A day of top class bike racing has hosted in the centre of Birkenhead on Tuesday 21st May as the OVO Energy Tour Series took place around the town centre.
The day was made up of various races covering all categories of riders from the young right up to the pro level, with former world and Olympic champion Ed Clancy in the main event.
However, the pro race was only a filler for the main event, the Brother Corporate Relay Grand Prix. This featured corporate based teams of 5 from the region. Each rider was to complete one lap then dismount to tag the next rider intheir team. The final lap was to be completed by a pro rider randomly assigned to each team. Beyond’s pro was Charlotte Berry from Team Velo Performance.
Beyond Corporate Limited, a legal firm based in Manchester entered a team featuring the NWV’s very own Scott “haven’t been on the hooks since 1993” O’Brien in his return to racing after a 26 year lay off. Some commented that despite the time gap from his last race, “he hadn’t lost it”. However, this comment was qualified by “but he has found about 12 kilos”.
A last minute change to the Beyond team meant that Beyond gaffer Jim Truscott was unable to race and so Peter Sagan look a like Chris Redhead was recruited to bolster the team.
The guys look resplendent in the NWV colours and both did sterling work on their laps as did the rest of the Beyond Corporate squad to secure a magnificent second place.
The winners were the Vittoria squad, a well drilled team of current and recently former nation champions and elite triathletes. Basically ringers. So, as many said, Beyond Corporate were in face the moral victors.
More importantly, everyone involved had a great time and enjoyed the day. A big well done to the organisers and Wirral Borough Council for putting on such a fantastic event.
Evergreen Pete Clarke recently represented Great Britain in the 2019 World Sprint Duathlon Championships in Pontevedra, Spain.
A duathlon, for those not familiar with the event, is a three part race consisting of a 10 km bike ride (with no bike), a 30 km bike ride, then a final 5km bike ride (again with no bike).
Pete’s final position was 30th out of 64 in his age category, even though he didn’t run at all for 3 weeks due to Piriformis syndrome he has suffered with since November. Pete managed a consistent 7.40 minute pace for both runs and pulled back a lot of time on the bike were he impressively finished 3rd fastest in 53 minutes 12 seconds. It was a hilly course with 800ft of climbing so the club rides into Wales payed off!
Pete reflected, “The whole event was so great and competing in my category against the world’s best was memorable. Got a few stories to tell of the friendly banter with the other nation’s competitors! I would like to thank the club in helping me over my injury on the club rides in letting me do the routes I was comfortable with.”
A big well done to Pete, as always a great ambassador for the club, but also a great ambassador the sport and GB! Long may your cycling and cycling without a bike, continue!
A busy weekend for the Velo as the club was well represented in may parts of the country.
North and East… The Tour of the Pennines
An intrepid band of some of the clubs hardest grimpeurs and rouleurs went to the North East to fly the NWV flag in the Tour of the Pennines Sportive. While some made a trip of it and went the day before, some were more hardcore travelling up at v. early o’clock to get to the start in Northumberland.
The lads got around the challenging 78 mile route with the nearly 7000ft of climbing and were rewarded with medals. Some even got a rub down and a few beers
An enjoyable day out for the boys at a well organised event.
South and East…. Herne Hill Velodrome
Meanwhile at the other end of the country, our very own track maestro Will Bridgman was showing the southerners a thing or two on the…er.. “concrete boards” of the legendary Herne Hill velodrome.
Not that he needed to, but Will again proved why he is the most angelic member of the NWV by winning the Devil Take the Hindmost event. A fantastic result, well done Will, keep the flag flying!
Northish and Westish… Basically back nearer to home
Despite the number on “international duty”, we still managed a club run at the weekend. Venturing to the dizzy heights of the MTB centre at Llandegla.
The club now has regular weekend and Tuesday night rides. If you would like to join us, please email the club firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us via our plethora of social media channels.
Dave Cuthill’s journey to racing glory continues as he recalls his experiences in April…
The last month has been my most active racing yet with many 2 race weeks. I have certainly been operating out of my comfort zone and even though results have not been matching my pre-season ‘dreams’ I am doing alright.
Strangely enough the month started with me learning a valuable lesson about not resting enough. After my Road Race debut (See previous blog) I decided that seeing as though I was not racing the week after I would literally blow myself apart to then come into the busy schedule flying for the Oakenclough RR 0n the 14th with a lighter week beforehand. In reality fatigue kicked in, training results were terrible and then I got ill by being run down. Lesson learnt!
