British Columbia Beckons
The 12 hours of Exposure seems an age away now, and after 5 weeks of recovery, training, a couple of training events at Erlestoke and Bristol Bikefest, the real countdown to the BC Bike Race has begun. To say I'm looking forward is a bit of an understatement.
Erlestoke was a tough weekend for me, racing the 6 hour solo with a dodgy stomach, headache and a complete lack of mojo, and up against some fast XC racers. I came 4th so can't complain too much, and it was a great training ride under race conditions. Excellent event and course by the way!
A week after couldn't have been more different. I was fired up and raring to go to the Bristol Bikefest to race the 12 hour pairs with Mark on Saturday and again in the 6 hour pairs on the Sunday. We brought home a couple of decent results (6th in the 12 hour, 4th in the 6 hour), but the main focus was for us to race together and see how well we'd recover doing back to back races, and it seemed to work well. Saturday was a tough day, having to battle against some very fast pairs riders as well as coping with the hot, dry and dusty conditions (which I hope we'll get in Canada!).
I was very happy with how I rode, and felt strong, rather than hanging on to dear life trying to keep up with the other riders out there (like in Erlestoke the previous weekend for example!). Mark was riding well and knocking out consistent lap times and we finished strong. We had 12 hours to rest and recover before we were out there again in the 6 hour on Sunday. Conditions changed on the course after some unwelcome rain during the night and morning, but despite being slippery and muddy, the course held up well and was great fun. Despite a very painful and stiff first lap, we both settled in again, completing consistent lap times, albeit a minute or so off the pace of the previous day and we fought hard for our 4th place, although had we found another 4 minutes or so from somewhere, we'd have been on the podium. Never mind. The other teams had fresh legs. Mine weren't.
After a relatively long time since I last raced in the pairs category, the weekend confirmed, yet again, that pairs racing is tough. Riding fast and hard for 110km one day and 50km the next day, with next to no recovery between laps, is hard. It was made tougher by the fact that my main focus this year was to get my solo racing up to speed. I have no doubt though that the weekend has been beneficial! For those who like stats and figures, here's my contribution to the 12 hour race on Saturday on Garmin Connect. But in short:
13 laps completed (8.5km per lap)
Fastest Lap : 00:23:43
Slowest Lap : 00:25:36
Average Lap Time : 00:24:37
Distance : 110km
Total Ascent : 1,816m
The team was out in force for the weekend and the atmosphere in "team HQ" was great. The support from everyone was second to none and our new-found ability to heckle trackside with the best, was fantastic. It's amazing the encouragement and enthusiasm that can be mustered up by knocking a few knackered forks and a set of old Fox 40 stanchions together (courtesy of Simon at Loco Tuning). Results from the team can be seen on our News Page and on Timelaps. I've also posted some photos of the weekend on our Facebook Fan Page. "Like" it and become a fan. Go on, you know you want to ;-)
So, training events done, all that's left is a week of rest and recovery, a couple of weeks more "conditioning" and we'll be off to Canada. I'm looking forward, if a little nervous. I've never ridden a stage race before but it promises to be the best available, and we'll soon find out. My bike set up seems spot on, even though I do seem to have a small crack in my current Giant Anthem X, but a replacement is on its way, even though it has survived the last 6 weeks or so with me riding it, but better to be safe than sorry. I've also got a set of very nice new forks waiting to be fitted, but I'll mention more about that in good time ;-)
Mark and I are raising money for the Wales Air Ambuiance as part of our Canadian Adventure, so if you want to donate to a very good cause, any amount is greatly appreciated. Click to go to our Virgin Money Giving page. Thanks.