Stratford’s Cold Wind Takes its Toll

Leaving Porth a 7am on a Sunday morning, Club road racer Dean Cummings made the familiar journey to a race in the west Midlands, this time it was to Bearley, just north of Stratford upon Avon. Given the blue skies and with temperature of 15C, Dean hoped for a good ride in favourable conditions. The Solihull CC organised the Tommy Goodwin Memorial RR at Gearley , near Stratford upon Avon.  Arriving just before 9 am Dean was met a cloudy dark sky, a bitter north wind wind and temperatures around 7C.

The Tour of Cambridge was taking place on the same day which led to lower numbers than would normally be expected on this race. The Tour of Cambridge is a Worlds Qualifying Race and Sportive event.

Dean found the warm-up a struggle in the cold conditions and he could not get into his “race mind” before the event.

The race was 6 laps of an 8 mile course which had recently been resurfaced with spray and chippings covering the new tarmac.  The road was very heavy and Dean felt every pedal stroke.

Given that he could not get into the right mindset during the warm-up Dean could not get his tactics right for the race.  He was working too hard and too close to the front of the race in a brutal head/cross wind.  When the attacks started he was already at his limit and was dropped on Lap 3 with a few other riders. Dean raced on courageously for another two laps but decided to pull over when he heard the bell for the last Lap with 40 miles completed.

Being a little hard on himself, Dean was disappointed with himself as he felt his recent form meant he should have done better. The long journey and dramatic change in weather conditions would certainly have had an effect. An average speed of 20.7mph over 40 miles is a stat many readers of this article would be quite pleased with.

Dean has no definite plans for the coming weeks but we may be reading about a couple of TT’s or track races in the near future.

From 100 miles to 100 kilometres

The West Wales 100 mile TT, 18th June, switched courses to east Wales, the Raglan – Hardwick – Monmouth Course.  Triathlete Ryan Evans, who had an entry for the event, decided against the dual carriageway course with a disappointing 25 entries and thunderstorms forecast in the area.

Fortunately, Ryan was offered a place on the Dragon Ride 100km course, the shorter of the options on the day. Ryan decided to use the event as a TT on his road bike and to prepare for race day nutrition and pacing for the longer triathlons in the coming months.

Leaving Margam Park just before 9am in the second phase of riders, the route headed for Port Talbot and up the Cwm Afon valley to Pontrhydyfen and the difficult climb over to Cimla.  At this point, as he rode through the earlier starters Ryan observed numerous entrants pushing their bike, they still had a way to go to the finish and would encounter some other stiff climbs.

After the quick descent through Cimla Ryan settled in a small group of 6 riders who all worked well together up the Neath valley picking off all the second phase riders and many of the first phase of starters who had started 10 minutes in front of them.

At the bottom of the old Glynneath Bank road Ryan began to pull away from the group, being familiar with “the Bank” and the Rhigos to come definitely helped his pacing as he picked of riders on his way to Treorci.

By the time he started the climb over the Bwlch Ryan realised there were not too many riders in front of him, so he settled into a good groove and picked off a few more riders before going over the top and the long descent back to Port Talbot.  A rider caught Ryan with 2 or 3 miles to go and he was so strong that Ryan could not hold his wheel and he drifted away.

Ryan crossed the line in a time of 3:37:20 which turned out to be the 3rd fastest time of the day.  While this was a sportif rather than a race, fireman Ryan was very happy with his efforts considering the nature of the course, he had given it “race effort” so it turned out to be a good training day.

Welcome Refreshments at the end of the tough 98 kilometer event.

Personal Best for 40 km

The last Sunday of May saw veteran Club member making a familiar trip to the west Midlands for the BMCR RR Champs. on the Welland Circuit  between Tewksbury and Worcester.  The 48.19 mile course was made up of 3 16 mile laps and attracted a field of over 50 riders.  After a very fast start 4 riders managed to get away but Dean managed to stay with the bunch in the second lap which featured attack after attack.  The speed was continuously high and on one of the descents our Club Clothing Secretary registered 40mph.

