Category Archives: Sponsored Riders

Toms July Blog

New Team
Well im back with another update on how my season is going, its been a while sine my last blog because there has a lot been happening in the middle part of the season.

It started with moving house and changing team. I have now moved to the Limburg province of Belgium after being offered a place on a Wallon Continental team called Tpalm PCW, it’s a small continental team but it is a good opportunity to race at a higher level and gain some experience that will help me to become stronger and improve. I was also nominated for the South Ribble Council Lewis Balyckyi rising star award, unfortunately I didn’t win but it was an honour to be nominated.

After my transfer and house move I started my first race with the team which was a UCI 1.1 race with the professionals called the Ronde van Limburg, talk about throwing myself in at the deep end! It was a great experience, it was a 210km race with lots of cobble sections. I managed to hang in the peleton (first main group on the road) until around 30 kilometres to the finish then I got dropped with a small group on one of the cobble sections. My new manager was pleased with my race as it was my first time with the pro’s. I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t make it to the finish with the leaders.

After that I raced some small kermess races and managed 3 or 4 top 15 results after a bit of a chest infection I caught after limburg. Then I went onto the under 23 omloop het nuisblad with yet more cobblestones ‘YAY!!’ I am not best suited to the cobbled climbs as I am still only 56 kilograms so it would be another day of just following and that is what I did, I managed to get around in the 2nd peleton after it split into two. It was a great experience though and the first time I had ridden on the classics cobbles and I surprised myself with how strong I was, if I had ridden smarter I could have made the split I think.

The next week was the start of the Tour of Liege which was a 5 day stage race with 140km-160km every day. The first 2 days where mainly flat with some small climbs, nothing serious and I got through fairly fresh. At the beginning of the tour I spoke with my coach and she said as it was my first 5 day race at this level I would do good just to make it through, so that made me determined to do more and not just follow and make it through – I wanted to race! On the 3rd day it was the day where it was supposed to get hard as we started the climbs and sure enough it was hard! In the beginning a large group rode off the front and I tried with a team mate to bridge across a few times with no luck, then there was a crash between the yellow jersey and a moto marshal and a fellow british rder Dan Mclay which neutralised the peleton until the jersey got back into the race, but doing this caused the break to gain a large advantage. After a lot of attacking and fast climbing I reached the finishing circuit in the 1st peleton but maybe the 4th group on the road and lost nearly 8 minutes on the leaders.

Stage 4 was just as hard, after a very fast first hour trying to get into a breakaway the team of the yellow jersey decided to set a hard tempo on the front and all we could do was just follow the peleton. We came to the finish with no more than 70 riders after starting with around 130 and I managed to get to the finish without losing more time. The next day was the last day but by far the hardest with 11 climbs and a hill top finish after a fairly fast 4 days of racing in the legs already. I managed to stay in the front group for the majority of the race and was fairly happy with how I was riding. I was climbing with the front guys all day right up until the fireworks started, and when the current under 23 world cyclo cross champion attacks you know its going to go hard. I got round to the finish in 50th place in a group with some respectable riders and finished 45th on GC, around 13 minutes behind the winner. It was one of the hardest races I have done in a long time. My coach and manager were more than happy with my result and my coach thinks I can go back next year and race for a good place on GC.

The next race for me now is a 1.2 in France and I am feeling pretty good, so I am hoping if I am still there at the finish I can have a go at getting a good result.

Again I would like to say a huge thank you to the LBTF for all their support, every time I pin a number on I feel a massive sense of pride and motivation because I am representing the fund and a good friend.

Chris March 2014

Well, so where do I start? The start of the year got off to a disastrous start, after multiple blood tests, MRI’s and x-rays the doctors finally managed to diagnose me with Glandular fever for the second time! I managed to get the all clear and get back on my bike around the start of March which was good news…BUT I had already booked my ferry ticket for the middle of March to come out to Belgium which as I write this now was not ideal preparation! I finally landed in Calais, France on the 18th March and made my way to the house I was staying in, in Nokere, Belgium by late morning and thanks to Stephan and Birgit for letting me stay in their fantastic house again (http://www.sportshopnokere.be/).

