Starting Winter

whatever
Posted on Monday, November 12, 2018 

Starting winter

 With the season now over and a couple weeks off towards the end of September after some baseline power testing, I am now in the full swing of things in terms of winter training. The weather, always something to consider in Winter, has been alright so far meaning that I have been able to head out on the road to do my long rides and intervals over this month which is something that I have found really fun. On the rest of the days of the week that I’m not riding outside, except for rest and recovery days, I use the indoor trainer to get my specific intervals done as a lot of riders also do over the Winter months.    

Over this past month, a gradual build up in hours and intensities of intervals has been going on, especially over the final week of September so that I didn’t push myself too much too soon, with a long Winter ahead. For about a month now however, my training has been consistent and laying a good base for next season and beyond. The main focus of this first month of training has been endurance and strength building as then the more intense work can be worked on top of this closer to the season so that I am race ready. Over the next month going in to December however I am going to start my local track league again on Tuesday nights at Manchester velodrome to get some high intensity back in to my programme after building up the start of a strong base over October. Next week will be my first return to the boards since January so it should be good to get back and give it a bash. 

My main event that took place this month was the first training weekend for my new 2019 team, HMT Cycling Team, which was held in my home city of Leeds a couple weeks back. Not all of the riders were present, but 5 of the 7 were and it was a really great weekend with some good mates and some hard intervals in there also. We were based in Garforth for this weekend so the trip across Leeds wasn’t long at all, and we all got stuck in to the weekend with a strength and conditioning assessment and session and a nutritional assessment on the Saturday. All of these assessments and sessions were very useful, with the S&C session being very hard but good at the same time. Then in the afternoon we had a team trip to the cinema which was also a good time. On the Sunday we went for a 3 hour steady ride on some flat roads around Yorkshire, before a hard block of chain gang for around half an hour at the end of it. The ride was really good and so was the weekend as a whole, spending it with some good mates and having some fun on and off the bike.  

Nothing much is planned over November except for the second team training camp in the middle of the month, but this time down in Cardiff to use the Welsh institute of sport facilities which again should be good. Hopefully the weather stays nice for a bit more of Winter to make the long rides less grim!

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International Racing in July

whatever
Posted on Thursday, August 16, 2018 
July has been an extremely busy month for me this year with some of the hardest and highest quality races I’ve ever done all condensed in to this period. The month started with a long travel down to Durango in the Spanish Basque country near Bilbao to race the Junior Tour of the Basque Country in the first weekend of July. I travelled down by car with the team from Bladel in Holland over 2 days after racing Acht Van Bladel in the final week of June. This long journey and the two huge races I did, were as part of HMT cycling team with whom I got to experience these great 2 weeks. After the long journey, we had 2 days of no racing in Spain where me and the rest of the team and staff had some down time watching England play Colombia in the World Cup before heading out for a ride and recce of the mountain TT course on the 2nd day.

Junior Tour of the Basque Country/Bizkaiko XXIV Itzulia

The racing came around quickly and I soon learnt that this race was like nothing I had experienced before. Stage 1 was from Balmaseda to Guenes, going up three 3rd category climbs and one brutal unclassified climb. I felt good this stage but was having some stomach issues before the start which I suffered with a bit but overall, I was happy to finish in a very reduced peloton after being slightly distanced on the unclassified climb before getting back on to the bunch the climb after. A breakaway took the victory on this stage but thankfully we had two riders in the break, Joe Laverick and Oliver Knight who took 4th and 7th on the stage which allowed me, Harrison and Alex to have a free ride in the bunch slowing the pace down to ensure it stayed away. I rolled in in the bunch after being swamped on the penultimate corner meaning I didn’t do so well in the bunch sprint.

Stage 2 was a great stage taking in an insane coast road which stretched for miles and miles whilst hair pinning constantly. This was where a dangerous breakaway escaped so me and Ollie got on the front to chase it down and thankfully we managed to bring it back and split the bunch up a little also in the process. It was after this on the first climb of the day that the definitive breakaway went which I wasn’t in a position to get in. This break stayed to the end, but Harrison was able to bridge across to it at the top of the climb which moved him up on the General Classification and also again give the rest of us HMT riders in the bunch an easier day out. In the finale the remaining riders in the team led out Alex for the bunch sprint in which he took 3rd giving him 10th on the stage and in the process, I managed to pick up 20th also. Todays stage really was brilliant and like nothing I had experienced before.

On the 3rd day there were two hard stages with a short but hilly stage early on and then a hard-uphill TT in the afternoon which would be decisive in the overall GC. I was very motivated for the morning stage and attacked a lot to try and get away before the final categorised climb of the day to try and have the best chance of winning the stage from a winning break away. I attacked numerous times but could never get away for more than a kilometre or two and never in a group with the fire power to stay away. When the winning break did go just before the start of the final climb, I was in a position to go with it but just didn’t have the legs after going so hard to try and get away earlier in the stage. After going so hard earlier on, I really struggled up the final climb and was slightly distanced from the small main group. Thankfully I put my descending skills to good use and managed to make the catch at the bottom of the descent using every corner to my advantage. In the afternoon the hard TT came around very quickly and, after a good warm up, I put in a good ride that I was happy with finishing in 14th on the stage, equal on time with my team mate Ollie! This moved me in to 20th overall also.

