At the start of the month I earned my second cat licence! It was one of those things that when first faced with the challenge it seemed insurmountable, then as I made progress it looked like it was within reach and then the last handful of points I won in style, coming first place at a 2/3/4 circuit race hosted by Solihull CC at Tudor Grange Park.
Feeling confident in my ability having been boosted by the licence promotion, the week after I raced my first E/1/2 circuit race. Although I didn't find the average pace impossible, the attacks where just incredible. Very fast changes of pace! Relative to a 3/4 race, it slowed down a lot less and the corners were much faster. I raced that race without any target on finishing within points (top 10) more just weighing myself up against the faster riders in their race. I didn't make the break, partly luck and possibly partly fitness although I finished with the main bunch feeling like I could have done more. The last lap felt like it was going to get dicey, so I just said f*** it and lead everyone round to the finish. Better to finish than crash!
A couple of days later was the Divisional Championship race over near Brill and Waddesdon. I met with a couple of friends who I'd not seen in a while (on account of them turning 1st cats!) at the start with 5 mins to go before we were off. I had a look around at everyone else's bikes, as you do, and they all had massive rear cassettes. Oh crap, I thought, I've no idea what this course is like! Is it really that hilly?! A commissaire who knew one of my mates came up to him and told him that his 32t rear sprocket was a good idea. Was this guy being serious?!
I had a 23t!!
So very quickly I haired it back to the car to switch to a slightly bigger cassette I'd luckily brought with me. Didn't matter though; got dropped on the third lap! The course was absolutely brutal. Just relentless from the gun. So far it was easily the hardest race I've done. The 55mph descents were insane! The surges uphill felt like the same speed! At least the weather was great! Which was nice hanging out at the race HQ with everyone else who'd been dropped. FYI, 22 people finished out of 56 starters!
The most useful thing I gained from this race was comparing myself to pros and semi pros on a ridiculously tough course. It highlighted where my weaknesses are and what training I need to do, which is good since I've achieved 3 of my goals this year - 2nd cat licence, win a race and do a sub hour on a 25 mile TT.
I surprised myself on the TT. The course was hilly (pattern developing here!) My minute man was quick but I was drawing him in at roughly 1 second a minute. The last third of the course had two 10% hills and on the first one I really began to reel him in. At the bottom of the second hill I went straight past him and my two minute man! At the last turn, about 3 miles to the finish I had a look down at the Garmin which told me I'd managed to average 25.3 mph so far. After the turn was back out into the wind and on a slight uphill drag all the way to the finish. Right! I thought, time to absolutely destroy myself! I managed to hold on to a good average and finish in 59:48! I was second to Mr John Simpkins who, as usual, annihilated the course for a 55! I felt pretty smug though since we were the only two to finish inside an hour, even if I did only just manage it with 12 seconds to spare!
A good pick me up from the div champs disappointment!
So now since I've reached this year's goals already and not even reached my second peak training wise I need to figure out my next set of goals. I think a <56:00 on a 25TT, 40 points from racing and finish a race from a breakaway (one off the front instead of off the back!)
Last Friday saw 9 of us from the Shutt team ride the Silverstone 9up team time trial. We had an absolute blast! We came 9th overall out of 80 odd teams. Souter's recovery from his collarbone fracture is coming along well although he's still off the pace a little bit. It won't be long before he gets back to 100% and starts decimating the rest of us again! Dumbreck (twitter @Ahlovejoy) who’s main profession is "race car driver," was talking us all through the correct lines of the circuit having driven more laps here than we've had hot dinners collectively as a 9 man squad! It transpired, however, a 50kph racing line for a bike is very different to a 250kph Porsche GT3 car!
So lastly my bike has been making the most horrendous clunky clicking sounds from the BB30 bottom bracket. I've known about it for some time but basically the crank spindle is worn down the point of not touching the inner face of the bearing by about a half mm! I had previously managed to patch it up with the proper Loctite spindle repair compound, but since I only need to put up with it for another week I Employed a more Heath Robinson repair... I cut up a lid from a tin on anchovies to make some shims and packed out the spindle hard against the bearing! It's worked a treat... For now! Might not be racing much the rest of this month though since I've just bought a powermeter to replace said spindle. Gonna be eating beans the rest of the month until payday!