Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Why I always wear a baselayer

Even in a skinsuit. Even when tempted in hot weather to leave it home, I always wear at least a sleeveless light baselayer between me and my jersey. Why?  Because if I crash, I know that the material of the two garments will slide against each other as I slide down the road, hopefully saving my skin from painful road rash. Ever see a pro rider in a race after a high-speed crash, riding down the road with a half-melted skinsuit and huge patches of raw red skin where it just scraped off him?   Ouch.  I'd like to avoid that if possible, even if it means I'm a bit warmer than I'd like to be.

This summer I crashed at nearly 50km/h on a bumpy road during a road race.

This is what my jersey looked like after the crash.

My baselayer had a small hole in it underneath. My back was absolutely fine. Knee, elbow and hip were different stories though. Which got me thinking again, why aren't cycling shorts reinforced at the hip and buttock -- the most common places to crash and rip -- with some kind of thin kevlar? Or at the very least a second layer of lycra material so that impact with the road would see the layers sliding against each other rather than the single layer sliding against one's skin? Hmm...  I must not be the first person to think of this.

My helmet looked like this by the way.

That dent in the left side came from another rider crashing into me, not from hitting the ground. Helmets are mandatory in road racing around here and you won't catch me going without one on my race bike either solo or on the group ride anyway. I once crashed at about 5km/h on a easy-paced club run and spun around to hit the ground with the back of my head. Helmet compressed and smashed, me with a bad headache. Would have been a lot worse if I hadn't had one. Both helmets were sent off to be replaced with new ones for half the cost on the helmet manufacturer's crash replacement policy. Shame that the one this summer was only one day old! (yes, really... it had literally arrived the day before and had been ridden for about 2 hours before its untimely demise).

I always wear a baselayer.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Winning weekend (yes I'm back!)

Well it's been a long time since I've posted to my blog. Nearly 14 months... and a lot has happened in that time. More to be written about that in future posts once I come up with some nice charts and stats. But in the meantime, I'm back to racing and back to winning! It's a nice feeling. :)

Last Saturday was our club open hill climb, the John Bornhoft Memorial. I won this event in 2010 handily but having raced only sporadically this year I wasn't sure how I would do. To make matters worse, I have had a headcold since early September that never really went away and then came back with full force on Friday. So I wasn't heading into the weekend in the best of shape. On the plus side, I'm nearly 3lbs lighter than 2010 which is obviously helpful in hill climbing!

In the end, I managed to go 2.5 seconds faster than two years ago and win by nearly seven seconds -- though Emily is getting closer and closer every year! My watts were the same as 2010 so I'm hoping that means I'm on form for some better hill climb performances in the next few weeks once this silly cold finally clears off.

Suffering badly, as is the case with all hill climbs! Thanks to Patron Choufflard for the pic.

Then on Sunday morning at silly o'clock (for me on a Sunday anyway!) I headed out to race at the new Cyclopark circuit. Having only raced there once before and under the worst weather conditions (I DNF'ed) I was keen but nervous to give it a try again. I needn't have really worried -- if I overestimated my fitness early this season, I'm underestimating it nowadays. Only 11 riders showed up for the start, and with me needing 7 points to keep my 2nd cat licence, I thought 3rd place was certainly do-able.

Turned out that a break of three was established within the first two laps and there was no looking back. KW teammate Jasmijn and former-KW-now-Wyndymilla rider Emily were my break companions and we worked together well to stay ahead of everyone else. In fact, we lapped all but one rider. Emily looked tired after a long season of racing where she's really upped her game, and Jasmijn was happy to give me a hand, having won there herself on a solo break a few weeks back. In the end, knowing I would not outsprint Emily if I left it to the last 100m, I attacked with about a minute to go on a small rise and got a big enough gap to take the win comfortably. Mission accomplished and after a frustrating start-stop season of road racing I can be satisfied ending it on a win and retaining my 2nd cat license for next year. Onto hill climb season proper now!

My game face at the start (pic by organisers Handsling Racing)

Lastly, KW clubmate Andy Taylor has made a brilliant video of the hill climb with a detailed view of the course and every competitor climbing past "cowbell corner". Rewind to watch the whole thing if you have time, it's quite a nice bit of editing! I've embedded it to start with me riding past and right after that is Jim running up the hill pushing Otter in the stroller... another year and she'll be on her own little balance bike whizzing around the trails.