The North Wirral Velo’s annual club dinner/prize presentation is on this coming Saturday (16th November). It’s a night to celebrate the past 12 months of the club’s success and gives both of the non-follicly members a chance to let their hair down. As for the rest of us, we’ll just get drunk and do dad dancing.
As well as the prize presentation and buffet, there will be (of course) the world premier of the latest much anticipated NWV movie. The lucky attendees get to see it before it’s public release (probably a DVD in the bargain bucket at Aldi). But more importantly there will be a talk from our guest speaker, Helen Bridgman. She was one of the very talented and courageous Internationelles team that rode the entire Tour De France route one day ahead of the race.
Thanks to everyone who has supported the club over the last year, we continue to grow and continue to introduce people to cycling and riders to racing.
After another frustrating trip to Halfords the bike is loaded on the car and kit is being packed for my first road race. All the usual kit questions go through my mind, skinsuit, winter gear, jersey, shorts, tights, whatever happened to those baggy shorts I regularly ask myself? Throw in whether i should use my new Velo coloured helmet or the trusty battle scarred one, prizm lenses in the glasses or photochromic, its enough to make a certain old pro shake his head in disgust or Rebekah (my Wife) for that matter. I decided to take all my summer kit and none of my winter kit for racing in March, yes I have made this mistake before.
This time I had also managed to get the family involved to make a weekend of it so as well as packing my 2 course pre race breakfast I had to make room for luxuries, clothes, swimming costumes, barbies, children etc. Luckily for them the turbo folds pretty small otherwise toys would have been kept to a minimum.
Finally after some M6 Friday afternoon action we get to the stonker of a hotel I have booked. Rebekah says I have finally realised what the required standards are and we are living large. Family stuff takes precedence over the next 24 hours with just an hour course recce for me on Saturday morning to see how flat and windy it’s going to be, very to both but I am happy. I also have to go and buy better gloves as it turns out Cockerham is bloody freezing and my fingers were numb after 1 lap never mind 4. This is one lesson I may never learn but there may be some good kit on offer every so often.
Race day sees me up at 6am for my 2 course breakfast, Weetabix, Honey and Banana followed by Beans on Toast. I normally spread this over a whole morning pre race but with a 9am start time, needs must with me not trusting myself to mess with gels/bars mid race. I had to eat fast though as i was breaking the 3 hour digestion rule but prioritised sleep this time. I then chilled out until getting on the turbo at 7:20.
Turns out a turbo and cleats on a wooden floor in a first storey apartment makes a fair bit of noise but hopefully the presumably delighted people downstairs thought it was just Rebekah walking around in high heels and doing the washing. Warm up done, sweat cleaned off the floor and i said bye to everyone and rolled down to Cockerham to meet ‘Mr I love a Puncture’ Will. The kids ran after me to give me one last hug as i was leaving and left me hoping their 6th sense was off and we didn’t need such a big goodbye but it was nice. It really helped having them there as it took away the guilt of missing time with them to race.
After finding Will at HQ and his last minute puncture repair (And panic he had the short valve inner tubes for deep wheels) we got numbered up, completed warm ups, attended the riders briefing and were ushered into the starters pen – aka the car park for the rolling start. I was a little back after toilet stop 931 of the morning but spotted Will further up and managed to sneak in behind him. This was it, a rolling start behind a lead car with motorbikes and everything. I was properly racing and this was going to be great was what was going through my head as the peloton rolled down to the start!
BOOM! We crossed the line and this got real! The rolling peloton became a surging animal, speed doubled, space shrank and there were bikes everywhere and my legs had disappeared. I spotted Will moving up through the peloton but I was fighting to hold on and slowly sliding backwards. All those thoughts yesterday doing the recce of possible attacking places were replaced with ‘I am getting dropped 5 mins into my first road race!’ A stern word with myself made me pull up the big boy lycra and I moved up the outside of the bunch with a calculated gamble on the white line to get into some sort of decent position that earned me some shouts from the ‘Mr Play by the rules whilst it suits’ crowd.
I spotted Will and got in the wheels, realising I had to race smart. Sticking out in the wind had allowed me to move up but had cost a lot of energy. I needed to shelter or the wind would be sending me out the back. Whilst I had been realising this was a race a small break of 3 went and fair play to them as they impressively stayed away all day and smashed it. Halfway around the 12 mile lap we turned and had the first taste of the tailwind, now it would be cruising on the wind. Wrong again as the speed clocked up to 30mph. I was in the game now though and emptied myself when I needed and drafted to recoup energy when that was needed. I also spotted an ‘experienced’ rider drifting around the wheels and followed him and learnt a lot in the next 24 miles, unknowingly to him this was probably my best move all day. The last 3 miles of each lap contain the only lumps in the race with 3 small rises. Everyone was smashing into these and slowing greatly at the top but I kept cadence high and crested each, carrying good momentum through and conserving energy. This formed an ill advised plan in my head whilst we smashed through Cockerham and back into the headwind.
