Thursday, 28 May 2009 and my foray into journalism

After my post about Theo Bos and the Tour of Turkey crash (mostly my translation of his version of the events), contacted me to ask if they could use it on their site. I said no problem, and also mentioned that I liked to write other stuff too -- so should they by chance have something else they wanted covered, to let me know!

Sure enough, Tom Boonen's cocaine bust happened about a month later, but much of the media coverage was in Dutch of course. Velonews asked me to put together a little article summarising the Belgian media's handling of this fall from grace by Belgium's biggest sports star. I found a couple of interesting articles including this interview with Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere, and wrote a piece about it last weekend. The following Tuesday I was quite pleased to see it on the Velonews site with me listed as a "London-based journalist"!

The article is here for those who haven't seen it yet. Pretty cool to see my name in print like that, and hopefully it won't be the last time either. My love of writing has been rediscovered and rekindled over the past few months with my regular posts to this blog, making me think I should take it a bit more seriously and write more in general. It would be nice to carve out a little niche on the side, but even without a paycheque I've been enjoying putting thoughts on paper again for others to read.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Wokingham Half-Marathon report

Early in the raceLate in the race

Thinking last week about running, Vdot, and training paces got me realising that I haven't done a timed running race in a while. Well, I did the Tadworth Ten back in January -- on frozen ground with insanely steep hills, the most sufferable 10 miles I've ever run -- but my time was so poor I'd like to forget that was even a race. I'm planning to run a 10k in the first week of my Ironman taper in July, but since a lot of my training until then is being done at half-marathon pace, I had a look around for something local and found the Wokingham half marathon last Sunday. It was originally scheduled to be run in February, but a freakish bout of snow forced its postponement as the roads were too icy. Since many folks had signed up for it as prep for the London Marathon -- long over now, of course -- that it wasn't hard to find a spare race number at the last minute.

My last half-marathon was run on a blustery February day in 2007, leaving me with a pretty soft PB at 1:40:10, so I knew that unless things completely went south, I'd get a new best time in Wokingham. Sub-1:35 was the goal, sub-1:33 the dream, but the recent hot and sunny weather had me reconsidering how hard I should go. I've done only a few runs in 20+ degree temps this year, and all were either slow or painful or both. Sunday morning dawned completely clear blue skies and 15 degrees already at 7am, so it was going to be a "scorcher" as far as May in northern Europe goes. (Note to my Ontario friends: yes, I can hear you all laughing now from your air-conditioned comfort that 20 degrees is hot, but let me tell you: when you're not acclimatised to it and suddenly have to run in full sun and warm weather, it might as well be Hawaii!) So I dressed in my triathlon race kit -- singlet and trishorts, calf guards and sunglasses, foregoing the hat for a change so my hair could get some sun -- and headed to the race. Rode my fixie bike to the station, took the train 45 min to Wokingham and rode to the race start (planning to ride the 45km home as cooldown/recovery).

Only about half of the registered 2000 runners showed up, making the start pleasantly uncrowded. The course was reasonably flat with just a few hills (mostly highway overpasses). The first kilometre was downhill, meaning the last would be painfully uphill: nearly impossible to get a negative split, in other words. Since I tend not to go off like a rocket, I often seed myself a bit further back than I should, and this race with its 1:11 female course record had me a bit hesitant to move very far up the start chute. Had I been running in 2008 with the time I set this year, I would have finished merely 419th out of 2000 people overall and the 54th woman. To put that into perspective, in the flat and fast Toronto Waterfront half-marathon with over 6000 participants, that same time would have landed me 214th and 26th place respectively! England certainly has a lot of strong runners!

