Monday, 6 July 2009

Ras De Cymru

For the last 5 days I have been in Wales racing in the Ras de Cymru stage race. The race is a 6 stage road race, with an individual time trial, a team time trial and four road races. I rode as part of a team from my local cycling club St Ives c.c. I have ridden the race twice before and this time I persuade some of my club mates to join me, they were in for a shock, Wales is much hillier than Cambridgeshire!!

The first stage was a 4 miles individual time trial with a mile climb at the end. I was surprised by the amount of time trial bikes and aero gear, for an amateur race there was a lot of expensive kit around. I did it on the drops, old skool! The temperature was in the 30’s, it was hot, hot, hot. My race was poor. Last year I was 35th, this year I was in the high 60’s. The heat took its toll and I nearly saw lunch gain then got a stich. I was even caught by my minute man, a certain Rich Wood, former extreme endurance rider.

The second day brought more sun and heat. The stage was a 50mile hilly ride. Over the first short climb I was in a comfy position in the bunch. Unfortunately my team mate Mark punctured at a critical time and never bridged back. Over the second climb I moved to the front of the bunch. The first part is quite steep and exposed in the sun. I suffered and dropped back a little, but soon crept back as I kept my own tempo. Over the top I made the front bunch of 40 riders. Unfortunately my team mates didn’t make the split and were dropped coming in a few minutes down at the finish. In the afternoon we had a 14mile team time trial. We rode an extremely controlled race and clocked a time only 2 minutes slower then the leading team. We were very happy about this as we judged our effort to perfection and stayed in contact with a number of teams who were riding full aero bikes with skin suits and aero helmets, a good effort. The result of the day was that I moved up to 37th in the GC.

The next day was a ‘flat’ road race over 3 laps with fast uphill finish. I sat in the bunch along with my team mates. I was a bit careless towards the finish and sat too far back in the bunch and lost 17 seconds as riders ahead of me sat up on the final climb creating a split. My team mates Mark and Jamie were in the front half of the bunch whilst Tom rolled in 30 seconds down. He dug in deep after being shelled on the first climb the previous day and riding alone for 45miles. A good effort for one of the elder statesmen of the race!

Stage 5 was the hard one. 4 ascents of a 1km climb averaging 22%. Over the top of the climb is a rolling road exposed with cross winds, a real killer. I managed to dig deep and stay in the bunch over the first 3 laps. The finish was at the top of the 4th ascent. I dropped about a minute on the front runners with dead legs. Poor tom was dropped on the first ascent of the climb; he battled on for 50miles in a small group 20minutes down, good effort. Then we had the 5 mile uphill ride back to the finish! I picked up tom in the van!

The final day was a 45mile road race with a 4 mile mountain top finish. The first hour was so fast. We averaged 28miles an hour. No break aways were established. There were a lot of sore legs in the bunch. We hit the final climb together and I decided not to follow the surge of the bunch at the start of the climb. I rode my own tempo up the climb and gradually overtook quite a few riders. I finished 44th on the stage and climbed to 35th on the final GC. Mark finished in the top 25 on the stage and Jamie and Tom finished a few minutes down.

Over all we finished 15th in the team classification. It was a great event, very well organised and a great effort by all the team. I’m very tired now but in a few weeks time I should be flying… just in time for a certain 12h race!

1 comment:

Ade Merckx said...

Nice write up Josh! was a great event I hope so see you there next year.