Crit Races for C.R.Y.

 

Crit Races for C.R.Y

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You’ve probably guessed it already, but I’m back organising an event! Only this time it’s alongside Ryan and Velotik Racing Team with any profits will be going to charity.

With the North Wales racing scene having been hit hard by riders discovering heart conditions, we’re running a charity race day for Cardiac Risk in the Young. The charity run free heart screenings for young people (aged 14-35) up and down the country. One of which discovered local rider, Ryan Morley’s, heart condition. Effectively saving his life.

Riders may know of the tragic loss of another local rider, Alex Jones, earlier this year due to a heart complication. For this reason the men’s E/1/2/3 National B race will be the Alex Jones Memorial Race.

Both riders rode amazing races at Marsh Tracks, from their junior years and throughout their time as seniors, so this is a fitting venue for the event.

All profit from the race day will be donated to Cardiac Risk in the Young (C.R.Y.), registered charity number 1050845.

We’re running a National B E/1/2/3 Men’s Race, E/1/2/3/4 Women’s Race and finishing the day with a 4th Cat only Men’s Race.

As it isn’t a club run event we’ll need all of the help we can get in terms of marshals, sign on etc. So if you’d like to support the event, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Unlikely Friendships

Unlikely FRIENDSHIPS

I feel like we hear a lot from the pro peloton on what racing is like, but for amateurs like you and me (I don’t think any pro’s read my blog!) racing might pan out a little differently…

What happens in the amateur peloton? And by amateur I by no means degrade the girls in any way. The girls I race with are strong and certainly know how to play the game.

One of the weirdest things to get your head around in the peloton is the unlikely friendships you’ll make on your way round. Cycling racing as an amateur can be quite tough. You see girls on the tv working together, but when it comes to our races, you’ll probably find yourself on your own. 

I often feel that’s probably one of the most intimidating things about cycling racing. The big question of ‘what if I don’t know anyone there?’. Turning up at the racing HQ and not having a clue what your suppose to do or where to go. 

Do I warm up?

Where do I sign on?

Those sorts of questions.

You can go through all of the pre-race drama and not speak to a sole, yet after the start line you can find yourself making unlikely friendships with riders you’ve never even spoken to before. 

This is exactly where I found myself going up the Nant y Garth in Welsh Champs. Two of us had dropped off the back and the rider I was with was having trouble with her gears. Regardless, we worked until we caught another rider who had also fallen foul to a stacked field pushing hard from the off. 

My minimal knowledge of peloton tactics when it comes to working with other riders meant I didn’t feel much use. Being such a small rider meant I wasn’t much of a block in the head wind either. I wanted to be useful…but just wasn’t! Either way, I was incredibly thankful to not be riding on my own from the off. 

Despite not knowing the people you find yourself working with, you somehow manage to work together and push each other on. It wasn’t completely flawless (mainly my fault and not being that strong) but we worked together for a while.

Then there’s other races where I’ve bridged across to the lead rider where she ended up taking thewin. 

So I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t be surprised if you find yourself working with people you’ve never even met. You’re in the race together, so you may as well make the most of it. The craziest thing? You might not even speak to them again, but you helped each other get to the finish line.

Have you got any interesting storied from the peloton?

Getting Back on the Bike

Getting back on the Bike

It was pretty much a straight swap after the Marathon when it came to my running shoes and cycling shoes. Both pink…of course! I had a week off hobbling round trying to function to some sort of extent. I probably only needed a basket, but had to use a trolley to get me round the supermarket! Running 26.2 miles definitely has a lasting effect on you…!

I was almost scared to get back on my bike to tell you the truth. How much bike fitness had I lost? Would I remember my old favourite routes? Finding all of my cycling kit was the first hurdle!

Ryan pushed me out the door so I couldn’t procrastinate anymore and I followed a route I’d followed many a time the year before. It was a route I could roll round, or a route I could ride hard round. The Cheshire lanes are good for routes like that. You just have to make sure the tail winds don’t lure you into riding too hard before you have to turn around and ride back into the head wind!

It was definitely an odd feeling being back on my bike. Odd being on my Liv too. It felt like I’d missed the off season. I think I rode my winter bike once. Thinking about it, I should probably check it hasn’t seized up, but that’s just something to add to my to-do list.

No sooner has I got back on my bike, I was back on a start line racing the chequered flag at Darley Moor Motor Circuit. A circuit I quite enjoyed racing at. The track isn’t anything special, but it’s the group of girls you end up racing with. There’s enough for it to feel like a race! It was also a 3/4 race, so I was hopefully not too out of my depth. My head was mush by the time I’d got there. Was my number on right? Would I get dropped? What tactics would everyone else be running?