With a 4:30/km pace in my head, dead on to run a 1:35 half marathon, I set off, crossing the start line only 30 seconds after the horn. It was pretty hard not to go out at a crazy pace, given the downhill, the adrenalin and the hordes of people flying past me. But I reined in my self-control after a 6:53 first mile, and managed to get though the first 5km in a respectable 21:47 (4:22/km or 7:01/mile). This was a pace I thought I could probably sustain for most of the race if I could stay cool and hydrated. Funny how my body has an uncanny ability to "know" more or less how fast I can run for a given distance in a race; I'm usually pretty good at pacing myself based on perceived effort and feel (the Tadworth Ten, being poorly paced, is the exception that proves the rule). Funny how most other people, Garmin devices or not, have no idea how to pace themselves and the ones who fly by me early usually implode around halfway and plummet backwards! This was going to be one of those days, made even worse by the warm weather. People were going to be suffering later, I could tell.

The first aid station was at 3.5 miles, and I promptly grabbed two cups of water to dump over my head and another to drink. Nobody else seemed to be doing the water over the head thing, surprisingly, but I didn't hold back. Every aid station brought fresh cold water for my head, neck and back, and I gulped down as much as I could (which is never very much but always seems to be enough). By 10km (43:54) I was surprised at how easy it all still felt; in fact, I was running along feeling so good that I started wondering why I didn't race half-marathons more often. It seems like the perfect distance, really: long enough to be run at a strong but not killer pace, short enough to limit the muscle pain to only the last few miles or so. 5k races are bleary-eyed flat-out gasping for air, 10k is a battle between you and your lactate threshold, and 15k is run right on the limit of (dis)comfort. But a full marathon starts out boring and shifts to painful with only a small window of enjoyment between about 15-25km. So a half is really the perfect distance to race, and also the perfect distance to train for, requiring a good mix of volume, distance and speed work but nothing long or crazy. Why have I only discovered this now?

15km came and went at 1:06:08 -- a new PB for that distance too, I'm pleased to report -- and with it the last water station. Right around that time, the course turned back south and the sun was full-on, all the shade disappeared and the wind was now slightly behind me. And I faced the worst hills of the day, with the same 50m in climbing that I'd descended in the first 6km. None of the hills were steep, but the combination of heat and sun, along with the now-starting-to-hurt downhills made them tougher than I expected. Passing the mile 11 sign, my patience was finally up and I started to run faster, wanting to see if I could break that 1:33 that I'd been keeping in the back of my mind.

Overtaking the people who'd blown up and were walking spurred me on, but just as I hit the mile 12 marker, I was seized by a massive side stitch, like I'd been stabbed. This has happened a few times in training, always after I'd been running for an hour or more then picked it up to tempo pace for a few kms. So frustrating! And it's not a nagging side stitch that I can run through uncomfortably, but the kind that makes it impossible to breathe and so so painful. Nothing to do but stop and hope it goes away.

So I had to stop and try to fix it. I spent about 20 seconds by the side of the road stretching my right side, digging my fingers under my ribcage to try and massage whatever was pulling everything painfully tight. I managed to get running again, albeit gingerly, but by then 1:33 was gone and I was just trying to hold on to 1:35. 12 to 12.5 miles was my slowest-paced half-mile of the day at 7:50/mile (4:52/km), including the stop. But the final km turned uphill and that helped, with no downhills to jar my body and the effort forcing me to breathe deeply. From 12.5 to 13 miles, I picked it up again to 6:58/mile (4:19/km) pace, and by the final turn I was running pretty hard, watching the race clock tick over to finish at 1:34:06. Chip time: 1:33:38 for a PB of 6 minutes and 32 seconds, good for 15th woman and 184th overall out of 1062.

I'm pretty disappointed to have to stop and walk in the last mile as I did, but given the conditions and the full week of training that I'd put in, I'm pretty pleased with my result. My resulting Vdot is up to 48.7 now and that represents what I can really do in a midday summer race, which means my training should be dead on for Ironman Lake Placid. Riding the fixie home, however, was not the wisest plan, as my legs were feeling pretty rough and the rolling roads for the first 25km did not give them much respite -- either uphill or downhill!

