2017- Part 1

2017 marks my first year as an Under 23 rider, meaning I’m able to ride bigger, longer races and really test myself as a rider. It’s been a good start to the year, with no injuries *touches wood* or illness holding me back, so I’ve been able to train and race properly. I’ve been given some great opportunities so far this year so without further ado, here’s how it’s been going…

Just before racing started, I started using a power meter with the help of getting it through Gary and Allan at BSpoke in Peebles. The use of it has transformed my training completely, we were able to use it for an FTP (functional threshold power) test, and the numbers that we saw gave me a lot of confidence, and I’ve taken that forward into my training and racing since. 

Gifford was the first road race of the year, and quite possibly the soggiest ride I’ve ever been in, which is saying something! Gifford was an important benchmark for me, as it was my first road race since June last year so I just wanted to test the water and see how I felt, which, thankfully, was very good. I normally don’t like racing in the “moist” conditions, but just being back in a bunch racing fast felt awesome, and I really enjoyed the day out. 


I’m also lucky to be given the opportunity to do Wednesday night time trials, which are a really good test to do weekly. These allow me to just ride to power for a set distance and not have to worry about anyone else, and provide really good training. 

I suppose I now have to talk about THAT race in Ireland… 

The Tour of the North was our first real big test as U23’s and myself, Stuart Paterson, Calum Johnston, Gavin O’Neill and guest rider Ali Merry made the trip over with our step-in Mum Craig, and helper Zak. There’s not much to say about the racing really- I took an absolute kicking, there’s no other way to describe it really, however what I can take out of it was learning just how good you need to be to even remain in the bunch in these races, staying on your bike also helps too! It was also a privilege to be there to see John and the rest of Pro Vision, for want of a better word, destroy some top quality amateur riders, winning 3 out of the 4 stages solo and placing two riders on the final podium. A top 10 for Calum J in the time trial was also a brilliant result for him. Can’t give enough thanks to the guys for this trip, Craig did basically all the organising on his own, went through a lot of stress to get us there and back in one piece and even managed to get us an earlier ferry home after the race! Zak was superb in the convoy, which is a super stressful job too, trying to follow the race, watching out for dropped riders and other traffic is no mean feat! So thanks guys. Also to the guys racing thanks for the good time we had and the laughs we had over there.  

Whilst writing this, I’m just back from the Peebles road race, which was a good race, the break went from the drop of the flag and stayed away, which is a top effort. A super quick race meant a lot of further attacks were quickly neutralised, including two of my own, and it came down to the remaining guys in the bunch to duke it out for 3rd in the final. 

Going forward, I’ve got the Glentress 7 coming up with my teammate Calum Kennedy, who suffered a nasty accident at Crit on the Campus in early April, and has done superbly to get to where he is in such a short space of time. The day after that, I’m off to France for a bit to see what some real climbs look like…! Then we shall see what happens after that! 

As always, the usual thanks must go to Mum, Dad and my family for their support. My friends for always believing in me, especially when I don’t! The guys at BSpoke in Peebles, Halfords Galashiels, Jarlath Flynn, Chris Bryant, Andy Kirkland, and everyone who reads and supports these blogs, I really appreciate it! Until next time.

Cheers
Joe

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Facing facts

Crashing is part of bike racing. Everybody who pins on a number accepts this fact and takes part regardless. You place a great deal of trust in your fellow competitors, as riding in such close proximity means that one rider making a mistake can lead to many riders hitting the deck. While falling off is invariably painful, injuries are generally not severe and the worst one can expect is an occasional broken collarbone or wrist. In some very rare cases more serious injury can occur, but the risk is no greater than in most other sports. It is very unusual to crash on your face, which is exactly what I did on Sunday 2nd April at the Crit on the Campus, promoted by Stirling Bike Club. Crit (criterium) racing is a form of road racing where riders tackle laps of a short and technical circuit for up to an hour, leading to fast, furious and sometimes dangerous racing. With a bunch of 60 guys fighting for road space through tight and narrow corners it amplifies the risk of accidents when compared to traditional road racing. That said, it is also really fun (most of the time).

