Last weekend was the hotly anticipated Bristol GP, and since it’s just a quick trainride away we managed to send a few riders over, though not all of the registered guys made it due to some well deserved post-exam hangovers. Dan did well in the 3rd Cat race, Angus didn’t have such a good day, and Isaac finished in the front bunch of the Nat A crit amongst some very good company. All in all a good day out, well organised race, and loads of fun!
Big Congrats to Tamara Davenne and Helena Coker who also put in some awesome performances in the women’s races too!
So after booking the train to Bristol a month early the first time, I found out that morning that I had booked the second ticket an hour earlier than everyone else which meant I was to ride the lonely train to Bristol. Anyway, I got there, bought some ibuprofen, found the race venue, watched old men go round slowly on Venges, Foils and Cippollinis, got changed in an ambulance and had a piss in what was the cleanest portaloo I have ever been in. Good times.
Angus and I went for a leisurely riverside warm up just before the race. Breathing heavily and feeling close to fainting at 140 bpm confirmed my fears that maybe my race preparation consisting of a solid week off the bike and 3 days of being ill with a fever wasnâ€™t going to be met with much success today. Before the race began, the marshal said we would do a couple of laps behind the pace car then it would peel off and the race would begin or something like that, I wasnâ€™t really listening. Turns out we did 1 lap behind the car where everyone of course was dangerously fighting for position and 2 laps of what felt hard enough to be actual racing but easy enough for me to consider just riding off the front for a glorious solo win. Turns out that was just the warm up and I hit a HR of 186 bpm sitting on wheels. Thanks m186s.
The race set off and no later than on the first corner of the first lap I saw a guy get boxed into a protruding curb. The man had obviously never heard of a bunnyhop as I soon heard the familiar sound of tearing lycra and wheels hitting helmets behind me. Iâ€™d be lying if I said I didnâ€™t have un petit chuckle to myself. On the second lap, one delusional guy tried to squeeze through a gap so small even Chavesâ€™s son would have hit the brakes, resulting in his pedal coming down on to my shoe and exploding the fastener. Thanks m86. On the bright side of things I was cornering like a champion (by the way Michelin powers, I forgive you for throwing me to the tarmac in York) and often got small gaps on the uphill left-hander and the tight right-hander everyone was apparently terrified of. I sat towards or on the front for most of the race and closed down most solo attacks which, in hindsight, was probably giving too much credit to the cornering prowess of my fellow racers that day. Because of this, I spent the whole race in the box. It was closer to a shipping container than a box actually. Let me take you on a journey into the box I was in. My eyeballs were sweating, my left shoe was rattling, I hit a new max HR and averaged a higher HR than my 10-mile TT HRâ€¦for 41mins, my left hand was cramping, my arse was chafing, I was feeling sheepish for the embarrassingly low socks I was wearing and worst of all I couldnâ€™t come past a guy wearing â€œTriUKâ€ kit. In fact, I was so far into the box that I couldnâ€™t get my bottle back into its cage. So I elected to throw it over the barrier towards some female onlookers along with a cheeky wink through my Oakleys whilst mouthing â€œcall meâ€ at 50kph. Look pro? Check. Break hearts? Check. Lose a bottle forever? Check. Iâ€™ll leave it up to the readers to decide what in that story was truth and what was whimsy.
Towards the end of the race we lapped Angus, obviously something had happened to him but at least he looked good with those sexy wheels. In the last lap all the wheelsuckers came to the front and put in bare attacks which moved me from the red into the black but I still managed to stay in the front 3-4 wheels. When I realised I wasnâ€™t going to stand on the podium I sat up and let everyone hoover up points. Thatâ€™s right, Iâ€™m staying in 3rd cat for as long as possible xxxâ€¦
All in all, good race, good course, good event. Congrats to the guy with the sick skinsuit and sick bike who won and Rob for coming second and podiuming 2 years in a row.
Dan on the prowl
Lining things out
Showing the bunch how to take a corner
Bristol GP was an event we were always going to do because itâ€™s sick, but due to finals and all cycling took rather a low priority in June, so I came into my first Nat A only having raced twice in the past six weeks. #Tapering.