The 10th was my birthday so my pre-race build
up consisted of visiting Knowsley Safari Park and eating lots of……..everything
basically, then a mad dash home to get the bike, drop the family off and get to
Litherland for round 1 of the new Cat 2/3/4 50 min race. Unsurprisingly this
shambolic preparation led for a great birthday but rubbish race that saw me
dropped after 10 laps. I TT’d around after that so I at least earnt the
crackers and cheese supper but basically one to forget.
14/04/19 Oakenclough Cat 3/4 Road Race (30th out of 62)
This I was looking forward to, hills I can do
and the first half of each 10.5 mile lap was indeed uphill and into a headwind just
for good measure. After waiting around for the ambulance to clear the remains
of the earlier cat E/1/2 race we rolled out behind the lead car for the neutralised
rolling start, then BOOM! The race started and immediately the attacks started,
the race was blown to bits inside the 1st 5 miles. 1 group of strong riders
went up the road, 1 group went backwards very quickly and me not being
positioned properly was stuck in a middle group. The majority of the 3rd group
was pulled out on safety grounds by the commissaire at the end of the 1st lap
and the rest went at the end of lap 2 for being too far back.
I was left slightly frustrated at this stage by
my group as the majority did not want to work but eventually a small group
formed who would and this saved our race whilst the others were dropped and
eventually pulled/dropped out. We worked together and kept a decent pace and
either passed or recruited members dropping off the lead group and for 1 lap
were the fastest on the road (According to the commissaire in the safety car). Unfortunately,
we were too far back from main group after the initial time wasted getting
organised to effect the race but we finished when half the field did not. Even
though I may never see my 2 ‘mates’ again it was a great feeling of camaraderie
All in all I was happy with my form as I proved fairly strong for the whole race and could now swallow gels faster than the addicts in NWV! (Thank you Scott for making me rethink the no fuel strategy, I would have been found in a ditch otherwise singing about Pink Fluffy Unicorns dancing on Rainbows!) Speaking with people at the end of the race the general feeling was if I learned how to position I would do alright going forward and I had completed one of the hardest races on the calendar.
This time I managed to hang on for 14 laps after a proper warm up and eating properly. Not much to report though except I need to improve my race craft, hanging on the back of these fast lads just increases the effort required until the inevitable drop happens. My biggest achievement tonight was catching up the people who had dropped me as part of the group when I was putting a decent TT training effort in after being dropped.
This was another chance to see how much I had improved from last year when I completed event in 56:46. I had a late start so the NWV support crew gave me a very enthusiastic wave on my warm up to the start as they were heading for syrup covered waffles. (With their usual pinpoint planning they managed to miss Robin and Mike as well but at least the thought was there boys!) The race itself went reasonably well for me, I managed to hold my HR at 180 bpm as planned and a cadence of 85+ rpm. I have been working on increasing my cadence since riding the 2 Up with Robin last year and am starting to feel the benefit as I can now hold a constant higher power for longer. When I got back to the HQ I was given an initial time of 54:00 so I was a little disappointed as I had absolutely emptied myself, got a dedicated TT bike and only finished 1:46 better off. On my way home I realised a mistake had been made, contacted the organisers’ and it was changed to 52:00. An improvement of nearly 4 mins had me feeling much better about life and the wrack of PB’s on my Strava was nice. On the TT’s I am climbing well but need to improve on the long flat sections to really start getting somewhere, event though my power and position have improved more work is needed.
24/04/19 Litherland Crit (15th out of 15, due
to the crash)
A different Litherland tonight as it was wet and cold but initially saw a big turnaround in my fortunes. I not only held on to the main bunch, I was right in the thick of the action and doing well. Unfortunately, 2nd to last lap I overcooked the hairpin and lost the back wheel when racing for 7th. This was very frustrating as I had been particularly good on the hairpin all night and had just got a little gap to take into the last lap that would have boded well for the sprint. On the plus side it was a massive improvement and I had managed to jump up and unsuccessfully tried to catch up meaning me and my bike escaped unscathed. This felt like somewhat of a turning point even though I was dead last. One comment from my fellow racers also made me smile, “You looked like you were circling the plug hole with a bike attached to your feet!”
28/04/19 Fibrax Wrexham RC Horseshoe Pass
Mountain TT (24th out of 47)
My entry into this was met with some surprise
by Robin and Scott, Robin in particular with his “Are you mad?” This race was
very tough, starting from slightly lower down than the Britannia Inn this was
straight up the ‘Shoe’, over to and down the Nant Y Garth towards Corwen before
heading back to Llandegla and back up the ‘Shoe’ to finish at the cafe. In
reality this means 32 miles of pain. I actually climbed well with 12th best
time up the main climb on the day and descended bravely but was slightly
apprehensive on the wet roads after sliding on Wednesday, next time the Nant Y
Garth is being given full gas all the way! Never having done this long a TT (or
this hilly) I was not completely sure how to pace this and also next time I
will probably race with pockets so I can neck a few gels. Again, the flatter
rolling sections of the course were where I lost time. This is not lack of
effort as HR shows but I need to find power from somewhere, possibly just more
riding in the TT position. Next year I want to improve on my 1:35:20 (I was
quicker than my official time as I got to the start late like a T*T!) but will
have some practice runs on what is actually a really nice route. Afterwards I
said this was one of the hardest things I have done on a bike, but I am keen to
do again and not sure it was as hard as the Oakenclough in hindsight. What I
definitely do know is I need a different saddle!