Final numbers:

Wokingham Half Marathon
Duration 1:33:36
Work n/a
rTSS 158.4 (0.953)
NGP 4:20 (230.6 m/min)
VI n/a
Pw:HR n/a/
Pa:HR 2.46%
Distance 21.137 km
Elevation Gain 644 m
Elevation Loss 641 m
Grade 0.0 % (3 m)
Heart Rate 119 195174 bpm
Speed 0 19.1 13.5 kph
Pace 3:08 0:00 4:26 min/km
Altitude 26 66 46 m

With my new improved Vdot, I get to run everything 5 sec/km faster in training now. :) My new training paces are the following:

Run Zones
ZoneHRPace Mile/km
Z1/EP < 155 8:40/5:23
Z2/MP 151-159 7:24/4:36
Z3/HMP 160-168 7:06/4:25
Z4/TP 175-181 6:58/4:19
Z5/IP > 182 6:32/4:03

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Milestones and Benchmarks

Yesterday was my birthday and I've now hit that (magical?) 35-year mark. Halfway to 40, a "veteran" category runner, and apparently I should be starting now if I want to have kids someday. A lot to think about! Of course I benefit from aging up to the 35-39 category for my Ironman, and I get to use the excuse that the girls who thrash me soundly in my cycle races are young enough to be my kids (not that I was much of a sprinter when I was their age regardless!) In the sense, I should be glad to be aging, as not only am I genetically more inclined to the endurance side, I've got nearly 20 years of base-building behind me to support it. Put them in a 6-hour race against me and I'll win every time, right? So why am I racing those one-hour crits again?

Otherwise I've had a reasonable training week, getting over the cold I had last week and setting some new benchmarks and best times:

  • Tuesday: a hard clockwise lap of Richmond Park on the road bike, setting a new best time of 19:31. Had I really wanted to set a big PB, I should have ridden the other way to have the wind at my back on the long draggy climb up to Richmond Gate, but mostly I wanted to get a 20-min baseline power level.

  • Wednesday: my first ever 10-mile time trial, a low-key event put on by my club every other week. It consists of riding 5 miles as hard as possible down a divided highway, turning at the roundabout, then riding the same 5 miles back (again as hard as possible). I put down a respectable 25:33 time, not bad considering I've never ridden the course and I was on my road bike with no aero bars. I wanted to get a baseline wattage from the Powertap so I could compare and contrast with later TTs on my TT bike (alas I'm still waiting for my Powertap 650c Hed wheel to be built).

Interesting to compare the 2 sets of data (taken from WKO+). The peak 20-min power numbers were also fairly similar (250NP/240AP for Richmond Park and 247NP/242AP for the time trial), though the shorter effort had a higher VI as I was resting in the 30 seconds immediately following the 19:31 effort!

Club 10-Mile TTRichmond Park lap
Duration 25:31 (25:37)19:30 (19:31)
Work 369 kJ283 kJ
TSS 41.8 (IF 0.992)32.4 (IF 0.999)
Norm Power 248250
VI 1.031.03
Pw:HR 5.48%-0.6%
Pa:HR -1.37%6.07%
Distance 16.121 km10.834 km
Elevation Gain 274 m294 m
Elevation Loss 290 m289 m
Grade -0.1 % (-17 m)0.0 % (5 m)

Power 0519 241 watts0 397 241 watts
Heart Rate 118 182174 bpm146 180 169 bpm
Cadence 50 114 97 rpm62 150 96 rpm
Speed 2 52.8 37.9 kph14.5 54.1 33.3 kph
Pace 1:08 30:00 1:35 min/km1:07 4:08 1:48 min/km
Altitude 79 119 100 m3 57 30 m
Crank Torque 0 64.1 23.8 N-m0 43.6 24.1 N-m

Judging from my data in the power distribution chart in WKO+, my FTP is around 250 watts, though I have yet to formally test it on a good, rested day. Both the efforts above run a little low if my FTP really is 250. However, I felt during both of them that I "could have gone harder but just couldn't" if that makes any sense. On Tuesday I was still feeling the effects of my cold, as evidenced by my low average HR, and on Wednesday my legs felt a bit tired from Tuesday. Still, it's good to set some numbers as a baseline.

