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Reports and photographs to follow as the season progresses

Don Stoute Memorial RR - Barbados - Jan 2016

The OVW colours were on display in a road race today when I rode the Don Stoute Memorial RR. The race started 30 minutes late ( Barbados time) and prayers were said at the start and I was identified as 'a rider from Britain' to the 50- strong field!  Thankfully we had a rolling road closure and an ambulance in attendance.  It's a while since I have ridden a RR but you never forget your tactics, so I made sure I was near the front of the mixed field of Juniors ( Skittish), Men ( fast) and Masters ( Me). 6 of us got away and the rest of the field were left behind.  We were a bit ragged so I had to give them all a chaingang - style telling off and then we worked together better.  Then I began to realise I had a problem. I was riding with 2 bottles ( one more than usual!) and everybody else was getting a fresh one each lap.  The temperature was 84 degrees and the humidity was high.  I decided to quit before I got heat stroke which turned out to be a good idea as I really suffered on the ride back to the hotel.  Will plan it better if I get the chance to do it again! Steven M

The Betty Pharaoh Memorial Legstretchers Road Race - March 2016

Read more at https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/events/details/139977/The-Betty-Pharoah-Memorial-Legstretchers-Road-Races#K6RePiWhdthATijV.99

Nice and sunny this morning, Short shorts on and over shoes left at home. Had no clue what to expect today, although Steven had given me a few helpful pointers that got me through the experience (I listened to most of them!). A bit more stop start than I expected and lots of freewheeling, couldn't really get a rhythm going. I was basically in the cheap seats most of the race trying to avoid a visit to the bike shop. I knew I should be up in the first 10-20 riders but this was easier said than done! I managed to avoid 2 crashes on the first lap one which was a close call, that was the worst thing about the race and really threw me. Felt weird passing riders on the floor and not stopping but that's racing I guess. The race was stopped at the end of the first lap, black flag. Everyone got told to sort it out, before we started Lap 2.

Second lap was a bit more sensible, I felt a bit more comfortable on this lap and started to move up on the outside and following some wheels. A group of riders split somewhere around Death Valley on this lap. Coming off the roundabout at Llantwit I decided to move up to the front and had a punt at catching the riders coming into Cowbridge, it was too windy and a really stupid move (I should have listened to Steven's advice, but it was fun while it lasted!). The group caught me and I stayed at the front and recovered coming into Lap 3.

There was another close call on lap 3 with a crash along the coast road. I got a feeling at this stage that everyone had been saving themselves for the final climb, and waiting for the group in front to pop one by one. Coming onto the A48 on the final climb I tried to move up on the outside but just didn't have the legs in the last couple of hundred meters and popped off the back of the main group. I lacked fitness and had to move from too far back at the wrong time. The group surged forward and I couldn't recover enough to go again. In the end I came in 18sec behind the winner in 32nd place.

Well done to the Bristol rider who won it Ross Phelps.

I think I enjoyed it, it's not nice being around riders coming off their bikes, but the experience of riding behind the cars and having the motorbikes whizzing past and crowds supporting you along the way was worth it.

The pace of the thing threw me as I thought it would have been a lot smoother by the second lap with the pace increasing to drop people off the back. You could easily swing out to the right and ride up to the front, and on every climb the pace just seemed to fall away. Saying that I was just getting dragged around for most of the race so who am I to judge!

Thanks to Cardiff Ajax for organising a really well run event. All the staff were really helpful and friendly at the HQ and the event was really well marshalled.

I'm having some beers next week, a rethink, then back on it. Have a good time in Mallorca!  Paul N

A really good write-up Paul. Well done for having the guts to have a go at road racing and describing it so well. I look forward to reading your next report. Mark P

Results from British Cycling website, here

Maindy Easter Prep 2 - March 2016

Well done to Neil Poulton who came 8th in the race at Maindy on Saturday I believe, No results up yet but a breakaway of six riders crossed the line first, leaving Neil and one other to push off the main group with a lap or so to go.

Fair play to Neil for trying an early getaway with one other rider which unfortunately didn't work out, and bridging a large gap later on in the race just as the group sat up and gave up the chase. Great to see an OVW rider mixing it up and having a busy race! Hope this tallies with Neils experience I was getting distracted by how cold I was by the end!