I can’t remember what actually happened during my crash – I was told I had amnesia for the following 15 minutes – but it seems to have been a moment of total bad luck. A rider directly in front of me went down first, and I had nowhere to go. My first recollection is of lying on the pavement with a crowd of people around me, various voices offering reassurance and trying to jog my addled memory. It was obvious that the accident was serious, and I was quickly taken to hospital near Falkirk. I learned subsequently that the race had been abandoned. Without going into great detail, I would like to stress that the care I received throughout the following two days was exceptional. A maxillofacial team made the journey from Glasgow to perform surgery on Sunday night, and by Tuesday evening I was able to return home. I suffered a fractured nose, several chipped and broken teeth, and various cuts and rips to the face and tongue. I’m extremely lucky that no serious head injury occurred. Always wear a helmet, kids. My injuries are healing incredibly quickly, and I will make a full recovery.

With regards to racing, I don’t know what will happen next. It’s too early to say when I will regain the appetite to return to the bunch. With crashing, the damage is as much psychological as physical – you think you are invincible until you’re abruptly reminded that you aren’t. I will still ride my bike this summer for sure, but the accident has put everything into context a bit. There’s no pressure or obligation to race – it is after all a leisure pursuit (of sorts). This winter I would love to make a real focus of cyclocross and race a full second season with North Sports/Kinesis. I should also be participating in the Glentress 7 Mountain Bike race with teammate Joe Agnew at the end of May, which is something I’m looking forward to immensely. For the time being, the focus is on recovery. Time will tell when I decide to return to road racing – and I would like to – but it’s a question for another day. In the near future my only goal is get back to enjoying cycling for what it is, instead of setting specific targets and objectives.

Lastly, I would like to thank everybody who left cards, messages or comments wishing me well in my recovery. There are far too many people to mention individually, but your support has helped me immensely. Hope to see some of you out on the road soon.

 

Keep pedalling

 

Calum

Deep Breath

We’re currently only a couple of weeks out from the first road race of the season, so I thought it time to do a bit of a stock take from my last blog and update everyone on where I am.

As I write this I’m feeling like a different person on the bike compared to a few months ago. Some long hours on the bike in the legs, a good break and plenty of gym work later, and I feel I’m almost ready to go again. The winter has been spent dividing up between  college, training, and recuperation.I’ve spent a lot of time at the velodrome in Glasgow racing at the track league on Wednesday nights, which has been really good fun, (especially as it doesn’t rain there!) as it’s allowed me to really play with how I race and discover what sort of things work for me, and find a new love for racing I’ve tried to make sure no two weeks have been the same, as winter is a time to play about on the bike and not take it too seriously, but you can learn a lot about yourself during this time for sure. I raced my first BUCS race in November, which was a really cool event as it was quite different to the normal competitions, and allowed me to race against some different opposition, and race for Gala Cycling Club as I’m BASEed in Gala for college (pun intended), and I raced on the Manchester velodrome for the first time, which feels completely different to Glasgow, although you wouldn’t expect it to! I’ve also been working closely with Jarlath Flynn of ERC, using a power meter courtesy of BSpoke Cycles, and this has brought me on leaps and bounds in terms of knowing just what I can do, and what we need to work on. This has given me a lot of confidence as the numbers we’ve been seeing so far have been promising to say the least, and we’ll hopefully arrive at my target races in shape to put in a good fight for the win in each of them. 

As mentioned in a recent interview I gave for VOMO, it’s no secret that I have struggled mentally over the past year, for various reasons, so to combat this we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and bring my head on par with my body to get me in as good a shape as possible for racing, such as speaking to different people about issues they’ve had and what brought them out of their slumps, and got them back to their best, and I feel this is important to mention as I can’t emphasise just how important it is to have a healthy mind as well as a healthy body, your health is the most important thing. Hopefully we have turned a corner that we won’t need to revisit!
I’d like to finish this blog as always by thanking those who’ve been working with me the last few months, Mum and Dad- Mum especially as I’ve been leaving her stranded in Gala on a Wednesday while I rob the car to go to Glasgow! Jarlath Flynn and Ken Whitson of ERC, for bringing my training and racing on a huge amount from last year. The BASE staff of Borders College for their incredible support. My friends for all the energy they give me to get up and train and race. To Gary and Allan of BSpoke Cycles for taking care of my bikes and helping me out through the winter. Finally, to everyone taking the time to read this blog, I really appreciate it! Until the next one! 