On the final day, I really wanted to make something of the stage and leave everything out there on the final day of racing and I am pleased to say that I definitely did and put in my best performance on this stage. The day’s stage was extremely hard with a very hilly finale but downhill finish in to Balmaseda once again. The race was reasonably tame at first with everyone tired after a very hard day previously but then on the first 2nd category climb of the day, the racing kicked off and I made it in to a very small peloton of around 30 riders. It was at this point with around an hour of racing to go that I attacked and managed to escape with another rider before being joined by a 3rd later on and I managed to win the intermediate sprint from this group as we crossed the finish for the bell lap. We worked well together and built up a gap of 40 seconds at its maximum but were caught by a small group of 7 as we crested the penultimate climb of the day. Luckily for me this contained Harrison and I worked as hard as I could for him as he was in a good overall position, but it wasn’t enough as we were caught by the rest of the main group at the foot of the final climb of the day which we then went straight back up. I really suffered up this climb having just been caught from the break but dug deep and only lost a small distance over the top which I was able to bring back, with the help of other riders, over the top and on to the descent. It then came down to a very depleted bunch sprint in which I took 12th. I had started the descent and sprint too far back having suffered up the climb after the hard day in the break.

This performance however was something I was very pleased with and was glad to finish 19th overall, 5th young rider, 7th in the sprints competition and 3rd team overall with HMT. This was a fantastic experience over 2 weeks with the highlight definitely being racing in the Basque Country. I would like to say a huge thank you to the staff of Mark Barry, Tony Barrett, Craig Simpson and Simon Wainwright for all the support that they gave over this time. A big thanks also to the riders Harrison Wood, Ollie Knight, Joe Laverick, Alex Haines and Tom Cornwell for the brilliant time that I had with them and also to congratulate them on their great performances also.

National Champs

Next up in the racing for me was the National Championships near Loughborough the weekend after. This was a very different style of racing where I unfortunately messed up a fair bit and went far too hard early on in a long race trying to force an early break, but it ultimately didn’t work, leaving me too tired to do anything in the finale. This was disappointing as I felt strong but messed up and didn’t take advantage of my good legs in the right way.

Tour of Upper Austria / Oberosterreich Juniorenrundfahrt UCI 2.1


The weekend after this was another huge race being the Tour of Upper Austria UCI 2.1 in some very hard and hilly terrain. I went to this race with Giant Halifax RT and the riders of me, Josh Greenwood, Tom Dussek, Alex Haines, Matt Ellis and Joe Howcroft.

Stage 1 was a rolling race in the evening on a big loop with three category 3 climbs over the stage and also three small uncategorised climbs also. The race kicked off on the first categorised climb of the day where I was right in the thick of things in the front small group but over the top of the climb, I just didn’t have the power to close a small gap and couldn’t stick in the winning breakaway of 8 riders. I was gutted about this as I was so close but just didn’t have enough to stay with the break. However, I took the positive that I was in the position to go with it when in other races I haven’t been so improvements were made. I finished in the depleted bunch, but the race was neutralised with 10km to go due to a car crash in the city centre. The organisers then made us race 10km downhill which was extremely sketchy but also fun at the same time and I finished towards the front of the main peloton.

Stage 2 was a loop very lose to where the team was staying so the day leading up to the evening race was very chilled. The race was grippy and also had a huge amount of crashes which I thankfully managed to avoid. I was pleased with today as I was always right at the front of the peloton and was in numerous splits and breakaways throughout the stage. However due mainly to the wind being mostly head or tail instead of cross, the stage finished in a bunch sprint where I finished in the bunch after giving it my all to try and break away with a lap to go but was caught as the race entered the final dual carriageway section.

Stage 3 was the queen stage with a really hard finale and summit finish which was made especially hard with the torrential rain and awful conditions. After being too far back going in to the 2nd climb of the day which was really steep, with a dirt road descent, I was slightly distanced in a 2nd group but was able to bridge and was in a front split of around 30 riders which me, Alex and Josh then took turns counter attacking to try and keep the pace up and for this break to stick. It didn’t unfortunately as the yellow jersey had missed the split, so all the German riders were working to bring us back and then were reluctant to let any more breaks off the front. I however managed to get in to a fairly large split before the start of the penultimate climb. Three of these riders then went off the front of the group on the climb and I unfortunately couldn’t get across to it to my disappointment. I did however manage to stick in a small group of 4 who were working together well but I then attacked them with 3km to go putting me in 4th place on the road.  Unfortunately, I had no idea how hard the final 2 kilometres were going to be with a 20% average when others had and saved themselves, and I didn’t have the legs or a big enough gap on the main bunch to stay away, so was caught at 1.5km to go and just then went further and further backwards.

