More than a win



Andy writes:


They say a picture tells a thousand words and this one tells me a thousand happy words.

There are obvious reasons why I like this photo; running the Nottingham/Derby store in sunny Breaston and co-managing the Race team with Richard Anderson, seeing your boys get the One – Two and you  can’t help but raise a smile. The real beauty of this picture, however, goes much much deeper.  

Organising local races and events at this grass roots level is done purely for the love of the sport and the joy of being around those involved with it. Tim, Richard, Beeston Road Club and countless others have done a fantastic job of pulling the Notts Uni GP road race together not  for one, but for four years now and still held to raise funds for BRC’s development squad. This event helps the seeds of grass roots racing, if you like.

There’s always a huge buzz around races, people finding  familiar faces, folks with a common bond in “The Bike” who rub shoulders with each other and show their support for a good cause. Who knows if we might find the next “Wiggins” through supporting this and, knowing that you may have played a part in that, always gives a warm fuzzy feeling. Today all that time given, all the early starts sorting team bikes and kit, all the meetings after hours fell into place and made sense, of what the local cycling community is.

Joe Perkins won the senior race at University of Nottingham GP. The same Joe Perkins who sat on the sidelines some four years ago nursing a broken collarbone only able to watch his Development Squad colleagues race. He desperately wanted to support the race that was designed to raise money to aid him and his teammates develop their racing pedigree. The success of that event and others like it raised money that helped this fine young athlete reach his goals and potential, and his victory today. Joe’s win was down to HIS determination, training and hard work. His work however was supported by that initial support he received four years ago in a project that LeisureLakes felt they had to be involved with. Without our our involvement in the Race Development Race squad he may well not being racing for us now or, god forbid, he might have continued down the ‘Triantelope’ route 😉 Without that support he may not have ridden over the finish line with his arms held high with our logo across his chest. That is the real beauty of this picture, winning the event and thus supporting the very project that helped him start his racing career those four years ago. It was a symbolic full circle and he is now helping that next wave of racing cyclist.

The Uni GP is a great example of  why grassroots events are so important, and why we must support them. Today not only did Joe win but, to coin one of Joe’s team mates, today Cycling won.

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Geoff goes to Solihull

“Shall I shan’t I. I’ll just check the weather again……still raining. I’ve been ill, I’ll give it a miss”

“Nah, I’ll go!”

A mid week crit in Solihull has become the place where I top up some missed training and racing whilst I’m away on the rigs. It has been quite a productive venue for me and after convincing my self I should go, it proved to be just that again.
Signing on, the race comm asked if I minded having the lucky number 13, after the previous 10 riders shunned it. No such thing as bad luck because of a number in my eyes, I took the risk. It even stayed upright as I pinned it to my skinsuit! Must’ve been confident.
The race started with a sighting lap due to the conditions on the track. A good idea as it was terrible, slippery and very wet/muddy, and it remained that way for the entirety.
A fast start led to a couple of small gaps appearing and I jumped the gap knowing things might stick this early. I was right and soon 6 riders went clear of the bunch. Quickly getting into a rhythm we pulled around a minute gap on the bunch and it stayed this way until the finish.
I wasn’t too hopeful in the sprint as my legs were tired after recovering from the cold and a tough training ride the day and morning before the race. So I deemed the best form of defence is attack. The bell rang and I applied some pressure on the front to try and get a gap and solo to the finish. In effect, because of the lack of strength, I didn’t get the gap and ending up being Mr Leadout for another two riders from Team OnForm Racing and one from Wheelbase. What to do? I took a tight line into the last corner which made them go the long way and then opened up my sprint which I managed to hold and go on to the win.
It means a lot to finally get a win after a second and third this season so far marking what has been a long return to something resembling form since a poor winter. Hopefully now the team can build towards a few more top spots for the second half of the season.
Looking forward to the next race, which will be the Nottingham Uni GP, a new one for me and being a short race it could be fireworks from the gun. We then we have the EMRRL event at Harby. Last year I missed the break and came 16th. Hopefully I can improve on that this time round, I like the course so will enjoy it and see what happens.
So stay tuned for another podium from LLB in the near future.
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Andy’s view of CiCleClassic

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LLB Racing at The CiCLE Classic

LeisureLakesBikes Racing were proud to have been selected to race in the prestigious CiCLE Classic. Andy, Elliot, Geoff and Joe gave it their all but the unremitting pace and challenging parlours of gravel and dust picked them off one by one. Elliot flew the flag to the final 10km and was pulled out nearly on the finishing circuit. Cycling is the cruellest of sports.