Joe 

Surprising Success

At the beginning of 2016 I wasn’t expecting any exceptional results by the time the season was over, but I’d wanted to make the Junior Tour of Ireland my main goal. 2015 had ended with a great result of winning the Scottish hill climb champs so I thought it would be okay to take a few weeks easy and my form would still be somewhat intact. Boy was I wrong. When I eventually finished my prelims and got my head out of the books it was too late. I got back on the bike and I could barely ride 30miles without being out of breath with aching legs. In 2016 I planned to spend the early part of the season focussing on school work and revision in the lead up to my exams with a view to building up my riding after exams to perform better later in the season. Sadly, this meant sacrificing on cycling and I was unable to train and race as much as I would have liked to! Thankfully this sacrifice paid off and I achieved the exam results I was aiming for. Post-exams I had just eight weeks to go from a very basic level of fitness to being able to ride a 6 stage international tour – certainly ambitious. The longest ride I had ever completed prior to the tour was 70-miles at a steady club pace at the end of a week when I was fresh. So it was a pleasant surprise when I managed to stay with the main bunch for 3 out of the 5 road stages when 3 of the individual stages were over the 70mile mark that I hadn’t previously surpassed. In hindsight I think positioning in the bunch was key to me getting through the stages. Although it was something I was constantly thinking about during the stages I felt that it came naturally to me and I had no issues managing to keep in the good wheels in the first 15 or so guys at the front of the race. It gave me a bit of a boost when teammates pointed out how good at this I was! The advantages of being in this part of the race were obvious – avoiding the inevitable elastic band effect through any corners, staying in the shelter and perhaps most importantly keeping clear of any crashes or mishaps that occurred further down the bunch. I managed to get through the tour without crashing once or getting held up behind crashes! However, because of the short time I left free to train after exams I didn’t have the level of endurance that was needed to ride long stages back to back and this caused me to loose some time from the main bunch in two of the stages. It was unusual to be satisfied with finishing mid-field in a race but considering the level of competition and the time I had to prepare for the race things could certainly have been worse. There is always a small part of me that wonders ‘what if?’ and of course I would have loved to have beenuntitled getting stuck in at the pointy end of the race but I don’t have any regrets and feel that I did the best I could with the time available to me. A massive thank you is due to ERC who organised and helped fund transport and accommodation for the whole week that we were away in Ireland. It’s a race that you hear many stories about and thanks to their support I now have a few of my own to tell!

Throughout the year I had managed to finish several races in the top 10 which allowed me to accumulate quite a few points during the course of the season. When it came to my last race, Tour of the Lammermuirs, I had to finish 5th place or better to secure my 2nd cat license. Unfortunately, it was not my day. The race started off well, staying in the wheels in the first half of the bunch, but when it got within 500m to the top of the main climb in the race, Redstone Rigg, I started to struggle and dropped just off of the lead riders. Changing down a few gears the chain dropped and got jammed in the frame. What was most infuriating was the number of large groups behind that passed me before I managed to fix the mechanical and get back on the bike. I quickly took a couple of gels and stuck my head down for the next half an hour or so to try and get somewhere near where I had been in the race before. I wasn’t getting anywhere and was starting to loose motivation to keep pushing myself. And then to top things off there was a loud bang and the unmistakable hiss of air rapidly leaving my rear wheel. There is nothing quite like thinking you’ve reached the bottom but then something else comes at you and you sink even further. With service no where to be seen I took my shoes off and walked for about 20mins until I managed to get a spare wheel. By this time I was racing to not come in last, I ended up finishing 2nd last. A small win in a way but not exactly the 5th place I was looking for. Thankfully the weather was sunny and there wasn’t a cloud in sight. Something I was grateful for. In the cross racing however, I had some better luck.

The first cross race at Calendar Park was full of anticipation – I didn’t know how I would perform in comparison to the road. I was happy with the race, thought I held my ground and finished in 3rd. This boosted my confidence from the week before at Lammermuirs. I got my head in the game after this and developed some specific cross work into my training. The main thing I needed to work on was getting my feet clipped in quickly at the start and after the hurdles. This held me back considerably during the races and is still something I haven’t completely mastered. At the fourth race in the series in Fife I was called to the line first meaning I was first in GC for the series. This shocked me somewhat and I had to check the standings when I got back to convince myself it was right. I realised that I had a real chance of doing well in the overall standings for the series and made a point of making sure I was at all of the remaining rounds. I’m sure this helped me to go that little bit deeper during the races and I was always waiting in anticipation for the updated standings to be posted after each race. When it came to the final race in Mull I was in 3rd in GC and 6 points behind fellow ERC Junior Max Bloor. I had second thoughts about heading all the way over to Mull for the final round just tountitled1 try and move up in the standings but I’m glad I did as it paid off and I managed to finish the series in 2nd overall. The day after was the last race of the year – a fun race. The Santa cross ‘world champs’. I wrapped my mountain bike up in the best tinsel I had (to my mum’s horror) and stuck on my woolly Christmas jumper. By the time the race was over and I was back in the comfort of my own home I had some time to reflect on how the season had gone.

