Les Ingman National B Road Race 

Ouch that was hard! Ever since stepping off the bike this afternoon I have been in a zombie like state, barely able to think straight and even struggling to put sentences together at times. I gues this is when you know you have given everything you possibly could have!

The course for today was an interesting one. 8 and half laps of a rolling 10 mile circuit (140km total)  added with dodgy road surfaces all the way round, made for a tough race. Seeing as this was my first ever Nat B, I would have been delighted just to have made it round in the bunch. But after the first 50km I knew this was going to be even tougher than I thought, and found myself pedalling for dear life in an attempt to stay in touch. And before long I had been dropped. Not something that has happened to myself for a while now but it’s never a nice feeling when it does happen. At least there were 3 others who had gone out the back as well, and we continued to ride in an attempt to get back on on the undulating descent, but the gap was only growing. The next 2 hours was a lonely ride, helped only by the company of a Spokes BPC Racing guy and the support of my dad at the feed zone. Those bottles and bananas were much appreciated! We rolled in just after the bunch, having been lapped not long before.

So I technically finished, although I was hoping to last a bit longer before going pop. But now I know what’s needed to progress to that level. Happy I persevered and didn’t just drop out as mentally and physically it should help me to become much stronger. There were no more than 30 finishers out of 80 starters which is testament to how hard it was today. Congrats to George Wood of Richardsons-Trek RT who took the win with a two lap solo break. Also a big well done to VCM teammates Dylan, Ed and Michael, with Dylan coming 11th.

Next up is the SL 3 day stage race, which will be another great experience for the legs and mind.

London Dynamo Staple Hill Road Race

Next up in the Surrey League calendar was the 32 mile long road race near Cherstsey on the Staple Hill circuit. The circuit itself was short at only 3 miles in length and included (as the name suggests) a short hill although it never gets very steep. Just before the climb there was a very sharp left hand turn which nearly caught a few people out. 

I was the last rider to roll out of HQ due to my tiny bladder. This meant it wasn’t the perfect start, but nothing to be worried about yet. So I used the first few laps to get a feel for the course while gradually moving up through the bunch. The pace was moderate but nothing serious. Then 30 minutes into the race guys were chomping at the bit and went off the front straight after the left hander. It was strung out all over the place up the climb, and it was now or never to move up to the front. By the top of the climb I took up the front and did a hard pull as I could sense there was a gap. Indeed there was a gap of about 10 seconds back to the bunch, enough for the 10 or so guys I was with to work for the next lap. But there wasn’t enough working together and it wasn’t to be. So we were caught be the bunch. Stalemate for the time being.

Two laps to go and the intensity has increased dramatically. Everyone knows they need to be at the front and this was to cause some sketchy moments. One lap to go and a guy from Paceline tries to go clear, but it’s going down to a bunch sprint. Into the final turn in 5th wheel, but after the turn a swarm of riders came over me and suddenly I found myself trapped and boxed in on the left hand side of the road, nowhere to go. I followed the wheels and moved up some places at the line, which was good enough for 7th place. Or so I thought until the results show I was 9th. It was very close but I’m sure it was 7th. Oh well it’s still the first points of the season! It’s great to finally get the ball rolling, even though I know with better positioning I could have won. 

Why cycling is becoming even more popular in urban cities

In November 2014, the European cyclists federation published a study called ‘Cycling and urban air quality: A study of European Experiences’.

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In the forward, the commissioner of the European Environmental Agency claimed, “There are still major challenges to human health from poor air quality. We are still far from our objective to achieve levels of air quality that do not give rise to significant negative impacts on human health and the environment” (2013).

Relaying the commissioner’s prognosis it is clear that the agency are addressing the issue of air pollution. Yet, how does pollution impact cyclists?

Pollution is problematic to cycling because exercising in pollution is dangerous for anybody’s health. I am a qualified personal trainer. I often take my clients out of the Origym and to an area with clear air away from the industrial sites. It is good to exercise in an environment with clean oxygen because it maximises the effects of your workouts. Still these areas are difficult to come by. This is why cycling is the solution to pollution. Mind the rhyme, it happened intuitively.

This article studies the relationship between cycling and pollution in some of Europe’s cities.  “The ECF (European Cyclist Federation) supports all those who work on the promotion of cycling and strive to achieve better air quality in our cities. This study shows that potential effect of more cycling for cleaner air in our cities” (Dr Bernard Ensink).

This study regards cycling as a systemic way to develop environmental conscious throughout Europe. That is good news for our cyclists and environmentalists alike. Yet, cycling around a city can prove problematic and there are many factors that differ from rural bike ride. I am going to break down the ways in which the use of cycling is condoned as the main source of transportation in European cities. Put on your helmets.

The ECF have tried to increase cycling through two different methods. These two methods are aptly named the push measure and the pull measure. The pull measure aims to directly increase cycling throughout urban areas. The ECF directly encourage the population to change their usual transport modes to cycling. The ECF hopes to produce the amount of cyclists within the city.