I was really upset about this at first, but after a bit of time to calm down I realised that I did a good ride and risked it to try and come away with a good result which I so nearly did. This has given me confidence going in to the final block of racing with the Tour of Pamplona and Tour of Wales coming up in August. I would like to say thank you very much once again to everyone who helped me over the month and in Austria, especially to my Dad, Barry Greenwood and Tom Haines who took me and the team the long drive away to Austria, it was much appreciated. Thanks to everyone else also at Trainsharp, Pedal potential, HMT cycling team and Giant Halifax Race Team for all the support they have give me. I am now looking forward to the final push going in to the Vuelta a Pamplona and Tour of Wales in August!
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Racing Through June

whatever
Posted on Monday, July 30, 2018 

Photo : British Cycling Photographers

June was a very busy month for me racing in a big block of National series races over 3 weekends before travelling out to race Acht Van Bladel in Holland for an international 3-day stage race as a guest rider for HMT cycling team. In the National series I raced the Junior Cicle classic in Rutland, Spokes 2-day stage race in Scotland & the Monmouthshire Junior Grand Prix in Wales.

The Cicle Classic is pretty flat but has some dirt roads and off-road sections thrown in which make the race very interesting.  The Spokes 2-day is raced on some very hilly terrain with a summit finish on the first stage, and the Monmouthshire Jr Grand Prix has some tight and twisty roads with a lot of climbing.  These races had some mixed results for me but unfortunately, I didn’t come away from any of them with a placing to shout about. The legs felt good however and am feeling as though I am on good form with some of the biggest races of my season coming up in July and in to early August.

At the Junior Cicle classic in early June, I felt as though I had very good legs throughout the day, but very frustratingly was too far back going in to a key off road sector which resulted in me missing the winning breakaway of the day. I chased hard for the most part of the race and with the help of a few others, we managed to bring the gap down to 30 seconds giving us a chance to bring them back. However, as we entered the finishing circuit the break began to attack each other, and the gap went out again at which point I stopped chasing and accepted that the break was not coming back and I rolled in in the very small main group after what was a very hard race.  I was left feeling frustrated afterwards as I felt as though I was having a good day, but foolishly missed the break meaning I came away with no major result. Thankfully, I didn’t puncture though on a race which is often defined by punctures as I ran lower pressures on tubeless tyres on this day to give myself the best chance on the off-road sectors. 

Just a week later myself and the rest of Giant Halifax travelled the long journey up to St Andrews in Scotland to race the Spokes Jr 2-day stage race. The first day was a hilly race with a short but steep summit finish which I thought would suit me at the end of a hard days racing. It wasn’t to be on that day unfortunately as I simply didn’t have the legs on the day and was feeling laboured and fatigued all day which resulted in me finishing a disappointing 31st, well off the pace of where I would have liked to have been. However, I raced the 2nd day much better and felt much stronger managing to finish 17th on the stage. Once again it was no real result to shout about but I had tried on numerous occasions throughout the day to try and get away in search of the stage win but it was not to be as I never managed to force a serious breakaway. A disappointing weekend for me but some good performances for the team and a better performance from me on the 2nd day giving me a bit if a morale boost.

A couple weeks later it was another change of scenery down in Wales for the Monmouthshire Jr GP, a race I had targeted and thought I could perform well in. I knew that an early break had stuck last year and saw an opportunity fairly early on to get in to a strong working break, so I jumped across to it. The group was 4 men strong but once we entered the finishing circuit with a very steep hill, it whittled down to 3. We pushed hard especially on the descents to try and gain time on the larger peloton but after 60km away we were caught. I still felt as though I had decent legs but after being in the break for so long I could not stay with the key attacks that went with a lap to go and so suffered round managing to finish a reasonable 21st at the finish. The result was not what I wanted or felt I deserved after a long and hard day in the breakaway but never the less I was pleased with my strong ride in the break which hopefully bodes well for the big races coming up in July and August. It was also a big improvement from my previous races also, so overall, I was pleased with my performance at this race.

My final race in June was a 3-day international stage race in Holland called Acht Van Bladel, which consisted of 3 long and flat stages of racing with cross winds and cobbles, and a short individual time trial also to finish off the weekend. I rode in this race as a guest for the British based HMT cycling team and had an absolutely brilliant time. Although my performances were mixed, I learnt a huge amount from this race which I then implemented to good effect in the Tour of the Basque country in Spain, which I then went on to the next weekend from this race. I also showed some good legs at times in some challenging conditions in the heat and strong winds so was pleased mostly with my riding. On the first day, we messed up a little as a team letting a break of 15 go which was never brought back meaning I just rolled in in the bunch. The next day went better however as although I was not in the days winning break, I was in the main breakaway of the day attacking with 60 or so km to go.  We were caught as we entered the finishing circuit with around 30km to go and I was a little upset the break didn’t stick.  The group had swelled to 10 riders and once that happened the rhythm went, and it wasn’t as smooth as with the original 3 riders where our gap grew to its peak of 50 seconds. The winning break then countered this which thankfully, we had a rider in. I rolled in in the bunch but was pleased with my performance as I took a risk which I believe could have easily paid off had the situation been right. On the final day I was tired from my hard day previous so was suffering on the stage. I was still riding well and always at the front but made the wrong decision to not jump across to a break in the early part of the race as I didn’t want to get in an early break again. This break was strong however and stayed away until a reasonable sized group split off the front of the peloton in a section of cross wind cobbles.  This was one of the only points of the race when I was riding too far back meaning I missed the key split frustratingly. My legs got better as the race went on and I had started to feel good again so was frustrated I wasn’t in the group as I thought I was good enough to be in it. I did however manage to jump off the front of the 2nd peloton in a small working group and bring down the gap of 3mins to just 1min 20 seconds to limit my losses which helped me feel slightly better. After this stage I was laying in a top 30 position overall but very annoyingly punctured on the first corner of the time trial, and as I didn’t have the team car behind me, I had to wait minutes for a wheel, at which point once I got going again, I found out my derailleur wouldn’t go in to my 14 tooth and I was stuck on under 16 gears. Spinning out, I couldn’t put the power down and finished very far down on the stage which also frustratingly took out my GC position. As I said though I learnt a huge amount from this race and was pleased with the progress I made afterwards so was overall a successful experience.

