Quiet Surrey Town Centre Crit Madness
Guildord Local Heroes Crit
Wednesday 5th July, the bustling commuter town of Guildford, Surrey is busy closing it’s high street and a team of people are putting barriers up along the roads.
Mum’s and Dad’s are busy pinning numbers on skinny young bike racers, from ages 6 to junior, U23 and then senior level. Racers are dotted all along the high street, some on rollers, some topping up their caffeine reserves and others just basking in the mid-summer sunshine.
I know Guildford well with my sister basically lives on the course, but I had never raced here. I knew what i was getting into though, it is a very short course with a cobbled climb to finish. Surrey’s answer to the Tour of Flanders…
The race was on a Wednesday night so it was a race to get there on the train after work. But I arrived in good time and spent some time being the “Pro-Cycling Uncle” before hand. Leading my two nephews up to the course in the hope of getting them to race in a few years time.
This is one my regrets, that I didn’t start racing till I was 27 years old. Some kids start at 6 years old now. It’s obviously an expensive sport and one that requires more time and dedication than other sports but the results are obvious.
Anyway – Back to the race!!
We were held behind a gate on the finishing straight and then let off for what was the fastest neutral lap I’ve ever done! The speed was so fast, I actually thought we had started. So I was somewhat relieved when we slowed down to be briefed by the Commisaire.
Bang and we are off, I typically lost around 10 places as iIusually do when we start. This meant I was already 2 corners behind the leading group. The laps were 1 minute long so it going to be a day for a small selection and not any form of bunch sprint.
The pace was really high and you couldn’t rest for long with a corner every 15 seconds. The surface was also somewhat sketchy with large patches of rutted pot holes. When I’m racing at the front or leading a break, I will aim for these sections in order to make riders behind ride in them. Anything I can do to gain an advantage and make the opposition weaker is worth doing. But the reverse of that is that you have to remain seated as much as possible to ensure proper traction through the bike.
The race was 23mins long so a fairly short effort – but equally an effort at or above threshold. I barely had time to look at my data but knew my HR was above 180 for the whole race and that the climb would require efforts of 700w+ every lap.
As the race progressed I was moving up nicely, although I wasn’t sure if there was someone up the road. So I bridged across to the front group and assessed the situation, or as best you can when your lungs are dead! It was a very hot night so dehydration was a factor, I had a bottle but was struggling to find the opportunity to swig a drink.
Once in the front group I stayed protected but a VCL rider attacked a gained a small gap. Initially I tried to follow but I didn’t have the power so basically just stayed glued to the front and did two things;
- Ensure no one else attacked
- Kept the pace high to eventually bring the VCL rider back
I managed to bring him back and then slowly moved back to save some energy for the impending sprint finish.
I had a couple of laps out of the wind before attacking solo on the last lap only to be outdone by the same VCL rider on the cobbled finish. – 2nd
Farnham Town Centre Crit
Sunday 8th July, the quaint Surrey town of Farnham, Surrey is bathed in mid summer sunshine. Usually the one-way system is in full flow, ferrying traffic to and from the farmers market and the historic Castle.
Only on this particular Sunday, Farnham was host to Regional B level circuit race. The commentator is having a tough time trying to distinguish between the plethora of club kits on show;
“Excuse me, are you in charge?…”
“Ummmm, hold on i’m a bit busy”
“Oh, well just to let you know my son is racing and you’ve pronounced his name wrong!…”
Upon correction from a certain overly engaged Mother, the commentator returns to the pot -hole dodging fast paced race as it begins to get strung out.
A strong group of 6 have emerged and are working together increasing the pace. I was lucky to be part of this group as began to acclimatise to the rutty road surface, tight corners and short but sharp ramps up to the finish line. The 6 riders in the breakaway were all riding well and taking turns to push the pace. I was wary of the riders amongst us and was thinking of a possible attack from the break.
The course in Farnham was basically a reverse section of the one-way system. I know the roads very well after many rides to and from my Mum’s house. The nature of these races is such that they are often packed into a tight schedule, so whilst they are listed as 30mins + 5laps. It is often shorter as the schedule for the day is delayed. Therefore the pace was intense right from the start – I was deep in my threshold immediately.
As the race progressed I was learning to rest as much as possible, getting as low as possible and drafting as close as I dared.
We were really moving now and basically lapped everyone on the course. And then on the last lap, one of my breakaway compatriots attacked into the back section of the course. I was knackered having attacked on the previous laps. So I conserved and chose not to got with him knowing that that was potentially the winning move.
I settled in at 3rd wheel going into the final straight, slightly uphill and with a tricky Bus-lane/potholed final corner. I had pulled away from the riders behind me and easily bagged 3rd place so didn’t give it a full sprint having alreay burned my matches. All in all a fun race with tactics coming into play.
A Good Week
And that ended a good week
- 2nd in Guildford
- 3rd in Farnham and then back
Having raced the Crystal Palace Crit series in the weeks before and after, I was on form and riding aggressive but controlled. So to walk away with 2 podium finishes was pretty satisfying.
For the rest of the summer, I’ll be racing any local crits I can find and have time for. And then I’ll be doing Minet Crit III (Fixed Gear Crit) in early August. And then finishing the season in Milan for Red Hook Crit.
Equipment for both races was as follows:
- Bowman Palace R – 54 Frame
- Parcours Passista Carbon Clinchers
- InfoCrank Road Power Meter – 172.5mm
- Gear Ratio 53/39 – 25/11
- Fizik Saddle and Finishing kit
- Vittoria Corsa Gumwall Tyres – 25mm