They also use the push measure that aims to reduce the demand of other modes of transport. These factors aim to correspond to measures aimed to restrict the use of un-sustainable modes of transport. Motor vehicles such as care are a prime example.  However, they do not direct the population towards the alternative of cycling.

Both of these methodologies vary in practice but they work towards a common cause. They educate people of the dangers of multiplying mitigation within urban cities. They also inform people of the alternatives to transport that would otherwise impacts the ecosystem negatively.

What measures are being taken?

The European Cyclist Agency has a number of measures in place that take advantage of push and pull tactics. These alternatives are even practiced or hypothetical.

One of these alternatives includes the Bicycle Share Scheme. There are over 700 bicycle share programmes in operation around the world. The initial and most successful programme was incorporated in Copenhagen in 1995. This programme was successful because it incorporated advanced information technology. Bike sharing is beneficial because it reduces the pollutants in urban cities because less people are using their cars. In fact, after a bicycle share scheme was implemented in Lyon. France, automobile share was reduced by 7%.

Sociologists have studied the main motivating factors for sharing bikes.  The main reason was the matter of convenience. If a station is closer to a person’s home they are more likely to use the scheme. However, the researches also agreed that cycling is much more dependent on the city itself. Furthermore, some cities with a high population showed a more natural aptitude for cycling than others.

So if you are open to cycling through one of the landmark cities throughout Europe, you should look for a local bike-sharing scheme.

Here is a directory that lists a number of sharing schemes across Europe.

The ECA proposed a number of ways to make cycling safer in urban cities. Many people may not want to cycle due to un-reasonable safety regulations. The ECA devised a plan to regulate the speed of certain areas in European cities.

The intervention of speed management has rejuvenated the amount of cyclers in the city. For example, the implementation of 30km/h zones regulates the speed of drivers, the circulation of traffic and activity on the roads. Several European cities have adopted 30km/h systems. This limits the amount of air pollution because of the decrease in acceleration. Due to this the area is less containment for people partaking in exercise.

Barcelona introduced these 30 km/h zones in 2007 and had seen a 27% drop decline in cycling accidents by 2009. In addition to this, Bristol has included two streets with limits of 20 mph in 2011 and within six months, cycling and pedestrian activity increased by up to 12%.

Due to speed regulations city streets are becoming safer for cyclists. There is less accidents, less pollution and more accessibility.

Cycling and the city

As a regular cycler you may be used to cycling in a variety of environments. However, the city is hardly used by cycling purists because of the high concentration of obstacles and the limited safety that accompanies them.  However, because of environmental awareness, cycling is becoming more accessible for the casual rider. Why not try to switch the rural areas for the urban areas.

 

This article was written by, Christopher Simon from Origym

 

 

 

 

Surrey League London Dynamo Road Race

It has to be said that before today my start to the season has not gone to plan at all. Training couldn’t be going better, having just put a solid two week block in California. But on the racing side of things my results had read 3 race starts and zero finishes, the first two being due to punctures and coming down heavily early on in the Kingston Wheelers RR a week ago. So it’s about time I was due some luck!

Today I was wearing the colours of my 2nd claim club East Grinstead CC, because VC Meudon skin suit was destroyed in the crash. The circuit for the day was the Kitsmead Lane one, 10 laps totalling 48 kilometres. 

A full field of 60 Cat 3/4 riders took  to the start, and the first two laps were run off at a fairly sedate pace with no one keen to try a long one. The intensity increased but I was still comfortable, but not ideally placed in the bunch, so moved up right to the front. I would be thankful for this about 5 minutes later as I hear the sound riders hitting the deck in the exact position where I was prior. A few strong guys went off the front with  3 laps to go but the gap never reached more than 100 metres, so it was clear to expect a bunch sprint. This is what happened and as we took the final sweeping left turn I was well positioned in about 5th wheel, but opened up my sprint way too early. Despite this I was heading for about 8th until two riders collided right in front of me and I was lucky to slam the brakes on just in time to avoid running over a rider on the floor. This was with less than 100 metres to go, which is annoying to be caught up in but I am happy to just finish a race again! 

Next week I am racing a Crit at Lee Valley where I will hopefully pick up my first points of the season.

Race stats

Average speed – 41.4 km/h

Average heart rate – 157 bpm

Max heart rate – 183 bpm

Average cadence – 91 rpm

Normalised power – 248 W

Max power – 1,033 W

Race Report – East London Velo Winter Series #5


Redbridge Cycling Centre (A.K.A Hog Hill) was the setting for my first race of the season. A 2nd and 3rd cat event that was sure to be a good test of the legs and show where the fitness was at. Hog Hill is a circuit that suits me perfectly, as the name suggests there is a hill to climb every 5 minutes roughly. Although it’s not a killer on its own, it does start to bite after doing it repeatedly for an hour of hard racing.

