It feels like barely any time has gone by since I posted about planning my Winter training. The reality is that a heap of time has gone by and racing kicks off in one weeks time here in Scotland. Time is something I will clearly never conquer. The age old saying that time moves quicker as you grow older…. I have to admit is absolutely true.
There have been some 2up and hilly time trials over recent weeks. The road racing gets underway with Gifford on Saturday 16th March.
AKA next bloody week! Shit!
I’m going to use this post to go over my Spring race calendar planning attempt. I’ll touch on the problems of trying to plan your “season” (or part of anyway) as a lowly category rider living three hours away from the action.
The Problems with Racing:
Let me start by explaining the big problems faced by people trying to race bikes in Scotland. I am sure it is faced all over the UK but I’ll concentrate on what I personally experience. This mostly applies to road racing. In fact, it applies to road racing exclusively for me. I’ve never had any issues with time trial entries. Although that will likely change when I try to get a ride on L1015 down in the Lake District this year…. I will cross that bridge when I come to it.
Category 3/4 road races (especially early season) in Scotland are heavily over subscribed. 60, 70 or 80 riders is the common number limits set on road races. Usually there is a lot more riders actually entering and hoping for a ride. The job of selecting who races is given to the race organiser and I think it’s a very unfortunate job that’s handed to them. I say this because through no fault of their own, they are going to have to let people down, which is never nice. Preference on selection will firstly go to riders from clubs local to the race and then secondly expand out to established/known quality riders.
I personally have no argument against those criteria. A fairer criteria could not be materialised I do not believe. It allows people local to the area a better chance of a ride and organisers want a quality race so of course they’re going to include quality riders where they can. The downside to this selection method is that new racers really can struggle to get a ride. Without riding these races they won’t ever progress or get the much needed experience.
Selections/Start-Lists are not announced until a week before the race. This one is a British Cycling stipulation. Entries close seven days before the event itself takes place. Organisers can’t action anything regards selection until entries close for their event. It can very often be the case that you won’t even have a weeks notice of getting a ride. That is no fault of the organiser at all. This stipulation is only different when it comes to National medal level events. Those events have entries close 14 days before the event takes place which of course massively relieves the notice period of getting a ride or not. My biggest problem with this personally is the travelling/logistics of getting to races. I am fully aware I choose to live so far away from the Central Belt. But such little notice of racing or not plays havoc with planning. Driving to the area often the evening beforehand, potential days or half days off work, where to stay overnight if required down near the race etc. These are all easily accounted for if you have a couple of weeks notice. They are a massive headache to sort out on a Monday morning for a Saturday race that very same week.
Gifford CAT 3/4 on Saturday 16th March will hopefully be my first race this year. I have entered it but it’s literally a lottery on whether I will actually get a ride. Entry numbers will be exceptionally high both because it is a great race and because of timing. Everyone wants to shake that winter funk and get out racing. It means the first races of the year are always mega subbed. I’m riding for a Manchester based team and live at the opposite end of the country from the race. Optimism is not flowing here!
Reivers CAT 3/4 comes one week after Gifford on Saturday 23rd March. It was on the British Cycling calendar a good while before Gifford showed up. I had planned on this being my first race of the season for a while. It leaves me with two possible chances at getting a ride though over the course of a fortnight. Actual chances of getting entry are in exactly the same boat as Gifford though unfortunately.
Dooley’s 2up Time Trial is also on Saturday 23rd March. It is proving to be a proper spanner in the works. Not the 2up itself but the not knowing if I will get entry to any of the road races. If I don’t enter the 2up and don’t get entry to either of the road races then I won’t be racing at all in March which sucks. I am definitely keen to do an early season 2up with my best buddy Chris though. Our planned local 2up in April is not going ahead now so this would be our perfect chance to do one.
You can clearly see the absolute drama caused to any sort of planning! This is purely just trying to sort out what start line you MIGHT be allowed on. Never mind factoring in specific training for specific races and everything else that comes with it…..
The beginning and end of April is planned. It’s everything in between that I am still unsure about at the minute.
Sheriffston 10 mile time trial along in Elgin on Saturday April 6th will be my first solo time trial of the year. It’s an OK course depending on the traffic situation. Last time I raced here an absolute idiot lorry driver passed me on a blind bend and then proceeded to hold me up for over a minute. It will still very much be tinker-time with new position/kit/skinsuit also.
CTT Scottish District 10 Mile Championship down in Westferry, Glasgow on Sunday 28th April will be the first target race for me of the season. The plan for this one is to be strong myself but also to be happy with position and setup by this point.
Dunfermline Road Race is a race I have always wanted to do but I have never got a ride in it despite numerous entries. I am a proper born and bred local lad to that race but that’s not represented by my current address!
Tour of the Meldons is the Scottish National Olympic distance time trial. It’s a hilly 25 mile TT down in Peebles area (beautiful place) which is the most likely of all the other April events I will enter.
May is Summer:
I was going to include my plans for May as well but I have officially categorised May as Summer here in Scotland. It is most definitely not in the Spring!
My brain possess definite recollection of May being toasty warm and sunny in 2018. It was the best month of the entire year weather wise. If it is a let down in 2019 I will relegate it back to Spring for everyone in 2020. For my own sake I hope May is brilliant this year as two of my A target races fall within it.