24 April, 2013

The amazing disappearance of all the photos

Today I did over five hours, so this post is going to be succinct as I am relatively dehydrated and reasonably rouged. When I set off in the morning it was overcast and grey; two hours later it was 25 degrees and anything but, so I proceeded to sweat litres (in my winter tights) and get sun-burnt on my arms after ditching (literally) my longsleeve top. Anyway, it was a good ride in the end.

Last Sunday I did my first race back after my little heel injury hiccup and it was awesome to be back cruising in the bunch. Long story short I was third, having had my hands a little tied with my teammate up the road in a two-up breakaway. Unfortunately he was beaten in the sprint: cue the most unhappy looking podium goers in a while...

The reason for the title today is that we were up on stage for about fifteen minutes posing for photos in various sponsorship pleasing ways, which is a long time even for the French! And yet, I've only located two photos. C'est incroyable! I've got a few smaller races this weekend but I'm training through them as there's an Elite National stage race the weekend after, which is much more important. Not much to report other than that, and the fact that I went in the sea yesterday and by god it was cold!

20 April, 2013

A week of tanning, I mean training

This last week has been a jam-packed one for my social life! Last night Sam and I went next door to the landlady's place for cidre (so French darling) and some canapes; yes I tried foie gras, no I didn't really like it! It was quite a pleasant evening despite our mutual dread during the preceding days, mostly centered around the fact that we hadn't paid the rent on time. She was very nice about it though and so we both, obligingly, did our best to demolish the spread. The lemon macarons were off the chart amazing.

In other news, I'm back training properly and the weather has been very good to us over here in the last week. I've managed to get some semblance of a tan again in the past few days whilst clocking up the kilometres which is always a big bonus. I've been doing a few more hours this week, partly to regain some fitness after my five days off the bike and partly to build up for a target I'm looking forward to: the National Road Race (capitals required, as it's a beast). Having been crap at this event for the past few years I'd quite like to do well this time around, so I'm working on the endurance for that purpose.

Weather: good. Beaches: great.

This weekend I thought I was racing an Elite National today (as it says on the calendar) although it seems that due to unforeseen (by me) circumstances I was not. I will be racing tomorrow though which I'm really excited about as I haven't pinned a number on in two weeks now, which when you're a full time cyclist feels like an age! Just to finish off by feeding my ego a little here's an article on Velo Veritas about me. All the best everyone.

13 April, 2013

Time away

The past week has been a very busy one for me. I've crammed a lot in, most of which has not been bike riding. I was driven nearly seven hours across Northern France on Saturday to race a 'Coupe de France' the next day, which ended with a pretty average result for the Palmares - 20th. To summarise: I was strong, I was foolish, I was spent. When the end of the race came around I had completed some very solid training and caused large amounts of pain to my fellow man, but that does not necessarily correlate to a fine finish. The most enjoyable aspect of the race was the beautiful castle and ramparts we got to ride through every lap.

Dragging the break around

The drive back on Sunday night was fairly epic, then it was five hours sleep for me, up and off to the airport. I'd planned a last minute break to England on Thursday evening after a painful day of training. I'd been struggling for a while with a heel problem which seemed to be getting progressively worse: four hours of pain on Thursday was the final straw. Despite the annoying circumstances it was a good excuse to pop back for a few days to see Jon Boy and the TrainSharp gang for a catch up and some season planning. I also had a great time seeing loved ones and getting sicked on by the newest member of the Dewey clan...

What a little trooper!

He's got smiling down now, the legend. I better move on before I go all gooey over Thomas! In other news I whole-heartedly appreciated the British music scene because it's really quite good. I enjoyed several songs in the space of half an hour in good old Blighty, whereas in France it seems that the law, as well demanding that 40% of music be French, requires 100% to be crapola.

After plenty of time analysing what could be the cause of my heel injury I've changed shoes, adjusted my position and I'm now on a regime of various fancy-pants exercises to make me less unstable (physically, I'm told) and more durable as an athlete. I'm easing back into the training and today was relatively pain free which felt like progress! Hopefully I can be back in the swing of things by next weekend so I can do what I'm made to do again. 

Final little mention: Sammoth the Mammoth won today, like a boss! http://www.sportbreizh.com/Actualites-Peaule-_56_-_-Allen-s-amuse-sous-la-pluie--330-22866-0-1.html

Peace out.

01 April, 2013

Tour de Lesneven

So I’m a sprinter now. The commentator said it so it’s official! On Saturday I won a humongous bunch gallop (me and one other guy) against some stiff competition (he was a lean climber). Let me explain...

The beginning of the stage was extremely leisurely which only made the anticipation ever greater for when the real action would kick off. We were riding towards the coast and when we reached it our patience was duly rewarded. There were plenty of crosswinds and as the group shredded and reformed I clawed my way up to the front, through more brute force than skill I should add. I was riding like a man possessed, it was one of those rare days when good form, meets good tactics and it seemed that as I reached the front split the perfect scenario unfolded for me. The group of ten worked relatively well together and this confirmed that this would remain the front of the race until the finish. To say I was a watched man would be a gross understatement. Despite the fact that there were three riders from one team, two from another and several other individuals in the break to me it appeared that they were one unit - France.

This was to be a grudge match between the tradition enemies it seemed. As soon as I realised as much I became cannier and waited for a chance to increase my odds of success. On the final climb with 4km to go I launched a silent attack (changing gears beforehand to minimise sound) and took four other riders with me. I launched another attack into a headwind with 1.5km to go but was quickly closed by one of the two riders in the break from the same team, before his teammate attacked over the top. I knew I had to react immediately and I did with force, gapping the riders behind and slowly closing the advantage my attacker had before locking onto his back wheel with 400m to go. I felt invincible and as I came off his wheel with 200m to go it felt like a foregone conclusion: the stage was mine.

I was holding the maillot jaune the next day for the team time trial which was in the morning. I haven’t done many TTTs before and for those that don’t realise, it’s a completely different animal to the individual time trial. I think everyone would agree that our effort was a total shambles, the highlights being losing two riders in the first 2km and me dropping my chain near the finish, but somehow we came away with a very creditable 2nd place! Huge credit must go to Maxime, Guillaime and Sam (who did monster turns and pushed me for about 300 metres as I struggled with my chain issue)! We put time into my closest rivals too which was a bonus.

Stage 3 was another rolling day with more wind. Unfortunately I made a mistake and got caught out at the back on a day when a lot of tired bodies weren’t working brilliantly. The split rode off early on in the day and with it so did my hopes for another tour win. I’ve certainly learnt some lessons and had plenty of time to dwell on my errors as I crawled around with the backmarkers, so I won’t bore you any more with them here!

Regardless of the final stage it was a successful tour for me personally (and for the team) and it’s great to have the guys believe in me. Next weekend I have a Coupe de France race and judging by the speed of my ride today I will be taking this week pretty easy before then! All the best readers.