Nice to finally meet Neil, turns out I had already met him at the Wednesday and Friday sessions at Newport Velodrome but we never thought to ask each other what club we ride for!  Paul N

Thanks Paul, great to meet you too...and really appreciate the support. Thanks for the write up, that is my rough recollection through the pain ;-)

It was a decent race, just shame I couldn't get in that break that stayed away...never mind!!

It was good practise for next week when I'm racing in the Good Friday race at Castle Combe.  Hopefully will be a little easier in a 4th cat only race!

Thanks Again, Neil P

Have a good ride its a nice easy smooth course. The sprint finish often ends up in a mass pile up....so if you can make a break before then it would be ideal.

Would be good taster race; there are lots of places can usually get one on the day? Chris G

Results from British Cycling website, here

Castle Coombe Easter Classic - 25th March 2016

"Enjoyed" a very twitchy race at Castle Combe today with lots of 'hold the line' calls etc :-) I race there a lot 10-12 years ago and not much has changed!!

It was a beautiful sunny day, ideal conditions really.  The race average speed was 26mph and with a stiff headwind on the home straight it was impossible for one person to get away and so it proved...I did give it a try after about 10-12 minutes, but to no avail!

There was a Prime around half way which I managed to take and then got on with the job of recovering and staying in the top 10-15 riders to stay out of trouble.

Unfortunately, I got the end of the race wrong and was in poor position for the sprint, which was really disappointing as I definitely had the form to win it!!  I was on the right of the bunch (for those who know the finish) with about 300-400m to go expecting some strong riders to sprint past, but they never came and the sprint opened up on the far left and I couldn't get in it...I had to sprint on my own on the right of the track, but there was too much ground to make up and ended up 5th.

A little frustrated, but happy with my form for the coming season...not to brag...but a weighty prize fund of £55 was handed to me at the end...I'm pretty sure that justifies an upgrade to Di2?? Not sure my wife will agree  :-\

Next race is at Maindy on the 13th I think? hopefully an improvement in tactics this time :)

hope to see some of you at future races Neil(Rhys)P

Great write up and well done on the result! Andy H

Nice result, let me know when you're at Maindy next and I'll and I'll try to pop along too. Paul N

Well done Neil thats a great result; getting round in one piece is an achievement. Chris G

Yes well done, great effort. Will have to come and watch you racing at Maindy on the 13th and sounds like you'll have Paul for company. Richard Bowmer

Thanks guys...there was a couple of crashes I think, but I just stayed up in the top 10-15 to try and stay out of it.  Difficulty is its a massive bunch of 100 riders with a wide variety of skills/experience levels, so always a bit of a lottery.

Paul...I'm already entered into the Rowe/King race at Maindy on the 13th, be good to race with you :-) hopefully be my last 4th cat race before moving up a bit! We can talk nearer to the time and meet up for a warm up etc :-) Neil(Rhys)P

 Rowe & King Summer Series Round 1 - 13th April 2016

Congratulations to Neil for coming third in tonight's race. It was all

a bit of a blur as it was well passed my bedtime (21:30 race start)

and I was under the influence of sweets and Caffeine for the event,

being my first crit I made sure to make as many mistakes as I could

to get them out of the system. Turn up on battered commuter steed

(although I had just put a new chain on it)... check. Go off the front

on the first lap then hang on in the wind on the outside for the

second... check. Go one lap too early on the intermediate sprint

... check. Go half lap too late for the sprint finish.

... check. Needless to say the commuter is now retiring on a high as

a Strava glitch recorded a max speed of 40.7mph on the final

straight (I'm taking that one!).

It was great fun nevertheless and I would recommend it to anyone

in the club who fancies a bash at racing but maybe apprehensive

about entering a road race. Especially those in team Etape! I'm not

entering next weeks race as it's on my birthday and I'm treating

myself to a track session instead, but will more than likely enter the

one after.

I'll leave it to Neil to fill in the rest of the details, judging by how

well he rode it he will have a better view of the race than me.

Big thanks to Richard for coming along and supporting us, really

appreciate the effort. Paul N

Thanks Paul for the write up and thanks to Richard for the support, was a good team effort :-)

Ironically, Paul going a lap early for the prime got the group nicely stretched out and I got in about 5th wheel and with 200 meters to go I attacked and manage to take it.

