Yes, thankfully I’ve been able to bike without pain (and swim). On Saturday 25th March I plunged into the unknown and raced in my first criterium. This is a bike race which is on a short circuit and consists of lots of laps, in this case it was 45mins long at Lee Valley Velodrome Road Circuit. It was a Category 3/4 race so was a mix of beginners and intermediate riders. At first I thought how hard can it be? After the neutralised warm up lap I realised the answer to that question would be VERY HARD! No way was I getting anywhere near the front, I was struggling to stay mid pack! With the initial shock of the pace calming down I managed to settle into a rhythm and work my way up the pack (although my cornering was not great) and sit on the front for a bit. A few seconds...then I had to get back into the draft. Keeping up 42kmh in a peloton is hard, but sitting on the front doing that is even harder! As the laps went by I learnt a lot and got more into it and finally we had 5 laps to go. You could feel people getting nervous, lots of shouting and lots of swerving. And on the last lap the inevitable. I was mid pack and everyone swerved just before the corner. A few people hit the floor in front of me which meant I had to go straight...into a bush. I got myself out of the bush and rode on to the finish disappointed, but also very happy with what I’d done. I really enjoyed it! So much that I went and entered one for the weekend after.
7 days later...
This time, Category 4. Hog Hill lower circuit with three climbs of the main hill and perhaps slightly harder. The racing got under straight away and immediately I felt more comfortable than last week. I‘d learnt so much and was coming into the race more ready than the previous week. After a few laps mid-pack I realised the place to be was at the front. Every lap there was a tight turn of perhaps 200 degrees (the wrong way round a corner if that makes sense) and that was causing people to slow down in the middle. So I moved up and decided I would take some turns on the front and be first round that corner as much as possible. That tactic worked very well and did quite a bit of work in the first 20 mins. After 3 climbs of the hill and 40 odd minutes of racing we had 5 laps to go. Again, you could feel people getting nervous...I was getting nervous, but with three laps to go I calmed myself down. I found myself right on the front a lot, but didn't put too much effort in as I didn't want to do all the work. I thought I could do well here. With one lap to go I was in fifth, with half a lap to go I was in fourth, but now slightly exposed to the wind with no leadout. Oh well, here goes … I sat next to the other riders and waited for them to launch the uphill sprint. We rounded the final corner and it was go time! I put all the power I could into my legs and through my pedals! 3rd! 2nd! Oh no….the legs were running out of power. After 600 or so watts being put out over the last few metres it was painful. The winner was clear by a bike length, 2nd-5th was a group of four only separated by a photo finish...and then ME! 6th place! Oh my I did not expect that. I was over the moon! Struggling to stay upright on the bike I placed myself on the grass and gathered my breath. Wow, what a race. A massive thank you to those at Romford Cycle Club who came over to support. If you live around Romford come and check us out, Sunday 8am from Cycle Surgery, they are a great club! And a massive thank you to Brett for taking some top class photos seen below!
I can definitely say I have enjoyed this bike racing, it’s so different to drafting in a triathlon, but I hope when I'm back this will definitely help me be stronger. Bring on the next one!
This weekend, I am really excited to be going to France to ride part of the Paris Roubaix course, 145km to be specific, part of the Challenge Paris Roubaix sportive! This I know will be by far the furthest I would have ever cycled and with 18 cobbled sectors it will be a monumental challenge, but it is something I’ve wanted to do and I’m really looking forward to it!
I want to give a massive shoutout to my mate Ben Davis for winning the British Biathlon Championships last weekend! An insane effort from the man, awesome work mate, well done.
A huge thank you to my physio Gary Carr at Excel Physiotherapy for his continued work to get me through this injury. If you need any treatment, get in touch! He is the best around!
A really big thank you to my team Jackpot Racing Team and sponsors & partners for their continued support leading up to the start of this season. Pedal Potential, Sam Farmer, Swim Canary Wharf, The Body Therapy Company, Zone 3 and Max Curle for everything they do helping me to get to the start line in the best shape possible.
I'll be around,