Getting back on the Bike

Luckily Ryan stopped me from completely losing my head.

When the gun went the girls shot off like rockets, so my legs were pedalling frantically to not get left for dust. (Must remember to not start in my easiest gear…that only really works at road junctions on normal rides!)

Getting back on the Bike

When I managed to settle my chimp I just focussed on relying on the good ‘engine’ I had from running the marathon. I might not have been on my bike all winter, but I was determined not to let that winter training to go to waste. There were a few games played on the way round, but I just decided to sit at the back. I might have a good engine, but I had no idea what my sprint was like. I just needed to not get dropped. And that’s what I kept telling myself.

I kept spinning and spinning. I did feel anxious not getting involved in doing a turn on the front, but it was my first race of the year. I’m sure that’s allowed to get myself use to things…

Getting back on the Bike

Unfortunately being at the back for the sprint finish (which is a common occurrence at Darley Moor) meant me having the longest sprint out of everyone just to keep up with the girls. In all the chaos that unfolded in that final race, I somehow grabbed 8th. This hopefully means some points on my BC license, but the results haven’t been put online yet so fingers crossed!

Getting back on the Bike

Granted I’d not been heavily involved in the race, but I was happy coming away having been able to battle it out at the finish. That’s what I always hope for in races, that I can get involved in the action! Even if I mess up, sprints or other events in the race give me such a buzz!

Less can be said when I crossed the line of the longest Time Trial I’ve ever done on the weekend just passed. A 30 Mile TT not far from Market Drayton. Sometimes I like the idea of TT. In the end, all it is is pushing as hard as you can for the duration of the course. And that’s exactly what I did…for 30 miles! I was chucking out a stupid amounts of watts and I was only 5 miles in. I was going harder than my FTP, but instead of toning it back I my chimp decided well you’re in it for the long haul now. This would have been fine if there wasn’t new tarmac that felt like I was cycling through treacle and going nowhere!

Getting back on the Bike

Needless to say I didn’t exactly feel myself at the end! That TT did mean I got a stern look from my coach when I’d managed to increase my FTP by 18 watts…maybe I didn’t try as hard in my FTP test the other week as I initially thought…

(Thanks to Ryan for taking all these amazing photos!)

Tactical Numpty or Bad Luck?

The past two weekends have seen me racing, which I’ve not done anywhere near enough of this year. The first weekend was Welsh Road Champs, but in hindsight I should have tried the TT instead. This weekend was a crit race at Darley Moor Motor Circuit.

I probably should have written about Welsh Champs sooner, but I come away from it slightly embarrassed if I’m honest. I went down with Ryan the day before as he was doing the TT too. Around the HQ I was surrounded by girls much stronger than me and I started to wonder what I was letting myself in for. Some might not be staying around for the road race the following day, but I still felt I was in a little too deep.

Phil Bulkeley Photograhpy

I entered Welsh Road Champs thinking we’d be going round the course on our own. Getting to the start line I found out we were starting with the Veteran men. Needless to say I got dropped 5 miles in…

But I still can’t work out if it was bad luck or me just being a tactical numpty.

Had I just sat behind the wrong people, or was I just not fit enough to be in the race?

When the race convoy passed and a number of women dropped off the back of the field, I couldn’t work out if the race convoy passing meant we weren’t in the race anymore.

I ended up riding round on my own for a lap at a pace I don’t think I’ve ever ridden at before. I wasn’t sure if I could still get to the finish line and place, or if once passed by the broom wagon that was it.

Long story short, I bailed after one lap as I still didn’t have a clue if I was suppose to still be on the course or not. So I finished with a big fat DNF.

When I went to Welsh Champs to at least finish, that was a bit gutting.

To get me out of my grump, Ryan found a race at Darley Moor Motor Circuit. 16 laps in a field of 20 women.

Something I didn’t do for Welsh Champs was warm up, so I made sure to chuck the turbo in the car for Darley Moor. I may have only loosened my legs for 10 minutes, but it definitely made a difference.

My headphones and turbo just get me in the right mindset for racing.

Whatever race I go to now, I need to make sure I’m armed with my turbo to warm up. I could use rollers…but I definitely haven’t mastered them yet! Maybe I should work on that over winter!

The field was strong whilst we were on the track and I was just hoping I could stay on the back of the group!

A far cry from what I ended up doing at Pimbo a few weeks ago ha!

After getting too carried away in the corners and seeing how far I could lean my bike over, we were soon on the finish straight in a bunch sprint.

I still don’t know what position I finished, but I finished…which was an improvement on Welsh Champs.

I even finished the weekend with a loop I made up as I went along, which ended up being a hilly ride to start with, then levelled out a bit. I felt weirdly good on the bike.

How have you got over races you’ve performed badly at?

Back to Racing

Back to Racing

My first road race…where do I start?

The fact I got to the start line at all?

Almost losing the nut for the end of my axle?

Or, the fact I completely miscalculated the amount of laps that were left?

On the morning of the race I was a mess. I genuinely thought about just not racing at all. Why? The fear of getting dropped. In Welsh Crit Champs last year the group almost split in two. The faster girls were way ahead. I come to Pimbo to race…not get dropped again…ha!

I even said to Ryan who was with me on the side of the road at the start line, “I don’t even want to race anymore”.

I was dreading the start gun and the girls just disappearing up the road.

But the start gun went and I managed to hold on to the bunch.

Going round was a learning curve. I was constantly waiting for some sort of attack off the quicker girls, but nothing really happened. Holding onto the back was tough at times, but I held up better than I thought I would…until I sped up a lap early than the finish lap.

I picked up my pace to try and get myself in a better position, only to see the others stay at the same pace. When I realised we had one last lap my legs had already blown up. Embarassment or just genuinely feeling gutted at what position I could have maybe got, I was so frustrated with myself.

But either way, it is my first road race out of the way.

Back to Racing

Racing in general isn’t going great for me to be honest. I decided to try and make it in time for the club time trial this week, only to get a few minutes in and my bike pump fell out of my pocket. My only option was to turn back and get it in case it was in the middle of the road. I had riders behind me coming so I didn’t want them and their expensive bikes to hit the deck because of me! Thankfully they let me restart and I could get the frustration out of my system…ha! I even smahsed my target time too.

So pray that I’ve got all of the bad luck out of the way???

RAF Cycling and the CiCLE Classic

My adventure to the Cicle Classic started late last year when we decided that as 2018 was the 100th anniversary of the formation on the Royal Air Force, it would be pretty cool to get the RAF cycling team into one of the big races in the UK.

We asked the organisers of many of the UK’s premier races, but reduced field sizes and the large number of UK pro teams was making it difficult to fit us in. But then the amazing Colin Clews said he had space for a team of four riders.

Things had escalated; now we weren’t just racing a UK professional race, this race was part of the UCI European tour.

Time for some last minute panic training…

So what makes the Rutlan-Melton International CiCLE so special?

Now in its 14th year, it is widely regarded as the longest, hardest one day race in the UK, the CiCLE classic is contested by 36 teams over 117 miles. What makes this race unique in the UK is the 11 special sectors taking the race “off road” down farm tracks and dirt tracks. This makes punctures and mechanical issues very common, so spare wheels and support crew can make all the difference.

Race Day

We were the lowest ranked team in the race, and I was rider number 192 (the last man in the race). Turning up to the team area we realised just how deep we were. Team buses, following cars, mechanics, gazebos, turbo trainers for warm ups. All the riders had to do was turn up and get on their bikes. We on the other hand turned up in our own cars and set about sorting our bikes and kit out by ourselves.

We did have matching kit though…

We met our 2 dedicated helpers and passed them the array of random drinks bottles and spare wheels we had. As they made their way to points on the course, we donned our helmets and headed off to the start area to sign on.

The start area was buzzing with spectators. It was pretty cool to walk up on stage to sign on as we were introduced to the amassing crowd. Funny moment of the day, the commentator introduced us as the team of RAF Pro Cycling, ha, he must have been used to saying “pro cycling” at the end of every team. There is nothing “pro” about our team, we all have day jobs.

Lining up on the start line was a surreal experience; I was stood next to guys I have watched on TV! There were Olympians, former world and national champions and a handful of riders who had just returned from the Commonwealth Games. And there I was about to ride the same race as them!

So at 11.00 on the dot, the race started. The first mile was neutralised behind the lead car, which was scary as everyone was jockeying for position. The flag dropped and I found myself sprinting as hard as I could as everyone accelerated. I looked down at my computer and we were doing 45mph!!! It was at that point I knew we were in for a long hard day in the saddle.

The first 30 miles were on the wide roads around Rutland Water, and with the roads totally closed to traffic we had both sides of the road to ride on. I’ve never ridden in a group of 192 people, and I’m not going to lie it is rather scary, everyone was nervous and trying to move up towards the front. I was just trying to stay upright and not get dropped.