Thanks very much as always to everyone who helped out this month, my parents, everyone at Giant Halifax, Pedal Potential, Trainsharp and also Mark Barry from HMT cycling team who gave me the great opportunity to race in one of the biggest races on the calendar. Up next for me in July is the Junior Tour of the Basque country in early July, The National championships, The Tour of upper Austria which will be my first UCI 2.1 race, and finally the Vuelta a Pamplona in early August.

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First Racing Block of the Season

whatever
Posted on Monday, April 30, 2018 

First Racing Block of the season

With the first block of the season over I thought I’d write a new blog before starting the next block of training and racing which leads in to the end of Spring and start of Summer.

  My first race of the season, and first race as a Junior, was the UCI 1.1 race Kuurne Brussels Kuurne in Belgium, which was a huge race to start my season off with. I was unsure what to expect and was very nervous with it being my first race in a new and much harder category. The conditions at Kuurne were freezing with sub zero temperatures with the wind chill, but thankfully it was dry and sunny also. I was riding well and felt pretty strong, being in the front group over the first few climbs of the day, notably the Wolvenberg which was a very short sharp climb with a short and flat cobbled sector over the top. Unfortunately, I was dropped from this front group over the top of the days big challenge the Kwaremont and was in a chasing group as although the legs felt good, I was far too far back in the bunch going in to it as I was focussing too much on saving energy than racing in to the bottom of it. I went really hard trying to bridge back on to the main group as finishing in that group was my aim at the start of the day but in doing so I bonked as I didn’t quite fuel correctly during this time resulting in me slowly slipping further down the field to finish a slightly disappointing 66th. A lot of lessons were learnt that day however about eating and fuelling during the race and more so just having confidence in myself as I felt good but just made too many mistakes. The race in general was a fantastic experience all in all though and I was very grateful to be able to go to such a huge race to start my season off also. A big thanks to all the support at Giant Halifax and Trainsharp also for getting all of us there, I’m looking forward to hopefully returning next year!

    Two weeks later me and a slightly depleted team, with Josh injured and Max riding for GB, were out in Belgium again racing the Danilith Nokere Koerse race, another UCI 1.1 race. I really wanted to try and improve on my result at Kuurne here as I thought I was capable of that, but some bad luck hit me this time as I had a get down leading in to the first flat cobbled sector of the day early in the race. I got back up but had a problem with my brakes because of the crash so lost a huge amount of time and was chasing in the convoy trying to get to the main group for around an hour. I did eventually get back in to the main group thankfully, but it was just before another cobbled sector and as I was so spent I went out of the back again, this time accompanied with another 20 riders or so. We were working to try and get back to the group but as we were on the finishing circuit by this time the broom waggon was riding very close to the back of the bunch so we were pulled out and I was down as a DNF. I was disappointed to say the least as once again my legs felt good as I was able to get back in to the bunch after a long chase in the convoy but then just couldn’t hold it. Was a good day for the team however as Jenson and Tom finished well with Tom gaining a top 15 placing and also guest rider Joe and Jenson again doing well in the flat kermesse race we all did the day after.

  After a couple big races in Belgium it was time for some British racing with the first round of the National Junior Road series: Cadence Road Race in Wales. This was a rolling race with one hard steep finishing climb every lap. I was nervous going in to this as I thought I could get a good result which would be my first of the year. Therefore, I was very happy to come away with 2nd on the day after a long day out in the break. A breakaway of 2 riders went early on the 2nd lap and got up to a gap of around about a minute. My team mate Josh had a little dig off the front a lap later before being caught, after which the bunch slowed massively. I decided the bunch didn’t have enough energy and the break was getting too far up the road so put in an attack just as the race turned on to the rolling country lane part of the course. I bridged to one rider up the road before we were caught by two other chasers which started working well together. We bridged to the leaders quite quickly and then us as a unit of 6 begun to pull away from the group, gaining an advantage of around four minutes. Our front group was whittled down going up the finishing climb before then the eventual winner rode away from us on the back, rolling half of the course. We tried to chase and bridge, but he was just too strong to be completely honest. What was left of our group started attacking and messing around on the final lap which resulted in us nearly being caught by a 2nd breakaway group of 6 that had formed but we managed to just stay away. I knew I had to go late with the finishing climb being so steep and was able to do that as other riders panicked going early as we were nearly caught by the 2nd group. I was able to go on the hill with around 100 metres to go and hold on to take 2nd. I was very happy with this and it gave me a lot of confidence going in to the next races.