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Andy M writes:Sutton Bonington, EMRRL, 9th April 2017

So the second race in the 2017 East Midlands Road Race League and my first blog for the team.

As a relative newbie to the league I got the low-down from Jono and Joe on what the Sutton Bonington circuit had in store for. Actually when rolling over the start line I had the vaguest recollection of racing here when I first started cycling, maybe even part of the National Junior Race Series, so the circuit wasn’t completely unfamiliar. Flat and fast is what I was promised. And that is what I got.

Having felt somewhat out of sorts on my bike recently I had promised myself no attacking early on, just to duck and dive and take a few free miles to start with. After a winter of mainly track racing I couldn’t guarantee that I could be at the front of a road race for a full 75 miles.

However within the first few miles our “keen as mustard” Jono Hornblow was already off the front on his own, stretching his legs apparently, and I felt obliged to get racing and take some of the effort off him. It was obvious straight away that Clay Cross wanted to race hard early on and in a number of splits off the front they were very well represented with 3-4 riders. Picking my moment meant that I was rewarded with a fabulous tow across a 30 seconds or so gap. I got into a group of 11 riders that miraculously would never be seen by the bunch again.

I say miraculous because from the make-up of the group and the way we rode I completely expected to get pulled back by a bunch that contained a number of very motivated and quick riders. In our group were a mix of team riders who to their credit worked hard early on to establish a gap. But there were also a couple of riders been given a complete free ride at the back of the break and as the race went on it became more and more disruptive to the through and off pace that was being set. And personally for me, knowing how well Jono and Joe back in the bunch were going, I was quite happy for us to get brought back and roll the dice again.

In the end it didn’t get brought back. We spent what was actually a quite enjoyable 50 or so miles riding well in the sunshine. To my complete surprise all 11 of us would contest the sprint finish. Despite having three riders there Clay Cross didn’t appear to want to break the group up further. It was a slight uphill finish with a headwind and this meant no-one took it up early. So with 200m to go I made the move.

Unfortunately I didn’t have enough in the tank. A bit of cramp meant my effort was fairly lame. Enough for 4th which on reflection was reasonable. But in a past life I’d have made much more from that position maybe I am lacking a bit of self-belief as well as conditioning.

Onwards and upwards, a few more of these will do me the world of good. And exciting to hear just how strong the other LLB chaps were covering moves in the bunch, it should make for more exciting racing to come.

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Onto the next one

“I move onward, the only direction

Can’t be scared to fail in the search of perfection”

  • On to the Next One, Jay-Z (The Blueprint III)

19 March 2017: this date had been imprinted on my mind for some time, the first big test of the year, the primary object of the pre-season training, it was the first round of the East Midlands Road Race League organised by Derby Mercury RC. Not only was this the first round of the league in which Leisure lakes Bikes had enjoyed so much success to date but it was also a notoriously difficult circuit: it has a testing long stepped climb which is at its steepest at the bottom on a narrow road in a small village, a couple of fast nerve-wracking descents, a further climb on the back side of the circuit and a grippy rolling road connecting it all.

So it was a nervous build-up to the race with last week’s circuit race revealing little about my form and the blustery, cold conditions only added to the tension. The mood was of course lifted as soon as I met up with my teammates at the race headquarters: there’s nothing like being told you’re useless and morbidly obese to perk you up before a tough race!

We rolled out at the start and immediately the race began in earnest, there was no easing into this one, the speed was high both up and downhill, the bunch barrelling down and up descents and climbs alike. As ever, the first time up the climb was particularly savage through a combination of fresh legs and riders unfamiliar with the course perhaps not knowing what was in store and how much climbing was left.

