Sunday, 31 May 2015

Leighton Buzzard Road Cycling Club.....Our club.

 I have been  sort of asked to just rattle on about the club, our club, my club. Although just in our fifth year we have over 100 members on our books, not too bad for a small market town.
However one of the things that concerns me, is that often the most vocal club members are it's racers. That's fine, but that does make us appear to be a racing club when in fact we are a very inclusive cycling club. So I hope I can correct that misconception, if just a little bit.
First of all the racers are a in a minority, a tiny minority. However when you've been training hard all winter and are proud of the results it gets when the racing season starts it's hard not to shout about it. So we like them to have their moment, and it does wonders for the clubs profile.
Though as well as 'racing racing' we do a lot of inclusive racing. Namely cyclo cross and Time Trials, both welcome total newcomers with open arms. In fact many G3 riders have competed in these disciplines.
Anyway I'm talking about racing!
The meat and bones of the clubs riding are it's weekend club runs, the G1, G2 and G3 rides. Everyone rides these....racer or novice. The club run is just that, a club run. Not a race and not a training ride a club ride the whole raison d'etre of the club, so everyone is welcome and wanted on these rides.
But it doesn't stop there, we're not defined by racing and club rides. There's a whole world of cycling in between.  Where do I start? A natural step up from the club ride is very often a sportive, it might be 100km or 100 miles sometimes London to Paris and sometimes more. This year for example we have members touring the USA. Calie and Matt are riding the Vatternrundan in Sweden    and another riding the historic Paris - Brest - Paris it wasn't long ago that some were G3 riders.  (not you Matt!)
I'm not implying that everyone should be on a constant lookout for the next challenge, but I would recommend it. To that end many LBRCC members combine a cycling holiday with a small or not so small challenge.  Talk to your fellow club riders about doing this, there's only so many times you can ride around the local counties without wanting to stretch your wings. A few popular weekend destinations are Belgium to sample the cobbles and wonderful beer (I recommend getting in some early training in the Black Lion) Another is the area local to Calais to just ride the wonderful and friendly roads. They're both nearer than you think. A longer break can get you into the Alps or Pyrenees, I think as a club we've climbed just about all the famous Tour De France mountains? There are usually several yearly trips into mainland Europe.
Another popular event LBRCC members participate in is Audax. Audax is a unique long established  cycling discipline.  It's a hard one to explain, but it seems to be very well suited to the riders we have within the club. But if I was to try and explain! think fast touring on a set route that has to be self navigated i.e no waymarks. It's sometimes said that sportives are ridden by people pretending to race, whilst audax's are ridden by people pretending not to.
The club is called the Leighton Buzzard Road Cycling Club, but we do meander off road very so often.
We are blessed with some fantastic country roads, but look over the hedge line and you'll discover some great mountain biking country.  The club as of now is trying to get group membership to ride the trails of Woburn, but there are still miles and miles of perfectly legal trails to ride on. And to go full circle, 2015 will see a small number of members racing their mountain bikes.
So I hope this helps paint a broader picture of what we do, basically if it's doable on two wheels we do or have done it.
If you have an idea come forward with it. If you have a route in mind tell us. If you have any questions ask the rider next to you.
Very soon we'll have a new website up and running there you should find all you need to know.
Thank you for watching.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

LVRC MK Bowl Circuit Races 2015 Round 1 and 2

Tuesday 5th May
With just two road races under my belt so far in 2015 I'm woefully unprepared for the upcoming circuit race season. And for round one the weather Gods are chucking in an unhelpful hand.
Windy! the course is strewn with debris. I have to make a hasty change to the bikes set up, the carbon deep dish wheels will send me up like a kite in this so they must come off.  I have to swap freehub body, fit cassette, and swap out the carbon pads for alloy ones before re fitting the classic wheels.
Really I needn't have bothered. Probably a little pee'd off with the weather and mechanical work I was in a poor mindset to race.
We get the gun and the race is a out of the saddle sprint from the off. Team Corley and Velo Equipe cause the damage with us mere mortals gasping to stay in any form of race.
Two laps in and Pssssshhhh....puncture.
Not a good day in anyway, but we live and learn, Mainly learn.