I unpacked all my things and went on a quick ride with my housemate Dan Whelan and one of his friends Jason Jones, before I headed off to the Morgan Blue HQ which was only 5km away from where I live to pick up my team kit and temporary team bike as Ridley hadn’t pulled their finger out with our order! So I was all settled in and I was told my first race for the team was the Handzame Challenge on the 21st March, which turned out to be an Interclub the morning before the pro race ‘Handzame Classic’ in the afternoon. I knew full well I would not make it to the finish after being off my bike for so long and my team knew that, but I surprised even myself to make it into the second group after all the splits in the crosswind sections for only to hit a few potholes in quick succession and for then my bars to slip round as if I was riding round like superman, which was not safe! So after getting to the halfway mark of the race I decided to pull into the feed station, get my bars fixed and get a few more km’s in before watching the finish.

My next race was just a normal 1.12B kermesse at Anzegem on the 5th April, so me and my housemate Dan Whelan rode out to the race as it was only 10km away. We got there and found out we were one of the last to sign on and were number 260+ so we knew it was going to be a tough race, even Stephen Abbott and the Wheelbase lads came over! So even after lining up a good 15minutes before the start we were at the back of the bunch and thought we would never see the front and it turned out we wouldn’t! I managed to move up to around the top 1/3 of the bunch, until crashes and fatigue starting setting in. There was a grippy little climb on the back half of the course which then turned a sharp corner into a fast crosswind section which made it vital to get to the bottom of the climb in a good position, hence all the crashes and touching of wheels. So with 3laps to go, I was sitting in the top 70 and thought I would get a finish until somebody let the wheel go in the fast crosswind section and I just didn’t have the strength to close it and nobody would help from behind me so we all got to the line with 2laps to go and were pulled out of the race, so close yet so far..I was pretty annoyed!

Onto my third race which again was another Interclub over in Holland called Omloop Van Braakman on the 12th April. I was told it was a tough race with lots of cobbled sections in and plenty of road furniture to weave around so I was expecting the worst. It didn’t help that I had come down with a cold a few days before but felt well enough to make the start, so I did! Now the race was mental! After 8km we turned a sharp left and into our first cobbled section so positioning was vital. I had managed to get near the front of the start line, but after lots of crashes and a few near do’s after trying to move up I found myself in the back half of the bunch, we got to the cobbled section and it’s a crosswind so there are bodies all over the place straight away but thankfully I managed to stay in contact with the main peloton and sit in for another 80km or so until the pace starts cranking up over the cobbles and in the crosswinds which for a light guy like me is not fun! I soon lose touch with the peloton but to my relief another 30 or so guys had as well so we spent a good 30km or so in the

cars chasing before giving up as we were steadily losing ground! Another race with a DNF against my name which I was abit annoyed about with myself but then people kept telling me a month ago I was only just getting back on my bike doing 1hour recovery rides, which sort of made me wake up abit and see how well I am actually doing.
My next race is on the 20th April at Kruishoutem which in theory is my “home race” so I have been looking at the parcours and riding around it a few times so fingers crossed I can finally get a result against my name! Depending how well that race goes a few of my teammates are heading to Moorslede which is a 1.13 U23 only kermesse, which should be good!

I would like to thank everybody behind the LBTF for funding me and supporting me out here in Belgium, if it was not for them then I would be struggling financially and mentally as it has been a tough few weeks on the bike and they have given me some kind and motivating words!

Thanks for reading and till next time!

Thomas Feb/March 2014

photo 2
After what felt like a very short winter at home it was back to sunny Belgium for a bit of bike racing , but not before a last minute training camp in Spain for nine days with a friend from Belgium.