Laps 2 and 3 went by pretty smoothly but were still hard work, sprinting, hiding, sprinting, hiding, little panicking and so on. Another small group of 4 got away but i was a little back at the time so unfortunately missed the break without being able to do much about it. By this time I felt like I belonged and I was really racing, even returning a few of the shouts I had been given out just because I could!
The last lap had me battling to stay up near the front and I followed a few attacks but unfortunately nothing stuck so I finalised my plan for the hills. I was going to hold back slightly and attack over the top to get up near the front with my extra momentum. I knew I had to wait to at least halfway up the last as there was too much road and headwind to go earlier. My plan kind of worked but when it slowed someone completely blew in front of me and as I had not positioned on the outside I had nowhere to go, by the time I had got around the race was gone. I chased for a while but alone in the wind i was not catching the sprint. I sat up and watched the sprint for the line as sprinting for 30th place is not a cool look. Being in the mix for 7th for 49.5 miles will do for my first race though so I am happy.
It was also great to share the experience with a fellow Velo racer. Having a coffee and cake ‘debrief’ (Told you i felt like a real cyclist!) with Will was great, talking all things bike and how the race had gone was a nice ending to the event. After the Time Trials with Robin has felt very similar and brings a real enjoyment and camaraderie into all the hard work.
Looking back now my plan was pretty stupid as i have intervalled School Hill to death and hills are generally a strong point for me. I should have trusted my legs and the work i have put in to ensure i was always right up there and give myself a chance, that is one lesson i will learn!
Overall feeling is that I am very happy, I was at the business end racing for top 10 for all the race, raced pretty smart, matched sprints and did alright. Work is needed to get really in the mix but I will do as much as I can and even if I don’t manage it I am really racing! A great weekend in a fantastic part of the world, I rode my bike really fast (50 miles at 24.3mph and also spent time with the family, PERFECT!
Ride safe and if you fancy giving it a go be brave!
General club meeting open to all, incorporating a bike safety and riding position check clinic!
Make sure you bring your bike so our club experts can check everything over and offer practical advise on anything that could be improved. This is the first meeting of what we will set out as monthly meeting through the year. There will be a bike mechanics section in most meetings to cover a range of topics.
First race of the season was on Saturday and
it went pretty well except for the pesky NWV ‘Legend in the Making’ getting the
better of me again! (Great ride Robin, 33:12 is a top effort – 2nd)
After a few months of training it was time to
strap the new improved TT bike to the back of the Fiat 500 and head off to the
dogging capital of the world, Broxton roundabout and its infamous car park.
Robin pulled in 5 mins later (Also in a Fiat 500 – new team car?) in the
tightest pair of jeans i have ever seen, I assumed the car park has a dress
code I didn’t know about! Soon after we started our warm ups, my methodical
approach compared to Robin rolling down the main road a couple of times. Each
to their own and either way we were ready and set off with numbers 4 and 5 on
I went flying down the A41, avoided being
killed, falling down cavernous pot holes, climbed a few hills, overtook a
couple of people and was generally having a good if painful time. That was
until Robin came flying past in his ‘relaxed’ fit Lycra but even this couldn’t
dampen my happiness at the finish line when I finished in 34:17. I had gone
2:38 faster than last year and as a bonus eventually finished 6th. (ELATION)
The week leading up to this had seen me go
through a number of emotions that racing gives you. I had planned in 2 practice
runs on the same training runs I had done the previous year. The first was
destroyed when after putting in a massive effort into a headwind i was stopped
by traffic going for Sunday dinner. (FRUSTRATION) The second attempt nothing
went wrong except me being slower than the previous year! (DESPAIR) Rebekah
rightfully suggested this could be down to wind speed and many other variables
but what did she know, I had wasted the last 4 months and that was that!
The morning of the race was also a bit of a
roller coaster. I woke up NERVOUS and ANXIOUS that i would be worse than last
year. I was prepared, had worked hard, lost weight and improved all my
equipment (Pointy helmet and everything!) but I still might actually be slower.
However, this all changed when my 2 daughters
surprised me with a good luck card they had secretly made. Below is my Facebook
post that sums up this best, but fellow racers please remember this is meant to
be FUN so ENJOY it and be happy for other people’s success!
First day of the race season for me today and the girls surprised me with a card they sneakily made. It has taken me back a little as I do feel guilty missing time with them to train but it has also made me realise I have been working hard and it’s now time to just ‘enjoy’ it and whatever happens, happens. Good luck and stay safe to all the other racers.
Stay safe, ride hard and don’t be afraid to step out of
your comfort zone!
As January grinds by we look forward to the season ahead, lighter nights and better weather.