At the start of the year I hadn’t expected to get anywhere near a second cat but got within touching distance towards the end of the season. In the Junior tour of Ireland I hadn’t expected to stay with the bunch for any of the stages but managed to be there or there abouts for 3 of the longest ones. I hadn’t expected to finish in the top 10 for the cross races but managed to end up second overall. I’ve certainly managed to surprise myself this year in terms of what I’m capable of with limited and somewhat interrupted training. 2016 is over and I’m looking ahead towards next season and what may be achievable with consistent training and maybe a little more self-belief! I’ve been in the gym with the rest of the ERC Juniors for the last couple of months and I am starting to feel the benefits of this out on the road.

A big thank you to everyone at ERC, Jarlath, and my mum and Dad for driving me up and down the country every weekend. Because without all of you helping me I wouldn’t have been able to motivate, organise and fund myself for any of the races especially the Junior Tour of Ireland, so thank you.

Lewis

Starting Point

It was late Summer i got interested in road cycling.  I had never done it before, but after watching the Olympics I wanted to give it a try.  I was taken out on my first ride around late August and I loved it.  I had never been on a road bike before so I was very nervous, but once I was out there I loved every minute.  I had never tackled so many hills in my life as I had that day – which seem so simple now, and it was such a rewarding feeling once it was over.  Thats when I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

In the past few months I have attended various different sessions – some challenging but worth it, and others fun.  I’ve been to a couple at Ingliston where I’ve learnt to ride in small groups on a circuit, overcome my fear of corners, and also make great friends.  I’ve also learnt during a team discussion what foods I should really be eating and what to start cutting out of my diet.  I took the nutritional advice I got given and started applying it and I now feel healthier and better about myself.  I also attend a Thursday night weight training session where I can see I’m getting stronger as I come away feeling very successful every week, and also wake up the next morning in a bit of pain which shows I have done my best.  After my weight training I go straight to rollers where I easily learnt how to cycle on a roller with help and motivation of others.  These two sessions have improved my fitness massively and I enjoy going to them every week to see what I can accomplish.

A few weeks ago I tried out a training session at Arthurs Seat where you had to climb to the top and descent back down in the dark six times.  I struggled a lot as I couldn’t even get halfway up before getting off my bike, and I just had to go home.  This is when I told myself I had to work harder and not give up over one difficulty.  I got out on my bike as much as I could since then and tackled the steepest hills I could find.  I recently went back to Arthurs Seat and managed to climb it no problem.  This experience has shown me that hard work does pay off and when things don’t go right, you never give up.

The best part of joining ERC is being able to go out every Saturday morning with groups of very encouraging adults and cycle distances and interesting routes I never thought I would be able to do in a million years.  It’s built my confidence being able to talk and make conversation with experienced riders who have gave me helpful tips of riding.  These rides have also helped me see what it’s like to meet new people who share the same interests as me.  I enjoy the company of the groups every week as they help me strive to do my best and show a lot of interest in me too.

I am really looking forward to participating in some races next season as the hard work I’m putting myself through now will hopefully pay off when it comes to racing.

Thank you to everyone who has made me feel so welcome into the club and made me so determined to reach my goals.  Big thanks to our coach Jarlath Flynn who’s supported me throughout these first few months and putting so much effort into the team as a whole, and finally thank you to Juli Rourke who put me on a bike in the first place and giving me all the help and advice I needed to get to this point.  I appreciate everything everyone has done for me and can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Hollie Begg

 

First few months

I joined the club in October this year after becoming increasingly interested in road cycling. I’ve been keen on cycling for a while and over the summer did a lot of both road cycling and mountain biking. I like the rewarding feeling after a big and challenging cycle.

I’ve really enjoyed the winter training with the club. I’ve been going to the Tuesday evening sessions which are six varied laps of Arthur’s Seat. It’s cold and dark but still good fun and effective. On Thursday nights I have been going to the weight training sessions at the gym followed by a roller session. The next day my legs are always sore which is a good thing as I know this means my legs are getting stronger. Best of all have been the Sunday morning cycles. We’ve done some really good routes with some decent hills and a fast pace.

