Many thanks to Jack for taking time out to share his blog with us and his first weeks experience of being back in Belguim racing.......a great first hand insight!
I'm back out in Belgium, both previous times out here I have written a blog for the Cycle Time Trial website, and I found it a good way for keeping everybody at home up to date, in what I am getting up to, whether it be family, friends or just fellow cyclist with a interest. Yet again, I'll straight up apologise for any grammatical mistakes, should hopefully improved from previous years as I have written a 8,500 word dissertation this year, which made some sort of sense.
Click on headline to read more......
Right a little background to catch up with me. I've just graduated from Nottingham University, with BSc HONS in Biochemistry, so with my brand new degree, thats taken me 3 years of my life, I'd thought it be best to put it to one side and go race my bike for the summer. I didn't come out to Belgium last year as I was offered a place on a Training Study at Loughborough University in partnership with Gatorade. I thought 'great' a nice easy summer job for 2 months, getting paid to ride my bike, turned out to 30 hours on the bike a week, making it it a little less fun, but i did take an awful lot of experience from it, different types of training sessions, how my body reacts, held up to intense training and gain a little booklet with all my facts and figures. Being Loughborough took the majority of my summer last year, leaving no time to adventure out to Belgium.
Back in to the fray.
Flying from Manchester Airport on monday afternoon (14/07/14) out to Brussels International. Got the the baggage stall/collection point in Brussels and there was a man stood there with a Rapha Team Sky rucksack on, waiting thought the bags to come out like everyone else, he pick his suitcase up, Team Sky, with a fancy blue line on it, and then his bike comes out in a Team Sky bike box, so after a quick look at the team sky website, turns out it was the Italian Dario Cataldo. Not sure why I've put that in there, just thought it was cool that I was on the same flight as a Team Sky rider. Anyway pick up from the airport and arrived in Sleidinge, just a couple of kilometres to the north of Ghent, same place I have stayed previous times in Belgium, a weird feeling of coming home, (have to apologise for that, sorry mum, I know my one on only home is back with you, these are just temporary lodging, as was my house at university for the past 3 years) as I have got to know the area so well the last two times here.
Right to the bit most of you actually will want to read about, the racing. My first race was a under23/elite kermesse in Wachtebeke on tuesday (15/07/14) , I have perviously raced here, 2011 & 2012, so saved me the hassle of googleing the location, working out how to get there etc. Took my experience from pervious years of racing out here, Rule No.1 start at the front, well second line but close enough to the front. There was 107 riders, big group that what i'm use to, but does give a lot of slipping room to the back. Anyway the first hour, felt really strong, following moves, putting in two big efforts to bridge over to groups that look like they had so potential to stay away, both times after bridging over, within a lap we were brought back to the main peloton. The second time this happened, i eased back in to the group to gather a bit of rest and typically this was went a group got away, and built up a gap of over 1 minute. Closing in to the 2 hour mark of the race, the gap had been shaved down to less that 20 seconds, therefore bringing them back into sight on a few of the straight sections and giving a rise to the possibility of jumping over, which seem to be the only option as the momentum from the chase had been lost as soon as we could see the break away. At this point, from the combination over being very active in the first hour, and helping out in the chasing down of the break, and the fact all my training so far this year hasn't consisted of much more the 2 hour rides, due to fitting it around lecutres etc, that the legs hit empty. Was still able to stay in the main group, stuck it in auto pilot, and made round to the finish in 72nd place. Overall very please with how it went, first race out in Belgium is always a big step up, being very active at the beginning may of showed a little bit of immaturity/excitement and contributed to my legs giving out towards the end, but I have never been one to sit in a wait, and I'm happy to get the first race under my belt.
Next race was on Friday, so I had a few days of training/building up the tan, not sure on what the weather has been like at home but this week it has been above 30°C for the majority of the week. The sort of training rides where around 3 hours, as I felt the time on the bike was that I have missed out on, a conclusion from the race on tuesday, as towards the end of the race, in the final half an hour I begin to feel uncomfortable on the bike.
The race on Friday (18/07/14) was a Criterium, 1.6 km circuit around the village Belzele, just down the road from Sleidinge. With the race being so close, I ventured out in the sweltering midday heat of 37°C to Belzele and got a couple of laps in. The race didn't start till 7:00pm, but it was still in the region of 35°C, it was going to be a hot race. Before the race I bumped into a fellow Brit, Joe Atkins who has been out here since May.
A limited field to 50 riders, (place was reserved a few days before by phone) started the race, right from the gun it was fast, at first I found it very comfortable, sitting in and following moves, with riders being drop from the beginning. After what seem half an hour, with the short laps and the heat, I look down to my Garmin only to see we'd only been racing just over 15 minutes, negative thoughts stared to creep in to my head, thinking how the hell am I going to finish the race. Anyway I made it to the hour mark still in the group with a few riders off the front, very much so over heating, then through a few of the corners I started letting the wheels in front of my slip away, putting it down to concentration in the heat, as I was physically melting, and it didn't help mentally when some of the riders around you where getting ice cold sponges handed up to them too help them cool down. As a result of letting the wheels go out in the corners, meant extra chasing on in the straights, only to slam your breaks of for the next corner, and eventually it got to me, and I went pop. After a few laps of riding rounds solo as hard as I could to try and get back in, but I eventually got pulled out with a few laps to the end, finishing in 31st place. After I stopped, I found some shade, sat down and poured cold water over me. I was yet again very happy with the race, feeling very strong, just melted in the heat, I have decided that 35°C is to hot to race bicycles!
That's it for racing so far, next race it tomorrow, under23/elite kermesse in Sinaai, a few more races this week, I'll try and do updates once a week.
Thanks, hope you enjoyed the read.