Sunday, 2 October 2011

Braveheart Blog - End of Season

Since my last blog, at the start of August, I won the Border trophy race down in Northumberland which was a great event on a super tough course.

The rest of my team and I did our best to help Gary Hand win the Super Six overall title at the last round in Falkirk, well done to him and the guys for that. I lost grip and came off on a dodgy roundabout just before the finish which was a pain but I came off with just a few grazes.

I hit a wee bit of a bad patch later on health-wise, so I did my best at the Scottish Crit champs to help Davy Lines win as I knew I wasn’t capable of winning because the state I was in. It was a well deserved victory for him, well done Davie!

The main break of the day
The sprint

I had my last two Premiers at the end of August, big end of season goals for me.
The Twinings Pro/Am race was a bit of a disaster, since on the first lap, I got knocked off my bike in a big pile up at 40mph and never got back on to the bunch after that. I was lucky to get no serious injuries, so I was up for the next weekend’s Premier, Richmond GP, especially as I was feeling healthier and stronger than the past weeks before.

Next up was the Richmond GP Premier. My favourite course of the season with its mega hills like the 4km, 25%, Buttertubs climb and killer finishing circuits.

A strong break of 4 stayed clear to fight for the win. The Endura Racing team missed out on the move, so the whole race was about chasing the break. I was in the large chasing group and sprinted into to 15th place on the cobbled finish. It was a good race for me as I was strong on the big climbs but it was tough getting into a good position to sprint out. Something I will be working on for next year.

The bunch on the Buttertubs climb

Bibby and  Teirnan Locke, the best climbers in the Premiers this year,  trying to get away from the pack

On the tough finishing circuits

The winner from the break - Andy Tennant 

Crossing the line 15th
Well after the Richmond, that was my season pretty much over. I did  the cool, well organised Peebles Pro/Am  the week after. British guys from down south were riding and it was won by an impressive ride by Evan Oliphant. I came 8th.

I’m happy with my progression this year. I am a lot stronger than I was from last year and I am able to compete in the top Premiers now.

I want to thank the Braveheart Fund, and everyone who helped contribute to the fund as it really makes a big difference helping travel to the big races down south and racing abroad like my Basque country trip in July. Also thanks for the support and praise from everyone, it’s much appreciated.

Thanks for reading my blogs

Some videos:

Richmond GP

Border Trophy RR - Finish Sprint at 2 mins on video

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Braveheart Blog - Basque Racing

In July, I travelled over to the Basque Country to do some racing and make the most of my good form when there is not much on back in the UK. It was a brilliant trip, well worth it. I really loved the terrain, the people and the racing.

I stayed for two weeks with an U23 rider, Ander Barrenechea and his family in Galdakoa. They were very kind and generous. They took me to see two stages of the Tour in the Pyrenees which was awesome! I would like to thank them very much for everything they did and for letting me stay with them.

At the races I was riding for Ander’s team, Ibaigane Opel. The managers were really helpful, sorting out all my entries and licences I needed and during the races where they would support me for feeding etc.

I was really happy how I got on in the races especially in the two elite races I did, where I got 10th and 14th.They were fast and furious going up and down, and had a lot of strong riders from many different countries around the world.


My first Elite race was the day after my U23 race. It was a hilly 95 mile Classic in Beasaingo, on a cool, really wet day - similar to Scotland!

It was a really big event as there were lots of Elite teams from across Spain, many of them feeder teams for the professional teams like Caja Rural and Andalucia.

It was really fast from the gun, similar to a Premier calendar. After the first two climbs, the bunch was down from 150 riders to only around 40. After that, on the fourth climb, a break of 8 got away and I bridged across to it on the descent.

We worked well together and got well clear of the bunch. By the time we hit the last two climbs my legs started to struggle as everyone was attacking each other. The last one in particular was a killer.

I finished 10th, 2nd U21. Really happy considering the riders I was competing with.

The winner, Jose Belda, drives the bunch on first climb and rides away from everyone on the second - I'm in the green/blue jersey second from the right

The bunch gets decimated on the 3rd climb 

I made the break after the fourth climb and we gained a good gap from the rest

The Finish


My 2nd elite race was the following weekend on much better day. It started in Bayonne, France and finished in Pamplona, Spain which is on a high plateau.

Caja Rural, one of the best teams in Spain, dominated the race. On the main climb that goes up to 800 m altitude, there was 9 of them drilling at the front. The bunch got whittled down until there were about 40 of us left.