Going into the first special sector at 30 miles there was a huge acceleration, nearly 200 guys were going to do a 90 degree left turn from a 2 lane main road onto a single lane farm track. It was hairy to say the least.

I found myself about 2 thirds of the way down the bunch. Just as I thought “this isn’t too bad” 2 riders from the same team collided in front of me and went down forcing me onto the grass to get round. Thankfully it was dry and not muddy. So from then on the field would only thin out further.

Ian, one of the other RAF riders, was not so lucky. He punctured mid sector and then had to wait for the neutral service car to get a spare wheel.

Leaving the sector I was just relaxing and commending myself on surviving when the bunch accelerated and I was forced to sprint to keep up. I saw the gap get bigger in front of me and thought it could be all over. Thankfully the small group of riders around me wanted to work hard to try and get back on. We eventually made it back to the main group, which was now noticeably smaller than it was a few miles earlier. I saw my two remaining RAF teammates who were equally as shocked as I was.

The next 20 miles consisted of me hanging onto the rear part of the group as we went over hills and down narrow lanes. Every couple of miles I would see someone crash or puncture. Including one rider from a European team go careering off the road into an electric fence with barbed wire on the top. That looked very nasty.

In the early part of the sector at 53 miles the worst happened, I punctured. My heart sank, this was not good. The only thing to do was keep pedalling. I rode the rest of the sector on a flat, my rear wheel sliding all over the place as riders shot passed me.

Now puncturing is bad luck, but this was the luckiest puncture I could have had. As I excited the sector I saw an RAF jersey at the side of the road. Of all the places for Silky, one of our two helpers to stand it was here. After a slightly fumbled wheel change I was back on my bike and beginning the chase back on. Soon enough I was back in to convoy of cars following the race and working my way up. The convoy is a scary place, the vehicles can be unpredictable, especially on narrow roads. Team cars suddenly stopping to help their riders, riders being dropped and going backwards, and all in a cloud of dust kicked up by the 40+ vehicles.

After 10 miles of chasing I finally got back to the back of the bunch. As I made it back on who should I see sitting pretty at the back, Dan, one of my teammates. We had a quick chat and swapped drinks bottles (I had one of his flavoured powders and he had one with just plain water).

Back in the bunch I was sitting fairly happy and then just before the 80 mile point I cramped bad on one of the steep climbs losing contact with the back of the bunch. Bizarrely, Dan suffered the same fate at the same time. After giving each other a quick pep talk, we decided to not give up and press on as a pair and try and get back.

We spent 10 miles weaving through the convoy trying as hard as we could; we got within 25m of the bunch as it hit a sector. The acceleration was too much for us to live with and the bunch disappeared into the distance.

We kept working, knowing that if we could get to the finishing circuit after the 100 mile point we could finish the race. The only thing stopping us was the broom wagon, the last car in the race convoy. Once this car catches you, you are eliminated from the race.

As we pushed on Dan cramped again and dropped back. Now on my own I had the painful experience of carrying on as best I could, all the time passing riders that had been dropped and given up.

Then the inevitable happened, I was caught by the broom waggon at 97 miles. So close to the finishing circuit, but part of me was relieved that the suffering was over.

I took the straight line to the finish to watch the last part of the race. And eventually meeting up with Dan and Ian. Both of us stood there, covered in mud/dust and totally empty. We must have looked bad, the photographers all started taking photos of us and the state we were in.

Incredibly, Antony, the remaining RAF rider, was still in the race. He’d hung in there as the race exploded and was in one of the chasing groups. We all stood there to cheer him on, it didn’t matter that we were tired, cold, hungry and no longer in the race.

We started as a team and we would finish as a team.

Antony came down the finish straight leading his group, about 8 minutes down on the winner. But just surviving and finishing this race is a major achievement. That day, over 100 riders didn’t finish, many of them full time professionals.

In summary, that was the hardest 4.5 hours of my cycling career, and I’ve never been so proud of a DNF. This race is something special, totally unique and incredibly hard. I may never get another chance to ride it or even compete at this level, but I’m proud to have been part of it.

The CiCLE classic takes place at the end of April each year, and if you find yourself in the Rutland area I’d thoroughly recommend going to spectate. The crowds were amazing, and with the race making several passes of the same area, you can watch the race several times from one location.

The RAF 100 Baton Relay is currently on its way around the country, so go and find them on Facebook and see who how they’re celebrating 100 years of the RAF.

Chirk Tri – Fuelled by Easter Eggs

It finally came around, the race that I’ve been gambling on about for months…

My first Triathlon.

And…drumroll… I completed it, which when I could barely swim 25m last October, was all I ever wanted to do.