The race cam together at the start of the third lap but it was not long before 3 riders made the break and were hovering in the distance. The final 7 miles were brutal and and with tired legs and a “twitchy” bunch the last few miles were nerve wracking.  On the last right hand bend at Welland the bunch was set up for the final sprint for the minor places, and with 500 metres to go to the line Dean was pushing out 500 watts but still found himself going backwards. Dean finished a  creditable 37th just seconds behind the bunch.  Personally Dean was very pleased with his performance, his Garmin recording a PB for 40 kms of 59.20m

Dean now looks forward to his next trip to the west Midland and Shakespeare’s Stratford upon Avan in early June.

Passed by his 8 Minute Man – but still happy

Recently returned member Ryan Evans took on a 50m TT on the West Wales R50/5 course between Llandovery and Carmarthen.  Ryan felt a noticeable headwind as he left the start line and fully expected the tail wind to give him some help on the return. Fireman Ryan rode conservatively for the first 20 minutes knowing the return would be difficult for him at his stage of training for future triathlons. Knowing he might tie up on the return journey he rode “on the tops” to stretch his back and shoulders, hopefully making the return a little easier.

The Start Sheet was very small so the ride to the turn was a lonely one for Ryan.  The wind picked up around 15 minutes before the turn and he had to dig in to force his way through the wind which took it out of him and would be felt later on in the ride.  Things were going well to Llandeilo but then the body began to ache from being in the TT position for so long and the last quarter was ridden on the tops.  Although Ryan felt he was pushing out decent power it instantly dropped by 50 watts when he tried to return to the tri bars.

Despite the aching body Ryan still had a “magic moment” which may be the highlight of his year or even the last 5 years. Ineos Grenadiers Pro rider, Paris-Roubaix finisher and current World Junior TT Champion passed him for 8 minutes, big gear and rock solid. It was amazing to see. Josh Tarling was the only rider to break two hours with a course record of 1:35.

Ryan was comfortable with his time of 2:21 within his current training programme which has not involved too much TT work.  In the coming weeks there will be more TT specific work as the longer triathlons appear.  Well done Ryan on a sound effort and for being positive about being passed for 8 minutes by a pro-rider.  Good luck in the coming triathlons.

British Masters Road Race

Before his training camp in Mallorca, Dean Cummings travelled to Worcestershire to compete in his second road race of the season.  The Echelon Cycles – Percy Stallard RR (British Masters) took place on the Welland course in the Malvern Hills, 3 circuits of a 16 mile course with 49 miles total distance. As with much of our Spring the temperature was cool but it was sunny with a light breeze.

The start was largely steady with a couple of early attacks, a rider from Nottingham riding of the front with no organised chase.  Most riders were keeping a close eye on former pro-rider Mike Twelves, every move he made was quickly jumped upon by the pack.  The peleton were still  in a bunch at the end of Lap 1.

Further attacks of the front caused the peleton to string out towards the end of Lap 2, working hard Dean managed to stay with the main group as the peleton all crossed the line together.  Keen not to be caught out by a surprise break Dean maintained a position at around 6th in the pack for the final Lap.  A second rider took a chance and broke away on a lone chase and with 7 miles to go the leading rider had over 3 minutes on the bunch. Sitting in 6th or 7th position on the last left hand bend Dean maintained his spot, but with a sprint looming for 3rd position on the long straight drag on Castlemorton Common the pace increased to a full gas race to the line.

With thoughts of his Mallorca training camp coming up, Dean was wary of the dangers of the sprint and eased of with 20 metres to go. This was a well organised event eventually won by most people’s favourite Mike Twelves.  Dean finished just seconds behind the bunch in a time of 2hrs 04mins for the 49 miles, an average speed of 24mph.