The North Wirral Velo’s racing team members have been working hard over the winter so far and are looking forward to the challenges the new racing year.
Meanwhile the rest of the Velo are still enjoying themselves with a few pints and a curry! A very well supported and enjoyable evening was had at the Mak Syed in Wallasey Village. As well as putting the world to rights, plans were discussed for more club rides (and more social events).
The end of January saw a club trip to the National Track Champs in Manchester. The first visit to the velodrome for some of the members, and the night was enjoyed by all.
The club website has had an upgrade too. We have changed hosts to a more stable platform and we have added a forum and events calendar to help club organisation of rides and social events.
In summary, we are looking forward to the coming year, the racing, the riding, the socialising and the banter!
If you want to join us, please email email@example.com for more info, or say hello when you see us out!
Forget Christmas, ignore all the decorations going up everywhere, you can’t possibly think about it until after the next big event of the year.
The first (reformed) North Wirral Velo Club Dinner and prize Presentation is just two weeks away! It’s going to be a fantastic night of eating, drinking, dancing and celebrating the success of the club in the past year. The venue this year is The Manor in Greasby.
A guest speaker has been confirmed for the event, and the evening will also feature the world premier of “NWV – the Movie” (imagine the Hangover meets Dodgeball but with bikes).
So, if you fancy a great night of food and entertainment for just £25, email firstname.lastname@example.org for info on buying tickets*
Hope to see you there!
*Subject to availability, terms and conditions apply (see absolutely nowhere else for more details). North Wirral Velo isn’t a trading name, it a cycling club. Not buying tickets could reduce the amount of fun you have before Christmas. Drinks go down but can come back up. Please drink responsibly. And dance responsibly if you have drunk responsibly, or dance like nobody is watching if you haven’t drunk responsibly. Please remember that if you’re not living on the edge, you take up too much room.
On an unseasonably warm Wednesday evening in October, the North Wirral Velo re-established the annual club hill climb champs.
More than 50 years separated the youngest to the most senior of riders, with a vast range of abilities in between. As such, the event organiser and TT legend Robin Hennessy had used some ancient Chinese magic to work out a handicap system to level the hill climbing up hill playing field. Otherwise known as Strava segments, Robin calculated the handicap times on the Thurstaston Hill segment that nearly all riders in the event had a time up. This, as usual caused a lot of debate, particularly the ones who had used a moped to record their Strava segments.
To the race, and first off was Monsieur Denby, a self proclaimed pre race favourite, having ridden the course 46 times in the last month in preparation. However, he sportingly wore 17 layers of clothes to slow himself down in the warmer than normal weather. He was closely (actually a minute) followed by the real race favourite (on actual time) Dave “The Racing Leg End” Cuthill. His carefully prepared starting effort was interrupted by paparazzi in a car in front of him trying to get the front cover for next months “Take a Break”. The car in question soon sped up and Dave maliciously drafted behind it to turn any time lost into a good 24 second gain.
Next to start was Mike “Dark Horse” Hurworth who was still reeling after losing the club TT to Mike Hornsby and was hoping to go one better. Unfortunately Robin was onto his previous generous handicap and so penalised Mike to give him little chance of an easy victory. Following Mike was Jon “carefully edited my Strava segment to ensure victory” Doyle, who, given a massive handicap had time to ride the climb without breaking a sweat, and as such still looked cool and composed at the finish line.
However, the big guns had not all rolled out as yet and first of those was Pete “I don’t think 10k for a bike is excessive” Clarke who flew out of the start looking for a fast time to show all the young upstarts how it’s done. Following Pete was Anthony “I’m rubbish at this, no actually I’m ok” Doolan who started like a bullet from a gun. Let’s just say that pacing himself is not one of his strongest suits. Then, as the flash bulbs popped, Scott “I haven’t coughed like this since 1993” O’Brien rolled to the start line. He set off in true TT style, only to have to ease up round the corner and ride sensibly the rest of the way.
Then one of our international club stars made a surprise appearance, having flown in especially from New Zealand, chasing the dream of gaining the massive kudos as club hill climb champion. Whether it was the jet lag, the extremely retro steel LLoydy bike or vast quantities of pizza eaten just 20 minutes before, Russ Jones fell short, but not very short of his goal. Last man off was the one everyone else feared when he rolled up to the start. Henry “H” Timewell, son of former club member Steve, decided to give everyone reason to go as hard as possible up the climb. Despite riding a mountain bike with full knobbly tyres, H, only 12 years old shot up the climb to claim the first Junior prize.
It was a superb event, well organised, especially the post race analysis in the Anchor pub, Irby. Thanks to Robin for organising it, Steve Timewell for the pushing off and to guest timekeeper, Mrs Nicola O’Brien. But more over thank you and well done to the riders. See you next year!