My plan for next week is to complete two 20-min efforts in the park with a two minute rest between, to try and get a solid idea of my peak 60-minute power or FTP for training purposes. I'll probably do this on Tuesday after a reasonably easy Monday. The next club 10-mile TT is the week after that, when I'll (hopefully) have my tri bike PT wheel finished, or if not I'll pop some clip-on aero bars on my road bike and reverse the seatpost to approximate my TT bike position (not sure how much effect it will have on my wattage, but it should make me a bit faster!) Then at the beginning of the taper for my Ironman I'll do a 25-mile TT to get my real and current 60-min FTP to set my race wattages for IMLP accordingly.

  • Saturday: a long ride with Jim into the Surrey Hills to tackle a couple of our favourite climbs (my first such ride with the Powertap). I managed to get up the nearly 1km 10% Whitedown in a new best time of 4:00 flat, average watts 281, knocking nearly a minute off my previous fastest. Since my peak 5-minute power is 294, I think there's room for improvement there too (and I'm already wincing at my next date with Whitedown, that's gonna hurt!)


Probably part of why I was a bit tired on Wednesday was that I did some hard 1-mile running intervals earlier in the day. I've recently become a paying member of Endurance Nation again, as I felt I needed that extra little push in doing my best at Lake Placid. According to the Vdot calculator, I've got a Vdot of 48 these days (not having done a 10km race for ages, I had to use my most recent 3-mile club handicap for the calculations). According to EN's formula, my running paces are as follows:

Run Zones
ZoneHRPace Mile/km
Z1/EP < 151 8:49/5:28
Z2/MP 152-161 7:32/4:41
Z3/HMP 162-170 7:14/4:30
Z4/TP 171-177 7:05/4:24
Z5/IP > 178 6:39/4:08

Most of the workouts in the EN plan call for longer intervals at Z3 and Z4 pace, not a whole lot at Z5 (intervals of five minutes or less). Lo and behold, my mile repeats were exactly at Z5 pace which more or less confirms my Vdot zones, so that's useful. Thankfully I can now do the lion's share of my running at the more reasonable Z3 and Z4 from now on!


Erm... nothing to report here yet, but I will be tackling some outdoor swims at the Princes Club on Monday evenings from now on. Apparently the water is a balmy 15 degrees Celsius, just cold enough to make me want to swim pretty hard, wetsuit or not! Yikes. Fridays I'll be hitting either the indoor pool in Kingston, or the heated outdoor pool in Hampton.


As I've been writing this, the Grand Prix criterium at Hillingdon was taking place (i.e., an hour of pain and punishment at the hands of the country's elite female crit riders and sprinters). I'd signed up for it, but once I found out the course was going to be run backwards from what I'm used to -- meaning the normal uphill finish becomes a flat tailwind sprint -- I decided not to bother going, in favour of getting in that 90-minute run I never did this week. I went through a major review of my training schedule the other day, and with only 10 weeks to go before Ironman Lake Placid, I think running today is infinitely wiser than racing a crit, from an IM training point of view. So today's run will include two 15-minute intervals at Z3 in Richmond Park, which is a great ipod pace for my first post-35th-birthday run.

10 weeks to go! Holy @#$%!

Friday, 8 May 2009

I've been kicked out of Ironman UK

Well, it's official. I'm out of Ironman UK. It's been a most bizarre past few days, but the lowdown is that the IMUK race owner, Alison Boon, has taken offense to my posting an e-mail she had sent to me to the forum. As such, she's sent me a litany of accusatory and berating e-mails and withdrawn me from the race. Thankfully (and surprisingly) she did refund my money, so I suppose I should be happy for that at least.