Whilst away in Spain I was offered buy Bob (the man who supports me in Belgium and who I live with in his rider house) offered for me to go again to Spain with his well known Belgian junior team (DCM youth cycling team) just two days after arriving back from my first camp. So I jumped at the chance of another 10-12 days in Spain to train as it is perfect preparation for my first target of the season which is the under 23 Liege-Bastonge-Liege on the 19th of April.

I Arrived back in Belgium a week before my first race for my team which was the GP Wilfred Peeters. It wasn’t a raced suited to me but it was a good race to get some speed in my legs before getting stuck into the season, it was 165km of nice fast flat roads and the rain showed up just in time for the start. The goal for the day was just to get round to the finish and maybe have a go If I felt good enough, I went with a couple of moves but nothing seemed to stick.

photo 1

Mid way through the race I had abit of a rough patch and got cold from being wet and it took me a while to warm back up and get back up to the front of the bunch. In the end I missed the break and just followed in he finished and moved up to the front for the sprint but unfortunately I pulled out my foot with 200 meters to go and came in 72nd place. Not a bad day but also not a good one but it is only the first race.

After a week of some more training I travelled to Amay for a kermesse race which I was told should have abit of climbing and so it would suit me abit more.

When we got there the climb was actually only 400-500 meters long not really a climb. I got through the races after trying to make the break away but missing the split and finished in the 3rd group on the road in 40th place not an amazing day but not a bad one.

The next race in Sint Truiden had a similar outcome I tried and tried all race to get into a good break away and was always n the front but then slipped

back to get some food and drink and missed the main move. I saw the break was going so went in the attack with 2 BMC development team riders but instead of riding with me they decided to attack me until one of them went across alone so again I finished in the man bunch.

After a couple of days rest and maybe switching my brain on abit I moved to the next race which was the support race for the pro race called the schildeprijse. I rode this race last season and knew that either a group of 10- 15 riders will go away to the finish or it is a bunch sprint if the pace is too high. In the opening lap of the race a group got a small gap off the front of the 300 man bunch, I tried to bridge across to it with one other dutch rider but the bunch was chasing way to hard and even doing 60kph we couldn’t get across.

I decided to keep my powder dry and wait until later in the race to see how the race unfolded, the gap started to come down in the last 15 km and at the point I knew it was to be a bunch sprint. I know I am fast if I can come off someone’s wheel, coming into the last kilometre I was sitting maybe 15th wheel and just kept moving up with 500 meters to go the sprint started so I just kept hidden and waited. With 150 meters to go I started to o for a gap to open up my sprint when the rider in front pulls his foot out of the pedal and cuts across my front wheel. That was my race over I went down hard and then the rst of the 300 riders went straight over the top of me.

After a 6 hour trip to hospital just had to get some stitches n my elbow and some road rash scrubbed clean.
Hopefully I will have abit more look in the coming races and first main goal for the season Liege Bastonge Liege (under23).

Dan Feb 2103

dan_whelanDue to not being able to get out much at home because of the bad weather, I decided to go to Majorca for a week in February to start training for the season ahead. I got some really good rides in in the warm weather

When I got back I didn’t have much time to pack, then I was off to Belgium to start racing. When I got here the cold weather was a big shock to the system going from 18 degrees to -9

After a day, the snow came which meant I wasn’t able to ride my bike much as all the roads were covered in snow. After a week of being in Belgium, I went to pick up my new team bike. I went out training with the team that afternoon, it took quite a lot of getting used to as the brakes were on the opposite side to what I’m used to!

My first race went well with a rolling course, the speed was a bit of a shock averaging 44km/h for the full 120 kilometres I just missed the break that went up the road but managed to get 10th in the bunch sprint finishing 31 out of the 200 rider field.

