Tag Archives: amateur racing

Tips for 4th cat racers: get your 3rd cat!

There comes a time in every man’s life where he must leave behind the 4th category road racers and make the step up to ‘the big time’. After about 5 years of trying, I finally managed to get the hallowed 10 points* in 2013 and the 3rd category road race license that came with it. This may actually be a curse rather than a blessing for someone like me, but that is another blog post. But as the season approaches let’s ask: how do you get your 3rd cat?

It's been a while, Mack

*Know the rules
This year the British Cycling rulebook, Tech reg 6.2.2 states that you now need 12 points to get to 3rd cat. How many points are available in your races, and down to what placing? You can find this information on the British Cycling website, and by checking the category of race you are entering.

Target your efforts- make 3rd the goal
In 2012, I tried a mixture of things, APRs, time trials, road races of different categories, and I didn’t do well at any of them. I went better in 2013 when I focused on the points, picked 4th cat and 3/4 road races that I thought I could place well at, and trained specifically to be fit for them (see ‘train smart’ below).

Be super talented
I have found that strong juniors, triathletes and newcomers can clean up in the first few races. If you are starting the season fit, or feel that this is your year, be aware that some strong new faces will be there. Maybe after a month these guys will have moved up already and found their level. If you are one of ‘these guys’, get stuck in straight away!

The solo winner

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Ronnie Park, VC Stella

In one of my previous posts, I tracked the growth of the VC Stella, a club formed in Scotland as a formidable race outfit. In the 1950s in Britain, road racing was only just taking off, as a segment of cyclists sought to break away from the touring and time trialling culture and emulate their continental heroes of the Monument Classics, the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France.

John Kennedy was one of the VC Stella’s most successful riders, winning the Scottish Road Race championship in the 50s, amongst numerous other results, and going on to a professional career on the continent. The SCU team for the Oats 8-day Circuit of Britain, and later the Milk Race, was often comprised of mainly VCS members.

One of the founder members of VCS, Ronnie Park, was an accomplished rider about whom little is known today. I hadn’t heard his name until I began researching the VCS.

Below shows the start of the Glasgow Highland Games road race, in George Square in June/July 1954. The race was won by Joe Mead of St Christopher RC.

L-R Albert Wheeler (Douglas CC), David Ross, James Kelly, Ronnie Park (all VC Stella). Continue reading

Kyle Petrie, from the Basque to California and back

I spoke to 18 year old Kyle Petrie who has travelled to California to further his cycling.

You’re out in California training, riding and racing a bit – tell us where you are and what team you are with?
I’m living in Northern California in a town called Pleasanton. It’s a nice town and everything seems to be perfect, pristine and nice. The people are friendly there’s a massive connection of Scottish and English people here! The town is located near San Francisco and Oakland where I go to race, train and meet with my team – a shop team called CyclesFANATIC USA which is renowned in the Bay Area for its contribution to the sport and the great bikes!

Kyle Petrie Candlestick cross

How did the trip come about?
When I was in the Basque Country I knew I wanted to go somewhere for the winter. I asked friends for advice and California seemed the place to go. I feel I made the right decision – there is everything I need here: great training roads, extremely high level of riders, lots of group rides and tons of racing happening.

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Good news: the 48th David Bell RR is go

Good news – the Davie Bell is go- news recently out:

Organisers have confirmed that the 48th edition of the David Bell Memorial Race will go ahead, and what the race lacks for quantity it more than makes up in quality. The race had been in danger due to low entries but riders have responded to the rallying call and once again Girvan will play host to the famous race on August 18th.

No less than two UCI Continental teams will be represented with Ben Greenwood (Team IG SigmaSport) and Evan Oliphant (Team Raleigh) both looking for a top result. Already a two-time winner of the event, Oliphant returns in jubilant mood having just secured victory in the British Cycling Premier Calendar – an outstanding result for the Edinburgh based rider. Meanwhile Greenwood has recently inked a deal with IG Sigmasport and will be looking to impress before the Tour of Britain.

Among the other riders on start sheet is current Scottish Road Champion Gary Hand (Herbalife Leisure Lakes) and local Ayr Roads man Gary Maher. Both will be looking for a good result in front of a friendly South Ayrshire crowd.

Race promoters, Ayr Roads Cycling Club, have been committed to developing young riders with the launch of the Ayr Burners Youth club and the first ever SCCL Youth Criterium. Therefore they are delighted to have no less than ten Under 23 riders contesting the gruelling 81 mile event. The first Espoir will be presented with the Savoy Park Hotel Shield.

