Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Magnificat 130 Mile Sportive

The Magnificat Sportive Challenge was a new event this year building on the success of the Highclear Castle Sportive. The event was sponsored by TORQ and Matt was keen to have a team presence at the event and he very kindly enter us for the 127 mile distance!! It was an early start on the day, I was expected large queues of riders waiting for number boards and long delays, fortunately this was not the case, I was surprised at the excellent organisation. The facilities on offer at Newbury Race Course were a welcome addition.

We prepared ourselves for the ride eg packed our jersey pockets full of gels and bars. Then we waited until the deadline to set off allowing ourselves the opportunity to hopefully catch and overtake everyone else taking on the distance. A few riders were absent but we had a strong group for our team time trial! Anthony, Sion, James, Tim and myself set off at a gentle pace... for the first few minutes before settling into race mode and picking up the speed.

Nutrition was highly important on what would be a long hot day in the saddle, fortunately the many feed zones along the route were well equipped with pre made TORQ energy drink ready for riders to refill their bottles, there were all sorts of other temptations on offer including sponge cake, flapjack and bananas, as tempting as these goodies were we stuck to what we knew would work best and what was planned with an energy bar or gel along with a 750ml of energy drink every hour.

The hills along the route quickly appeared, we opted to be sensible on the climbs, for the start at least and instead put in a big effort in on the flats, each one of us spending some time on the front of the group before dropping to the back for a bit of rest. Along the way we caught groups of riders, some were struggling so we offered encouragement; other looked strong and tagged onto the team for a short tow.

Unfortunately along the way some of the team were struggling with the relentless speed, others were keen to push on and still felt strong. James, Tim and I remained together and all felt strong. James had a bit of a moment but the trusty life safer that it the TORQ guarana gel re-ignited his legs ready for the last 20 miles.

After 5 hours 30 minutes I realised that we were close to achieving a sub 6 hour time, however it would mean averaging a whopping 24mph for the last half hour! My legs were still feeling very amazingly good, James and Tim were also willing to give it a go. We absolutely nailed the last 12 miles but missed out by just 2 minutes!

6 hours 8 as our official time including stops. In total it was 6 hours 2 of riding, 126.5 miles and 8000 feet of climbing! We'd achieved the fastest time but more importantly we'd all really enjoyed the event riding as a team and having a laugh along the way. The organisation was superb and they’ve created a quality event, I hope to be back next year.

Friday, 18 June 2010

The Battle of Bristol Bikefest

Bristol Bikefest was next up on TORQ Performance's extensive tour around the country. Ashton Court was home of my mountain bike training for 3 years while I studied at the University of West Of England. Its a tough and demanding circuit with its energy sapping climbs and miles of singletrack with huge rocks and roots battering your bike beneath you. On a good day when you're riding well Ashton Court can be a massively enjoyable experience, however it will punish anyone who doesnt give it the respect in deserves. Perhaps that's what team TORQ forgot to do.

Ive raced Bristol Bikefest now 3 times, twice in a pair with my previous teammate Calum Chamberlain winning last year, and now for a 3rd time with TORQ. It was an event we were hot favourites to win, however there was several teams on the start line who could quite easily pounce should we make any mistakes. The event started off well enough with Anthony O'Boyle appearing after just 22 minutes in the lead having had the chance to experience the thrills of these wonderful trails on the front of race, Andy Blair was next, then me, finally followed by Nick Collins. We quickly started to pull out a gap over Bad Ass Bikes who are also now lucky enough to be riding the same fantastic carbon Kona Kilauea hardtail frames we have.

After a few hours we'd built up a comfortable 10 minutes gap, however the TORQ team management never lets the riders relax and we were ordered to keep drumming out the fast lap times. I was thoroughly enjoying myself and setting consistant 20 minute laps. Disaster would soon strike though with Nick Collins having a huge crash substituting some of his skin for some nice gravel from a high speed fireroad section, a combination of road/ gravel rash and a massively swollen knee meant we had lost a rider before we'd even reached the 5 hour mark. It was a major blow to the team but the other 3 riders were feeling strong and ready to battle on.

Disaster struck again and again repeatedly for the next few hours with Ant and Andy both suffering multiple punctures. We still maintained the lead but by just 2 minutes, at this point when we really needed to get control and rebuild a lead I had random mechanical failure deeming my bike unpeddalable. I was forced to run for over 10 minutes in which time Bad Ass Bike slipped passed taking the lead from our grasp. We were 10 minutes down, luck really had gone against us.

The riders pulled it together though and chased hard, unfortunatly we just couldnt close the gap down, we fought hard but lost in battle, Ashton Court had beaten us. We'll be back next year to try once again to claim the top step.

Next blog on the TORQ sponsored Magnificat Sportive will be online in a few days.