What a month! It’s been very hectic recently, balancing sitting A-Level exams and racing often but it really has flown by. This month, I’ve so far raced in the National Championships, The Tour of the North West, and the fabled CiCLE Classic.
The National Championships this year took place in Yorkshire, on a rolling course which featured a steep climb and a very fast descent. It was a nice route, taking in some stunning countryside, not that we had time to look. I’d been targeting this race for a while, and was feeling good coming into it, and I felt I showed this being in the front 8 or 10 up the Bulmer Bank climb for the first 2 ascents. However, as we crested for the 2nd time, rain started to fall, making the roads very slippery suddenly. As I entered a tight s bend, I felt that I was carrying too much speed, so braked slightly, but unfortunately I went over a manhole cover whilst braking, causing my back wheel to lose all traction and I slid out, scraping all up the side of my leg from my knee to my hip. It was a very painful crash, as I had fallen on gravel and this had stuck into me as well, making for a very sore trip home.
The Junior Tour of The North West was a very hard race for me, having to revise in the evenings around the racing as I had three important exams the next few days.
It kicked off with a short TT, with times in the 8 to 10 minute range, set to produce a few time gaps before the road racing kicked off in the afternoon. It was an ok result for me, finishing 16th, a little lower down than what I’d hoped for but at only a handful of seconds down on the main protagonists I was not concerned. The second stage that afternoon was fairly rolling and twisty, and had potential to thin the bunch down, but a group sprint was likely to fight out the stage victory. With the stage only being 70k, it was a hot pace from the off, with attacks flying on the climbs. As I was a little bit down on the GC, I was active in these, but never managed to take a real gap on the group. The only move that stuck was Josh Tarling riding away from everyone, taking 2 minutes and essentially sealing the GC. The pace was still high behind him, but it was still a group of 40 sprinting it out for 2nd. I didn’t have good legs at any point, but I was hoping to ride into the race, and come good on the last stage, which had a significant climb, so appeared to suit me. I tried to get in the early break again, but I wasn’t allowed, and was repeatedly chased while others were allowed to go. However, I had terrible legs that day and ground to a halt after 45 mins of racing. I didn’t think too much of it at the time, but I had felt fairly laboured coming into it despite not doing much in the week.
Next up, after a weekend away from racing, was the legendary CiCLE Classic, which I actually enjoyed this year, after last years failed get round mission. I was in good positions coming into the technical sections, and managed to stay in the front when the race split, making the lead group of 25 or so with over 60k to go. I managed to survive on the back of the group to the final kms, where the pace suddenly slowed and I launched a late attack with 5k to go, getting caught just before the town, eventually finishing 16th. I was satisfied with this result, and being in the front group with the UK’s top riders showed me that I was where I needed to be.
However, by this point of the year I have been feeling pretty tired recently, having targeted a couple of races earlier in the season, then hitting a peak at Nationals, although I couldn’t show that form unfortunately.
I went off to Acht Van Bladel UCI 2.1 with some hopes with the Tofauti boys that we could get a few results between us. However, these were quickly dashed on the first stage on Friday night when we all had a very tough evening for various reasons with none of us making the top 40 riders. Things were off to a better start the next day, but after the first 30 mins I was swinging badly on the back of the bunch. Eventually, after around 100k, my legs started to slow, and I very quickly found myself grinding to a halt. I was swiftly passed by the broomwagon and out of the race.
I think the high level of fatigue has been slowing me down a lot, and it’s not the first time this month that I’ve ground to a halt, so I’ll be having some time off the bike, to rest up and recover before the real big targets in August.