Thursday, September 27, 2012

Announcing the 2012 Irish HC Champs and Challenge

Our club/team, Cycleways CC, are holding the 2012 Irish Hill Climb Championships in Glendalough, County Wicklow. We have selected a great course (10km @ 5.2%), a course that is approachable by any rider from commuter to pro racer.

We are trying to make this as inclusive as possible, so there are two events:

1) The National Championship Hill Climb Time Trial - riders set off individually at 1 minute intervals, first rider off at 10:45am. To be eligible for the National Champion title, you must be Irish (IRL UCI code) and be an A3 rider or higher. A4s and riders that purchase a day-license can race it, but are not eligible to become National Champion. We will have prizes for the fastest three senior, vet, women and junior riders. 

2) The Challenge - this is for all riders, racers and non-racers, commuters or pros, you don't need a racing license. Basically, it is the same course as the National Championship course, but ran as a mass start at 10:00am. If we get big numbers, we will split it into smaller, more manageable groups. Everyone will get their time and we may have a few prizes too. U16 (not U14 or younger) can ride this challenge too.

With both races, there will be a car driving to the top of the course that you can give extra clothing for the descent back down.

The course is Glendalough to the top of Turlough Hill.

Race HQ/Signon: Glendalough Hotel, Glendalough, Wicklow, a great hotel - there are also many amenities in the area (shops, bars, restaurants and of course the world famous Glendalough Monasteries - well worth the trip)

The event is online registration only (€10), and registration closes on Thursday 4th of October. Online registation is available here.

Here is the poster - please repost - hopefully the event will be a success and we can build on it next year - it would be great to run a series (always has been a dream of mine)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

2012 Belgian Kermis Racing Trip 1 - Part 2

After an easy rest day, Michael and I were right back at the racing. For the remainder of the trip, we would be based out of Waterloo.

Lessines – 2nd

Some days you wake up and just know you'll have good legs. This was one of them. We arrived at the venue with lots of time to get a spin around the 10km lap. There were a few drags, a fast descent, and the weather wasn't too hot – I loved it. The race started with the usual frantic pace. Groups would get a couple of seconds, and then be pulled back – over and over. About 30 minutes in, I noticed a group of seven get a few seconds – it looked like a good group. I bridged across to it and tried to get us working well together – it wasn't jelling so I attacked from it solo – I rode hard for 10 minutes getting a good gap. I was caught, but this time by the seven that were prepared to ride together. Another 30 minutes later a chase group made it's way across to us making us 18 up front. On one of the long drags a few of us would attack hard reducing the front group. Coming into the bell lap I attacked with another rider, we built a gap on the chasers and over the long drag another two riders came across to leave us with four out front, with ten riders chasing hard. I had been showing a few too many cards earlier in the race and us four out front were not working well together – attack, counter, attack, the kilometers ticked down. Exciting.

With about a kilometer to go, another six riders made it across to us – it would be a small group sprint. Tommy Baeyens who had been away with me lead out the sprint and held it to the line, I finished up in second.

Perbais - 4th

Today was HOT – on the start line at 35C and pretty humid. I didn't get my usual warmup in (slight bike mechanical I had to fix) so the first part of the race hurt more than usual. About 30 minutes in, with strong winds and a lineout the peloton split to bits – fortunately, I was in the front group of 12 and that was mostly it (some riders would make it across but then get shelled again). With about 40km to go, I attacked with a strong rider (Julies Jade – cool name!), we rode well together but never really got away from the chase. It was back together with 30km to go. Attack, counter, attack, counter – the average speed dropped, but the aggression rose dramatically. With about eight kilometers to go, I made a massive effort to escape but was eventually clawed back – it would be another sprint from a group of 12. The technical final kilometer had us lined out and I sprinted to 4th place.

Lessines – 3rd, 2 primes, 3rd overall in the series (raced 2 of 3 races)

Looking around at the starting peloton I knew today would be fast, all the big teams were present. The course had a couple of drags on it, and again I liked it a lot. The first hour was very quick, nothing was getting away. About midway through the race there was a little lull and I found myself off the front with another 3 riders. We combined well but I knew it was never going to be a race winning move – I hoped another group would bridge – it didn't happen but I got some primes before the peloton brought us back. At this point, the main peloton was significantly smaller than what started – maybe 50 riders. (Only 30 would complete the full distance – it was a tough day). With 2.5 laps to go, 4 riders got off the front and built up a small margin – the remnants of the peloton spluttered and stalled a little – I tried to get some chase groups away but it wasn't working. Just after we entered the final lap, as we hit the first drag on the lap I attacked from the peloton. I rode through 2 of the riders that were in the initial four off the front, but there legs were gone. I spent the last lap in solo chase mode – I got with ten seconds of the front two but never caught them – the peloton finished another 45 seconds back from me. So another podium – 3rd. This result also meant I finished 3rd in an omnium series they were running – happy days.