I’m feeling better on my bike and it’s clear that the hard work at training is improving my fitness and strength. We also had a very interesting discussion on nutrition and since then I have improved my diet by cutting out processed foods and excess sugar. I feel better as a result.

I’m really looking forward to 2017 as I will hopefully get a chance to try out some racing. I’m also looking forward to training in daylight and warmer weather.

I’ve felt welcome and enjoyed my first few months with ERC. Our coach Jarlath Flynn has been great at encouraging me and helping me out. I’m grateful for the time and effort he puts into the squad.

Finlay Middlemiss

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2016 Summary

2016 has been a funny old year hasn’t it? For me, 2016 was going to be THE year, but things don’t always work out the way you plan them. Nonetheless, looking back, I’ve actually had quite a successful year, which, if it were mapped out as a stage profile, would look like a mountain stage of the Tour de France, massive highs accompanied by harrowing lows. On one hand, I’ve broken local records which have stood over 35 years, but also fell way short of my own expectations of myself at the biggest race of the year, the Tour of Ireland, which was very disappointing for me. So disappointing in fact it put the whole sport into question for me, why was I so bothered by something I’m not particularly good at? This was constantly floating around my head the whole race, which when we got to stage 3 around Wild Atlantic Way, after breaking my thumb the previous day, I thought about just climbing off the bike and ending the race there and then. Somehow I managed to finish the stage, and sat in one of our camping chairs at the finish almost in tears, angry at nobody but myself for making such a cock up of the race, and most races I had done previously. The last stage was a turning point, somehow I managed to turn that anger into power on the bike and came away with 20th on the stage, after a frantic and lightning quick final stage around Ennis.

After we got back from Ireland, I decided to have a break from racing, just concentrate on a few local TT’s, before having a go at the hill climbs at the end of the year. This took the pressure off me  massively, and I started to enjoy racing again, just turning up on the night and going full gas, letting go of a lot of frustration and not having any nerves of results. I thought it would be “fun” to try the Scottish 25 mile championships, after not doing any training, and in a way it was fun, racing down huge open A roads around Irvine, with nobody but me to push myself on, you can learn a lot about your own mentality over a long time trial. Finishing 4th was a disappointment at the time, but looking back, after coming off the back of virtually no training aside from the occasional 10 mile TT, it was alright!

After September, came the hill climb champs, which I’d made no secret of my desire to win, and I put in a good bit more training. To end up 3rd and come away with a medal I was pleased, and beaten by 2 other very strong riders on the day.

In recent weeks, ahead of next season I have made a return to track racing, which I have to say I wasn’t expecting to do well in at all, but I’ve managed to settle in fairly nicely and have started to enjoy the races every Wednesday, and it’s a lot warmer in the velodrome than out on the road!

Finishing on a nice note- I’d have to pick the Tour series race in Edinburgh as my favourite race of the year, the crowds who were turning up for the pro race after ours were out in force, and I’ve never experienced anything like it, it was a very nice race and I’d definitely like to do it again next year, and hopefully gain some good results to pay back the people who’ve looked after me this year.

Speaking of that, I’d like to end my last junior race team blog by thanking a lot of people so please bear with me! Firstly, to my amazing family, who’ve been there for me during some very difficult times this year, who encouraged me to go over to race in Ireland and stick at it which I am very grateful for. Secondly, to my 3 closest friends who know who they are, your support this year is invaluable, and I really appreciate you all for taking good care of me! The guys at Halfords Galashiels and BSpoke Cycles in Peebles for taking care of my bikes and always being at the ready for them. To my friend and mentor Alex Coutts, who has enough on his plate already yet always time for a bit of advice! And finally, a massive thank you to Jarlath Flynn of ERC, the whole race team set up, my roomate and good friend Calum “Special K” Kennedy, and the sponsors for giving us the opportunities to race in some fantastic races. Thank you all.

Thanks very much for reading, see you all next year!

