Hayden's take on the second half of the season as it progresses...
Following a brief mid-season holiday in June, which I had two weeks of reduced volume on the bike whilst in Canada, I unfortunately came down with a nasty illness for week which knocked me back significantly. Throughout the month of July the calendar was still quite busy, but trying to find some fitness through training mixed with some tough National B races was difficult. Myself and Ryan had a fairly solid ride in North Wales nat B road race with both of us finishing a race that saw us cover close to 2000m climbing, amongst only 23 others. Other than that, I DNF’ed at the Bole Hill and Holmfirth national B road races in July. A combination of sub-par fitness, poor race conditions and some lack of judgement.
Upton RR – 5th August
August has been somewhat more successful. It started at the Upton summer road race, a national B covering a fairly flat fast course in near perfect conditions. An early break went up the road, which to me was quite surprising consider the lack of features that might naturally separate the group. The break got a good advantage whilst attempts to break off into small chase groups were frequent. I managed to make most of these groups, however the bridge to the break wasn’t successful. Heading into the final hour, the pace was hard on the front on the only rise on the course, and I managed to make the front split of the Peloton. I had the opportunity to sprint for 6th… But ended up last of the break group having tried to clip off the front of the group too late. 17th.
Brownlee Crit summer series – 9th + 16th August
If you’re after a closed criterium circuit in the UK that seems to never end in a bunch gallop, Boddington cycle track at the Brownlee centre in Leeds is the one. The small but sharp climb at the top end of the course is made just hard enough to allow groups to go. In the second of the summer series held by local based clubs, I managed to make the break that stayed away and ended up 4th place. A week later and another few breaks successfully made, I ended up 6th. Unfortunately I’ll never be a faster finisher, however racing crits are helping my decision making, corner and bunch skills.
Out of the saddle RR – 12th August
130km of a good course that provides a couple of kicks and a drag, ideal terrain for me to put in a good performance I hoped. A good field convened on a Sunday morning where the rain was somewhat inevitable and the crosswinds were ever present. I was placed well for lap 1, keeping near the front and following the moves. And lap 2 also, I was placed near the front going into the critical crosswind section. It proved to be too close to the front though as the main contenders attacked up the outside of the bunch, a move that left me boxed in and unable to respond. The gap went out quickly and I wasn’t there. Sad times. This all happened within the first 30 minutes. What ensued was 2 hours 30 of fairly boring riding. Most of the time, chase groups go and there is a small chance they may get across in these longer races which keeps it exciting. The difficult conditions and the large gap meant no one was going to get across, everyone knew this deep down. On the final drag of the race I got away with 3 others and came in for 18th.
Yorkshire Regional Championships – 19th August
7 laps, Penny Pot circuit, lots of wind, the crème de la crème (most of) in Yorkshire. Go. Lap 1 and the wiggins trio hit it hard as we emerged from the shelter of penny pot lane into some raging cross-head wind. They didn’t get away and the bunch is all back together. Lap 2 and the same thing happened again, I was nearer the front of the group they came around and off the front. I couldn’t get on the move and 8 strong riders went up the road. Although it was early on in my head I could see it staying away. The next time up penny pot I thought I’d giving bridging the gap a go. It was unsuccessful and instead just wasted a significant amount of energy from so nicely freshened up legs in the week prior. I paid for my efforts, and was floating near the back for the next hour it seemed. It also didn’t help I missed some bottles from my chief supporter and support crew Emily, but people attacked the climb just before the feed station and the vibration through my handlebars meant I couldn’t grip it. Two hours into the race, I’d averaged close to 170 beats per minute (HR) but had only drank 800mls of fluid. Less than half what I had planned for that stage of the race. Mixed in there somewhere was a two up breakaway with Julian Varley from Team KTM UK. We were joined by Pete Williams from One Pro cycling and Jake Wormsley from Holdsforth… and then the rest of the hitters. This was the selection that I hoped would draw a truce to close to the end of the race. It wasn’t to be and with a little bit left to race there was another hot period of racing that resulted in another split with 9 riders getting up the road. I had nothing left to make it across, and then I was racing for 10th from a group of 6. I crossed the line 12th in the end, surprising myself that I didn’t lose the uphill sprint at the end. Next weekend (26th) is the 180Km national B race, the Victor Belmont Trophy in Oxfordshire.
I've started riding on the track this year and had several sessions training with guys from Uni, just to get comfortable riding close to the wheel in front so that when the semester starts we can get up to race speed quickly.
The first road race of the month had some positives and negatives, on the up side I was near the front forcing the pace up the climb and making all the dangerous moves but sadly the final result didn't reflect the effort I put into the race.
Rain started pouring down five minutes before the start at Mallory park on Thursday night and predictably there was a crash on the first hairpin. I started near the back but was going round the outside of everyone in the turns, feeling loads of grip. After a couple of laps I had a big get down and the marshall wouldn't let me continue straight away, only after he had checked me over (and I was a lap down) did he let me continue. I decided there that I didn't want to race and risk crashing when there are plenty more races left. In hindsight I wish I'd carried on as the field was in pieces after only half an hour, I feel I could've unlapped myself into the points.
Next came the Leicester Castle Classic 2/3 support race. I generally spent the whole race near the back as the corners weren't too technical and I didn't have to accelerate too hard out of the corners. Near the end I worked my way to the front and a group of four went clear with two others chasing. Me and a Spirit Tifosi rider attacked, brought back the two chasers but they blew up and blocked the road and in braking and getting round them we were swallowed by the bunch.
At the West Midlands regionals I went in with the plan of just sitting in the bunch and waiting until the race naturally split. But then only 47 riders turned up and some were getting dropped within the first couple hours. Andy Tennant attacked after a group of five built an advantage of four minutes and I stupidly followed. After making then getting spat from that group I then got dropped by the remnants of the peloton.
Nothing to write home about but plenty of lessons learned, I need to be much more conservative.