Must resist - so many nice pastries in Belgium

No need to resist - recovery day coffee shop ride
So that was the end of my first trip – including the Suir Valley, I raced 10 hard races in 13 days – I loved it. When I got home, it was much needed rest I craved!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

2012 Belgian Kermis Racing Trip 1 - Part 1

This was my second trip to Belgium for some Kermis racing – last September I travelled over for six days (five races) and had a ball – this year, being healthy, stronger and a hell of a lot more experienced I was looking forward to seeing how I would fair in what is probably the hardest racing that I can do (without being on a big team).

Logistics were simple – the day after the Suir Valley 3 Day finishes, I fly to Belgium and then start racing. I would race 4 days in a row, take an easy day and then race another 3 days. Within that though, I would allow myself to pull the plug early on a race if it wasn't going to plan or if the course and peloton allowed it, simply sit in and see how things panned out for the crucial final 30 minutes.

Race 1: Halen

A big peloton, fast roads and a not so technical course meant this would be a quick one – almost 46kmph for the 127km. I felt like I had 'travel legs' at the start so sat in for the first hour or so – it still isn't easy sitting in, but a lot easier than going off the front all the time. The second hour the peloton started to split up – a few big efforts were made and I was in the front split of about 50 riders. We were doing 16 laps of the course and with a few to go, it was looking like it would be a sprint from this large group. With 3 laps to go I attacked and got clear with another strong rider from one of the stronger teams. We rode hard but only ever got around 30 seconds on the chasing group. Just before the bell lap we were brought back – I still felt pretty good and got away in another few small groups but with a kilometer to go, we were brought back and swallowed up by the front group and a bunch sprint settled the race. Fun.

Race 2: Merelbeke – 7th, 3 primes

Must remember the primes - other laps were €10
28 laps of a 4 kilometer course – man, I was dizzy! One slow corner per lap so I spent the first half of the race sitting in the middle of the bunch. Eventually, boredom got to me – on the descent off a fly over I attacked – 4 riders came with me but they didn't look like they were committed – I attacked them and went off solo – I rode around for 3 laps (getting primes, €60 for my little escape) but as the peloton got close I sat up and went back into rest mode. With 3 laps to go a group of 15 escaped (groups were going and being brought back throughout the race) – with one lap to go I seen a bunch of riders being brought back – I wasn't sure it was the whole group though. With 2.5km to go I attacked from the peloton and held them off to the line – unfortunately, there were still 6 riders up the road and I finished 7th. I was happy how I rode, every bit of energy that I used resulted in something useful.

Race 3: Overijse - 15th

I raced a race here last September and loved it so I was back. The course was different this time around, we climbed a steep short paved climb, another less steep climb with a cobbled top section and then a fast cobbled descent. Unlike last time, it was not raining, but it was HOT! The two bottles on my bike were never going to be enough. 100+ starters and within 30 minutes the front group was around 60 riders – the pace was ballistic! After the fast start, things settled into a more tactical race – guys were still being dropped all the time (indeed, only 30 finished the complete race distance) but I was feeling pretty good. As the kilometers ticked by, dehydration became a bit of an issue – nothing I could do about it so I didn't dwell on it. The final lap came around and our front group was splitting and reforming and splitting again. I missed what turned out to be the winning break of 14. With about 10km to go, I attempted to bridge from the remnants of the peloton – I got close (within 5 seconds) before their sprint opened up – I held on to 15th.

Race 4: Bottelare - 20th

I had not planned on racing today – an easy day was on the cards for me but Michael Lucey (who was traveling with me) was racing so I decided I would start, but if I felt I had to go too hard I would pull out. The course was flat and not very technical so I thought there was a good chance that things would be together towards the end – if so, I'll come out and play then. Like yesterday, it was very hot again.

I spent the first 107km of the 113km doing as I planned – as little as possible – average wattage was around 230W (In Overjise, the Normalized power for the first 45 minutes was closer to 400W). A group of 16 riders had been off the front for around a third of the race but never more than 30 second ahead (starting peloton was around 150 riders). With a few km to go, another group of 15 left the front of the peloton – I quickly bridged across to those guys. We worked together for a couple of kilometers but the cooperation ended as we closed in to the front group. I attacked from this chase group in pursuit of the front – unfortunately, I had 4 passengers from our group. I guess they felt we wouldn't make it across to the front so they were saving themselves for the sprint. I was having fun and the difference between 16th and 20th isn't much to me so I continued. 3 of the guys passed me by the line so I finished 20th. My easiest Kermis to date (I hadn't planed on racing it – it would not have been so easy for the guys out front!) - 125TSS point for the 2:40 long race for the data geeks.

So that was the first batch of races – I was happy enough but my final batch of three races on this trip were much more successful. More on those soon.