LVRC – The Tour of the Abberleys 2017

There are very few road races I do and only two I return to year after year. Three days of hard racing on courses that make me feel very fat. What is not to like?

This is the fifth time I have been and in no small part due to Mike and the excellent team of volunteers I already look forward to next year.

Em and I even stay in the same hotel year after year. This has almost become a holiday with pain thrown in for very little extra charge.

Enough of this though what happened this year?

The Prologue – a 2.5 mile largely uphill Time Trial

After a good warm up which included Em having a go at the prologue I lined up knowing I was fit and healthy which is a long way from last year. As always I am acutely aware that I only have so much power over such a short period.  I own a power meter but to be honest given the nature of the course I just ride damn hard, I never really go off too hard and never over cook the climb, I glance at the power here and there and if I think it is a little low I push harder. I was rewarded with a PB and thought I had ridden quite well. When the results came in though I admit I was grumpy as I was a long way down. That said it was PB and I wasn’t dying.

Stage 1 – it’s always thought of as the easiest day and largely flat, it is anything but with around 2500 feet and a nice torture climb you do more than once.

The pace was hard from early on and as often happens I found myself towards the rear of the peloton, it just happens, the following car must just be waiting for me to go ping. At some point a couple of riders got away, they were never seen again.  This year unlike last year I felt better and even though it was hard when the bunch split again on the climb I was able to avoid being gapped too badly and get back on without any real drama. Ironically in a smaller bunch I was still on the back but a few who had been in front of me were gone. I’d like to say I did something exciting or there was a drama but I didn’t and there wasn’t. The second lap was actually easier and as we got ready for the sprint any little efforts by people closed down, I had already accepted my lot, the intention simply to ride hard to the line and avoid losing time.

Reflecting on day 1, no drama and nothing to report. One the one hand I wish I had done more but in reality I couldn’t the standard is just too high and I am not good enough.

Day 2 – 3500 feet of climbing with 5 laps of a circuit with KOM points, you know this is asking for trouble. Happy to report I actually felt ok

Stunningly this stage was mental from the off, as soon as the car pulled ahead the first attack happened, there were a few less of us on day 2 and it was no surprise that I found myself at the back. I do try to move but I just drift back. What was noticeable this year was how easy I found the far side of the circuit. Lots of small climbs and little accelerations by people but at no point did I feel concerned, ironically I was most concerned by the speed down the main road. There were points when at 40mph I thought I am not sure I can l keep on here. The KOM climb is quite long but has a recovery which for me means I can close a gap off. The very top section to the line is also only a slope if that makes sense. It was off this section here that my only attempt at a breakaway happened as I chased after Paul Dring and we jumped over to the lead group of 4, sadly they sat up shortly afterwards and I never got another chance but it had shown me I could ride off the top.

Come the last lap I was actually thinking about how far up I could finish rather than gap limitation. Of course I had to work very hard across the flat and never really made it to the front but it was a good day.

Talking to Em in the evening I was happy with my effort but really concerned about what lay ahead tomorrow!!

Day 3 – its only 2300 feet but the stage is only 34 miles and nearly all the elevation in 4 climbs.

As expected there was an attack as soon as the flag dropped with the Brothers Dring and someone else(sorry I wasn’t there) who went hard.  The rest of the peloton wasn’t hanging about and we caught the leaders on the first climb. I say we, a few of them did I was hanging on for dear life. That said I got over the top and I can descent so by the bottom a good group was formed. We just about got back to the leaders as the 2nd climb arrived. First it was bye bye leaders and then it was bye bye Gobi. Stunningly I got over the climb and rode back AGAIN. As we arrived at the 3rd of the major climbs(lap2) the leaders were long gone but I was quite well positioned in the bunch and although very hard I made it over with most of the group. I think we lost a few but not me. Nice fast descent and we almost rolled along the bottom of the course.  Riding into the last real climb(I know the finish is on the prologue hill but..) and I was 3rd or 4th in the bunch but sadly they just rode away and I was toast. Pretty gutted really but although I had no real issue getting over I just couldn’t hold the pace. Once more I went full gas off the top and did everything I could to be close at the finish. Ironically I had just got to the back of the bunch when all hell broke loose and they went for home. Ha ha ha I was gone again.

Sitting afterwards looking back it was the best Abberleys yet for me as a rider and I had a painful but great time.

I have to thank Em for all her support, Mike for pulling it all together with his team and the other riders who make this the event it is. I swear the standard gets higher every year.

See you all next year.



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May 2017
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The Dark Lord Speaks


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