The action kicks off in Girvan at 11am before speeding down to Lendalfoot and the first of six categorised climbs. These will decide the winner of the DigitalMyWay King of the Mountains trophy. It is expected that the eventual winner will make their move on one of the closing laps of the Byne Circuit, before racing up South Park Avenue to be presented with the Ayrshire Alps Trophy at approximately 2:30pm.

Meanwhile the Highwayman Challenge continues to attract entries with the new 200km version proving more popular than the 100km! Audax riders must complete their ride in a minimum time to be recorded, averaging at least 15km/h. No easy feat when faced with the hill roads of the Ayrshire Alps. The 200km participants also have to navigate 16 miles of unsealed forest roads, further adding to the challenge. Both distances take place on the 17th August with riders setting off before 9am.
www.southcarrickdaviebell.org

Both the David Bell Memorial Race and Highwayman Challenge feature as part of the Ayrshire Alps Cycle Festival, supported by South Ayrshire Council and South Carrick Community Lesiure.

Racing and riding in the Alps – of Scotland

I saw that one of the Scottish Classics – the Davie Bell Road Race – was in danger of cancellation due to a low entry list.

Entry to the race closes on 4th August and is available on British Cycling.

Everyone has their own commitments in life, work and cycling but since the Davie Bell race has always made the life of a blogger such as me easier, by providing pictures, press releases and information, I thought I ought to help out by highlighting things.

In 2011 the race included some sections of dirt road and in 2012 it was run as a National A level event, competing against teams like Rapha and Herbalife. This year it is back to National B, but maybe it’s tough reputation has put people off? Usually, an epic parcours tends to entice the riders, but perhaps it’s later slot on the calendar has clashed with people beginning to get tired after several months of competing. This is the sort of race you can be proud to finish, let alone win.

Davie Bell 2011

Entries are scheduled to close on the 4th August. The event has secured several sponsors and with cycling booming, but grass roots road racing struggling a bit, it would be a great shame to lose this event.

If you hold an Elite, 1st, 2nd or 3rd Cat Licence you can enter now at Britsh Cycling.

It is a great race with tons of history, many well-known Scottish riders have won it such as James McCallum, Evan Oliphant, Graham McGarrity, Richard Moore (now an author) and one Robert Millar.

Robert Millar Davie Bell RR

2012 Davie Bell road race film

Having seen that one of the Scottish Classics – the Davie Bell Road Race – was in danger of cancellation due to a low entry list, I stumbled across this cool film of the 2011 race footage.

I’m planning to do another blog on the event to help push it, but in the meantime, check out the film below. It is well put together with pre-race interviews, some background info and very cool in-race footage from cars and motorbikes- something I hadn’t seen done so professionally before for a Scottish race.

Enter now at Britsh Cycling if you hold an Elite, 1st, 2nd or 3rd Cat Licence.

Scottish men’s road race championships preview

With my 4th cat license hidden down the back of the sofa I will make a stab at previewing the Scottish men’s Road Race championship, which will be held up in Aberdeenshire, organised by Granite City RT and sponsored by Velocity 44.

The riders
My first thought is who won’t be riding – several of the pro and semi-pro riders will be doing the An Post Rás stage race over in Ireland.

A couple of weeks ago it was announced that Alex Coutts (Herbalife), Evan Oliphant (Raleigh), Michael Nicolson (Flanders), Ben Greenwood (Hope Factory Racing) and Liam Cowie (Aberdeen Wheelers CC) would make up a composite Scottish team. Spain-based rider Robbie Hassan who is developing his career with Team Ibaigne Opel, has recently been confirmed as an addition to the Scottish lineup.

Last year’s podium finisher Ali Rutherford (Wheelbase Altura MGD) won’t be riding either due to family commitments curtailing his racing this season.

So with several top riders competing against the other domestic pro teams, the Irish county teams and some international teams over the Irish sea, the way could be open for some of the amateurs to fancy their chances in the Scottish national road race.

U23 rider Craig Wallace, formerly of Granite City (seen below finishing 20th last year) will be cheered on by a home crowd and should be in fine form after spending most of the year so far racing in Belgium for the ASFRA Flanders team.

Scottish Road Race Champs. 20/5/12 - Balfron
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Tips for Cat.4 racers – where the race was lost (or won?)

In order to get blog posts out at the moment, I have to make them short and decisive, like the moment a race was won or lost.