The whistle blows. Then the distinctive sound of cleats being clipped in hurriedly in time for the first sweeping left hander. I’ve started off a bit further back than I would have liked, about 30th out of 40 riders, but not to worry there will be plenty of time to make that up. Focus on moving up through the pack. That’s better. Then BANG. The familiar sound of a puncture has to be one of the most awful things to hear when riding a bike as you know it will force you to a stop. A wave of anger passes over me as all the riders I just passed come straight past me. Surely that’s one of the quickest punctures in bike racing history?! 1 minute and 55 seconds read on the Garmin. I composed myself again and focussed on getting to the top of the track to get a wheel change which was done smoothly. Back into the bunch and now I could calm down a bit.

A fairly routine Crit race with the usual marking out dangerous attacks and following the accelerations and when the board went up to signal 5 laps to go it was clear that this was going to be a bunch finish. 2 laps to go. Holding my position of about 10th wheel. Crest the hill for the penultimate time, move up a few more wheels. I’m heading for the wheel of Isaac Mundy who has been impressive in the series so far, so I figure it’s the best wheel to be on for the finish. Then BANG! Unbelievable. I have punctured AGAIN! And this time it’s in the final lap, so that’s my race over.

After I got over the original frustration of DNFing, I realised that I should be pleased with my performance and how well my legs went yesterday, considering I had only just got back from two weeks of not training at all. And it was considerably faster than any other race I had done at Hog Hill before with an average speed of 39.3km/h (24.6mph). I will be back next week with a vengeance!

Watch out for ice!

It certainly felt like the middle of winter yesterday, when I rolled up to the Swan car park in Forest Row waiting to meet Mikey and Chris. I believe my Garmin read 0 degrees! But it was sunny at least.

A 4.5 hour steady ride was the order of the day with a fair amount of climbing to give something to keep the hands warm. We crawled up Kidds Hill near Hartfield, which is a personal favorite of hill of mine to both ascend and descend. To anyone visiting the Ashdown Forest it is a must do, although the seemingly never ending straight steep part to the top is enough to put many locals off.

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Kidds Hill – not for the fainthearted

A brief descent preceded more climbing into Crowborough, then over to Hailsham via Heathfield. We passed through the historic town of Lewes after 75km, then a long drag up to the cafe stop of the day at Trading Boundaries in Sheffield Park. A brilliant place that’s popular with many locals, the courtyard shopping establishment has plenty of tasty food to offer, especially in the way of something sweet for ravaged cyclists!

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It wasn’t all for me!

Always easier racking up the miles with a couple of friends, and despite the cold it was very enjoyable.

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Calpe Training Camp

When I pictured a week training near Alicante I assumed it would be clear skies and close to 20 degrees everyday, however the weather this week has been a bit hit-and-miss. I can’t complain too much though as  I hear its been close to freezing back home!

It must be said that the whole region is well setup for cyclists, where perfect road surfaces and considerate drivers are as common as potholes and impatient drivers are in the UK. There is a terrain for every rider’s preference. There are plenty of flat and rolling roads along the coast, but head inland and you could find yourself on a decent climb pretty quickly.

It’s certainly a must go place for any cycling fan because you can guarantee you will see the pros out everyday, training on the same roads you are using. I was even lucky enough to go inside the hotel where Astana and Katusha are currently staying and take a look at all the many bikes and equipment the teams have. Astana even had a team branded table football machine!

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Astana bikes

I didn’t do any massively long or hard days in the saddle, just 55-115km everyday to keep the legs moving. That resulted in a weekly total of 476km (300 miles). Now it’s back to the damaged roads, poor weather and angry drivers that I’ve missed so dearly (not!)

FTP Testing

It was time to do some testing in coach Paul’s shed – AKA the Pain Cave! This involved a 20 minute effort in order to establish my FTP (Functional Threshold Power). I averaged 220W for the effort, which gave my a power-weight ratio of 3.9W/KG. According to a chart I was shown this is decent numbers for a Cat 3 rider. So okay for this time of the year, but not brilliant. This is good because it means I have something to work on. I know once I get rid my “winter insulation” and put in some focused efforts in training that power-weight ratio will rocket up.

I’m off to Spain early tomorrow to get some decent training in, so will keep posted on that front.

Cafe ride to the Velo House

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Getting into the swing of winter training now after having two weeks of resting up. This week has been about clocking a decent mileage through steady rides. After meeting up with Mikey and Luke in East Grinstead we trundled down to Lingfield then up Crockham Hill near Edenbridge. A consequence of always talking myself up as a climber is I feel like I have to show off to whoever I am riding with whenever the road rears upwards. Today I used Crockham Hill for this. Luke established a good pace on the front before I came through and slowly upped the pace so it didn’t look like an all out attack. I am very competitive even on training rides so I do have to admit I was pleased when I looked behind me and could only see Mikey about 15 seconds back. Very satisfying, and a 3rd overall on the Strava segment was also appreciated!

What was even more satisfying was reaching the Velo House in Tunbridge Wells after a series of nasty ramps. The Velo House is a personal favourite and for those who have been there before will understand why. Ample space for bike parking, delicious food and a cyclist atmosphere is perfect after a few hours outside in the cold. Coffee and banana bread went down very nicely indeed.

After that it was a swift pedal back to Forest Row, doing 78kms in the end.

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