My next race was a really flat and open course, I think this was one of the most windy races I’ve ridden. It had a 3 km straight with a strong cross wind which put the whole field into the left hand gutter every lap. Two groups got away up the road, I was left in the 3rd group with about 30 riders in it, in to the final few laps the pace started picking up and up. On the last lap Craig (my team mate) attacked, so I went with him, which paid off as we were able to stay away from the chasing bunch.

There isn’t much to say about the next few races, apart from the first one, the temperature had gone back down to -3 again. Including this one, and the next 4 races, I somehow managed to puncture in all of them, including the first stage of the Ardenne Challenge. The Ardenne Challenge was one of the hilliest race I’ve ridden in Belgium.

Hannah June 2013

June has been a super busy month! Here is a short (ish!) summary of my racing: The race I look forward to most every season is without a doubt the Smithfield Nocturne. The atmosphere and standard of racing always make it an amazing evening to be a part of. And looking at the start sheet prior to the race on the night, I knew this would be the toughest Nocturne yet, making it all the more exciting! Having been called up to the start line first, I had a long wait whilst the rest of the field were presented. As I stood there my nerves built up, the five deep crowds hardly proving a distraction, with thought of trying to defend my Nocturne title against such strong competition weighing heavy on my mind. Amongst the field, households names from the Olympics such as Laura Trott and Dani King, started to line up alongside me.

In the end, it all went, nearly, to plan. Despite racing against eight strong Wiggle-Honda women, I managed to take the sprint in what proved to be a super close finish. It was absolutely amazing to take my fifth straight win in central London! Three days later I found myself lining up for another crit, this time in Woking for round four of the Johnsons Healthtech Tour Series. I felt confident going into the race of the back of Smithfield however two new faces from France and the US ensured I still felt very nervous lining up for the start. However everything seemed to fall away from the start, my nerves – as I attacked straight from the gun and then not long later my front wheel, sending me chin first toward the tarmac. It never entered my mind to pull out, simply to get straight back into the race and try to pull off the win for my MG-Maxifuel team. With the adrenaline rushing I managed to do so, taking my third win of the series in yet another sprint finish! Soon after the podium the pain hit me and it was off on trip to the local Hospital for nine stitches in my chin and lots of mummifying bandages, I must say a huge thanks to all the amazing staff at Woking Community Hospital!

After a few days of recuperation and some attempt to take in the frankly overwhelming amount of support I received from the crash, I was back on the bike. I knew I had to simply finish the last round of the series in Ayelsham to take the overall win, something I really wanted to do say thank everyone for all their support. However my main target was to simply not crash, a task made all the harder by the torrential rain on what proved to be a slippy and tight circuit. In the end the night proved a successful one for our team, taking the Individual, Sprint and Team competitions for 2013, with some Fish and Chips to celebrate our successful Tour Series campaign!

However, as is always the way, there was little time to mull on the success of the Tour Series. Barely a week later I found myself on the long drive up to Glasgow for the British national TT and road race championships. The week didn’t go exactly as I had planned and I came away pretty disappointed with my performances. After my success earlier on in the season, I had hoped to do better, however you live and learn and I definitely took some good lessons away from the National Championships. The Curlew Cup a week later proved the perfect opportunity to turn around my disappointment from the racing in Glasgow. After the nationals I had a few days off before returning back up to the north and the Women’s National Series in Newcastle. It was a great event, held alongside a men’s Premier Calendar race, with good support and a brilliant atmosphere. I managed to take the win from a breakaway that formed in the latter stages of the race, reversing the trend of my bunch sprint wins and capping off an enjoyable June!

Hannah March 2013

Hannah-BarnesIt’s been a muddy month. Mum and the washing machine have been doing overtime to make sure my new santini kit is always clean. Were contemplating asking vanish for some sponsorship, we go through so much.

To start the month off I went to Elveden estate in Suffolk and entered a women’s race. The race was a very wet and cold one which was a huge shame because it would have been a lovely race with some lovely scenery. I was pleased with how the race went and to get my first win for the team.

