a journal - cycling, sociology, social media

Sunday 4 March 2018

Carnival day - race day - new bike day

Escaping the worst of winter weather even for a week is really good for moral even if returning just in time for the arrival of 'The Beast from the East' MetOffice was a bit of a shock to the system. Following a short blogging break to catch some sun and put the finishing touches to my winter training this week's post is a bit of a mixed bag - some Lanzarote pedalling the Arrecife Carnival, Croft circuit racing and the first view of my new race whip.

I upgraded my IPhone to the 8+ just before we went away, and I am really glad I did as the new camera is superb, the picture above was my first try using the new 'portrait mode'

This time last year I wrote a blog post on training in Lanzarote in which I described the island as 'a tough place for bicycle practice' - well guess what? ... it still is. I won't spend too much time rambling on about Lanza in this post, just a bit about my training which will lead nicely in to the second part of this post and the two opening 'races' of my 2018 season. If you want to read a bit more about cycling in Lanzarote here's the link to last years post LanzaTraining.

My plan for the week was to ride for about twelve hours in total over six days and taper a bit towards the end of the week, we were returning home on Thursday 15th and my first race was Saturday February 17th so I wanted to be reasonably fresh when I got back. My training plan was to do a three day block starting with a three hour endurance ride followed by two days of approx two hours incorporating some race specific efforts. I collected my pre-booked hire bike from the excellent Free Motion bike store Free-motion the day after we arrived and just did an easy ride to make sure the bike was OK and to flush the flight out of my legs, a gentle pedal along the cycle path from Puerto Del Carmen to Arrecife was ideal.

I was really lucky when I set of to do my endurance ride as five minutes after I left our apartments I met a group of Irish riders (above) who I started chatting too and who were happy for me to join them, although they were doing a considerably longer ride than I had planned. A grand set of County Wicklow lads they were too, I felt a bit sorry for them to be honest as this was their last day on the island and the first decent one. Their time in Lanza had coincided with the worst weather there for over twenty years, rain, hail and really low temperatures - so much for the luck of the Irish.

Arrecife Carnival

Another picture using portrait mode on the Iphone 8+. While we were in Lanzarote the Arrecife Carnival was in full swing and we saw it advertised as the next best carnival to Rio, which I thought was a bit of a bold claim to be honest. But it really did live up to the billing and was an absolutely cracking day out.

Above picture by my wife Sue of some of the spectators at the carnival, we plan on visiting the carnival again next year - but next time we are going to join in and go in fancy dress ... apparently.

Race 1 - February 17th

If you are out the back of the bunch it is a big help if you are riding with a mate. Above working with someone that I have raced with a lot Paul Sill from Manilla Cycling.

My season stated on Saturday the 17th February after getting back from Lanzarote on the Thursday. Although my intention this year is to compete almost exclusively in age group racing I decided to enter the last two rounds of the Velo 29 Winter Series at the Croft motor racing circuit which is only about 15 miles from home. These are handicap races run under BC rules open to all categories from 4th Cat to Elite and three groups set of at one minute intervals. The 4th Cat group are of first followed by the group that I start in of 2nd/3rd Cats and finally the 'scratch' group of 1st Cats and Elites. I would normally only race with 3rd/4th cat riders so these are not races that I expect to do well in or even survive in the bunch but they are excellent training, especially if I ride there, race and ride home.

This wasn't the best season opener I have ever had if I am honest and due to poor positioning in the bunch and lots of attacking (and partly due to having spent the previous seven days on the beer) I was dropped along with a few others after five laps. Our little group rolled round taking turns for the next five laps until the bunch caught us again and we hung on at the back until the just before the finish - not a great start to my season but could have been a lot worse.

Race 2 - February 24th

Richard Jones from RibbleProCycling. tests his legs at the Velo 29 Winter Series. Richard had just  got back from a tough ten days of training with the team in Calpe, Spain. You can read all about the team's training camp here Ribble-Training Camp 

                              Above - Early laps, still in the bunch mixing it with the young guns and trying to look composed.

Race two was also at Croft and as the weather was good I again opted to ride to the circuit and do a few warm up efforts on the way. In this one, although the average speed was nearly two miles an hour quicker the pace of the race was much more even and I was still 'reasonably' comfortable in the bunch with twelve of the fifteen laps gone. We had been caught by the scratch group at this point and the attacks had started, particularly on the cross-wind section of the circuit. I wasn't so much dropped but caught on the wrong side of a split in the bunch (well that's my story anyway and I am sticking to it) I did the final three laps in a little group and overall I was pretty happy how I felt and quite encouraged by my ride.

Above - My Strava HR analysis from the 24th at Croft shows that for 97% of the race I was in Z4 or above with 2 minutes 46 seconds in Z5, which is a lot of Z5 for me these days. It was probably during this Z5 period when the high HR alarm on my Xplova X5 Evo cycling computer was bleeping madly that some young comedian in the bunch behind me asked "Here mate is that your Pacemaker going off" - funny, very funny.

I rode in plain kit for my first two races in part because they were really only training days for me and also because my team bike was not due to be delivered until the end of February. My 'proper' season opener is on 18th March - see my post here AgeGroupRacing so that will give plenty of time for a few training rides to get my position dialled in on my new Ribble Aero 883

My friend and accomplished sports photographer Richard Sharpe of SI Events Photography who took these racing pictures is an ever present at Croft circuit - you can see more of Richards excellent work here. SIEvents
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 New bike day

My Ribble Aero 883 Custom arrived right on schedule on the 28th of February and I am just a little bit pleased with it. Ribble supplied me with the custom frame and fork and I sorted the rest, so you can't currently buy this specification. You can however spec your own 883 Aero on the Ribble bike builder Build your Ribble here and if you want the custom paint job you can buy the Ribble Aero 883 Pro Team Edition - see it here Pro883 the exact bike that the RibbleProCycling Team are using this season, complete with SRAM Red Etap and Zipp 404 wheels, without a doubt the best looking bike in the UK peloton - go on you know you want one.


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