Tuesday 12th May and round 2.
The suns out, the Lightweight Standards are back on, the winds not so bad. And I'm 1/2 an ounce lighter! And I'm not going to get dropped. I need to forget about not racing in 2014, and find the form that led to a win in 2013.
I have a good warmup and ready myself in a good position for the start. I need to be a bit tougher today, do my share but don't get taken advantage of. We're off. Like the Virgin Active I feel good and find a spot near the front, but in a place where I can slip in behind a wheel if needs be. I feel nicely in control of my own race and the halfway point comes without issue.
Then halfway through another section of the circuit is opened up. And then the familiar pattern reappears. I've done well so far, but when the winning break goes I can't quite hang on, and again I find myself the front man of the trailing group. I chase round the bends and find the lead group just up the straight, but without a committed effort  from my small group we'll have to concede defeat and race our own race.
We settle into through and off, I say we as it's just myself and a Verulam rider doing the work. Annoying, but in a way good as we'll be riding ourselves race fit and there's a long way to go this season.
We swallow up dropped riders as our disciplined riding pays off, and the group swells. Myself and the VCC rider get a little saucy on the only incline just to drive home the message to those on our wheels.
We see the race out in this way, it's been good. I can now see were I need to improve and hopefully get back to 2013 form.
Also present and racing that day where Dave Brown and Andrew Martin who both race in different age bands. And than's to Justin Naylor for his marshaling duties.

I was unable to race round 3 on 18th May.

The Virgin Active Road Race

Saturday 18th April.  Andrew Martin and myself are racing in a LVRC road race, the Virgin Active being held on the undulating Botolph Claydon course. The weather as promised has dawned dry and sunny, but still bloody freezing and the one thing I've forgotten is my gloves.
We arrive at race HQ and step out of the car into howling wind, but at least the HQ is on a high point so perhaps elsewhere it wont be so bad?
For those that don't know the LVRC stands for league of veteran racing cyclists. It's purely about the racing and to qualify you just need to be over forty. Then the races are split into five year age bands, the usual format being 40 to 50 years old's (A & B) 50 to 60 years old's (C & D) racing together, myself being a D rider. Now before you think 'hang on this looks easier than BC racing.....think again. Unlike BC racing there are no points categories. So you might just end up racing shoulder to shoulder with a recently retired pro racer, or a cat 1 BC rider, or in my case ex pro and Commonwealth games medalist Bob Downs.
So the race.
On paper this looks tougher than my last road race, but I feel better prepared both mentally and physically for this one. Plus I'm just about to find out what racing on £2500 plus wheels is like. We line up outside and watch the the A and B's set off, and wait a moment before we are released. We're off and already I feel much happier than before. I find myself a nice little spot in the bunch that enables me to warm up with the race. All is going well until we turn to attack Pitchcott Hill into a horrendous head wind. I stay out of trouble for the bulk of the climb, but can't hang on when the leaders make a break near the top. And to make matters worst I'm on the front in the wind pulling the 'rest of us'.
We go over the top and turn to Winslow. It's here that I find out why some wheels cost thousands. The benefit is tangible. A small bunch of us TT the lap. I now feel strong and ready to chase down the small group up ahead, this is how I should have felt before the start. With bling wheels assisting we climb up to Boltoph Claydon for the final lap, and catch the group that was up ahead. It's clear the winning break is well ahead, so this is just for honours or training. In the group I recover and whilst on the Winslow straight again I consider a break, I nose out and feel happy but I bottle it and stay with the group. I'll regret that.
As we turn off the Winslow road we come across another age group race. The rules though unwritten say you mustn't influence another race, and as we ain't gonna win anyway we ease off so they can contest places.
I roll in immediately behind.
Though dropped I was very happy, it's early season and I'm 3/4 stone overweight. All good training.