The 12th march was the day of the MG Maxifuel team launch! It was going to be a jam packed day with a lot of standing around in the freezing cold for photos.I really enjoyed meeting all the sponsors that were on board for the year and all the team meeting up again after our training camp in Spain. The best part of the day though had to be the lunch buffet which was amazing!

After getting my new Windy Milla Bog warrior mountain bike on the Thursday i entered a Gorrick which is a local mountain bike series just so I could get the feel for it in a racing environment. I really loved the bike and the way if handled. I could really feel a massive improvement from my last bike i owned. There is an article on bike radar that went out last week which gave the team and the bike a lot of exposure.

The first round of the NPS was in Sherwood pines on the 24th March. I was really nervous about this race because I was going into the complete unknown. I had no idea how I would do and where I would come. After being grided right at the back of 30 riders I had my work cut out due to the course going straight into a section of single track. I managed to get a really good start and made it to 3rd wheel by the time we got to the second section of single track. The weather had been really bad the last couple of days which meant there was a couple of inches of snow on the course which made it very difficult to ride on. I had to really think about my tyre pressures so I had the right amount of grip for the adverse weather conditions. I was really pleased with 2nd place behind the South African who has been u23 world champion. I hope to keep my form for the next round in Cornwall and get another good result. I am looking into doing a few world cup rounds and to carry on mountain biking at this higher level.

Good Friday was the first round of the women’s team series and we made our way to east London to the the Redbrige circuit or Hog Hill as it is known. The course is really hard with quite a considerable climb in it and after a lot of laps it gets harder and harder and always in the back of your mind is the finish is at the top of it. At the beginning of the race I always get a bit carried away and with the field being 90+ riders of all abilities I was keen to make it hard from the gun. This makes the race safer as the less able riders are spat out the back almost immediately. The plan was to make sure mg-maxifuel were always represented in all brakes that went away. With 2 laps to go the bunch slowed down considerably which meant that everyone was preparing for the finish. I was pleased it was coming down to a sprint and just needed to spend the last couple of laps recovering in th bunch. I made sure I had the inside line and made sure I left it as late as possible. I was really pleased to get the win and pleased that I have some early season form.

After all the bad weather we had in January, I just wanted to get away, there were a group of guys looking for some good weather to train in, going to Majorca. They had a spare room in an apartment so I jumped at the chance and booked the flights straight away. We were pretty lucky, a lot of days were shorts and jersey weather which is very rare at this time of the year. Not knowing, when I booked it but while I was there, the Challenge Majorca races were taking place. This meant all the major world tour teams were there and occasionally, we would come across them while we were out on our bikes. I rode back to my hotel one afternoon with Van Summeran. After 10 days in Majorca it was time to go home, back to the snow and life on the turbo and my mountain bike. This was a lot more bearable knowing that I was jetting off to Spain in 2 weeks time.

On the 16th Feb my sister , brother and I went to London to have a heart scan. I didn’t quite know what to expect from the scan and what the procedure was. Walking into the waiting room I was shocked and pleased with the number of people there. This has become an issue since Mwamba suffered a cardiac arrest on the football pitch. Oddly enough I think because it happened to such a fit healthy athlete people have taken the precaution and had the scan. We all passed with flying colours. The day we went to the hospital the BBC cameras were there. They were shooting a programme called “bang goes the theory” and they asked if Alice and I would feature in it. We were up for this as we had a good story to tell. We mentioned we were cyclists and the charity “CRY” (cardiac risk in the young) which is what happened to Alices friend Lewis Barry and I was able to mention that I was being sponsored by the Lewis Balyckyi fund. I hope they put us in and we don’t end up on the cutting room floor.

This year I have made the bold move and decided to go back to my roots and do the mountain bike season as well as all the road and time trials. I have started doing a few local races and have been successful in them and I am pleased with how I have done. I can’t wait for the season to start and with the team supplying me with a mountain bike I am determined to do well.

