Where did 2014 go? It was the year of the excuse, not a single points race was entered, lots of commuting done but a hard ride at the Ride London 100 (86mile monsoon) got me back in the mood.
But could a commuter, on a fixie bike, climb up the road categories?
November saw the start of an arms race; adding Powertaps to the road bike, the fixie bike and picking up a Turbo Trainer. Quality over quantity was the new ethos, adding structure to the commute and slotting in some Sufferfest pain! And a whole new world of pain it was, clocking my first indoor FTP @ 270w in November and performing an outdoor test @295w on 31 December. On the Turbo there is nowhere to hide, nobody to draft and no traffic light to save you.
I finally jumped in and paid up for 3 races in the Imperial Hillingdon Winter Series, C+ with points available.
Imperial Winter Series – 10 January 2015
My first ever C+ race with points on offer was a stark reminder that this quest could take a while. After a week commuting in high winds, that were also present during the race, there wasn’t much to say. Stuck in the bunch all race and found myself blocked with nowhere to go at the end, rolling over the line 26th. Lessons learnt; at Hillingdon it is all about positioning.
Imperial Winter Series – 17 January 2015
A little more confident, sitting in all race and getting blocked wasn’t an option. Less wind meant the bunch was a bit smoother and not as wide. Not much happened all race, as is the way with Cat 4s, until the 2 lap board came up and I was stuck, again, only I’d learnt a new trick earlier in the race, be vocal. As the final lap started to unravel it felt like deja vu, stuck around 15th when a TCC rider in front of me blew his dynamite very early and we both shot up the inside shouting ‘ON THE LEFT ON THE LEFT‘, riders actually moved out of the way and through we went but we were both spat out the front in no mans land.
In front of me was half a mile of twisting corners and 2-3 bike lengths behind 60 people who wanted to be there in the points. Didn’t fancy myself as a sprinter and having watched John Domans Yo VS them speech “if you see an opening tear into it” I went for it. Like Chris Froome staring at his stem, I watched my power closely, backing off a little to negotiate the bends before opening up a long way from the line.
It couldn’t happen could it? I looked back once before closing my eyes for a split second and stamping on the pedals. One quick glance a few meters from the line and I see my team mate blasting down the outside, both of us giving it everything.
Somehow I’d clung on, winning by a few inches and even better two other Kingston Wheelers were in the top 5 of what must have looked like some great team coordination.
Amazing feeling, as a peer said to me later, not many people ever get to win a race. 10 points in the bag!
Imperial Winter Series – 24 January 2015
For 2015 British Cycling moved the bar, a cat4 rider needs 12 points to progress. Mission for the day, a solid finish in the points.
But the wind was back. Buoyed by last weeks solo attack, confidence was up, only I found myself near the back and struggled to move up. As the laps counted down a dab of power on the outside was the only way to move up.
This time I finally managed to hold myself near the front and stay there. With 1 to go an early attack from another rider strung us out into a paceline where I held a wheel in 4th. With the pace and wind both high we got onto the final straight safe from the bunch coming over the top; cantered over the line 3rd.
A satisfactory end to my career as a Cat 4 rider!
What next? Perhaps next week I’ll go back and get schooled in the E123 (I did and was very much schooled)!