The rest of the race was more about staying out of trouble, coming to the end I went with a break of 4 that only ever had about 20-30 meters and was pretty much neutralised with 300m to go, the guy in front of me pulled off and I had no choice but to take a long one as I knew I had no gas left to slow down and go again...so I just went for it...if the line was 10 meters earlier I would have made it...but I just had nothing left and was tying up big time!! Felt like I was cycling on wet concrete for the last 50 meters!!

Really chuffed with 3rd though and I'll be moved up to 3rd cat now...will be a bit different in the 2/3/4 race next week! Neil(Rhys)P

Noel Jones 2/3/4 Road Race - 17th April 2016

Tough ride today, managed to get a ride off the list of reserves. The field was decided on ranking and was mainly composed of 2nd and 3rd cat riders I think there were only three of us riding 4th cat in the race. After the Betty I was not sure that road racing was for me, but I'll always try something twice... even putting my hand in the fire.

Thankfully the riding was much better than my previous race attempt and it felt quite sensible going around the course, there was one big climb on the course of 12% which we had to do on each of the six laps but apart from that it was relatively flat but quite technical (for me at least) on the top section of the course with a couple of 90 degree turns etc. Weirdly the climb was straightforward and not too intimidating. I kept falling behind more on the technical section on the flat part of the course and the decent after the climb. I had decided to ride this one towards the back of the group so didn't have that much of a view of what was going on, but in reality I would assume the front riders were smashing it up the climb and stringing everyone out so the pace dropped, same thing I guess on the technical sections riding fast through the corners trying to get away.

I was going OK until the penultimate lap where I got stuck behind some slow wheels on the climb and struggled to close the gap on the decent, I had four on my wheel on the decent and we worked together to keep the main group in sight. I kept saying at this point that I had nothing left but still managed to put big efforts in an come to the front (amazes me why some of the guys with us just looked around when it was time for them to step up, we were out the back at this stage!) True to form during a big turn on the front I missed a turn sign and me and the guy in second wheel had stuffed it right up. Just had my head down smashing it and the brain went into standby mode, just don't enter me into the Krypton Factor OK?

By that time we were out of the race anyway so we weren't that miffed. We did the final lap, had a good chin wag and swept up anyone we came across on the way. I was surprised to say I walked away from that with a smile on my face and ready to have another go. Sensible riding and a good pace too, no idea who won it but good on them as it was a tough race. By all accounts another mid life crisis smash up to the finish line. Paul N

Great report as always.        Should be ready for the Etape, at this rate! Andy H

Forgot to say thanks in the post to Cwmcarn for organising the event and Richard Hopkins for getting me a spot in the race. Organisation at the HQ was top and they seemed like a friendly bunch. Paul N

Well done Greg B

Great work Paul...sounds like a tough ride and a good one to have in the legs :-) Shame you won't be at the race on Wednesday, but jealous of your track visit!! Neil(Rhys)P

Well done Paul you looked like you were climbing well, perhaps a bit far back like you said.

Apparently the whole bunch (except the leading 2) was DQd so you should have finished in the points! Chris G

Thanks, looks like you're right Chris mass DQ. I enjoyed the climb it was tough at the top through the 12% section but I started to look forward to going into the red on every lap. Good for the confidence too as on the lower section I was really relaxed out of the saddle whilst there were riders flying backwards ripping their handlebars off. Probably got too complacent on the climb and should have used it as an opportunity to be comfortable on the descent and move up. My head wasn't in it on the weekend I kind of held on but didn't think I was giving it 100% either. Anyway onto the next… Paul N

Fine on the climb, losing position on the descent and technical section each lap."Same story for me every time I've ridden that course. I hate it, too narrow for a road race and moving the finish from the top of the climb was a very bad idea this year....as evidenced by widespread dangerous riding over the last 5k and mass DQ.

Good preparation for the l'etap Paul, though in that race the field will absolutely smash it over the first climb! I think that was Hamish of Ajax that followed you off the course. Perhaps it serves him right if he wasn't pulling his weight though it's very difficult to get back to a bunch when dropped anyhow. Even if you make it you tend to pay for the effort the next time the pace picks up. Well done. Rob J

When I scoped the course out I thought exactly the same thing Rob. I've forgot the guys name, but the Ajax rider was working his socks off. Had a chat with him afterwards top bloke. Paul N