A little background: I signed up for the race back in December, knowing fully that it would be a new course this year, but believing the IMUK organisation when they said they would have courses organised and the website updated by the end of January. January and February came and went with no update; finally in March they posted a map to the bike course but no other information about the transitions, the run, where the finish line would be or much else. Not only me but a lot of other competitors were getting antsy about it, as was evidenced by the posts to the forum. And frankly, judging from the standard set by other IM websites around the world, IMUK's was and still is woefully inadequate, so we did have something to be antsy about. It's now less than 3 months to race day with many questions still left unanswered.

Finally, last week IMUK sent out a mass e-mail with a link promoting an affiliated training programme created "specifically for the 2009 IRONMAN UK course in Bolton". Interesting, since no official info on the run course has been released! I e-mailed them to ask what was going on, and to say that instead of sending me spam trying to sell me something, how about some real information about the course? IMUK's rep Ms. Boon replied with a long list of as-of-then not publicly known information, which I posted chapter and verse to the TriTalk forum in the interest of sharing it with other racers. One of the things she mentioned that struck me as particularly unfair and unprofessional was that there were two different run courses being considered and being "tested" by competitors in the race: meaning that some competitors knew what the run course could be, while others still had no idea. Hmmm.

And that's where it really went wrong. Yep, I'll admit it, I was definitely critical of the IMUK organisation on that forum thread, and I wasn't the only one. But I stand by my opinion that IMUK has been extremely remiss in providing proper info to its competitors this year. The big irony is that the same day they withdrew me from the race, they updated the website with all the same information about the transitions, aid stations, and the run course that had been in the e-mail sent to me, so in a way my mission has been accomplished. Too bad it had to be accomplished like this!

There are two sides to every story, no doubt, and I should have paraphrased rather than posted her e-mail as a direct copy-and-paste to the forum. But that was out of pure laziness rather than malice. And I don't think it should have gotten me kicked out of the race. In the original letter from IMUK's rep Ms. Boon, she said they are kicking me out due to my "overwhelming inability to follow instructions" (i.e, that I didn't notice the confidentiality disclaimer at the bottom of the previous e-mail which stated that the contents could not be reproduced without permission). Nowhere can I see in IMUK's rules or in any Ironman rules anywhere that a competitor should be kicked out for neglecting to adhere to a small-print e-mail disclaimer.

As well -- through my postings to the forum I guess? because I was very definitely polite to her in my e-mails -- she said I was "unacceptably rude" to her organisation. She informed me she isn't going to stand by while I "bring the name of Ironman into disrepute" and "constantly rumour-monger and cast aspersions about her event and the Ironman brand". To top off her letter, she says she's kicking me out in order to avoid my choosing not to follow rules or instructions on race day (apparently she's clairvoyant too).

Subsequent letters from Ms. Boon have included childish rhetoric and nonsensical statements about Freedom of Speech, whether what I posted was "fact", and the interpretation of the race rules. After her first e-mail, I posted to the forum warning another competitor to be careful what he wrote there as it could be construed as a violaton of the Ironman rules, and she then e-mailed me quoting what I said and lambasting me for it. When I replied to say that we would have to agree to disagree about the whole thing, she informed me that there was no need for that, as she knows I was completely in the wrong. Or something like that. It's been difficult to tell what she means at all, between the spelling errors, incoherent rants and general unprofessional tone she's taken with me.

For me, these e-mails have just confirmed what I already suspected about the lack of professionalism in the IMUK organisation. I did call her immediately upon receiving her first e-mail, hoping I could apologise and straighten out what to me was a bad misunderstanding. But she never called back, instead choosing to write those long rambling e-mails justifying her actions. I've since read that IMUK allegedly sued some racers a few years back for writing critical comments about one of their events on a forum, and also for writing to the World Triathlon Corporation to complain about a possible lack of safety in the race. Unbelievable. I think at this point, I need to simply give up and cut my losses. What's that old saying about not trying to argue with fools?

Anyway, with friends like that, who needs enemies, so I'm out of IMUK and it's probably an opportunity more than a crisis. I was really gunning for a Kona slot this year -- hence my desire to know the course as early as possible -- and now I fear that there's no way I could be treated fairly if I did this race. I'm probably lucky to get my money back. This is after all, a race that bascially sells out every year, and people will continue to sign up for it (as it's the only official Ironman race in the UK) regardless of who's running it.

So tell all your friends: be careful when dealing with any races put on by these organisers. I also advise anyone who is considering anything to do with IMUK to do their research before paying their money. Wish I had done that. Instead I'm now lodging official complaints with the WTC, along with various local governments who have paid IMUK to host the event in their jurisdictions.

As for me, I'm not put off from doing an Ironman. In fact, just the opposite: I think Ironman is a fantastic product and I will continue to do races in the future. I've been planning and training for this event for months now, and this is the best shape I've been in for years, so I don't want to give that all up. I'm now thinking about a charity slot for Lake Placid for my "A" race of the season. Will cost a bit extra but it's for a good cause, and it means my family in North America can come and watch. Still gunning for that Kona slot! It's just too bad I won't be able to go for that slot in my adopted country anymore.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

2 Days of Bedford Women's Stage Race Report

(Click on the photo to see the slide show)

This past weekend I did my first ever stage race. My Surrey League team with 6 members made our way to Bedford on Sunday morning, staying over Sunday night and racing again Monday: a total of 4 races over 2 days. The British Cycling preview for the race listed some strong riders, but in the end the Belgian team pulled out, leaving the best teams to be Squadra Donne, MaxGear RT and Altura Patterson.

Day 1

We started out in the morning with a 9.7km team time trial which was cool. Our team of 6 was quickly whittled to 5 early on, but the rest of us pulled together quite well for a solid through-and-off (considering we've never raced together!) I felt quite strong and did a huge pull at the front in the final km . Our end time was 15:50, which was 1:17 behind the lead team. Looking back, I think we could have gone a bit harder, but seeing as some of us had just met for the first time and we were on a mix of TT and roadbikes in windy conditions, I think we did well just to put in a solid performance and finish together. We ranked 9th out of 14 teams.

In the afternoon was a 80km (5 laps of 16km) road race, complete with hill points and sprint points. I made the crucial mistake of not eating enough between -- thinking that I hadn't done that much in the morning to warrant eating tons -- and by the end of the first lap I was already starting to feel the elastic being stretched. Just had no kick in my legs and my stomach was complaining about lack of food. The sprint for the prime points on the second lap stretched out the field considerably, and I was lucky to hang on. A crash happened soon after that which left about 30 in the front bunch, myself included.

Between the hills prime (on the finish line of laps 2 and 3) and the crosswind/downhill section immediately following, and the sprint prime right after that, things were really strung out and I was finally shelled off the back with a few others. Five of us managed to work together pretty well, however, and we got the bunch back with a few km to go before the bell lap. I must say my heart sank a little bit when we caught the bunch because I knew by then I would just have to endure another confidence-busting shelling out the back when the hills/downhill/sprint sequence came around again.

And so it did, and so I was. I spent the first 10km of the last lap by myself, working as hard as I could but gradually bonking, running out of water, and dying a slow death. Cramping up as well. Basically it all went wrong. Finally I was caught by a group of three including one of the crash survivors and we worked together til the finish. I ended up 32nd, four minutes back from the bunch. Not too badly considering how awful I felt, but disappointing.

The winner was the very strong Natalie Creswick of Twickenham CC. She managed to bridge over on the last lap to two girls who had gotten away, and the three of them rode together well til Natalie dropped them on the final climb. The bunch was another minute or so back from them, then there was my little group. Several teams had race radio and worked really well together as a team, with many of their riders strongly in the front bunch.

Day 2

It was a much better day Monday, despite not sleeping well and feeling rather unmotivated due to the rainy weather and general tiredness. From the moment I woke up, I started eating and never stopped the entire day, and this meant a huge improvement to my performance.