    The week after was a local race in Rotherham at the Danum trophy road race. This was my first elite race and was certainly a hard one with it being ne of the best fields in years to attend. I finished 20th in the end which may not sound great, but I was very happy after the crosswinds split the race to shreds on the rolling course. A big split occurred around half way through but I missed it frustratingly and was left in the main group with not many working. Me and one other rider however managed to get away before being joined by 2 more who worked really well in a chaingang to bridge across the gap of 1 minute to get back in to the front group. Once I was in the front group the race split again with me being in the back group of it, but I managed to hold on for 20th with lots of riders getting dropped in the final laps. Was a great race and very tough also.

   The final race of this first block of the season was the Junior Tour of the Mendips in the Mendip hills near Bristol. I was hoping to do well here especially on the hilly course but didn’t have a very good weekend and was disappointingly unable to build on my 2nd at Cadence a couple weeks before as after an ok prologue I started to cough badly and it got worse over the weekend meaning I felt awful during the racing and was unable to get the result I wanted. The Saturday morning started with a prologue TT of around 6mins in length where I finished 33rd. The result wasn’t great but was a big improvement from last years TTing so there were some positives to be taken from the weekend. Next up was a rolling stage where I rolled in in the bunch after I tried and failed to get away from the bunch not having good enough legs. Sunday came with the hilly stage where I really wanted a result but even though I tried to maintain positive and in a good state before the race, once the racing started I didn’t feel well so could only manage 36th on the stage which was upsetting. Hopefully I can now recover and build on the form that has been shown to get some more results later in the year! The Mendips was still a great weekend out for the team however with Jenson getting some good results and some strong riding from Josh being in the break all day on stage 3.

   A big thank you to everyone at Giant Halifax, Trainsharp and Pedal Potential for all the support they have given so far this season and to my mum and dad also for everything as always. Looking forward to the rest of the racing that is to come now!

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Dylan Westley Blog - Winter 2017/18

whatever
Posted on Thursday, February 15, 2018 

Winter 2017/18

With the season soon approaching I thought it would be good to look back on the Winter of 2017/18 and how it has gone.

The season for myself and Giant Halifax RT, my new team for 2018, starts on the 25th of February at Kuurne- Brussels- Kuurne in Belgium. I’m really excited for this race as it will be a big step up as my first junior race and also first race in Belgium. KBK is also a UCI 1.1 race also so is a big race to start the season off with!

Coming back to how Winter went, after a few weeks easy after the end of the season I started training properly again around mid-October with my new coach from Trainsharp cycle coaching. Trainsharp have been fantastic coaches over the winter and in the build up to the season and I am very fortunate to have their support and I hope this relationship continues long in to the future. Winter this year was a little different as my efforts were over a longer period to prepare me for the longer races that are to come this season, whilst also trying to maintain the top end and explosive power which is needed for the end of races.

One thing that was always in my plan however was the Winter Friday night track league at Manchester velodrome that I attended most weeks until it stopped at Christmas. This is great for building strength and also keeping a good sprint over Winter. After Christmas however, I was happy to have been promoted up to the Tuesday night premier division track league as I was now officially a junior. I’ve only been able to make it to one Tuesday night so far, but it was a good experience and a lot tougher than Fridays.

As usual through Winter a lot more was done on the track due to the weather and because there are more opportunities to go to the track over the winter than Summer. These opportunities came in the form of the winter Revolution Series and Senior Track Nationals in January. The Revs series went alright for me, managing to get a couple of top 5s but never managing to get on to the podium unfortunately. At Revs I raced for team Wiggins which was a great experience especially getting to keep the few pieces of Rapha kit I was given to race in!

After the first round in London I was placed 7th overall after some consistent top 6 places.  I managed to move up to 6th overall after the 2nd round in Glasgow after a 4th in the devil and 7th in the scratch where I attacked and was just caught with half a lap to go when in a 2 man break. Unfortunately, I dropped back to 8th overall in the final standings after a crash in the Madison in the final round in Manchester. We finished the race but after picking up a couple of injuries and road rash, I didn’t do so well in the other races. Nevertheless, Revs was still a great experience.