Joe

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections on a busy season

The road season is all but over for 2016, and quite honestly I’m extremely happy about that. it’s been a long year, rewarding and disappointing in (almost) equal measure. It’s been hard, I’ve learned a lot, and I’m looking forward to resetting my goals and ambitions for 2017 over the winter.stage-5-387

This year I seem to have suffered a disconnection between form, fitness and results – fitness wise I’m streets ahead of previous years, but too often the results sheets haven’t reflected that. Often through misfortune – mechanicals, crashes – I haven’t reached the consistency of results I would like, which is immensely frustrating. As those who have read my Junior Tour of Wales blog (http://www.biscuittinmedia.com/junior-tour-wales-riders-eye-view/) will attest, my motivation for the latter part of the year dipped somewhat, partially down to the said frustrations about the missed opportunities earlier in the year, but also the unavoidable dip suffered after a major season objective. My whole year was really built around Junior Tour of Ireland in mid-July. I remember reading in David Millar’s book of how he came home from the Tour de France feeling empty and deflated. To some extent at least, I know what he means. Stage racing, especially abroad, puts you in a unique bubble. The outside world, in effect, disappears. Your whole existence is built around the race and everything about the race. The news becomes who won the stage, who’s leading overall and what the stage is like tomorrow. Meal times become a battle against the clock consume as many calories – and as much caffeine – as is physically possible. Relaxation becomes stretching, recovery, massage. Every facet of your life becomes geared towards being able function to the highest level on the bike. Sleep becomes key – the famous quote from from Joop Zoetemelk: “The Tour is won in bed” – holds more and more wisdom as the days pass. it’s easy to lose track of reality, and after 6 days it becomes your new reality. You feel worse off the bike but better on it. And suddenly, like a switch, it’s over. You finish the race, come home, go straight to bed. You wake up in the morning and realise that life is as it was before. Nothing has changed, the gears of society still churn with crushing regularity. Your exploits – everyone has one during a stage race – go unknown apart from to a small few. It is deflating. The overriding question is: what now? Go back out training? It all seems insignificant. Of course, this is a temporary state of mind, I got my motivation back in time, but it serves as a good example of the ups and downs that come with bike racing.

On the whole, it’s been a good year. I’ve managed to achieve my goals and perform well in my target races. The Junior Tour of Ireland was an incredible experience and I was fortunate to have an amazing team around me who helped me get a top 10 finish on stage 2 and be in contention for a good position overall until a crash on stage 5. In Scottish championship events I’ve finished 4th, 4th and 5th this year – adding to my 4th, 4th and 7th from previous years – which makes me a fourth to be reckoned with, right? The road race championship was probably the highlight as i managed to get into the winning break of 4 and was beaten by three quality riders. Outside of that, the most important thing for me is that I’ve been able to feature in races, be active, and be a factor in the outcome.

This winter I will be cross-dressing a little bit to race the Scottish cyclocross series for North Sports/Kinesis, a new team with the aim of developing and supporting a small number of riders each year. If you’ve got time please check out the facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/NorthKinesis/)14570579_10154584292554731_4072191983902234083_o for updates on the season (I promise that’s the last bit of shameless promotion in this blog (until the final paragraph)). It’s an opportunity that I’m really looking forward to and the season is off to a good start with 9th place in the first round at Callander Park. Outside of that, I’ll be getting in the miles to be ready to hit early 2017 in good form. With racing cyclocross, my end of season break has been postponed to mid December, which due to an excellent piece of scheduling means I’ll be racing the British cross champs after 3 weeks off the bike. At least I’ll be fresh. And full of cake. After that, it’s straight to Gran Canaria to start base training for the road season – a full 10 days this time after a thoroughly enjoyable trip this year. When I return, it’ll be only 2 months until the first road race of the new year, and so the cycle goes on – so to speak.

 

2017 looks bright for Edinburgh RC with some new additions to the squad and a step up in coaching support available to juniors and seniors alike. It’s always tricky to try to balance a race team within a club structure but the changes over the last few years have been overwhelmingly positive and should start producing consistently good results over the coming years. Personally, I’m looking forward to training and racing with the new guys and creating a stronger team bond than we already have.

So that’s that. Farewell March-October 2016. Farewell junior racing. I hope to speak to you again in 2017 stronger, faster, fitter – and still enjoying riding my bike! As always, big thanks to Edinburgh RC for the support this year, in particular Jarlath Flynn for looking after the junior squad. Thanks to Scottish Cycling and Braveheart for the opportunity to race in Wales. As always, thanks to my amazing parents for devoting their time to letting me do what I love to do.