This month I have had a lot of sponsor’s events to go to. Santini issued the team kit and some of the bikes have SRAM group sets on. These are all part of Fishers that is a large distributor in U.K. They had a charity ride on Sunday 17th Feb that I had to quickly rush to from a mountain bike race in Surrey in the morning to Essex by 1am. Luckily enough the ride wasn’t very fast and we stopped off at a pub half way round which was good because I had seriously gone into the red during the mountain bike race. On Monday I went on a ride with Magnus Backstedt, not many people can say they went for a ride with a Paris Roubaix winner it was very special. In the evening there was an auction dinner and because MG-Maxifuel is being sponsored by Fishers they wanted a few of the riders to be present. It was a very good evening and I enjoyed getting to know all my sponsors personally.

I was super excited about getting my new road bike hand made in Italy for Windy Milla and couldn’t wait to get out to Spain and ride it. Riding around Spain with all the team, on the same bikes and all wearing the same kit made me feel really proud and made me feel part of a very professional looking team. With Magnus being on the team he suggested we went to Benidorm because that is where he went with Liquigas and he said it was very good. The first few days the weather was good and we got some good training rides in. After being in Majorca a couple of weeks before I was hoping for some good form so was pleased when I was going up the climbs comfortably with the men and could see a noticeable improvement in my climbing. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t typical Spanish weather and took a turn for the worse after day 3. This hampered out plans and we had to train around the weather, which isn’t ideal. We still got some good training in, you just had to man up and deal with the rain and wind. As most training rides go a café stop half way round is a must. I am not a fan of coffee which no one could understand, a cyclist that doesn’t drink coffee…..crazy. I pretty much drank Benidorm out of Lemon Fanta, and always got a laugh when ordering one in my Spanish accent “Fanta Limon” the trip was really good and I enjoyed getting to know all my team mates and everyone is really looking forward to the racing season. It was typical that the day we travelled home the weather was the best it had been all week but that’s life and I was pleased to be going home confident with my form and getting stuck into racing.

Thomas May 2013

The past 2 months have been fairly quite due to a persistent illness that kept coming back so i was unable to race and train properly because as soon as i felt better and started to train i would end up ill again but now after a few trips to the doctor and a lot or boring hours in bed i am back in full training and racing and the form is coming good quickly.

My first race back was just over 2 weeks ago now in herentout after a solid week of training i was expecting to find my self in difficulty because it was my first race back and i was unsure of my condition coming into the race but i soon found my self comfortably sat in the bunch and able to finish a respectable 36 in my first race back after so long off racing which gave me alot of confidence coming into my next race.

The following Sunday i raced in nijlen it was a fairly big race for a kermess lots of riders but i had spoke with my coach and we decided that i would just follow to get used to racing again. It was 40 degrees and a fast race i got round again comfortably and finished around 50th which was ok because my intention was just to follow because the following weekend i would be aloud to race properly again and try to get a result.

The next race i was feeling good and up for trying to get in the breaks and i spent the first hour of racing trying my hardest to break away but the race was simply to fast with and average speed of 48kph nothing was able to get away so it was down to a bunch sprint i had a go at getting up the front in the last few km but i just didnt have the legs because i had done to much earlier in the race but i still managed to finish in the front half of the bunch so i took the positives away from it because at the start of the season i couldnt even finish and now i am able to try and get in moves and race the race rather than sit in and try and get around.

Two days later i had my next race which was a course full of corners normally i would love a course like that but i felt blocked at the start i still tried to follow moves but the first 5 laps i was full gas the whole time and i missed both breaks of 15 or so riders so i spent the rest of the race trying with small groups to bridge the gap to one of the breaks but unfortunately the bunch was riding to negatively so i decided to have a go at the bunch sprint where i ran a top 7 out of the bunch which put me just inside the top 40, I was alittle disappointed that i had missed the breaks but it is still a big improvement and i had another race two days later then a 8 day gap for training .

