July – the Month of Criteriums

July was a tough month for me with one big crash which I am still recovering from, unfortunately. The other hurdle was a mental one, which has been hard at times. There have been times this month that I have wanted to climb off the bike, there were more of these than I would have hoped for. Thankfully I only climbed off my bike twice as these were two days that just didn’t go my way, really.

That was the summary of the month, but let’s go from the start. Unfortunately right at the beginning, yes the first race of the month at the Fete Du Velo criterium, I was there with all my family for my cousin’s first birthday, which was quite special. Anyway the race was going well until the last lap which was confusingly 15 mins before the predicted finish time. This change in plan caught the whole peloton off guard and caused a panic where everyone saw 1 lap to go and were out of position. So I bombed it round the outside at 54kmh (33.3mph) and hoped for the best, to my distaste a rider from the fast train pulled out of said train as he probably couldn’t hold the pace and drifted wide. As I shouted and passed him on his right shoulder going into a banking left hander his rear wheel lost touch with the tarmac and took me out in the process. Many gashes on the knee weren’t bad but it was the swelling that was the worst. The worst cut though was on the elbow and 4 weeks later it still is healing.

This put paid to my ambitions to my crit season, and I would be lucky to be able compete at Guildford, my local town-centre criterium Unfortunately I had to pull out of Otley national series criterium because of the swelling and my inability to bend the knee, let alone pedal a bike. Then came Farnham and I used it as a confidence booster because as is always the case after a crash your skill at the time of the incident is always dreadful afterwards, and that’s an understatement. Anyway my concerns about not riding Guildford were put to bed when I got round the pro criterium on a terribly surfaced course at Farnham. I was buzzing for Guildford especially when I found out all of my school mates were coming to watch.

Correct me if I am wrong but I think I put on a show. It was the first race I had been buzzing for since Axel 3-day back in May. The race started fast and just a bit too fast for me and distanced me after the second lap. But I didn’t give up – I had the front peloton of main professional riders in my sights for the entire race bar two laps at the end. To put it in other words I matched the professionals’ pace on my own, pushing my own wind, when the professionals were taking turns and working as teams at the front of their bunch. So to say the least I was pretty proud of myself. It also cooked me tremendously for my race on the following Saturday which was the Omloop het Nieuwsblad race, which really didn’t go my way in terms of good legs, and was the first of 2 races which I DNFed this month.

I then went a week away for some much needed training and mental break, and came back from it feeling refreshed both physically and mentally at least for a short while, where on returning to England I snagged myself a 4th place at the national road series BathRC road race in England. I was super happy and proud to have found my legs and most importantly my head.

I feel like I kept my head into a crap national championships on the most dangerous and boring of courses and shocking organisation, quite frankly. Anyway I tried things and it didn’t quite work out. So I said onto the next one, which was today as I am writing this (30th July) it was a brutal day with insanely gusty winds which would challenge that of E3 BinckBank Classic earlier this year. My head half way through turned and I went into a downhill spiral really and DNFed again. I was disappointed and finding reasons why I was not performing at the biggest races Juniors could compete in. I didn’t have that buzz that I talked about earlier. In the end I rationalised (a little) about my insecurities about the post-neutralisation section and my earlier injury that is still lingering. I figured that this was one cause for my lack of legs deeper into the race. Anyway I am going to do this week as normal and get to the weekend for the Johan Museeuw Classic and a singular Kermesse which I am looking forward to do. I might also put a TT in there to let loose some feelings that I have bottled up and see if I can get a course record!

August is an important month, with one stage race in France which is my last attempt at putting in a good result for worlds selection, and a few other classic type races.

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