August on the road back!

Stephen Bradbury's race diary

Things are starting to look up. I have waited ages to say that! With all my problems from the year behind me (touch wood) and with much hard work with my coach, Tom Kirk and physiotherapist Chris Wheaton, I have managed to start clawing back some of the form that I had a long time ago back in April and May.

After getting back from the six day race in Italy I did a training ride to Roubaix and back, a nice 4 hours. I got back and my back was in agony. I could barely walk! So I went and saw Chris all the way in Poperinge. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and go and see someone who you can always depend on. Even though it is a good hour drive each way.

Chris diagnosed me as having problems with my top and bottom vertebrae, which was in turn causing problems with my spinal chord. So treatment was basically loosening off muscles to allow the joints to move freely again. It was never going to happen over night.

A few weeks followed of me trying to get back to training normality as much as possible. Often I would start out on a session, do about half of it, then have to call it a day, which I found so frustrating. But after every time I went and saw Chris and in the weeks that followed I could definitely see progress. Slow progress, but progress none the less.

I decided to make my racing return on the 14th of August in Bottelare.

It was great to start a race with no pressure. I had decided that I was going to do it. Just to see where I was form wise and then use it to decide which direction to take my training in the next month.

The race went surprisingly well. I was able to cover most of the moves. The course was fairly flat with one sort of draggy climb and a few cobbled sections, nothing too major. Every break that went always came back on the drag. So going through the finish when getting the bell, I tried a very bold tactic. I tried to get a group to roll off the front. Nothing too big, but just enough for the bunch to chase and then to catch them on the climb. Unfortunately, the gap was slightly too big and we caught them on the finish line. I was 4th in the bunch gallop but rolled in 23rd. Sometimes it would have worked, that day it didn’t.

I was happy with how that race went so I came away from it with some good morale. So after that I took a week or so to do some training.

The next couple of races I did where Erpe-Mere and Evergem. Erpe-Mere was a disaster. The less said about it the better. It was a notoriously hard race anyway. I overestimated my legs and made it into the early break, blew up and retired not long after.

So the next day I raced again. The coach had instructed me to sit in all day, and get to the finish for a bit of a morale boost. So for the first 45 mins I did this. And then I got bored, attacked and formed a chase group which bridged across to the break. I again overestimated where my legs where. Getting there but not strong enough yet. I ended up back in the 2nd group and we got pulled out with about 4 laps to go. So the same outcome as if I had sat in, but a lot more action!

After another week’s good training. It was Interclub race time. I was selected for a double race weekend by the team and was looking forward to it.

It was roasting hot! So it seemed like a good idea to try some cold Truestart coffee. I have to say I am normally not into cold coffee but this worked wonders. Thoroughly recommended.

The first race was a round of the Belgian Cup, 139km. It looked like a dead cert for a sprint finish. So I put all my eggs in one basket. The team followed all the major splits and we put our highest guy on the series standings in the winning break, so that was well done. I had a real crack at the sprint but was forced off the road with 800m to go and rolled in at the back of the bunch. I was a bit gutted but glad to be contesting at the end!

Next day, after a tight turn around, was the Leidekerkse Pijl. 156km with 11 ascents of the cobbled Puttberg. Again I was surprised with my legs. Unfortunately, to cut a story short, I missed a big split and ended up in the 3rd group. We were pulled bout 50km to go, which was really disappointing because I had the legs to be in the group in front! I just was poorly positioned. By the time I was able to try and get across the gap was just too big to do solo. That’s racing. I have to take the positives and move on with them.

So coming up I have the final round of the Belgian Cup in Adinkerke. Right on the coast so will probably be a windy one, but I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully keep the legs for some good kermesse results in September as well!

Tot Ziens!


Links for:

Custom Cycle Coaching (Tom Kirk):

Chris Wheaton (physiotherapy):

Truestart coffee: