May update: E-Racing in Lockdown
Updated: Jul 5
Since my last blog on racing K-B-K we have gone in to lockdown. Races have been suspended or cancelled and A- levels have been cancelled, but we have still been finishing off the curriculum and doing some work in preparation for hopefully going to University in the autumn. So with more time available I've been focusing on my training with an eye on when racing starts again.
With no real idea when racing might resume I’ve continued to work with my coaches and train with my goals in mind which is going really well, but racing can't come back soon enough. So with the need to get some racing in I've entered some dedicated Junior e-races. Generally I don't mind doing sessions on the turbo and the time passes faster with virtual riding platforms like Zwift, Rouvy and RGT.
When I read the blogs of some of my fellow Pedal Potential supported athletes, such as the triathletes who can't swim at the moment, it makes me realise we are more fortunate in cycling than in most of the other sports that are suspended as we can still train outside and race online effectively. While indoor racing is not the same as real world racing its proving to be a good alternative and most of the cycling world seems to have embraced it as the next best alternative.
So I was really pleased to discover on Facebook that the team at Tofauti Everyone Active had put on the series of 3 e-races for Juniors based on gpx data for some of the Junior National courses. The races are held on the RGT virtual platform which offers various real world rides like Mount Ventoux or the Patterberg but in virtual format.
A huge thanks also goes to Andy at Giant Sheffield who has lent me an Elite Direto to race on to replace my old turbo. With turbos being in very short supply with everyone now training indoors it was excellent help. Its so much more responsive and accurate than the old one.
In readiness for the first race we quickly set the loan turbo up with RGT and I did a 20 min session to check everything was working well ready for the race.
The first race was Saturday 9th May and based on a section of the Hatherleigh Junior National course. There was a great turn out of junior riders, not just from the UK but also from Belgium, Netherlands, France, Spain Denmark, Luxemburg, Norway, Slovakia and South Africa. And a great start for me taking the win (in an unexpected turn of events!).
The race got off to a frenetic start as could be expected from a bunch of juniors who have not raced all year and some serious powers were being put out as everyone was eager to be in the front.
The race really didn’t settle down until about 30 minutes in when a group of about 17 got a bit of a gap. The race continued to surge with riders going off the front and then being chased down and coming back into the lead group.
With 5km to go a rider got away off the front and solo’d to the win 9 secs ahead of the rest of us sprinting for second. I managed to time my sprint well and just came through at the line taking second place which I was super pleased with but not as pleased as being awarded the win a few days later when the official results came out due to the original winner being dq'd.
The second junior lockdown race took place on the Isle of Man and it’s safe to say it was a brutal course.
The turn out was just as good as the previous week with a great number of international riders from Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, France & South Africa
I raced the IOM junior race last year and had a good 3 days in what was my first ever stage race with an 8th in the opening prologue which was an uphill TT and 11th on Stage 2 and finishing in the bunch on the full gas Stage 3 leading to a 10th overall on GC as a first year junior.
So I was looking forward to race 2 of the Lockdown series. There was a big rise towards the final third of the race with ramps of upto 24% that brought everyone to a near standstill as turbos seemed to struggle to cope with the change in gradient.
Going in to the big hill the race had fractured with a group of about 17 or so ahead. I had to chase back on several times early on in the race after being distanced from the front group causing me to waste strength and energy. I’m not sure if this was because I wasn’t concentrating or a communication issue between RGT app and the turbo (or a bit of both)
The big hill was the decisive point of the race as the front of the race fractured and a group of 3 or 4 broke clear early on the climb. By the top of the hill the front group that was 17 was spread out by over 400 m and I was down in around 7th or 8th place.
Inside the last 2 k we caught up with the rider in 6th but in the last 400 m I started my sprint too late and finished 7th overall and first British rider.
The final race in the series was on based on the Cicle Classic course and as a rolling punchy course I was looking to do well. It was a shorter course at 31k so the effort would be somewhere just under 45mins.
As now seems the norm the race got off to a mad start with everyone sprinting off the start line and then it settling down after 5-10 mins. This time there was a group of 12 or 13 of us away by half way through and it was clear it was going to be a sprint from this group for the win as the course was not selective enough and the shorter distance meant everyone had a lot of strength left.
Coming in to the final km I was well placed and having raced the course last year (in the real world) I thought I had a good knowledge of the final run to the line. However it seems in the virtual world not everything is quite the same. A series of 3 corners in the final 300m and the breaking system on RGT seemed to gap me from the riders ahead and I finished 10th overall and not particularly happy but a lesson learnt.
Well done to Max Bolton who came second overall and George Pittock in 6th so again a good showing from the British riders.
Thats the series over. I got a 1st, 7th and 10th against some great Uk and International competition and it was great to be racing again. There is a real different set of skills to e-racing which I’m enjoying learning. The races are 1 hour flat out efforts and great training at a level of intensity you only get when there is a competitive element present.
Well done to everyone who rode in the series and to the guys on the podium and thanks again to the team at Tofauti Everyone Active. It’s great to race against so many good international riders.
Its just been released that Tofauti are running another series of races which is fantastic news. These will consist of 3 "classics", a stage race made up of 3 stages and 3 crit races all on RGT courses.
Thanks to British Continental for the mention in their communique and covering the Junior e-race series.
Thanks to all those that continue to support me in my cycling and racing : Pedal Potential for their continued support during this time, my team Spokes Race Team, my coaches Huw and Craig at Vitfor Coaching and the author Chris Sidwells who runs the Tom Simpson Memorial Fund.