Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Duncan Sparrow RR - Pimbo - 'The Jewel of the North'

Duncan Sparrow RR - Pimbo - 'The Jewel of the North' 

It was inevitable, the first race of the year was going to come round sooner or later, whether you wanted it to or not, whether the legs were spritely or leaden, you were racing!
Its fast becoming a bit of a tradition is Pimbo, as the first race of the season; Clayton Velo has always aroused suspicion with its February date - why would anyone forego a Buckden run over a race? Eddie Soens is too much of a large, mixed variety to take seriously. Plus the commisaires always feel so stern at that race.

It was the first outing on the KTM too, and the very, very eagled eyed ones amongst you will notice the rubber band on the handlebars: we'd run out of electrical tape and didn't check we had any before fitting the Supacaz bartape.
Needless to say, the bike is rapid. I had a good wheelset in and im approaching the lightest I've ever been, but regardless, when the power was applied, the bike duely and eagerly reacted.

So onto the actual race- I was 7th reserve so there was a bit of doubt on whether I'll get to ride, but the poor forecast pointed my chances in the right direction. It rained, and was cold, and I heard it was worse than last year's Tour of the Reservoir, but I've ridden and raced in much worse so didn't think much of it. It was cold though, but I soon warmed up in the car afterwards.

I got onto the start line with 2 minutes to spare as I got ready after a confirmed ride, and off we went! As soon as the first pedal stroke was complete all nervousness had evaporated and I was loving it.
The race was shorted by several laps to account for the weather, but this didn't phase anyone and attacks were thick and fast. The race, however, had a completely different dynamic to last year as there weren't any huge stars that had targets on their backs allowing the lesser known riders to slip away.
With every attack, there was an established team on the front bringing it back. I tried attacking with people from these teams, or from completely unknown local clubs, but alas, everything came back!

The was definitely no lack of trying from myself, or the team, who were participants in most moves.
And so the race came to a bunch sprint, the first for myself at Pimbo and fuck how I love a good argy bargy bunch sprint! Leaning on people, moving them out of the way, finding the lines, mouthing off at people blocking you in. Its great, and all firmly in a racing context. Gets the adrenaline flowing.
Team mate Fraser Rounds led out more or less the entire last lap, thinking he had another teammate on his wheel, but only someone with a similar kit! This rider went on to take a very well deserved win.
Myself, was a a bit further back than I liked and counted around 15 riders in front of me at the finish, but my performance in the race makes me believe I have a half decent season in front of me.
Our next race is the Jim Rodgers memorial at Dolphinholme on Sunday. 

Photos kindly used by permission from PCS Photography.

And as always, none of this would be possible without our sponsors: give Team KTM UK a follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Looking Forward, Reflection

Now's the time to refocus, settle down and get back into the swing of pre-season training. No confirmation as yet on teams, but it appears I'll be stepping back to the regional team level, racing the Premier Calendar and Elite Circuit Series events as and when I can. This will depend on access and affordability, as race entries are far from cheap and if I want to get that contract I need to demonstrate I am competitive in as many different types of races as possible, as consistently as possible.
I have also applied for Dave Rayner funding for the summer of 2017, but being first year out of U-23 I am not entirely confident I'll be granted it.

All this leaves me at an unprecedented situation that I've battled to dissect and analyse. I knew my season wasn't stellar but I won an Elite race with a few pros and performed strongly in the first few races of the season, before fatigue and stress from constant commuting and work got to me.
The middle part of the season was spent adjusting to fatigue and dropping the riding and racing for a few months to help cope, physically, but more than anything, mentally also.
The last third of the season I picked my training up again, focusing on quality, rather than quantity, of training. This led to a few DNFs in the Prems before the Nationals, but form started coming back on the Nationals weekend. In this race I spent a lot of time in the cars, not through lack of fitness but because I was constantly ferrying gels and water bottles to teammates as it was a pretty hot day. Towards the end of the race I attacked the bunch and stayed away, in no mans land, to the outskirts of Stockton, where I was reeled back in and a few miles later the bunch was pulled out of the race as the time gap to the leaders was too great to allow us onto the finishing circuit.
After this, I had a few decent finishes in town centre races but the one race I truly started to feel like myself again, Stafford Kermesse, I crashed out on a gravelly corner that hadn't been swept. I tried to get back into the race but fell pretty hard, so had to pull out.
The latter months of the season were dominated by timetrialling, with myself consistently knocking big chunks of time out of my PBs as I improved my position and fitness.

So a season of ups, down, and another lift upwards towards the end. Whilst I had failures I believe it was still fairly evident I was still a strong rider who had an unlucky half-season through fatigue and depression.

However, one has to constantly look forward and not dwell on past failures. Im motivated and looking forward to the start of next season. As a first year senior rider, Im starting to get to the 'desperate' end of the motivation spectrum and I think I have to set a deadline for myself, either next year or the year after, to get a pro contract with an income or stop flogging a dead horse and hang up my racing wheels.
It feels shit when I see riders much younger than myself getting on bigger teams as I ask myself 'what am I doing wrong?'. Having started cycling in my mid-teens, from a working-class and non-athletic family, I didn't exactly have many advantages on my fellow competitors. I didn't let that put me off though and I picked the brains of the local elites, read the training articles and did the hours on the bike. I tried not to dwell on that most savage of words 'genetics', as it feels too much of an unfair advantage to have if you are gifted with them and are described as 'talented'. However, as I train and race and see myself getting overtaken, genetic advantage becomes something that lingers on the mind more and more, and especially in the last few weeks.