Rapha Hell Of The North 6

Whilst the big boys were getting ready to leave Compiegne that morning for the 2015 Paris Roubaix. Three of the LBRCC were leaving Leighton Buzzard to ride the sixth running of Rapha's Hell Of The North. A 100km homage to the Queen of the classics. And though we had no Lion of Flanders flags waving in our face, we did set off from under the Black Lion of Leighton!
With our vehicle loaded and Steve finally here we set off for the 'actual' start in Pond Square North London. Like the great classic, this ride has a start and finish miles apart. So we parked up near the finish and rode to the start. The first thing that greeted us was a very strong headwind, always welcome on a long day out. Ross and myself were on normal road bikes, whilst Steve had gone for the popular cyclo cross option. However for now a cross bike on tarmac in strong wind was a bit of a burden. Though he would have known that after sign on we would about turn and head North for the first of the sectors, or gravé as Rapha calls them.
At Pond Square we signed on, were given route cards, beer and frite tokens a short briefing and then set off.
We were carried up the A1000 by the same wind. Myself with Ross in tow soon left Steve on his cross tyres behind. He must have been itching to get off tarmac and onto the first of the sectors, and we both were expecting him to come past at some point.
I led Ross along as I'd ridden this three times before and these lanes were my training routes as a teenager in the seventies. I could tell Ross was getting excited as I told him we were just about to turn onto the first sector, and whilst glancing back I could see Steve very close by.
'Here we go' sector 1. I was like a kid a Christmas and hit the loose gravel and numerous pot holes at over 20mph, loose grip, big gear and power with finesse and you fly through. Try and pick your way through slowly and it'll result in a heavy bike and of course punctures.
After this very long sector tarmac is for a moment a welcome break, though we soon grow bored and race for the next sector. Several sectors come and go and all are cleared without issue. Tyres and grins remain intact.  Though Ross goes into work mode as our route carries us over an ungated level crossing, another nod to the PR!
At about 50km our, or Ross's luck runs out and we suffer our first puncture. A shame as it occurs on a great uphill sector. After watching dozens of riders pass in a cloud of dust we finally get ready to get going again.
Next stop is the velodrome at Gosling Park. See what they did there, another nod to the PR. Here we regroup with Steve and also meet Jules riding in his old LBRCC-Solgar team colours. We refill our bottles and do a lap of the velodrome before riding out. I forgot to stick my leg out a la Museeuw after crossing the line.
Museeuw winning after breaking his knee the year before
From here on the sectors became less gavel and more agricultural. One sector being quite technical unless like Jules Ross and myself you got a full season of cross in your legs, in which case they were 'easy peasy'
Ross punctures again, this time though the inconvenience fires him up and he takes off across what in any language can not be described as a path, route or anything. Simply a baked hard tractor track. From the track you can see tarmac, that is when your eyeballs roll round to be able to see. It was the only sector I was glad to leave.
We leave the track and are all separated on the climb that immediately follows, but it's the home stretch now even if we are once again pointing straight into a head wind. At about 12km to go Ross has puncture number three, he kindly lets me carry on without him so I decide to really dig in for the final K's. It's a final long sector before we hit the A1000 again, it's also pretty brutal, a mix of quagmire baked hard mud 4X4 ruts and huge potholes. I gamble it and ride hard and dead straight until I hit a hole that tears my hands from the bars. I ease off and ride back with a small group from various clubs.
Now on the smooth tarmac of the A1000 it's just a simple drop to the finish where free beer and frités await. I'm welcomed in and push my bike into the sunny warmth of the pubs garden and await Ross and Steve while I down my beers and frités.
HOTN number six was another great ride, and I was so pleased that Ross and Steve enjoyed it. I'm pretty well up for this every year, but one day it won't be sunny.....that will be a story.
Here's a great link to the event. Look carefully and you'll see Jules in one of the photos.