    After a big week leading in to Christmas I had a bit of a cold so had a bit of a rest after but then built back up with another block going into senior track nationals at the end of January. I was part of the 4 representing Giant Halifax with guest rider Joe Burns along with team mates Josh Greenwood and Max Rushby. This was the first time I’d worn the new Santini kit for 2018 so was a good day no matter what the result! After feeling strong in qualifying we were in the 7th/8th final in the afternoon where we won the heat to finish 7th overall with a time of 4:25 over the 4km. Unfortunately, I was a lot weaker in the final so wasn’t much help to the other lads but was still a good hard effort. That day I also raced the qualifier for the scratch race where I finished 13th with only 8 qualifying so didn’t make the final. It was still a great race that I enjoyed with it being my first proper bunch race with the bigger gears on as a junior.

 With a fair amount of track done this Winter I’ve now started to build up again on the road to hopefully get some good form for the early season classic races starting in Kuurne in a couple weeks. I am feeling good and really looking forward to what the season brings.

 For the 2018 road season I will be riding a Giant TCR advance courtesy of Giant Halifax UK with an Ultegra mechanical 68000 groupset and Zipp 303 race wheels for the flatter days, with some lighter weight Giant own brand wheels for the hillier days. On all my wheels will be Vittoria Corsa 25mm tyres again thanks to Giant Halifax and Vittoria. The finishing touches on the TCR are Look pedals with thanks to Look bikes UK and also an aero Garmin mount courtesy of blu buzz UK. All this amazing equipment and racing across the UK and Europe wouldn’t be possible without Giant Halifax race team and all its sponsors: Giant Halifax UK, Lister Horsfall, Kinetic systems, Stelram engineering, blu buzz UK, Vittoria tyres, Look pedals, Scicon bags and CSS cycling insurance with personal sponsors of Pedal potential and support from Trainsharp coaching. Thanks to them all!!

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3T Strada - What do You Think ?

whatever
Posted on Saturday, October 28, 2017 

What do you think of the new 3T Strada?

Only one chainring which 3T claim is more aerodynamic but you sacrifice some top end gearing.

3T claim that 2 x 11 speed only provides 14 unique gear ratios whilst adding drag & weight. Is our obsession for higher number of gears really needed?

Warning : boring gear ratio paragraph, but bear with me. With a 44t chainring and an 11-40t cassette the gear ratios range from 1.1 - 4.0. A semi compact 52-36t with an 11-28 cassette the range is 1.3- 4.7. Using a compact 34t chainring with a 30t cassette will lower the gear ratio to 1.1. The top end 4.0 ratio of the strada is equivalent to a 52t chainring with a 13t sprocket. Let's face it, how many recreational cyclists us their 52:11 gearing???

Other innovations 3T claim for the Strada are;

- wider tyre clearance to increase comfort and aerodynamics
- more aerodynamic tubing design
- bottle cage position hides the bottles from the airflow

Read about the 3T below with the link to their website and a first ride review from Bike Radar

https://www.3t.bike/en/3t-bikes/strada-1.html

http://www.bikeradar.com/…/…/product/3t-strada-review-51396/

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My 2017 Season

whatever
Posted on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 

With the 2017 season over and winter upon us I thought this would be a good opportunity to have a look back at the highs and lows of the 2017 season.

 

Throughout 2017 I rode for Pedalsport CC which is a club based in Halifax with Pedalsport being a cycle shop there. However, Pedalsport has recently changed its name to Giant Halifax which is who I will be racing for next year. For this season I was also a Great Britain cycling team apprentice which was brilliant and I learnt a lot through it thanks to my coach Ben Greenwood to whom I owe a lot to for all my results this year.

 

Anyways on to the season. The season started quite quickly this year with the first round of the national youth circuit series being in late March in London. I had a good ride here and placed 2nd which I was extremely happy with. The race split up massively thanks to the fairly short but steep hill that we tackled every lap which resulted in a solo victory for the winner and then me winning the sprint from the chasing 4 man break behind. I attacked as soon as the victor went to try and bridge but it wasn’t enough so had to settle for 2nd through winning the sprint from the break that formed trying to chase down the leader. This was a hard race being off the front of the bunch for over an hour.


After this came the Easter holidays where the Pedalsport team had a training camp/holiday in Calpe, Spain. This was a great week away with mates and we all got some solid miles in as well. The people that went were me, Josh Greenwood, Max Rushby, Fin Cooper and James Bunting all of who have had great seasons also. The next big race to come was the Isle of Man youth tour which unfortunately wasn’t the best of races for me after a bad opening prologue and not quite having the climbing legs that I had at Hog hill. However, I still managed to get 5th on one stage and 8th overall.

Throughout May were the regional omnium qualifiers. These were held over 3 weekends where the top 4 placed overall riders after the 4 rounds qualify to go through to the national final/championships in July. Unfortunately, I was ill for a couple of these omniums and wasn’t in a qualifying position going in to the final round. However, I really manged to pull it out of the bag in the final omnium at Manchester velodrome where I placed 3rd overall and brought myself in to joint 4th overall with Josh meaning that we both qualified to our relief.                                                                                                                                                   May finished with the second stage race of the year and third round of the national series the North-West Youth Tour. I managed to get my second national podium of the year here placing 3rd overall after getting 3rd on the hilly stage and 5th in the flat stage that came down to a bunch sprint. I was happy with this as I podiumed overall and placed highly in a bunch sprint which I had not yet done this year, but was also a little disappointed as my prologue again wasn’t good and I felt like my climbing legs weren’t quite at their best after 3 weeks of track focus in the omniums leading up to this big event.  

