It's been a busy few days that's for sure! Since my fitness test and ride last Thursday with WhatsyourM.E.T.A, I've not had a day off the bike. It's been an awesome block of riding and racing and I'm planning to carry this on for another week or so before I rest up for the Three Peaks Cyclocross.
Scottish Cyclocross Series Opener - Isle of Bute
The 2018-2019 Scottish Cyclocross season has been shaken up with the national series starting earlier in September and finishing later in February. I hadn't planned to race the opening round of cyclocross on the Isle of Bute but a couple of weeks ago I decided it would be a good idea. The Isle of Bute is a short ferry trip from Wemyes Bay on the west coast of Scotland, around an hour drive from Glasgow. It's a unique start to the cyclocross season for sure!
The course for the race was fast and wide open. I really enjoy this type of racing as it adds a tactical challenge to the race. The course was taped with a lot of off camber and switchback corners, with a run up as well. My goal for the race was to try and chill in all of the corners, set up wide and exit clean with speed. I was racing on Hope 20FIVE alloy wheels while my Hope RD40 Carbons are being built, with an intermediate tire. I was conscious not too push my tires too hard in the turns and thankfully managed to stay upright! I'm expecting a fresh drop of new rubber this week from Continental Tires so that won't be a problem in future!
The race started fast with a big field of senior men. The top riders for the last few seasons, Dave Duggan and Gary MacDonald, set the pace and took a small gap early on. I managed to move up from a second row grid into a group of riders making up 3rd-10th position. On the second lap I attempted to bridge to Dave and Gary but I didn't have the legs and slid back into the group.
As the race progressed we maintained the gap to the leading two riders as the chase group was whittled down. I felt good on the last half of the lap and was fairly confident coming towards the finish with Dave Lines and Richard McDonald. I gambled on a sprint finish but lost out on and finished up 4th - content with my race although a little bitter sweet having another 4th place and missing out on the podium again!
Unfortunately I didn't record a race file on the day. However, you can see the full results and lap splits on MYLAPS.
Scottish Cross Country Final - Glentress
After the race I shot home to try and recover a little as the next day was the final round of the SXC Series at Glentress.
Although I was carrying a few solid days of testing, riding and racing in my legs I actually felt pretty good when I was warming up and practicing. I wasn't too concerned either as Dave Duggan, Gary MacDonald and Dave Lines had all raced the previous day too, so I wasn't alone in having tired legs! I practiced the course before the race and used this as my warm up. It was another fast affair with 4 short climbs with fast descents.
I've actually ridden more SXC races this year than I have done for many years so I had a front row grid. It was awesome to see so many Elite and Expert riders racing with plenty of talented young riders coming through. The 6 lap Elite and Expert race also started with the 4 lap Junior race.
Junior rider Charlie Aldridge flew out of the start and set a hot pace, with Olli Dawson and Dave Duggan right behind. I followed into the first steep climb with Gary MacDonald. The start was fierce and when we hit the 3rd climb of the lap I settled into my own pace. My goal was to ride consistent lap times and be mindful of fueling and hydration. I was hydrating with water only and fueling with isotonic and caffeine gels. I took a caffeine gel 15 minutes pre-race and then 3 gels during the race, with the caffeine gel during the second last lap. Each lap I aimed to drink twice.
I was aware that my body was tired during the race as my heart rate was lower than usual. However, I felt I was riding well and managing my effort so felt good.
During the final lap I knew that Dougie Shearer was chasing me down so I put in an all out effort. I thought that I was maintaining the gap but at the top of the final short climb he took me by surprise and passed me. I chased hard and held him to the finish but lost out in the sprint to the line, beaten fair and square and finishing 5th. You can check out my race file on Strava.
So that's another weekend of racing in the legs and another week of training down the line. I have to say I'm happy with progress so far and even happier that I'm closing the time gaps to the riders in front of me. I'm impressed with the quality of riders and it's clear that I am going to have to work hard to compete. I'm feeling motivated and hungry for the challenge though!
Today I start my new programme with WhatsyourM.E.T.A and things are looking good with a mix of cycling, intervals, running and gym sessions. I hope to ride the No Fuss Events Tour De Ben Nevis for the first time this Saturday, and then I am working at the HSBC Lets Ride Pop Up event at Alexandra Park on Sunday.
'Til next time... Over and out.