Even at novice level, a mistake or specific moment can be the difference between success and failure. Over 4 years of trying my hand at racing, I have found it worthwhile to reflect on what went wrong in a race and make a point of changing or improving that thing.

Example mistakes
• forgetting to drink or eat until half way round
• slipping back & losing places when taking a drink from the bottle
• allowing yourself to be bullied out of position
• spending time in the wind at bad moments
• chasing down attacks and then paying for it later
• not checking your kit & equipment properly beforehand

Noting your mistakes
I did the Gifford B race at the weekend and it went really well for me throughout, and I got my best placing ever at that event – 22nd – albeit in a big bunch finish. There was 1 brief mistake that stood out- on the last lap I opted to use the wee ring in the drag before Bolton, and forgot to change up when it flattened out until several riders had surged past me. A small thing, you might argue, but losing 10-15 places just before the last big climb isn’t ideal.

Out of your hands (or legs)
Often you hear people say ‘I just wasn’t strong enough’ or ‘I didn’t have the legs today’. It’s always worth pinning this down to something more specific that you can work on. For me, it was the long climb after Bolton. This is where I have always been dropped before, and it nearly happened again. So the remedy will be hill reps at anaerobic threshold HR, to try to push the threshold up.

gifford road race  april 6th 2013 053

I was well placed on the last lap, going through the trees before the course starts to climb.
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Gifford 2013

My output has been flagging like someone on a 60 mile club ride with 1 bottle and no food. So do I drop off completely or put in a few flailing digs? It’s going to be the latter- standards may be slipping but some’s better than none? You be the judges as I spew forth a stream of consciousness on my first race of 2013.

The Gifford road races were traditionally (for me) the first of the calendar, held on the first weekend in March often on the same time as the Dick Longdragon RR In Aberdeenshire and the Corrieri’s Classic 10m TT on the Stirling ‘Kippen flats’ course.

This year it is in April and this is lucky with regards the weather. March has been a pig and I pity the racers who have had their programme disrupted, enthusiasm dampened and early good form wasted by races called off due to snow. It’s no fault of the organisers- I have done Gifford three times before in early march and each time has been dry.

For me April is a better slot though as it gives people a chance to get going. No disrespect to other events but Gifford is a fairly big, well-organised race and it almost seemed wasted to have it so early in the calendar.

The A race has a strong field as usual but without the dominance of one team as we have seen in previous years. Last year could go down as a surprise with junior Tom Arnstein pulling off a result. This year I will be rooting for junior Kyle Petrie, the only Stirling rider in the main event, but he won’t thank me for mentioning his name as he has been laid out with illness recently so might not be at his best. Who else is tipped? Give me your shouts in the comments.

For me Gifford is a course with which I have unfinished business. Dropped horribly in my first year, full of expectation the second, I was gutted to be me with the same outcome, albeit one lap further on. The third year I almost made it to the finish with the lead bunch but lost contact on the climb and trailed in a minute or two down, thirty-somethingth.

I have come to realise it is a testing circuit – if you aren’t climbing on the rivet or descending at breakneck speed, you may be blowing your energy trying to push to the front or spending time in the wind when you shouldn’t. Grab the bottle or a gel and you lose a few places- it can be relentless.

I don’t feel I have any form yet but I have had a pretty good winter and have done some new things in training so should be stronger. I have a lighter faster bike and one more year of experience so who knows. Thanks in advance to Edinbugh RC who always put on a great event.

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Craig Hardie: Hanging up the racing hoops

Earlier in February, cyclocross, MTB and grass track racer Craig Hardie announced on facebook that he had taken the decision to give up racing. Despite his humble comment that he didn’t want to seem big headed by making a big announcement, he has nonetheless had a long amateur racing career and been an integral part of the competitive scene for many years. Craig’s enthusiasm for cyclocross and biking in general gave me encouragement personally, so I thought I’d find out more.

> You said that you needed a better work/life balance – that’s something that I and, I’m sure, a lot of other amateur racers (and their partners) can sympathise with.

Yep it has come to the time to the feeling I have done all I can in Scotland Cyclocross, the last Cross season kind of sealed the idea of giving up the endurance based racing (will still maybe compete in a few Highland Games this season depending on time and how I feel) The time to train as much as I would like is just not there now but I feel very satisfied I have achieved more than I could have imagined.

Bunnyhop
Craig Hardie bunnyhopping the boards at the Scottish Cyclocross Championships (pic David Hamill)
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