Leisure Lakes Bikes were present at the head of affairs throughout this and Geoff did really well to time his efforts and jump at the right time to get into the break of the day. On the second lap I was active on Wirksworth Road almost forcing a break in the cross winds but unfortunately through a lack of co-operation and conjoined effort in this small group we were subsumed into the bunch just before the climb. This climb was nevertheless tackled successfully and I was sitting second wheel in the bunch coming out of Weston Underwood when disaster struck.

One minute I am riding along comfortably ready to cover or instigate the next move the next it was like a gun going off, a loud bang and simultaneous loss of control. It turned out that a fellow rider had in fact ridden into my rear wheel and the impact broke both a spoke in the wheel but also crucially the rim itself; one of those frustrating racing incidents over which I had no control. Regardless, the cycling gods had spoken and my race was over.

I think anyone who has ever ridden at all seriously is aware what a cruel sport cycling is. I think it was Sean Kelly’s legendary DS, Jean De Gribaldy, who said that one does not “play” at cycling. He meant that as a sport it requires – and rewards – total discipline and commitment. Even for weekend warriors like us competing at a very modest level one has to commit fully and put in hours of training, be disciplined with our diets, and up on “normal” social commitments at times to turn up race at all competitively. So when all of that commitment and sacrifice appears to be in vain and results in a dreaded DNF (Did Not Finish) because of a silly unnecessary accident it can be tempting to throw the toys out of the pram and give it all up declaring it can’t be worth it.

But instead we keep coming back because we cyclists and we don’t know any better. Hence my opening quotation from Jay-Z, it’s all about moving onto the next race.

Despite my personal trials and tribulations we can still call the race a successful one for the team with Geoff proving his class to hold on for 3rd place on the day which is a great start for him and also sets up the team for another successful season in the league. On to the next one indeed.

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First Race

Something is wrong. Something is seriously wrong.

It’s the second weekend in March, I’m at Darley Moor for the first National B circuit race of the year organised by Ashfield RC and there’s no wind; there’s no wind at Darley! You know what, the sun might even be threatening to make an appearance. This surely must be the end of days.

In a way though perhaps this is only fitting after all this is a new season that has arrived with new changes for Leisure Lakes Bikes Racing. We acquired two great new riders, whom I am sure we shall introduce properly elsewhere, in Geoff Comley and Andrew Magnier and we have switched over to a comprehensive sponsorship package with Specialized: after sorting us out with helmets and shoes last year they have extended this to bikes this year.

So Jono “The Wall” Hornblow and I turned up for the team’s first hit-out in anger of the year with the other 4 guys racing the National B Evesham Vale Road Race the following day.

As usual, I shan’t get into a blow-by-blow race description but by way of brief summary, with the lack of wind the large-ish field of circa 70 riders stayed together for the whole race and it was decided by a bunch sprint. Both Jono and I had tried at separate times to get away from the bunch but the pace was perhaps too high to make such efforts successfully sustainable and there seemed to be a lack of appetite in the bunch to break up the field. Jono was held up behind a crash on the last lap and whilst I avoided that I was never going to trouble the top places in a bunch sprint at that level.

Overall though, notwithstanding the disconcerting climatic conditions it was a positive experience. The first race of the year is always a nervous experience: I defy anyone on the line not to be nervous, filled with questioning self-doubt as to whether they have trained and prepared well enough. As I am sure any cyclist can appreciate, it’s easy to feel like a champion in training on your own, but that remains an illusory perception until you pin a number on and test yourself against your fellow competitors.

One final point to address in this first post of the year is the quality of the new race bike provided by Specialized UK. This year we are on the Tarmac model with a mechanical Shimano Ultegra groupset. I really cannot fault this bike in any way and would in fact highly recommend it after a few weeks of riding. The bike is super smooth, I mean serious, smooth criminal, smooth operator, smooth. For saying this is a fast, stiff race racing machine it soaks up the road buzz with consummate ease, testament to the quality of the carbon fibre used in the frame construction. But this ease on the road in no way deadens the feel of the bike, the feedback and handling are excellent and it responds with effective immediacy to any accelerations.

So, next up is the first round of the East Midlands Road Race League organised by Derby Mercury RC on the notoriously hilly Windley circuit, let’s see how that goes…

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