 

June came next and with it came my first win of the season! I had been getting good results all year but never quite got the victory either nationally or in the few local races I had done so I was very happy to get the win in the under 16s Doncaster town centre crit in the first weekend of June. The crit season in Yorkshire is always hotly contested with the standard of riders in Yorkshire being so high in my age category as there is 5 riders usually in the top 10 in nationals all from Yorkshire and all of which do the crits. At Doncaster I managed to counter attack with 12 laps of a 1km circuit remaining and solo away to the victory. I am very thankful to Max and Josh for this victory also who slowed the bunch down to allow me to stay away and take the victory. Max also took the bunch sprint for 2nd as well to get us a 1-2 for Pedalsport. I then also raced the 3/4 cat men’s race afterwards and managed to win the bunch sprint in that to take 2nd behind Max who won solo this time. This was a pretty great day for us as it got Pedalsport the second 1-2 of the day just with the positions of the riders swapped.

More crits at Ilkley, Otley and Skipton followed which unfortunately I didn’t do as well in as I got 4th in all 3 which was quite frustrating. I did however manage to get 2nd in the 3/4 cat mens race at Ilkley which was quite pleasing.

 During June there was also another round of the National series which was a crit in Stirling, Scotland where I unfortunately didn’t have great legs but managed to pick up 10th. This was however a very special day as I saw my great friend and team mate Max take a very worthy win in a national race.

 

July was a very successful month for me and the Pedalsport riders and the first big race of it was the national omnium championships. I somehow managed to get a surprise 4th overall at this event which I was happy with as it was very unexpected. The events were the kilo TT, devil, scratch, keirin and points all of which went well for me. I improved my kilo by a lot which I was happy with as it had been something I had struggled with and managed to place 11th in it. I then placed 4th in the devil, 8th in the scratch and very surprisingly 2nd in the keirin which left me laying 5th going in to the final race the points. I raced well again managing to win the final sprint and moved up to 4th which was something I would’ve never expected going in to today. However, I was also a little disappointed as I ended up being only 4 points off a medal in the end, but the day was a great success never the less as James Bunting won the national title which was great to see.

The national road champs came the weekend after in Milton Keynes where unfortunately it wasn’t my day and I finished 10th. I tried to get away but both a mixture of the course and my legs meant I couldn’t, so I had to contest the bunch sprint where I did ok.

Next however was a weekend filled with success in the Txuma international stage race in the Basque country in Spain. There were 3 stages which were all hilly and completely different to racing in Britain. On the first stage I attacked after the first intermediate sprint along with Jenson from Pedalsport and we stayed away for 15km. We were however caught and it came down to a bunch sprint. Me and Max tried to lead out Josh but it didn’t quite work unfortunately but we still managed to get Max 4th on the stage, me 6th and Josh 8th. This got us in to the lead in the team classification after stage 1. On the 2nd stage there was a very hard hill where Jenson and Max worked for me and I was able to take the maximum KOM points at the top to put me in contention for the jersey. The group was quite small going in to the finish but Billy, another one of the Pedalsport riders, attacked and took the bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint. Unfortunately, a solo leader got away which meant the win was out of sight but I managed to get 3rd in the bunch sprint to take 4th on the stage. On the final stage we as a team decided to work for Billy early on and then for me and Max to attack later to try and get away. This worked well and I was able to lead out Max and Billy to get a 1-2 on the first intermediate sprint but after this I didn’t have the legs to get away when I attacked so was brought back quite easily. A 2 man break got away on the last time up the draggy hill and they stayed away to the finish as no one had the legs to bring them back. I was still able to take 10th on the stage which was good. This left me with 3 top 10s on the stages, 4th in the mountains classification, 4th in the points classification and 3rd in the team classification. It was a great weekend with great people and has given me confidence for the upcoming races as my legs felt very good and has also made me excited for the Spanish races next year which I will hopefully be back for.

  

August was the last full month of racing for me and of my youth career with only one race coming in September. First up were the National track championships in Newport. First came the individual pursuit where I got 16th. This may not seem too good but I was very happy as I improved on my PB by 5 seconds to get a decent time of 2:23 which was a big deal to me as I had really struggled with TTing all year. I then managed to get 8th in the points, 7th in the scratch, 14th in the 500 TT and a controversial 4th (3rd) in the Madison. Track nationals overall as a week were decent.

A little over a week later came the final ever under 16s national series race I would do at Scarborough. I was so happy to win and finally get a national series win to my name! There was a really hard hill every lap that reached ramps of 25%. Max attacked after the first time up the hill and I followed him and in that moment we got a huge gap. We slowly reeled back the 3 riders up the road and after the final time up the hill Max lead me out for me to take the sprint from the small group of 5 to take the victory. It really meant a lot to win this race and I owe a huge amount to Max for it.