Keep pedalling

Calum

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My past 2 weeks

The past two weeks have been epic….when I was on holiday over in Treviso, Italy I had the opportunity to race in the la ventisima pinarello granfondo. I decided to race it and raced it i did. I don’t know how it happened but it turned out i was 1st junior out of the whole race. I was so pleased considering I had a week off the bike. I tend to prefer warm weather and that day it was 39°c which was good for me. After that if was time to take another week off. I was classing this whole 2 week holiday as my “mid season break”. Once I arrived home it was time to get my head down and to focus on the second half of the season which meant a whole load of turbo sessions. The word ‘turbo’actually makes me feel queasy. With turbo and high intsnisity road rides I was able to build my fitness slowly. My first race back was the ‘Tour of the Glens’ which in my eyes, is one of the toughest Scottish races. The race was 135km with many climbing. The weather played a major role as it was raining and freezing cold ‘Scottish summer’. The first 70km I was very aggressive. I was getting into attacks with elite riders such as Evan Oliphant, Harry Tanfield and Steven Lawely. I got a bit to carried away and wasted alot of my energy by doing this. When it hit the first major climb the race blew to pieces with me being distanced on the decent. After that the rain got heavier and heavier and I just wasn’t wanting to risk any illness. I pulled out 95km in but I was content with how I rode. A new week, a new day. Monday 25th was turbo day with a power/strength session in the morning and an endurance in the evening. I felt rubbish but new that this would benefit me in the days/weeks to come. On Tuesday 26th I had morning core and stability with another endurance turbo session in the evening. (These turbo endurance sessions are round 1hr – 1hr 30). On Wednesday 27th I went on a 85km rr with my teammate Stuart Paterson. We were heading to linlithgow for a few days. It was a hard session with a few tt efforts and sprints. It was good training with one another because it meant we had more motivation to beat each other and who would have the bragging rights lol. Thursday 28th was a 75km rr round a route called the two bridges. This was more a medium effort ride with a few bursts but other than that it was a great, sunny day in the saddle. On Friday the 29th me and stuart both headed into linlithgow for a cafe ride as a present activation ride for the weekends racing. It was around 15 km.

SATURDAY 30th   –   Renfrewshire Road Race 2/3/4…

I was feeling really confident here as I knew I had a hard week to get prepared but was unsure how I would cope because of the hard week. During the race I felt really good. It was 10 laps of a 5 mile.circuit so it was pretty much like a hilly kermese. There was a long drag and then a crazy downhill decent so there was no rest for us juniors. In the end I managed 6th and 1st junior. I was disappointed I wasn’t on the podium but that’s just how it goes. Happy I got 1st junior considering the hard week.

SUNDAY 31st   –   Billy Warnock Road Race E/1/2/3…

I was really looking forward for this race although I was worried how my legs would feel after Saturdays race. The start sheet was really good for this race so I knew it was going to be brutal. The course was pretty much pan flat with a short sharp climb but really wasn’t anything. As riders where getting dropped all the time I was feeling amazing. Unfortunately my chain slipped off which meant I had to chase back on which wasn’t ideal so I was pretty annoyed with that. Once I made contact with the front group again I made my way slowly to to the front to stay out of trouble. I was feeling super comfortable in the remaining laps and just sat in to see who was suffering and who looked good. It came down to a bunch kick for 8th and I was feeling strong. I came in 21st just missing out on top 20 and points but got 1st junior again. Overall I am feeling super strong right now and hope to do well in the coming races. Kudos today to calum Kennedy and stuart paterson for racing. It was a really tough course but happy I got round.

NEXT RACES

– Wanlockhead RoaRace2/3/4…this race is one of my favourite races of the year because of the amount of climbing in it so it suits me to a tee. It’s a race I really want to do well in.

JUNIOR TOUR OF WALES.

This race is by far my biggest race of the season and I hope to carry form into it as it’s a huge target for me…..

Thanks for reading

Calum Johnston:))

 

 

 

 

TTs, Exams, Championships and Only 1 Crash

Been a while since my last update, so thought I’d do a small post about the last few months racing. After a good week of training in Mallorca at the end of March it was back to uni and final preparations for exams in May. Due to exams I wasn’t racing much until the end of May but I still managed to get a few races in.