The last 30km were very fast as they were trying to catch a lone French elite who was a minute ahead. Surprisingly he survived to win. I finish 14th after my legs went 400 m to the line

In my two U23 races I got 16th then 8th place. They reminded me of my Junior racing as they were non stop attacking all day.

My experience in the Basque Country was brilliant. It gave me a good insight into racing abroad other than Belgium and the system of progression in the Basque country. I definitely want to go back in the future.

My next target is the last two premiers at the end of the month, Twinning PRO-AM tour and especially the Richmond GP as the course suits me well.


The publicity caravan comes past us as we wait for the riders on the Luz Ardiden

We made the most of the free jersey's as it was freezing 3km from the top!

Sanchez and Venendert are the first to arrive - the Basque fans were going mental at this point!

I messed up taking a pic of the favourites but here's George Hincapie..

Luis Leon Sanchez and Jens Voigt

Robert Gesink

The Grupetto

Me and Ander at the border on the way home

Stunning views of the Pyrenees


Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Braveheart Blog - East Yorkshire Classic Premier

Sunday was the East Yorkshire Classic Premier Calendar in Beverley.

I was feeling really fit and strong as I had just come back from some brilliant racing during my trip to the Basque Country. I’ll write about that in another blog.

July’s been a great month, form and fitness wise, so much better than I was in the spring. This race was full of power climbs, a bit different from the long climbs I rode in the Basque Country.

The first 20 miles of the race was on big wide, fairly flat roads, so it suited the big guys of the bunch more. My plan was just to keep myself out of trouble until a crucial turn off at the 23 mile mark, where I had to be at least in the top 15 as it goes into single track, undulating, country roads, which is a magnet for bunch splits. I have to thank the guys in my team for their help in doing that.

Further on, the race went into the 3 hilly laps, the highlight of the race with some sticky climbs and fast, technical descents to contend with. I did my best to be in as many moves as I could. It was only a matter time before the bunch whittled down to around 30 riders with the attacking pace being set. I was in there making sure I didn’t use too much strength and energy.

During lap 2, I made it into the winning break of the day. It contained most of the strongest riders in the race. More importantly, all the top teams were represented so there was little chance of us been chased down by the bunch. There were 14 other riders with me and 3 each from the Endura, Rapha and Motorpoint teams.

Guys like Tiernan-Locke and Bibby stepped up the pace on each of the last two major hills. Everyone was suffering and on their limit. Cramp was starting to set in my legs and I was forced to pace myself on the climbs, I was dropped with a few others but we were able to chase back to the group on the descent.

The 2nd hill, the 16%
Nunburnholme climb at 70 miles, was the most severe of the whole race. As soon as we hit the climb, I knew my legs wouldn’t keep up with the top guys. 4 or 5 of us got distanced from the leading group.  I did the best to limit my losses and I pressed on as hard as I could after the summit.

I grouped up with Andy Tennant of Rapha, Gallagher of Cycle Premier and Yanto Barker of Pendragon. We held the group ahead at 30 secs for 5 or so miles but after that, the leaders went well out of sight.

We had over 4 mins over the bunch behind, but we had 30 miles of racing still to go so we had to keep ploughing on as fast as we could.

After reaching the finishing circuit, two and a half laps to go, we were starting to toil. The laps don’t look much but when you’ve been flat out for 20miles, they were a killer. The finish couldn’t come any quicker.

During the last lap, a motorbike guy came up and warned us the bunch was chasing hard about 45 secs behind us. After so much effort I had put in, no way was I letting myself be caught. I gave it everything.

By the finish, I crossed the line 3 secs ahead of the pack. Close one!

Jeremy Hunt of Team Sky comfortably won the sprint for first place and I finished 15th, 2nd U23. Completely gubbed but happy with my performance.


Video of the race:

Link to Endura's report:

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Braveheart Blog - British Champs and Arthur Campbell Super 6

Two weeks ago I was racing the British Senior Road Championships near Newcastle. My target was to get up there for the U23 title.

The course was 3 big laps taking in the steep Ryals climb and then 4 smaller laps on rough draggy roads to cover over 122 miles in total and with most of the British Protour riders as well, it was the longest and toughest race I’ve ever done.

The Ryals climb
Team Sky were in a league of their own and were well away after the first hour. So after that it was race within a race with U23 title still wide open. The remaining Sky riders teamed up with the 100%ME academy guys and Endura were riding for their man Scott Thwaites.

I was going strong, not getting caught out of any splits. I made it into the front group when the bunch split in two. The latter bunch got pulled out before completing the last lap. 

