July has been a significantly more relaxed month. June was an awesome month but I needed some down time. After National RR Champs my back was pretty battered and my physio had recommended some time off to recover. I finish up that block of racing with Stafford Kermesse where I managed to position myself well for the first 15 of 20 laps, not doing much work and just following the right wheels. I felt good and was looking to make a move later in the race. Unfortunately I never got the opportunity as I slipped back going in to the final 5 laps, got blocked in pretty solidly and couldn’t move up on the narrow Shugborough roads. By that point I was hammering myself every lap out of the hairpin and up the climb just to stay in there. On the last 2 laps I had a few close calls going up the climb, riding in to the back of riders peeling off the front. I got round but definitely not my best performance.

After this I headed off to Abersoch in North Wales for a nice week of unstructured smashing round Snowdonia climbs. The Mrs had the luxury of sitting on my wheel all week, which I hear is great fun because of how smooth I ride with no surges at all. There were no hissy fits or moods because of this. It definite helped the morale to not worry about racing and just ride my bike for the fun of it, and have some beers too.

I’d been considering the National 10 and 25 mile TT for a while, but hadn’t managed to get myself a TT bike sorted. Thankfully I have very generous friends and Jered Alcock kindly leant me his Scott Plasma 3 TT bike for a few months. It’s a sweet bike, Ultegra Di2, Enve bars etc etc, so I had no excuses with my Enve 8.9 and disc. I jumped in at the deep end, making the trip over to Tring with my housemate Ken to ride the F11/10, supposedly one of the fastest courses south of the legendary V718 in Hull. I’d been rushing all day to adjust the bike to fit me and was still messing about 30 minutes before I was due to start. I didn’t really know what time I’d do but I had to beat Tipper’s benchmark of a low 19, especially considering he’s a terrible tester. I went out at 400w and soon figured out that wasn’t going to happen. I knocked it back a notch, recovering on the gift hill, building to the final roundabout and hammering the final 3km back in. I caught Ken with about 500m to go and absolutely nailed it to the finish line. Coming in with a 18:37. A big PB and as it turned out, a course record too, taking Steve Irwin’s 18:39 record. Watts were 376w average, so not great but I couldn’t complain at the time! Ken came in at a 19:42 and Tim Allen with a 19:59! Some decent times all round.

After a relatively consistent week on the bike, I rocked over to the GP of Wales, the final prem of the year. We had a 4 strong team riding, but the course was pretty grim. It was a case of get to the front, ride the climbs hard and don’t get dropped. Objection #1 didn’t quite happen and I was soon sucking wheel hard. I was struggling on the climbs but did what I could to move up. 45km in I had the luxury of dropping my (WattShop DirtyFast) chain going in to a climb, ideal. Plenty of abuse heaped on me as I pulled up in the middle of the road. I threw it back on, chased hard to get back on, made it 1k later and almost immediately a huge crash happened. A car had made its way on to the course on a blind downhill bend. Jon Mould had ended up going through the wind screen and the rest of the peloton funnelled around the car. I had too much speed to wipe off. I locked my rear wheel up and rode straight in to the back of Ryan Perry, flipping off the bike and landing in somebodies spokes, rolling off in to a big pile of nettles. Great. My knee had taken a good hit from the spokes and a quick look at my bike showed both my wheels were done for. I decided then that was my day over, Colin Sturgess of MetalTek kindly racked my bike and I was heading back to HQ. The race had been neutralised and after some pain killers and managing to wangle some wheels from neutral service I decided to get back on and finish the race. After a neutralised climb we did one more lap of the big circuit, where I was promptly spat up the big climb. I kept riding hard over the top, ending up in a decent chase group on to the finishing circuit. Myself and Liam Bromiley somehow ended up off the front of this chase group in a futile attempt to bridge the 2-3 minute gap to the lead bunch. After 3 laps on the finishing circuit we got pulled as the gap wasn’t closing. Game over, hard race, no luck and definitely not my day.

The big race of July was Corley Cycles 3 day. I’ll try to fly through this else I’ll be here forever.

Stage 1 – rapid crit. Ended up off the front with Will Fox and Jacob Hennessey after us all going for a prime, although that was quickly shut down. Teammate Ben got himself up off the front solo for 20 mins with Spirit Bikes all chasing him hard. It came back together with a few laps to go. I managed to move up to the top 10 going in to the final lap but Tom Mazzone dropped his chain with 800m to go, it split the pack with 3 Spirit guys getting a gap. I went pretty late in the sprint but moved up to 5th. Points, prize money and only losing time from the bonus seconds.

Stage 2 – Standard race with Ben: relentless attacking until he got up the road. Which he eventually did, and I followed wheels of guys bridging up. 7 of us were away. 2 PX Northside, 3 Pedal Heaven Academy, 1x Army and 1x PMR@Toachim House. Unfortunately the lion’s share of the work was being done by myself and Ben, with PH Academy unwilling or unable to work. Unfortunately Rich Jennings of Army CC didn’t want to join in. I know Rich was probably one of the strongest guys in the race, so it was a shame he didn’t want to put it in to the road. We got the gap up to over a minute, and if a few others were willing to work we would’ve stayed away. Back in the peloton Spirit Bikes were drilling it to shut us down but were hardly bringing the gap down. With 3 laps to go we were shut down as nobody wanted to work, which was stupid but it happens. I surfed the pack and followed attacks near the end but rolling in with the peloton. My team mate Ben took the stage win, in a surprise sprint.

Stage 3 – I was pretty annoyed after Stage 2 and had plenty of motivation to smash the 5 mile TTT in the afternoon. Bottle cages off, overshoes on, caffeine’d up. The course was 2 laps of the Stage 2 course. We went out fast and I hit the drag hard. A few glances down saw north of 500w all the way up the climb. The team kept the pace hard over the top and down the descent. I hit the climb again with absolutely everything, emptying it over the top and hanging on right to the finish. 8:53, 1st place, BOOM. Taking 2 seconds over Spirit, Pedal Heaven and Wellingsborough. 446w, pretty hard!

Stage 4 – Same story at Stage 2. Ben up the road, followed wheels, buried in the break, caught with a lap to go, pack surfed and finished in the bunch. We rode this totally wrong. We had the firepower to dominate the stage late on but burnt it all up in the break. Lesson learnt but a shame to not take the overall GC win. We took 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 10th and 14th on GC and 2 stage wins. Solid team result but not the one we hoped for.

The following week I made the trip back to Tring for another pop on F11/10. Conditions were much better but my legs were pretty battered from the stage race. I went out more controlled but never managed to truly pick it up. I came in at 18:30, a PB and breaking my own course record. Ken came in for a 19:15 PB in 2nd place and Molly was the fastest woman in 22:09, also a PB despite taking a wrong turn! My watts were 10w down on 2 weeks before, which is a shame as the maths said I could’ve done 18:15-18:20 with the same power. I’ve entered an open on V718 in a few weeks’ time so a 17 might be possible with good conditions…

The day after was the National Crit champs in Birmingham. The course was a square 1.1km flowing circuit with a short descent and climb each lap. The pace went out hard, probably because I decided to go out like a headless chicken with a 2 lap solo break from lap 2. This burnt up most of my matches and I spent the rest of the race wheel sucking and trying to stay near the front. I felt good near the end but struggled to move up. The amount of dive bombing and generally dodgy was riding was as bad as normal; I guess I need to get used to it. I rolled in with the bunch in 36th place. An okay result and I’d had my go but thankfully that is crit riding done for the year.

Sorry for the enormous monthly review again, August probably won’t be much better. Hope you enjoyed it. Thank you again to all of my sponsors, your support is invaluable!