     

After a small holiday in Whitby in Josh’s caravan it was on to the School games in Loughborough next. Here I represented my home county of Yorkshire along with 7 others from my region. Unfortunately, I didn’t have great legs this weekend so could only place 9th in the road race but it was a great weekend with great people and the Yorkshire boys did really well overall which was good.

The season finished at the inter-regional track championships which were run in the same way as the school games but with just cycling taking place. I again represented Yorkshire where we finished 3rd overall as a team and got lots of great results along the way. For me personally I managed to place 3rd in the points race, win the Madison with my partner and team mate Sam Watson, win the team sprint with Max and James and also win the team pursuit with all 3 of them and managing to break the national record in the process. It was a fantastic way to end the season!

 

I would like to thank everyone at Pedalsport/Giant Halifax who has helped throughout the year both in the shop and for the team and at British cycling who helped loads putting on all the events and training sessions for me and everyone else all year. I would also like to thank all the parents who have helped and supported all year also and a very big thank you to my parents as nothing would have been possible without them! I would finally like to thank all my teammates and friends that I’ve made and been with all year who made the year what it was. Hopefully another good season will come next year with Giant Halifax.


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Upcoming Rider Blogs

whatever
Posted on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 
Over the next year we will be featuring a regular blog from a Junior rider, Dylan Westley.  Dylan will be racing for Giant Halifax Race Team during 2018 and has some great goals for the 2018 season.  Look out for his 2017 season review later and then regular blogs throughout the year.
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I'm A Zwifter Now

whatever
Posted on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 

I’m A Zwifter Now

I don't know about you but I've always found winter turbo training a real turn off. Riding my bike is about getting out on the open road, enjoying the fresh air, the scenery.  Not sweating away, staring at a wall, counting down the minutes to the next interval.  But how else do you keep fitness through the dark winter weekdays, juggling work, family and daylight ?

Last winter whilst I was trying to see if rollers would alleviate the boredom of indoor training ( a little ), a core of my riding buddies were trying out Zwift. At first I thought it was just a nice gimmick, a game to distract you from the tedium of a turbo session.  However, as I watched on from the edge I saw their enjoyment increasing.  They were racing each other, doing TTTs, there was a social aspect to Zwift.   Here was a group of buddies enjoying a social riding experience in the confines of their own pain cave.  So, what the heck, I thought I'd give it a go as we come into the European winter.  There's a free 2 month subscription with Strava Premium so what was there to lose.

I can honestly say from the first Zwift ride I was hooked.  For my second ride, I joined in one of the many races along with a couple of my riding buddies and it was fantastic.  My first ride was the Zwift FTP Test to work out my W/kg.  The W/kg is used in races to see which race Cat you are.   There is long, structured warm up for around 40 mins and during this time the novelty of the virtual world distracted me from the fact that I was on a turbo.  My turbo isn't a smart turbo and so climbs aren't simulated but I could see my screen avatar slowing down on the ascents and so I had to pedal harder to maintain a decent pace. 

Then the 20 min FTP test came up.  On the screen your, speed, cadence, heart rate and power are all displayed.  (Zwift is estimating my power based on my weight and the power curve from my make and model of turbo).  I had a good idea of where my FTP was so knew where to pitch my effort, treating it as a TT - steady ramp up to the effort, hold the effort and then empty the tank in the last 5 mins.  The power & heart rate numbers on screen were my motivation, whizzing past other riders and looking at the scenery my distraction. And it worked. The 20 min test was brutal but I finished feeling exhausted and at the same time exhilarated with the effort. 

So, to my first race.  I was on the boundary of a Cat C & B rider so opted to go for Cat C and see how it went.   The race event opens 15 mins from the start and when you enter, you are put in the starting pen on a virtual turbo so you keep warming up until the start.   My buddies have me some great advice - about 30 secs before the starting whistle, ramp up your effort to just above your threshold power. 

There is no neutralised start and you are off from the gun. Ramping up the effort means you start with the pack and have a chance of staying with them.  So it was full gas from the gun and trying to keep with the main group.  I knew I wouldn't stay with the Cat A front group but wanted to make sure I could make a group made up of Cat B & C riders and we could work together.   After about 2 mins of full gas effort I settled into a group of about 8 riders and I could back off a little and keep in the draft of the group. Yes - Zwift simulates drafting and it's great!   So for the next 30 mins I rode with the group (which included one of my buddies), taking my turns on the front and recovering in the draft. 

 After 30 mins, the group was tiring and some of the stronger riders attacked.  I tried to go with them but they had attacked on a hill and gravity is not my friend, not even in the virtual world.  So for the next 15 mins I rode solo, chasing down riders in front who had been dropped from groups up the road and then gave it full beans in the sprint for the line.   I crossed the line in 5th in the Cat C race, 2 seconds down on my buddy and I was buzzing.  It had never felt like a turbo session at any time and I had basically just done a brutal 45 minute, over - unders session.

 So there it is - I'm hooked.   I'm a Zwifter.   I'm looking to upgrade my system to get an improved Zwift experience - smart trainer, better graphics card - and I have high hopes of finally having an enjoyable turbo training season. 

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