on 95-96% of my 25 mile HR for the 1st 40 miles and then building it up over the last 10 miles to threshold..I’m upto 175bpm quickly, almost backing off to maintain this. My speed is hovering around 25mph so this plan looks to be good, I need to concentrate now to maintain it now – 2 hours to go..The first leg to Tern Hill is cross headwind, after 6 miles I start to catch a couple of earlier starters, turning left at Tern Hill I arrive Market Drayton roundabout. Encircling this, I can see Ed bearing down on me, just short of Tern Hill for a second time he comes past, looking strong.Wellington is the next waypoint, through Espley island first and then the worlds worst road surface – The Peplow Pave. The 10 mile leg to Wellington is into the wind and it’s starting to bite now. Eventually I see riders coming the opposite way – the turn must be getting closer. I see Ed coming towards me and within a minute I’m coming back off the roundabout, finally a tailwind pushing me along.. Passing through Peplow again kills plenty of speed and makes me realise how tired my legs are feeling, I’ve had my last gel so it’s just a matter of hanging on for the last 13 miles now. I had planned on coming out of my aero position for as long as I can at each roundabout but that it also happening on the straight sections now, a combination of standing all of Saturday, the distance and not stretching my glutes properly was given me back ache..Through Ternhill for a third time, bigs smiles off the marshals and a cow bell ringing are all good for morale. My Garmin has beeped 8 times now, 40 miles, so if I can, I should be upping the pace.. In reality, the effort is getting harder but that is just to overcome the cross wind. 45 miles, 9 Garmin beeps and I pick up a tailwind to the Prees roundabout, a 180 degree left turn at Prees and I’ve got 2 miles into the wind to finish, a glance over my shoulder and I can see Mike Hill my 11 minute man in the distance.. Flat out now, all the way to the finish. I cross the line a couple of seconds ahead of Mike with 2:07:29. Objective partly done.As I crawl the 3 miles back to HQ I’m knackered, but reasonably pleased. I had a plan and stuck to it:Looking at how high my HR was at the end, next time I think I could start harder, maybe I held back too much? But it’s all good experience, the prospect of blowing up with 15 miles to go was what I was trying avoid, maybe I didn’t go close enough to the edge, either way, this weeks club 10 should feel like a sprint!!📸 Helen Tudor. Hanging on here with 3 miles to go, my head position has gone for a ball of chalk..

Chester RC 25

6 riders from Crewe rode the Chester RC 25, not a bad turn out, the Club seems to be getting an increasing number of racers again. A warm sunny morning with a light northerly breeze greeted the riders, as I was sat in the HQ car park there wasn’t a breath of wind to be felt..

A busy week at work has meant just a Wednesday evening 10 and a couple of roller sessions were all of the training that I managed this week, but that will have to do.

Rocking up to the HQ and going through the normal routine, I chucked 130psi into my tubs and set off for a warm up. The long ride from the HQ to the start always helps to get the legs moving. As I roll up to the start line I have 5 minutes to kill, have a gel and my visor needs to come off as it’s steaming up, lesson learnt, always put the anti fog spray on.. My minute man sets off, I start my garmin, snap my visor back into place and roll up to the timekeeper. Off we go.

The first 3 miles is headwind but it doesn’t seem too bad, I average 26.5mph to Prees roundabout. As I turn south towards Tern hill I pick up the tailwind and my garmin is constantly above 27mph and I feel ok, or as good as I am going to feel at 183bpm.. Onto the dual carriageway section and the rough surface and the incline start to bite slightly, but soon enough I’m onto the Hodnet bypass heading for the half way turn.

Around the turn, undertaking the cars that seem to have all day to get around the roundabout, I turn back towards Tern Hill and the headwind kicks in. This is going to be a struggle all the way back now. Keep smooth, shrug my shoulders and drop my neck, there is nothing more to do than that.

5 miles to go and a milk lorry overtakes without seeing the rider 40 metres in front of me that I’m catching, as soon as he sees him the lorry slams his brakes on, I’ve little choice but to do the same, I did a sideways skid along the A41 in a style Tom Pidcock would be proud of, the lorry crawls along at 18mph with me bollocking him for what seems like an age (40 seconds in reality according to Strava). As he pulls past the rider I do the same and try to pick the pace up again. I’m doing my best to keep my head on, I’m moving along quite nicely, looking down realise I’m only in the 13 sprocket, moving into the 12 instantly gets my an extra 1mph..

The final 1.5mile is with a tailwind back towards the start area, my HR is upto 190bpm as I’m pushing on trying to claw the lost time back. As I round the bend there is a white van parked on the grass verge, bugger that’s not the finish. The finish is only 200 yards further on but it seems a long way off. I cross the line and stop my garmin on 59:43.

Pleased with that, my 3rd fastest 25 ever, 19 seconds off my best ever from 1998.. Could it have been a 58? Maybe. There will be other events though.

I climb off my bike and check how big the flat spot on my tyre is, right through the canvass.. That’s a new tub required then..

After a slow ride back and a chat with the other Crewe riders I’m back at home ordering a new tub. Taking the old one off and cleaning the rim seemed pretty easy, putting them new one on might be a different story though..