RHC Lead up
This season I went from having a fairly quiet winter, with less distance and hours than normal, to a very good February to April period, with two training camps and many solid hours in London.
I had initially focused on building up tempo endurance with 2-hr+ rides, before dialling in my threshold with 10- and 20-min efforts. Mainly on hills in Tenerife and Girona.
Then, as Brooklyn approached, I went back to the local killing fields (Regent's Park) and did four types of workout.
· Two laps on (14 mins) and 1 lap off at threshold power (350W+) x 3
· Sprintervals: 3x15-sec sprints per lap x 5
· 1hr of chain gang/daisy chain at threshold level (350W+)
· Traffic light starting practice: Aim for red traffic lights and then practice the ‘clip-in’ for the start of qualifying/finals. Essentially an explosive start of 800W+ for 10 sec.
I also did the bulk of these sessions on my road bike, but gradually brought in the Quirk Cycles crit bike for the sprinterval sessions.
I mixed the sessions up depending on fitness, fatigue, weather and time restraints. This season will also be my first full season as a vegan athlete, so it will be interesting to see how my body adapts to recovery and energy levels for training.
The final week before flying out to New York was spent resting, reducing fatigue to a good level and ensuring my body was free of any training stress.
Having raced nearly 10 Red Hook Crits before, I knew the layout and structure of the day. So, I had my bike prepared the night before with correct gearing, rider chip, numbering etc. This helps reduce race day stress and keeps you in a positive mind set during what is always a hectic day.
I was starting from the third row for qualifying, so in the top 10. With the top 20 progressing straight to the final. I made a decent start off the line, but lost a few places in the opening lap. However, it's a 12-lap race, so I dug in and got myself adjusted to the course at race pace. My heat was stacked full of favourites, so the pace was high from the start. However, no-one managed to break away so the pack was 30 riders big and therefore quite sketchy. As the heat progressed, riders began to blow up and I moved forward into the top 20. I had my Garmin on the bike, but didn't look down once as was the nature of holding position and keeping the pressure on the pedals.
On to the final and 32 laps of hard fought racing. The start time was scheduled for 8.30pm so I gave myself a good half hour for a warm up. My usual routine is 15-20 mins at 200-250W and then increasing my heart rate to 170bpm+ three times. Before getting off the rollers and walking about a bit to stretch the legs and get the HR back to normal.
However, the women's race overran slightly and I was left with longer to warm up, so I went back for a jacket and some energy blocks before jumping on the rollers again. All the while keeping a keen eye on my team mates, Veronika and Johanna in the women's race. The weather had also started to close in with strong onshore wind picking up and impending grey clouds overhead.
So, to the start with the usual parade lap and then several long minutes on the start line, nervous as normal, but ready for a strong start. I managed a good one, clipping in straight away before settling into the pack. However, starting in 68th place meant I had a lot of traffic to get through, I know my strength is in the second half of a race, so I kept myself as calm as 180bpm will allow.
With fixed gear racing you don't get much rest compared with a roadie crit. The corners are actually your rest period, but then straight back up to 7-800W for the sprint out of each corner. So, it's important to know when to use your power in a race such as Red Hook. There were times in the final where I was struggling to hold a wheel. However, I knew that if the rider ahead is struggling then even holding his wheel will not keep me with the pack. At these times, it's hard to explain how and why you keep going, but something deep inside me loves these internal conflicts. Your body screams out to stop, legs like sandbags, dry heaving lungs full of sand and your head buzzing from side to side. But there’s no time to contemplate, it's do or die! React or get spat out the group and ultimately drop out of the race.
The last 5-6 laps got seriously wet with sheets of rain pouring down, this meant that cornering was sketchy to say the least. The pace notably slowed up and riders took more caution. I had seen the rain coming before the start so opted for lower tyre pressure than normal; 65/70 psi. But still, it felt slippery and my bum was firmly attached to the saddle until after each apex and then I would pick off riders on the straights where possible.
By the end of 32 laps, I was cooked and ready to finish. I eased off slightly as it's not as if I’m sprinting for a top 10. I came home drenched from head to toe, but satisfied with 34th place; 34 places taken.
Massive thanks to all the sponsors of the team and the guys at Jam Cycling for their continued support.
Moving forward I’ll be getting back on the road crit scene in London and then looking to improve my 5- to 15-second powers.
· Quirk Cycles ELF crit frame - 54'
· Halo Carbaura wheels
· InfoCrank Track power meter - 165mm
· Gear ratio 48/14
· Fizik saddle and finishing kit
· Cole Coatings paint job
· Vittoria Corsa Gumwall tyres - 25mm