Still feeling the effects of the Shoe TT, I gave Litherland a miss to allow another day of recovery and did the Hatton TT hosted by Runcorn CC and Frodsham Wheelers with Mike Stanley. This was a great little course with some technical parts that made it interesting. Apart from being a bit too brave (Stupid) on the first corner and nearly ending up in a forest I had a good run to finish 10th with a time of 23:55 and HR 183 bpm to prove I left it all out there. Anyone thinking of giving TT a go should have a go on this event, a well organised and enjoyable night. Special mention to Dougie Turndodger for a very impressive debut even though the upstart beat me!
This race saw me completing 8 laps of a 6.3
mile course above the Lune Valley, a simply stunning part of the world. Leading
up to the race I was still struggling with a hamstring injury so was feeling
very apprehensive as even walking was causing me pain. After much stretching
Friday/Saturday I decided to dose up on painkillers and hope for the best, I have
a week off racing afterwards so can deal with the consequences then. 7:00am
Sunday, car was loaded, both breakfasts consumed, and I was off.
Signed and numbered up I decided a lap recce
and few sprints were more worthwhile than the turbo before the rider briefing
and the views alone where vindication of this. The recce of a slightly hillier
course than I was expecting also had me thinking ‘What am I doing?!’ with
Oakenclough still fresh in the mind! Having learnt a little about position I
got straight behind the lead car for the neutralised start and despite the
drivers’ best efforts we set off safely.
From the off I felt much better in this race, the
pace was high but even though I was working hard on the flats I felt alright
and as soon as it kicked up, I naturally started to move up. My pre-race
apprehension dissipated until shooting pains started down the hamstring. This had
me thinking I might pull out after lap 1 but like a hero I pushed through
(Mainly as it was a 90 min drive to get there) and amazingly the pain went
completely after me really kicking up a hill in a last ditch effort to test it!
Pain free and feeling like I belonged I got more aggressive and tried a few
attacks and followed any that went off the front when I needed. My ‘attacks’
really only succeeded in tiring me out, but one had potential when I bridged a
break. I got over but then sat up as no one else looked interesting in going on,
in hindsight I could and should have gone again but caution got the better of
me. With how I felt even if it had failed, I would have been able to recover in
The rest of the race was pretty
straightforward with all moves covered until one slipped away on the 45 mph
descent of the 2nd to last lap. I had chased another break straight before and
missed the one that stuck annoyingly. Even though I missed it I was starting to
read the race a little more. Eventually, I rolled over the line at the back of
the main bunch after attacking too early on the last lap (I got my hills mixed
up) but it was a good if mistimed move that if done 2 hills later would have
had me finishing much higher than my eventual 33rd. 33rd sounds rubbish but
when it was obvious I had blown my chance of top 10 I sat up in the last 50m to
stay safe and with better timing I would have been properly up there. The legs
were definitely up to the job if the brain is somewhat lagging behind!
Overall, I am pretty happy with how my racing
is going, alright the results do not look great written down but I feel I am
definitely moving forward and am really enjoying the TT’s and Road Races. Road
Races in particular feel like a proper event so I will be looking to do as many
as possible the next few years, I might even be able to string a complete race
together in that time so that podium better watch out!
TT’s I have to find more power on the long
drags to catch ‘Robin and the Hitters’ but the great thing here is it is as
much competing against myself so there is always something to aim for.
The new format at Litherland is not helping my
results in the Crits as it is generally a Cat 2 race, the lads racing have a
lot of racing under their belts and are very strong. I may have a decision to
make of whether saving £15 a week and fitting another training ride in is
better than racing or even TT instead each week. I will see how I feel as the
season progresses, but it has also made me realise I need to work
harder/smarter to get to be a true Cat 2 whilst still ensuring it stays
enjoyable as that is the real reason we all ride the bike!
Anyway, today I got an email from Barnsley Road Club asking all competitors if they are fit enough to ride their race in the Holme Valley in 2 weeks’ time that I have entered, guess that will be another easy one for me if I make the field!