The next race was a crit it was a 3km lap with about 10 or 12 corners and 30 laps it was nuts there was 120 starters and it was very hot i got front row at the start and decided i wanted to be in the front from the start or i would be suffering the whole race so i went hard from the start to stretch it out before the corners, a break slipped away for the first hour of racing i stayed in the front of the bunch because again the average speed was high so the break was always going to come back but it also ment the bunch was getting ripped apart the finishing straight was out of a slow 90 degree right and 600meters long or more and we would come out of it and just go full gas i was in the 53-12 spinning my arse off every lap. after about and hour and a half i looked round and the bunch was about half its original size. I managed to get round to the finish after suffering for a few laps and having a fruitless big dig with 4 to go i sat in for the sprint and ran a top 30 and later found out there was only 42 finishers out of 120 so i thought i had had a pretty good day.

Also this month i have been talking alot with the owner of the house i live in who is also the manager of his own team and he as asked if i would like to stay and ride the cyclo cross for his team which is a massive opportunity for me because i can ride at a high level all winter and then come home for the national championships and try for a good result there.

I would again like to say thank you to the fund as non of this would be possible without the help and support from them.

Tom

Thomas March 2013

Thomas

My season this year started in March in Belgium this year supported by the LBTF fund and riding for the Bianchi, Lotto, NHT cycling team. I am living in a little village in Vorselaar near to the city of Antwerp. I arrived here on the 24th of February but I was ill with a chest infection so racing was postponed for a week or so which worked out well because there was a lot of snow at the time so races were being cancelled all over the place.

I spent the first two weeks here training indoors pretty much every day it was negative temperatures and snowing on and off all the time. After two weeks my chest infection had gone and it was time to start racing, I found a race close by on a Monday an the weather had got a bit better over the weekend the snow had gone but it was still cold that afternoon I set off to the race and on the way there it started to snow a bit and the get heavier and heavier I signed on and got changed and as we went to line up in the middle of a full blown snow storm the police cancelled the race so we packed up and went home.

Friday came and I had spoken with the team and the selected me to race at the U23 Hanzame classic I was extremely excited also worried my first race was going to be a big one I prepared properly and hoped just to finish. I was due to leave on the Thursday afternoon to a hotel near the start of the race so Thursday morning I had one last roller session before the race and whilst on the rollers another load of snow came down I was convinced the race was going to go ahead but when I got off the rollers I got a phone call explaining the race was cancelled. I planned to race again on Sunday but it was cancelled as well.

Finally the Monday after I got to race it was a local race 10 miles away from the house I arrived at the race and there were 170 guys who started the race was very open and it was a super windy day it was 13 laps of a 7 km lap with the back half of the course very open with a strong cross wind. The first thing I noticed about the race was the speed it was so much faster than at home the first 3 laps I was in the 53 12 spinning it doing 65kph at some points it was a big shock to the system after a winter of no racing. I tried to go with a few moves and stay up near the front but then with 6 laps to go the race went into the gutter and I fought for 3 laps or so along with all the other riders then I blew and shot out of the back I was devastated, later I found out that there was only 37 finishers in that race out of 170 starters and everyone blew at a similar time so I kept my chin up and looked to the next race.

The next race came and I travelled with the team I was comfortable the whole race and as the race started to split up I got myself towards the front of the bunch to try and get n one of the first splits. On one of the down hill sections with 2 laps to go I hit a big hole in the road and my rear tub went bang (it was flat instantly) I tried to ride and stay in the bunch because there was no service car but I could get one from the team near the finish but I couldn’t control it through the corners so I had to abandon the race.