On the way to Oxford station I discovered my ticket had made a bid for freedom and sneakily was not in my pocket. It was fine, I had 15 minutes, plenty of time to go home and find it on my kitchen floor. Despite feeling very caj about time I still failed to get on the train before the doors closed in my face, causing Angus to piss himself and the platform manager to sternly tell me not to swear. After another half hour in Oxford and an hour in the drizzle at Didcot, I was on my way to Bristol to hook up with Big Hitter Dan and Angus Fisk, fresh off the plane and definitely feeling it. I arrived in time to see the last few laps of the 4ths, where Sam Holder sprinted to a fine 3rd place from the break.
The place to be seemed to be a wall in the carpark that was serving as race HQ, so I parked up for the next few hours and just enjoyed being in the sun, around bikes, not doing maths. The 3rds seemed to be a reasonably paced race, with Dan and some others working the front, I took some photos and then hopped up on the bridge just in time to see Angus hurl himself incredibly violently at the ground. To my surprise he emerged relatively unscathed considering (â€œI might have a broken legâ€) but his shiny new carbon wheel was now resplendent with some aero dimpling.
Finally having put my tubs on, got changed, gratefully had a spin on Rob Borekâ€™s rollers (and fallen off them after trying to ride no handed, again) and done a couple of carpark laps it was time to queue up behind the race directorâ€™s car and sit still for 20 minutes, cooling down and realising it was actually really sunny and getting very thirsty. Iâ€™d taken my bottle cages off cause Iâ€™m stupid. Also everyone looked rather pro and I was beginning to wonder whether this was a good idea. We had a couple of laps to learn the circuit, which was fully sick and had many things I could envisage riding into, before the inevitable shuffle and push at the start line.
Quite a good grid position was dismally wasted when I couldnâ€™t get my foot in for the first 100m and duly entered the first corner in last. Wicked. Two laps of dipping into tempo brought me up to mid-pack somewhere but I felt absolutely shagged and wasnâ€™t best pleased when my computer told me Iâ€™d only been riding for 4 minutes. However people had already been dropped so I duly got on with getting round. The tight nature of the course lent itself to someone who has delusions of bike-handling prowess, born out of years of injuring myself at mountain bike races and skateparks. I got one clear run at the â€˜tightâ€™ corner into Denmark Street and hit it at not quite full gas, coming millimetres from both decapitating myself on the inside wall and ploughing into the scaffolding kindly placed on the outside. Meanwhile Rory Townsend had made like a Tom and cruised off. His teammates sat up on the front of the bunch and set a steady pace that still put me in the box, I hit the front once and immediately started laughing while rolling to the back. However, riders were getting shelled all the time and I felt like I could make the front group if it didnâ€™t go mad.
Coming into the bell lap I was keen to move up, but then, having been through the first corner 30 times without incident, the 31st proved too much and I stamped my inside pedal into the ground with the force of over a thousand Fatancur wattstm. The entire population of Bristol went â€˜oooooooohâ€™ in unison but despite my front wheel coming off the ground at an unhealthy angle I deployed the aforementioned bike-handling skills and clenched my buttocks so tightly they induced a local gravitational field, such was their density, and this kept me upright. Before I could get my foot back in and come to my senses Iâ€™d dropped the wheel in front so the last lap was a bit of a shitshow, I sprinted the final rise to stay clear of a couple of riders but was basically nowhere in the first group. This still put me 13th/50, which I was happy with considering the strength of the field and the amount Iâ€™ve been racing recently.
The sun stayed out and we had plenty of beers by Clifton Bridge it was lovely. Will Wheeler drank an entire packet of Yakult to prepare for the Mendips and I bombed hills on a skateboard. The next day we rode 130k in the pouring rain and I got really unhappy at how shit my legs were but still got to drop some fools up Cheddar Gorge. Everyone should go there.
Chilling out pre-race
Ready to smash it Sunday.