The season opener arrived on a cold but still Saturday afternoon in February. 104 riders made their way to Bolton-by-Bowland to tackle the 10 mile course, which I completed in a time of 25:41. Good enough for 12th place.

12750049_1741408896090000_147519565_n

I’ll be honest; I’m more disappointed with my result than my ride.

It was a strong field this year and breaking the top ten would always require a big effort. Although hindsight has me making up a handful of seconds here and there, I did try hard and paced my effort respectably.

The only part I feel I really could’ve done better was the first five minutes. It took too long for me to settle into a comfortable rhythm. During this time I never quite had a gear or cadence I was happy with, and everything just felt a bit ‘sticky’.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 09.18.52

Once I’d crested the first climb at just over 3 miles – and enjoyed a brief descent before a sharp left hand turn which leads onto the final 2 miles of climbing for the day – I was a lot more comfortable. The road is a steady drag up, with an occasional short kick. I rode this section much better. I could feel the power flowing in the legs. The pedals were turning easier, and I was pleased with the progress I was making.

Before I knew it I was on the descent back into Bolton-by-Bowland. It was eye-wateringly quick! As I found myself spinning out my 53×12 gears. It’s a fast stretch of road with a few gentle turns. I dabbed my brakes but shouldn’t have. I’ll know for next time.

Right at the bottom there’s a sharp left hand turn at a junction towards the finishing line. I was gutted at having to slam on the brakes as a Land Rover with trailer filled the entire road turning right in front of me. It probably cost me a position on the leader board (I was 1 second behind) the rider in 11th place), but I don’t think it affected the league table. There I sit in 5th place behind some super strong rides like Dave Allonby and Derek Parkinson.

This was the first competitive outing in my new THR team colours. I felt so proud to be able to represent a great group of people, and it’s motivation to dig just that little deeper next time!

It was nice to get the first ride done. I’ll be going into the race next weekend feeling a bit more confident and perhaps even with some slight modifications to my bike. I’ve ordered a new saddle, and some 56/44t chain rings to put on the bike.


Lune RCC Coal Road Challenge 2016

This is an annual reliability ride held by local Racing club Lune RCC. It covers a tough 65 mile route, climbing over 5,500 ft in the process.

I had a great ride this year. Finishing in just under 3hrs and 20mins at an average speed of 19.7mph. About 5 minutes ahead of some other fast lads who were out that day too.

Waking up at 5:30am in order to get ready and eat before the ride my legs felt amazing. There must’ve been way too much left in the tank from the Time Trial the day before! I knew I was going to have a good day.

It was forecast to be a nice sunny day so I decided to attach the GoPro to my bike. Also I’d have an excuse if I were to get dropped! All that extra weight ;-). That didn’t happen though, although it came close a few times!

The ride started out painfully slow. Literally. It was extremely cold that early in the morning, and I was grateful when the pace finally kicked up and we started to ride with a bit more enthusiasm. There were two or three of us at the front prepared to work all the way to the Coal Road climb. We’re lucky to live in an area with such strong riders.

With training for Time Trial season I haven’t done much climbing this year. I’ve spent a lot of time on the Shiv getting comfortable with my position and better at producing power on flat roads or downhill. It was nice to get back on some yucky steep stuff!

I paced the climb well. It’s actually a bit steeper than I like, so a little out of my comfort zone. I was out of the saddle for the sections when the road forced my cadence too low, and the legs at this time just felt smooth and powerful. Normally I would try and do the whole thing seated as much as possible. I backed off occasionally and never let myself go full-gas and into the red. It meant two riders almost got away, but by the summit I had brought everyone back except one…

The road from Dent to Devil’s bridge was one of the most fun parts of the entire day. The big climbing challenges were behind me, as was the wind. Now was time to empty the legs and get back to HQ as quickly as possible. There was one rider still up the road, and with the help of another strong local lad, we slowly brought the escapee back over the next few miles.

The three of us worked together well, until eventually one lad dropped off and it was just two of us left. I took some decent pulls on the front and managed to just about stay on the wheel when I was soft attacked on a couple of rises. Nice banter to end on! The legs starting to tire but still feeling strong.

I really needed to get this ride in my legs – but more importantly in my head. It’s my favourite kind of route, and part of the reason I love cycling. I felt strong, and proved myself able to set a strong pace and not fatigue late in the day because of my efforts.