19 May 2013

A 4th Cat's Guide to Racing in 2013

Not a standard blog entry this week. After my experience of the North West Road Champs I've decided to post a "How to guide" for the uninitiated masses that are turning up to your local road races nation wide.

Let's go through the motions. Bike, Entering, Starting, Racing, Finish.

The Bike:

So you've mostly been riding Sportifs with great success so far (strava says so, so it's got to be true). So you must already have a bike. That bike will not do. Buy another, exactly the same as the Sportif bike but with Lightweight, Zipp or Mavic deep section wheels (the deeper the better). As a rule this bike must be in the £5000 to £10000 price point, after all you are going to be riding the regional equivalent of Flanders / Paris Roubaix / Strada Bianchi (delete as appropriate depending on which one you have recently had an all expenses paid trip to watch). Bikes popular with 4th cats of 2013 are Pinarello (Wiggins has one), Cervelo (Millar has one), Colnago (Voeckler has one) or the poor mans option; any S-works Specialized.


4th Cat only events aren't for you, you've KOM'd every segment on your weekly commute (while only using the cheapest of your 3 Cervelos) so why on earth would you start at the bottom rung. No no no. You should always select 2/3/4 or E/1/2/3/4 races.


The riders briefing is optional, instead opt to lean against your Range Rover / Pourche while pondering which Rapha gear goes best with your bike. The chief commissarie is, after all, here for fun and requires none of your respect and attention as almost every word he spouts is purely for his own pleasure. Certainly remember at all times that any advice that the (locally based) race officials have regarding the course can be found on your Garmin 810 so again this part of the race briefing is totally masturbatory for the bloke in the GB Race Official Fleece that everyone else is looking at intently.


It's business time, you're out of the neutralised zone and the pace over the opening 10km is already a bit quicker than those Sportifs you've been doing and the break away is long gone. Yet the angry looking bloke in front of you is asking you to do something called a "Turn" and "Chase", thus far he's only been flapping his elbows and has swung to the far right of the road. Oh wait! You remember this bit from last years Tour. It's this kind of behaviour that Team Sky were displaying right before Cav explodes out of the pack to win... there's nothing else for it, you must emulate Cav.

You're off the front of the pack a making good ground on that break away and what's more the pack behind isn't chasing, they seem to be shaking their head indicating that they've all blown due to your amazing kick. Look at the Garmin. It says there's in excess of 60km to go. Ignore it and continue channelling your inner Cavendish. You've completed Sportifs three times that distance it'll pass in a flash.


So the solo break away attempt didn't work. In fact it rather hurt. You've recovered enough sat in the bunch to have another go but you should be feeling that the energy can be better spent elsewhere. The half dozen guys at the front seem to be playing a game where they try and impersonate a conveyor belt while riding in two lines. You should get involved in the game. Your roll is to play the part of "spanner in the works". You're aim is simple; stop the smooth operation of the conveyor belt without once helping out by "doing a pull on the front" as has so often been requested of you. If done correctly there will be shouting. Return to the comfort of the bunch and await the final kilometer.

When the final kilometer arrives you should be safe in the knowledge that, placed as you have been for the last 20km at the rear of the bunch, everyone will have forgotten who you are, what you look like and maybe that you even exist at all. Your chance for a sneek attack should be within the last 200m. When you cross the line ahead of everyone you've been riding with remember to congratulate yourself for taking 21st place overall and tell everyone who asks that you were "Just outside the points"

A proper report is to follow mid next week I'm just finding it difficult to remember details over the annoyance this race has caused me. It was beautifully run and well marshaled with a strong field and truth be told I've never felt stronger on the bike than I did today. The quality of racing in the UK has slipped alot since I were a lad and on a serious note the above sarcastic jab is more a method of venting my frustration at that fact. For a better written and concise article on the subject I'd invite you all the check out the link below, It's done the rounds already but the more people that read it the better.

Cyclingtips.com.au: The Lost Art of the Group Ride

I've also been trying out a couple of newish products to the market thanks to my current job which some of you may be interested in. Namely nitrate gels and Rotor Q-rings both seem to work to a greater or lesser extent but It's more a question of cost vs improvement.

13 May 2013

Lesson in Pre-race Nutrition

This hasn't been the best of weeks. Fortunes have been rather mixed, lost a job, finally got my 2nd cat licence, found a job, missed out on some big training miles and finally I managed to thoroughly ruin my chances at the 2013 Brenig Road Race.

The less said about the job situation the better, suffice to say it's weighed rather heavy on my mind this week and, beyond a couple of crits, the miles have been sorely lacking over the last week. But to find a silver lining the free time left a gap in the calender that was neatly filled by the Palatine Circuit Race in Blackpool which was graced by the presents of Laura Trott OBE. I picked up third thanks to a solo attack that remained un-chased for the last 500m although the Wiggle-Honda Jersey was rather close behind as I crossed the line. So about 2 weeks later than planned my 2nd cat licence is on its way to me.

On to Brenig and if ever there is any worse an example of pre-race nutrition it could only be found in this photo...
For the record missing two meals, replacing gels with fig rolls and trying to home-make isotonic energy drinks using salt, sugar and orange juice (made to an exacting recipe my dad concocted after "bonking" near a McDonald's) doesn't make for a great race. The first half of the race consisted of a 30 mile loops up to 450m which actually went rather well. Apparently the pace wasn't quite as hot as it has been in previous years but none the less I'm happy (given the above mentioned problems) to say I was at or off the front at some point during the climb. It wasn't too long before the poor preparation kicked in. After cresting the first main climb the bunch strung out thanks to the cross winds on the moors and I found myself slipping further and further back down the bunch. Paying due punishment for an already large catalogue of school boy errors. Trying to eat became a monster task, fig rolls aren't the easiest race food. And guessing the unseen course to come using only a Garmin upload was almost impossible and twice left me with a mouthful of fig roll while trying to sprint up the steeper climbs. All the while the dehydration and hunger were creeping in making my concentration patchy at best.

Eventually the elastic snapped and as the bunch fragmented in the windy wet descents I found myself in about the fourth bunch on the road. Not a great position but truly deserved. Jumping group to group seemed like a good idea but dodging the riders dropping from each bunch became a struggle, the temptation to sit in for a second or two to recover became too hard to resist. Eventually I found myself alone dangling 10 seconds off the 2nd group on the road. But having been on the rivet chasing for near 20 minutes now I'd had enough. The bunch ahead slipped up a short sharp climb as I ground to a crawl. This allowed the small group I'd been unknowingly giving a free ride to also slip past and reconnect with the bunch.

Limping onto the finishing circuit like a wounded dog, I shed what even semblance of pride I might have had left, collected my licence and went home. I'd really recommend the Brenig RR to anyone who's game for a bit of hard mans racing and given a better day I'd like to think I would have been capable of greater things but I got what I deserved in the end I suppose.

It's alright though, last night I hit the internet hard are ordered in excess of £100 of race nutrition. Come at me North-West Road Champs!

1 May 2013

The curse of retail

So I've not been blogging much recently. I'm not loosing interest or becoming disillusioned with this whole blogging thing, I actually really enjoy the process. It's relaxing, and gives a nice little retrospective for me on the previous few days riding.

Unfortunately the curse of working in retail finally hit home last week when 2 pre-entered and paid for races had to go unattended because duty called. It was bound to happen eventually. The pluses still out weigh the minuses though. Getting parts, nutrition and accessories at massive discount and having a full workshop at my disposal most days makes the life of an aspiring cyclist a little easier. But the main draw back is having to be in work while everyone else isn't. Missing out on Saturday and Sunday club and the mad rush from a late closing shop to a mid week crit is a struggle but still worth while.

The two races in question above were pretty important ones too. The Out of the Saddle Road Race and Shrewsbury Sports Village Evening Race. "Out of the Saddle" was hugely over subscribed this year with the organisers forced to run two events on the same course on the same day both with full fields of 60 with 10 reserves each. Sounded like a cracking event and I'm very sorry to have missed it. I think the reason the DNS's are bother me so much is because I had this plan in my head that a 2nd cat licence before the end of April was well within reach. For the last two weeks (give or take) I've been within 7 points of that aim. Alas it's now the 1st of May and I'm having to console myself with taking another bunch sprint for 5th at Litherland. Still, only 2 points to go now.

I don't want to bore anyone with a long wordy report of an evening crit, we all know what they're like. Lots of attacking, came down to a bunch sprint, some prat tries to hit the last hair pin corner and 48kph up the inside and ends up sideways being sworn at by the rest of the bunch. Done and dusted. See you all next week.

The big news of this week has been that, for the second year running I've managed to sneak and entry into the Ras De Cymru, Wales premier 5-day stage race at the 11th hour. I'll be riding for Cadence Cycling (the organising club/team) with a couple of Welsh riders, one of whom is making a trip back from the luxurious setting of Southern France. God knows why.

Last years Ras saw me in a team called Student CC which, despite its name, contained no students. One University drop out (that's me), two recently qualified students and a giant of the Welsh Time Trialing scene Richie Harris. Safe to say I played the part of rolling parts waggon for the team for most of the 5-days but I finished and that's whats important. This year though it's not going to be hard to improve on the "almost lantern rouge" I achieved last time. Ideally I'd love a stage win but we'll see how things go.

Finally my cousin,Chris Deeley, is doing the London Triathlon to raise funds for the mental health charity Mind this July. This will be the 2nd time Chris has competed in the London Triathlon and from the sounds of things he's been training in one discipline or another everyday for the last couple of months. Donations can be made through the link below and will be greatly appreciated.

Chris Deeley