Going into it I genuinely had no idea how it would turn out. I was doing a typical me and overthinking and over planning everything. In my head, I wanted to wear socks for the bike and run. I needed gloves and a jacket for the ride so I didn’t get cold. I was going to put a Buff on to stop my wet hair dripping down my back.

What happened in the transition from swim to bike?

I left transition with no socks, no jacket, no Buff and no gloves. I was venturing out into the valley to Glyn Ceiriog in a wet Tri-Suit. Nice one Lucy…nice one…ha!


Off out on the bike there was a long drag uphill to the half way point. A climb which looks less steep than it actually is, so it’s easy for it to play with your mind. You feel like you’re struggling a lot more than you should be. I felt a lot stronger than I thought I would be and on the descent I would only feel stronger as the climb was now a descent. It was such a great road to race on. There was a final kick up a hill heading back up to Chirk, where I was expecting my legs to hurt a fair bit, but I somehow just breezed up it. I think I was on such a high after the swim my legs just kept going!


The swim isn’t actually something I’ve spoken about first, despite it coming first in the Tri! So how did that go?

Interesting to say the least.


I may have misheard, but I’m sure someone said the pool was shallow at both ends, but it wasn’t. I push off for my first length and get to the other side of hot pool. It reach for a bar and go to put my feet on the bottom of the pool. The floor was nowhere to be seen along with the bar. Well done Lucy, you’ve nearly drowned and you’ve done one length. Ha! Thankfully I managed to grab onto the side and carry on!

But after a few lengths another swimmer past me and as I went to breath, rather a lot of water went into my mouth. Thankfully I was still in a shallow part of the pool when that happened, or god knows how that would have ended. After that point, all the swimming techniques went out the window and I just wanted to get out on my bike. Next minute, a sign with the lovely number 2 on meant I had two lengths left. I quickly sped up and was soon out of the pool!

The biggest hurdle of the Triathlon for me was done. After what was always going to be the strongest parts for me, the bike, it was back into transition for the run. It did involve me stopping dead at the dismount line though after forgetting about it!

Transition from bike to run was interesting. Despite me feeling strong on the bike, I was freezing cold! The downhills on the way back meant in transition I could barely feel my hands or feet. Have you ever tried to put running shoes onto your wet feet that you no longer have any feeling in? Don’t. It’s near damn impossible. I apologise to anyone who was around me at that point in transition…ha!

Being as cold as I was, I picked up my cycling jacket (to run…I know I’m mad), my gloves and a Buff. The first part of the run felt rather odd because it felt like all of the blood was rushing back to my legs. I still couldn’t warm myself up though.


At this point I put on my Buff as a headband. From my training runs I normally put a Buff on now to stop my hair going in my face, but I also found it raised my body temperature quite a bit  if I put it over my ears. So my Buff became invaluable during the run on my Tri. My body temperature quickly warmed up and I could get round the 2.6 mile run to the finish.

Running took a back seat in training vernthe past few weeks. My swimming was important and I’d spent a lot of time at Crit races and a TT. The time had past and it dawned on me how little I’d been out running. Yet, when my Garmin bleeped showing my first mile was a 8:22 my pace wasn’t as bad as I’d thought.

Similarly to a Duathlon I did last October, when I realised I could possibly get a sub hour and a half time, I made sure I picked up the back on the last downward stretch to the finish. I was in nowhere near of a state as I was for the Duathlon at the finish either. I was just on a massive high from the whole thing. Something that had been on my Bucket List for so long was now ticked off. And I think I may even do another one…

My family have been amazing since I booked onto the Tri. Thinking I’m mad when I’ve come back from a long run or a tough swim session. I’m just glad I managed to finish it to make all of the training worthwhile. I may have splashed and struggled at times, but I kept my race face mentality with the only thing on my mind being the finish. Ryan’s been the biggest support and I definitely couldn’t have done it without him. Not letting me have too many lazy days and taking me on long days out on the bike.

Everyone at Chirk Tri did amazingly today from the competitors to those involved in running the event. We can’t forget the Marshals either! Their smiling faces were a big encouragement on the way round.

I was so nervous at the start, but the women who were swimming at the same time as me were full of encouragement. It definitely helped when the whistle went to start swimming.

The way I’ve rambled on, anyone would think I’d done a marathon! To everyone doing the London Marathon or anything active, whatever your reason behind doing it, keep it up & well done!

Finishing in 1 hour 26 minutes? I’m happy with that.

I just need to find something else to train for now…but look out for future blog posts where I review the kit that got me through my first Triathlon: