“In the event of an emergency, please assume the bracing position”

2014 has been a turbulent season to say the very least.

After finishing last year on a high with maintaining my Elite license with ease, winning a fair few races, bunched with some other decent results and being ranked 1st U23, I was ready to take 2014 by the horns and do the business. Bring home the bacon. All of that.

Starting with 4 weeks in Majorca after a short campaign of winter racing, I racked up nearly 3000 miles, a lap record and some good cake eating. The numbers were there, the weight was good, the mind in gear.

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My first main aim of the season was Jock Wadley, a tough early season ‘classic’ road race. I somehow initiated the break and was joined by four of the strongest riders in the UK, National champions, soon to be World Tour rider etc, good company. After averaging 30 for 60 miles I was dropped. Caught by the chase. Dropped by the chase. Caught by the bunch. Dropped by the bunch. But at the finish there was a glimpse of what could be. Not so disappointed.

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Then the physical set backs began. At the Lincoln GP I was taken out by a team car, not at speed but enough for my whole right hand side to turn into a bruise. Landing on pavè is not the best.
Bruised lungs.

2 weeks off.

I started training again once I could breathe, the Tour Series was the next big goal for the team. I’ve never really thrived on crits & it has always taken me a few rounds to get into the swing of things, 3 races done, placing a getting better with each, then on an easy cafe ride between rounds I was taken out by a wandering pedestrian.

Dislocated shoulder.
3 weeks off.

I should’ve rested more and allowed myself to fix properly but I didn’t want to let the team down for the races they’d entered me for. I raced a few races including the Hillingdon GP and Jersey Tour series round, had a big mechanical and a moment. Frustrating as I think my form was at some of its best that week. The bad luck was getting to me.

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Focus quickly changed to the National TT champs, I’d been training hard all season for it. New bike. Borrowed wheels. The lot. Only to crash heavily (see earlier post) and ruin any chance of doing well two days before the event. But I rode. Through agony. Through suffering. With pride.
Soft tissue damage to elbow & knee. Muscles in lower back immobilised.

3 weeks off.
Back damage currently affecting me still.

With a few big races remaining I tried to cram in some training, yeah, that thing they tell you to never do, panic training. But it seemed, well at least in training, to work. But to the disappointment of myself & the team I just wasn’t ready to jump back into one of the hardest road races and finish let alone be competitive and if anything, more of a mental setback than physical at this stage of affairs. I none the less gave everything I could and wasn’t greeted with much support. But I carried on trucking. Racing and training as much as possible, trying to salvage an awful year. Trying to Scrape together the 300 points needed to stay ‘elite’.

I’ve often had good end of season form and I’d planned to get my remaining points in the last few months of the season. Again, not everything went to plan. After the Ottershaw races I was left with 23 points to get. More than I had hoped I’d need. With two races left I needed 21 points, with 20 remaining to win. Frustrating and disappointing.

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Elite will elude me this year. But next year, maybe if I have a better time of it and better luck then I’ll have that ‘E’ back on my licence. And most importantly actually enjoy racing my bike.

Focuses move towards a more time trial based season next year. With the insane idea the National 24 hour championships in June being up there as one…

And of course Palace. Always Palace.

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Canyon V-Drome / Track Racing!

A week or so ago, I discovered a crack in my beloved Canyon Ultimate AL. Caused from (I think) hitting the most colossal pot hole in the Roy Thame Cup in March. Luckily as the frame is a beast, it managed to hold up through two road races and 3 circuit races before I noticed said crack.
I emailed the guys at Canyon UK, of whom I’d been tweeting to keep them updated on the wins I’d been having on their bike! They said to bring the bike over to their offices in Kingston. And have since ordered me a new frame which is due in the next few days!

In the meantime, they said I could borrow their Canyon V-Drome for the VC Londres Open meeting. I obviously obliged!
The bike was kitted out with Dura ace hubbed deep section wheels, the frame was aero and very stiff with a great aggressive geometry. It looks pretty badass too! I did have to put a bigger gear on, but I’m silly with gears. And I put a 140mm stem on, but I am lanky. It’ll be hard to give it back for sure! And was a pleasure to ride. Plenty admired it!