The first was the St Helens CRC Bickerstaffe road race, I had raced at Bickerstaffe before and really liked the circuit. Its relatively flat squareish shaped circuit with a fast finish. It was my first race since my crash on the track so I was a little nervous about being back in a bunch so I took the first few laps to just IMG_2308 - Version 2 ease myself back in. The race had a few attacks but I managed to just sit in a follow the moves and was feeling pretty good entering the last few laps. With two laps left I moved up and was sitting in the front of the group. Coming into the straight before the finish line on the last lap there was a bit of a cross wind and so rides were overlapping slightly over most of the road. Suddenly a rider in front of me on the far left of the road decided to move to the right and collided with another rider who veered right and crashed, I then went straight into that rider and over the bars and onto my face… IMG_2309And so now I have matching scars on my chin and a new section of road rash right on top of the newly formed skin on my leg from the last crash. Luckily for me the paramedics at the race were able to patch me up and saved me from having to take another trip to a random English A&E

Unfortunately, unlike the last crash I didn’t have 2 weeks holiday to recover so I was up first thing on Monday for a 6 hour day of lectures and labs, which when you can’t stand on one leg very well tends to make things uncomfortable. After two heavy crashes I was a little nervous about getting back on the bike but after a few gentle riders with the uni boys I started to feel more confident on the bike again.

My next race was the BUCS 25 mile TT in Oxford, I’ve been doing a lot of time trail this year and this was my 2nd 25 mile TT so I was really happy to do a 5 minute PB on what was admittedly a very fast course. After that I had the Scottish Students 10 Mile TT Champs in Freuchie were I finished 2nd

Borthwick 1-2 at the Scottish Students TT Champs
Borthwick 1-2 at the Scottish Students TT Champs

followed by the Scottish 10 Mile TT Champs were I finished 3rd Junior. The latter was the day before my first university exam so for the next two weeks, bike riding was on hold temporarily. I am happy to say however, exams went well and I found out this week I successfully passed all my exams!

After exams I only had a few days to try and find my racing legs again before the Scottish Road Race Championships on the 22nd of May, the race was a tough one with a hilly and slightly confusing course. I was nervous about the race as there was both multiple Commonwealth Games riders and Olympic hopefuls in the race. The first 8kms of the 33km lap were all climbing followed by a descent into a sharp left turn followed by more decent and a left turn at about 15kms where the course started to climb again, after this it was pretty rolling the whole way to the finish. I made it to this point on the first lap of 2 but as the bunch hit the corner an attack went and I couldn’t hold the pace and slipped off the back. The rest of the race was a solo effort to finish. I wasn’t expecting much from the race so I’m happy with 26th overall and 4th junior considering I was nowhere near race fitness.26587857904_0719ff4a6f_o

After the champs I was lucky to have the opportunity to go back to Mallorca for a week to get my fitness back and attempt to get a tan with the lovely sunshine. After I got back I had two races the coming up the Scottish 25 Mile TT Champs on Saturday the 4th June and ERC womens race, Tour de Gladhouse on Sunday the 5th. This didn’t last long as the Scottish 25 Mile TT Champs were cancelled a few days before the race due to road works.

The Tour de Gladhouse was a round of the Scottish Womens Series and the first womens road race run by my own club that I’ve been able to race. The race was run on a tough 21km loop with nearly 1000m of climbing in the whole race. We raced over 4 laps so by the end, including the neutral zone the race was 90kms long. We rolled out of Eddleston just after 11am in glorious sunshine and as we had to ride the final climb to the finish in the neutral zone I made sure I was up front to make it as easy as possible and so I could get a clear run into the right hand turn off the main road. I stuck in the bunch for most of the first lap but lost out on the fast rolling section on the main road from Howgate to the Leadburn junction. I then formed a 3 rider group with Jess Millar and Emma MacLaren both riders from Johnstone Wheelers and we stuck together for the remaining 3 laps working well together. The race was the longest race I’ve done and I think the longest of the Scottish womens races. This combined with the climbing and heat made it a long day in the saddle, so I’m very proud of my team mate Eleanor Strathdee who finished 25th, it was her first road race on open roads and despite dropping her chain multiple times and having to ride on her own for parts of the race, she pushed on and even out-sprinted someone on the final climb to the finish!

I’d like to thank ERC for putting on the race and for all the club members who volunteered to help, it was so nice to race and have all the marshals cheering you on at every corner! I hope this start a long tradition of womens road races run by ERC!

Now I’ve moved back home to Edinburgh and getting my head down with training, I’m happy to say I’ve again been selected to ride in the Arctic Tour of Norway Hereos of Tomorrow Race, this year taking place in Bodø in August. This race will be one of my main aims for the season and I’m very excited for the opportunity and hope to better my performance from last year. In the short time I have a few crit races over the next few weeks and a road race down south at the end of the month. A big thank you to all the Junior teams sponsors as I would really struggle to manage all my racing without there support!

For my previous few blog posts please see: http://emmaborthwick.blogspot.co.uk