The next Monday I attempted to race again 3rd time lucky the course was short pan flat and very open with a lot of wind. At about half way through the race the bunch split in half I found myself in the second half but jumped across to the first half in the cross wind but as I was getting on we turned into a head wind and I just wasn’t strong enough so I finished the race in the second half bout 1 minute down again I was disappointed but I latter spoke with my coach and she told me there were some strong guys in the race that had also not been able to make the split so I felt a little better and on Wednesday she had found me a race that would suit me a bit better with lots of corners and no long windy stretches but I had a bit more bad luck there I was up the front all race I missed the break but one of my team mates got into it so I thought would have ago at the bunch sprint for 9th hoping to et a top 30 but with 2 km to go I got stuck behind a crash and rolled in 149th out of about 300 starters.

Other than the bad luck and terrible weather in my first month I have enjoyed it very much, I have learnt a lot about racing hear and met some really nice people who are more than happy to help me where they can. Hopefully this next month will be easier as I get used to the speed of the races and distance of the bigger races, on Saturday I travel to the arden to do a hillier race and I also found out I made the team pre-selection for the under 23 liege-bastogne-liege so hopefully I will get picked to race there. This week I have also made it into the local paper after a short interview with a local photographer/reporter.I would also like to say a massive thank you to the Lewis Balyckyi Trust Fun for their support because without them I wouldn’t be here racing for the season.

Ashley July 2012

ashley3Hi everyone, this is my blog update for July’s riding roundup.

This month ive raced 7 times so you could argue that it has been a fairly busy month in terms of lining up on the start line. These racing ranged from local leagues for ‘points grabbing’ and national standard criteriums.

We know as cyclists, the winter times are about getting long miles in on your trusty old steed. Although, sometimes your trusty old steed needs some TLC as the winter weather does its best to damage your pride & joy. Therefore I had to purchase some new wheels & tyres to see me through the training that I am doing. With the trust fund, I have been able to purchase these parts, so now ive got no excuses not to be out training! Also, as part of being a cyclist, you have to give your body the fuel it needs and after a lengthy training session, it needs its protein! As I had just ran out of my previous stuff, the trust fund was able to help me purchase some more recovery powder, now it means that I don’t get home after a ride and then suffer for the next few days as I didn’t get a good source of protein. As the racing season is just around the corner, I will have plenty more to write about as my calendar is pretty much full for most weekends, all I can say for now is watch this space!

Also this month was the 1st crash that ive had in 2 whole seasons, I thought I was going soft and my luck was sure to run out soon. It was when I was racing in Middlesborough when a lad rolled his tub in front of me at 53km/h. Yes it hurt… but I got back on my bike, which was not damaged at all thank god, and manned it up and got round and picking up 10 points ( which haven’t been put on the system yet and im getting evermore annoyed about). There was also the 3 national circuit series rounds in the month which I rode. You could say that I was the boy in a mens race as I will admit that I had my arse whooped. I had been getting dropped in the first 15 mins of the race when they at their hardest, I think this is party down to the specific training needed but more importantly the warm up. Been at this national series races are hard for people like myself as you can sometimes struggle to get a good warm in as you are generally ‘out of the way’. By this I mean you will be out of the pits area where the big teams get to warm up right next to the circuit and they have the space, with me and my rollers, it can become hard to find a good place to warm up as the crowds make it very hard. My favourite course of the three was definitely Sheffield as it has the right city centre environment for a good race and it also included some cobbles and a sketchy corner on a fast downhill section. Congrats to Marc Etches and the rest of the Sheffield GP organisation team for putting on such a good event and I hope it can be the same next year!

There isn’t many races left for this year and I am desperate to get my hands in the air because not doing so can often knock the long term morale therefore I have now upped the training and getting in some big rides such as the classic ‘moss, Snake, Strines’ ride which is a 90 mile climbing epic which ventures into Derbyshire from Holmfirth and takes in great scenery. Its what makes cycling enjoyable in my opinion as you get to see great sights which can often be ignored if you live in built up areas.

But for now, goodbye

Ashley