The racing was great fun. The first ever race I did, and the first ever race I won were both at Herne Hill Velodrome, so it’s alway really good to come back and enjoy racing. I’ve always said my favourite race is a points race so I was excited to give it a crack after a year off from the track.

Racing got underway with a scratch race, I attacked a bit. Got 4th. Legs hurt. Lungs hurt. Ow.
That was followed by a One Kilometre TT, I got third and a PB with a 1.08. I had normal road bars and helmet on. And fluffed the start. So I was happy with that.
Next up, a devil…my normal tactic for these is to ride the whole race at the front and sprint-ish every lap. This worked until 4 laps to go when a Bec CC rider smashed it off the front, I eventually caught him after a flat out chase and sprinted past to the win.
After this was a points race. I attacked off of the line, a Jakeaway of sorts. Grabbed a couple of sprints then had to work hard to nab some extra points once I was caught. I ended with 10 points. One point clear of the second place rider.
The last race was a 20km scratch race. Being a roadie, I always like to attack and try to make the race hard. I stayed off the front for a good 15 laps, won a prime. But didn’t have the legs in the final sprint. 7th I think.

I’ve gone home with the normal cough that goes hand in hand with the first track meet of the year.

All in all a good outing! I think I got 26 more British Cycling licence points, bringing me up to 220 and maybe back into the place of first Elite category rider in the UK…and £59, which is also handy!! Cake money.

A special little mention to Andrew Bradshaw who organised the whole meeting at the age of 17 and still managed to race the B category races! Very impressive. Cheers!

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Bring me back some Speculoos…

Right. It’s been nearly a year. And I’ve decided to run my blog properly and continuously on pain of a harsh telling off…from myself.
The main reason being that I’ll be moving to Ghent, Belgium in April for a number of months in 2013! And It’ll save my Mum some stress if there is something to read that reassures her that I haven’t been lost to a strange new place. Eating my way through gallons of Speculoos!

This season has had it’s ups and downs. I maintained my Elite Category status with eleven wins and eighteen other top fives in circuit and road races across the UK. I traveled across the northern parts to race in the crème de la crème of British circuit racing, I cycled to my local circuit of Crystal Palace and my faithful mum drove me here, there and everywhere to race. I think if there were such things as ‘Train Miles’ I’d have enough to circumference the Earth. A number of times. But most of all I loved and enjoyed every painful minute I spent on my bike.

I was also asked at last minute to ride as a Pro Rider for one of the Friendship Works teams in the Trois Etapes. A Pro-Am charity race in France. Based on number of mountain time trials on the famous climbs of the 2012 Tour de France, with the addition of the Col du Galibier and Alpe d’Huez. It was an amazing experience and possibly the highlight of my year. The scenery, the roads, the weather, the people and the of course the good causes. Over a million pounds was raised for the various charities. Our team finished 5th! Check out the 2013 route and dates here – www.troisetapes.org

I’ve again had my share of bad luck, a number of broken frames and bike parts during races hasn’t aided matters. But I’ve begun to realise, everyone has the same luck. Its what you do with it that matters. I mean, everyone snaps a gear lever in the winning break then the next day gets taken out and snaps a frame…don’t they?

The most exciting news of late is that I’ll be riding for a Belgian club/ team called Kingsnorth International Wheelers. Quite a few ‘famous’ riders have gone through their ranks, Dean Downing (Three Time National Champion) and Jack Bauer (Now rides for Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda) to name a few. I’ll be staying in a farmhouse in or near Ghent, supposably ‘The Oxford’ of Belgium. Wether that’s actually the case…we will see.
My calendar will mostly consist of Amateur Kermes’ and hopefully the odd invitational Pro-Kermes, it will be a big difference in style and length to the British racing scene. And I can’t wait to live and breathe cycling in what some would say is the true heart of cycle racing.

Other than all of that. There isn’t anything that interesting to report!
I still like cakes…nothing’s changed.

Happy Pedalling.
Jakey.

Yes. He’s now World TTT champion!