So, to summarise; as I've looked for team, analysed my season and observed riders overtake me, I've gone through a maelstrom of emotions. Most people I talk to are supportive and still appear to have faith in my potential, but I worry and have periods of self-doubt. I'm restless for the new season and want to perform better than before, getting a string of top 10's in National A races and hopefully winning a race or two in Belgium, before capping next season off with a pro contract. Only time will tell, and I have to accept whatever hand I am dealt.

Thanks of reading. Polish.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Catch Up

This blog hasn't been updated for a while, and with the season and my placement year being over, I have a bit of spare time to update this regularly. I think the best place to start is to go back to the beginning of 2015 when I first got my power meter and started haphazardly training with it using information I had randomly pried form the internet.
The prevailing concept was to acquire a 'base' matching that of the average power of races, with maximum power numbers referring to the famous TrainingPeaks 'power-to-weight' profile chart. This fairly basic training got me a few race wins, upwards of 300 BC points in the season and a spot on the National Elite team Wheelbase Altura MGD.

2016 brought with it a change in circumstances that, in the end, ended up being detrimental to my cycling performance. However, I still believe I improved as a rider, albeit not as much as I was capable of.

Coming into 2017, Im re-energized, and re-motivated. As of going to print, I have no team lined up for the next season, but Im fairly confident in my ability to step up and compete at national level, with a very keen eye for a professional contract. Only time will tell what happens.

Thanks for reading, Pete.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Thwaites Brow

The climb of Thwaites Brow is one of those hidden, rarely spoken of gems of an ascent that mostly the older cyclists know of. I first found it not by word of mouth, but scouring over a map looking for squiggly lines over dense contour lines. I rode out and spend a good fifteen minutes cycling round an industrial looking for the start of it! Taking a right hand turn into what looked like a builders yard greeted me with a behemoth of a cobbled climb!
Cycling round Keighley, Haworth and Hebden Bridge for a good portion of my life has left me with an intimate knowledge of those shaky roads. So much so that when riding over cobbles I dont think about Flanders or Roubaix but just cobbles, similiar to when one rides on tarmac.

Follow that 'Unsuitable for HGVs' sign.

 The climb thats straight away with no easy bit to warm the legs up on. Just round that corner the road rears up to 20%.

Hairpin one and two. The road is falling into disrepair and rather than fix the cobbles the council does a haphazard job with ashpalt and concrete.

Due to the steepness of the climb you quickly gain altitude, with the view opening up nicely as you do.

 The end of the cobbles sneak you on quickly. Look for the tiny football pitch! Whilst the end of the cobbles, it isnt the end of the climb, which continues all the way to the pub. If you really want the full experience, continue past the pub, down a slight descent and turn left onto Harden Road. This takes you up to the top of St Ives and rewards you with amazing views over Ilkey Moor, Rombalds Moor and out towards the Dales.

Location: Keighley
Length: 0.4 mile (cobbles) 0.8 mile (to pub) 1.5 mile ( to Harden Rd)
Average Gradient: 15%, 10%, 7%
Max Gradient: 25% (inside hairpin)

This Year Thus Far

I'm happy to say that my efforts and achievements during the previous year's season didn't go unnoticed. I applied to the Dave Rayner Fund and the kind folks at the charity have agreed to sponsor me for three months in Belgium during the summer. The Fund supports aspiring riders living in Britain and Ireland by sponsoring them to live and race abroad where the passion for racing an cycling is woven into the fabric of society, especially in Belgium. I'm very grateful for the support and belief the fund has invested in me.
In the off season Dirtwheels ceased to be and local bike superstore All Terrain Cycles have taken me under their wing. In addition to high quality Endura Equipe team kit they have also given me the Giant Advanced SLR 1 as the team bike. Initial thoughts about the bike are good. It climbs well and handling is superb. I have yet to test it out in the bunch sprints and no doubt the Cipo has set the bar high.

Meeting my new team mates.
University is now winding up and lectures have finished with the main exam season approaching fast in May. Base training has finished and speed work has begun. A bit late in the year I know but I've been having to rearrange my life around university and studying. I finally think I've struck a balance.
I'll begin racing soon, both time trial and road. My Cipollini RB1000 has been converted into a TT bike and I aim to break the into the coveted 19 minute league for a ten mile.

That's me up to date now and I hope to see some of you out on the roads, circuits and pubs!

Whilst searching for unique roads to cycle over, I noticed there is a distinct lack of information out there on the Internet, made more alarming by the fact that the Tour is coming to Yorkshire this year. Surely the organisers would have pointed out some special roads for the many tourist cyclists that will descend onto God's own county. Every so often I'll write a post about a special road that deserves the attention of cyclists after a challenge. Out for now!