However, in the final 2 laps of the smaller circuit, about 20 miles to go, the efforts took its toll on my legs and eventually I couldn’t go with the groups that got away.

I ended up sprinting in for 31st, a couple of minutes down on them and 4 mins down on 5th place and first domestic rider, Ian Bibby.

Although I didn’t medal in the U23, I was happy just to finish it as it was the hardest race of the year, a lot of good riders didn’t make it to the finish. The more races at this level I get to do, the better I will improve.

The team after the race
Arthur Campbell Super Six

Last weekend was the Arthur Campbell RR hosted by my old club, the Glasgow Wheelers.

After an early breakaway of the day got reeled back in by a bunch, I eventually made it into the winning break of 8, going into the last lap. The group included my teammates Davy Lines and Gary Hand, Matt Kipling of Team Raleigh, ex Kiwi champ Jason Allen of Subway/Giant and two Herbalife riders.

We were rolling through on the last lap after gaining minute on the remaining pack. But this gap was gradually coming down however a super effort from Davy Lines in the last couple of miles secured our break staying away.

After that, I attacked early on to see if I could go it alone but it came back. We were all looking around at each other with half a mile to go, knowing it would come down to a sprint. One the Herbalife riders took it up until the last corner, when I led out the sprint with about 200m to go.

I crossed the line first with Jason Allan a close 2nd and Herbalife’s Andrew Hawdon taking 3rd.
It was a great team effort, the guys really rode well as a team and that’s me now got my elite licence so it was a really good day. Well done to David Lang and the Wheelers for putting on a great event.

Here's a video of the race: 

Up next for me is a stage race in the Spanish Basque Country which should be brilliant.


Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Braveheart Blog - June Races

The races at the end of May/start of June were a bit up and down for me. I was suffering with my usual allergies at this time of year. Not been able to breathe enough to recover from my efforts during races and I have been plagued with bad luck in the mechanical side of things.

didn't go that great at the Scottish champs, got caught out when a break went away early on and then having to change my wheels twice before getting little room to make a chasing group. It was a losing battle but I didn’t give in. The Ryedale GP didn’t go much better as my rear mech snapped off after 95 mile, putting me out the race. Things started to get better after that.

Anderside Classic

The Anderside Classic was a week later. I was feeling stronger and healthier than I had been a few weeks ago which was a good thing as the end of June is the biggest part of the season for me.

The race was straight forward enough as a small break was up the road including my teammate Davy Lines, and I bridged across Evan, Matt Kipling and a Stirling guy later on. We were all attacking as we headed over the Eaglesham Moors after finishing the circuits but the group kept coming back together.

My last break to get away was on a farm road descent but it was a bit dodgy as it was chucking it down by then. The course turned right onto a bigger road, I eased up preparing for the last couple of miles of cat and mouse, but was surprised when the finish appeared 75 meters round a blind bend. Evan saw it first and took it easily with Matt 2nd and myself 3rd.

It was a great course going down to Fenwick and Stewarton, then a couple of laps of last year’s Scottish champ’s course.

Peebles Criterium

During the week was the Peebles Tweedlove criterium. It was on a cracking minute a lap course with a rise before the last corner. There were brilliant crowds there as well.

The winning break

The race split in two around the half way mark and I got away with Callum Wilkinson who was going really strong, Scott McRae and Allan Clark with a few laps to go. I was second into the last corner and I sprinted away from them to take it by a couple of bike lengths. Allan was 2nd and Callum 3rd.

Tour of the Reservoir Premier Calendar

Last weekend was the Tour of the Reservoir Premier. I was feeling strong and really up for it, as the last two Premiers were ruined for me by mechanicals.  

I changed my tactics a bit from the Ryedale.

It worked out better as I was getting moves all the time; I even got in the winning move as it went away. But unfortunately, as I made the effort to get across to it, the toughest climb of the circuit was approaching. I was fine on the drag sections but I just hadn’t recovered enough to stay with them after turning onto the steepest part, so I blew up and got tailed off. I think in hindsight, I would have backed off slightly and then pushed on again when we were back on the drag section.

After that I pushed myself to get in most of the chasing groups, but I started to tire on the last lap. My day’s efforts were taking their toll on me. The bunch was flat out drag race across the dam to the finish and I crossed the line 21st, 44 seconds down on the winner.

I was happy with my performance though. I was always up there in the mix, rarely out the top 20 in the pack and getting into lots of moves. Just need some more races to get the results.

Here's a good video of the race from the BC website: 

Really looking forward the British champs next weekend, after that I’ve got the Arthur Campbell RR and then some Spanish racing!