First up was a 3.4km time trial. I did a reasonable warmup but should have ridden more, and definitely should really have ridden the course -- lesson learned for next time -- as I'm sure I could have shaved 15 seconds off just through familiarity with the course. Still, not too bad, I finished in 5:43, good for 26th of 73 overall, which kept me in 32nd place.

The rain went away in time for our afternoon race, 70km in 4.5 laps around Bedfordshire. The race leader Julie Cook had 1:20 up on the 2nd placed rider, so it was just a matter of her team protecting against attacks to win it for her. The course was very fast through the lanes, both downhill and tailwind, but as soon as we turned onto the busy main road into a stiff headwind, things slowed to a crawl. Later I reflected that the first 2.5 laps were a perfect warm-up for my old tired legs, what with the 3-min hard, 2-min easy, 5-min hard, 10-min easy nature of the course. I really do seem to get better as the day goes on, even more so after two days of racing. I suspect I've always been a bit like this, though now that I'm nearly 35, it's just showing more and more when I'm up against the youngsters.

I sat in towards the mid/back of the bunch until the third lap, when I saw a good opportunity to move up during the lull after the sprint prime. Just as I did (and if only I had done it a few seconds earlier!), an attack with two strong riders went off the front and I jumped to join them. A bit late I think, as a few more jumped on me and the bunch was dragged back. Nevertheless I was now on the front after gunning up a short hill. Had a glance at the powermeter and saw I was well within myself so gave it some go and managed to string everyone out. The hill prime was 2km up the road and given how I felt on that hill in the previous laps, I thought I'd try for some points this time. Figured I would get overtaken early up the hill but then could sit on wheels and put in a big effort near the top again and reel people back in, as is the norm for me on hills it seems.

Coming around the corner with about 700m to go before the hill prime, some horses and riders were walking along the right of the road. I blew by them staying as left as possible, but I could see them start rearing up and then heard cries from the bunch. A few other girls joined me as the bunch slowed behind us, and we started to go hard up the hill, but suddenly the red flag came out of the race car. Apparently they were neutralising the race and actually wanted us to come to a complete stop on this 8% hill! We protested this loudly, all the while riding up the hill at 10km/h, and the bunch followed. At the top we all finally stopped and waited for the race to restart.

I was disappointed that I never got to go for my hill prime and a bit confused as to why the race was stopped -- given the carnage in the form of crashes and general complete disruption of the race by cars, parked cars, giant recycling trucks, etc. on the roads, I wouldn't have thought horses were any different. Turns out nobody was injured, one girl came off her bike but that could have happened regardless of the horses. Thinking about it now, I'm not sure what I should have done -- were we just doomed to wreak havoc on the horses whether I saw them and slowed, or not?

The race restarted and I resignedly resumed my position at mid-pack, not to be seen again til the finish on the same hill when I nipped a dozen girls on the way to a safe bunch finish about 25th or so. Ended up about 31st overall, 6:33 back from the GC winner. Still cursing my poor fueling from the day before that cost me so much time, but what to do. Better luck and better preparation next year.

I was definitely glad to regain some confidence on Monday after Sunday's disaster, but I'm feeling a bit fed up with the whole road racing thing for now. It's just so generally unsafe-feeling... cars everywhere, holes in the road, bad bike handling skills, horses even... think I'll stick to some traffic-free circuits for the next little while. My only other major issue with Sunday is that my Garmin 705 malfunctioned while saving my data from the race, meaning I lost all speed, power and HR data after 10 minutes into the race. The lap averages were saved, but that's it. Grrr...

Londoncyclesport's report and results here, British Cycling's is here. Jim took tons of photos which we're planning to throw on flickr or somewhere.

Jim's Race

Jim raced the men's support version of our road race on Sunday, a cat 2/3/4 on the exact same course, and did very well for his first road race ever. He was a bit disappointed to be dropped from the main group with half a lap to go, but considering that well over half the riders had been dropped in the 1st and 2nd laps while Jim hung on and even managed to try and bridge to an attack, I think he did pretty well. His report is on the Kingston Wheelers forum.