The longest weekend
The weekend just passed has to rank among the most taxing I've ever experienced. Saturday night was the famous Newport nocturne and Sunday afternoon the Regional championships and in between lay the small problem of a 3hr hour car journey.
The Nocturne was a fantastic event. I went into the race with low expectations based upon the previous criterium experiences. I was sad to not be able to take part in the super sprint competition: a single lap of the short 2km course with the first 3/4 behind a lead car. The car would then drive off on the finish straight to leave the riders to sprint for the finish, quite like a keirin apart from the technicality of the corners! This was duly won by Ed Clancy of JLT Condor. Despite not having a place in this warm up event, it was enjoyable to support my teammates racing in the event and to see Liam Davies demonstrate his increasing aptitude for these races by finishing second in his heat and subsequently 4th in the final.
In typical criterium fashion the time between the sprint event and the nocturne itself was spent hanging around as near to the start line as possible without letting the legs get cold. Positioning is key from the off in such short races. The tension was palpable as we waited for the off with riders edging further and further away from the start line in an endeavour to gain an advantage. We set off under the cover of darkness; if you hadn't already discerned this complication of a nocturne, it is raced at night, with a large part of the course totally dark and the corners, for the most part, well lit by flood lights. It makes for nail biting racing both from a spectating and riding point of view! As soon as the neutralised lap was over it was clear the Canyon
Eisberg team were going to make the race as hard as possible. I felt surprisingly comfortable in the first 10 minutes of the race. This was a terrible mistake. Feeling that I had strong legs the mistakes and complacency crept in and within a few laps I f
By 10:00pm hostilities had been concluded. The hardest task when racing so late is to be able to unwind, sleep and prepare for the next day's challenge. I drifted off as quickly as I could but my efforts were plagued by the excitements and adrenaline of the night's racing. According to my suunto sleep tracker I got but 2hrs sleep. Sleep which I would ultimately need in the coming race.
For the second time in 12hrs I took to the start line of a bicycle race. The regional championships. I played my cards as close to my chest as possible. For the first 2hrs of the race I did aught. I came out to play in the last hour and succeeded in making the decisive move. I was not as fresh as I could have been and this told when I really needed too call upon every fibre. Having made it into the break with strong men George Wood, Sam Woodfield, Matt Clements and Ross Fawcett (who in the early part of the year had literally been leaving me for dead) I unwisely tried to play the game of bluffing the Richardson's pairing into letting me sit on (Richardson's dominated the race with the superior numbers and strength making it challenging for individual riders). In hindsight this was very stupid as I didn't have the legs to make the necessary jump to ride back up to the break in the event that I took myself out the back of the group. Which evidently happened and left me floundering in no-mans land. So I went from the winning break to the bunch and ended up coming home in a comfortable but unremarkable 14th. The improvements compared to the start of the year though are quite remarkable considering in March I could barely get through a race of equal level!
I am clearly continuing to progress and the lessons from this weekend will be retained to fortify future performances. I will be looking to push to the front for the final race of the elite Grand prix series in Ryedale (Ampleforth Abbey) on Sunday. Then the last part of the season will be spent in various local National B races and perhaps some Madison racing...