LVRC Toachim Vets Series
Simon Collins has been supported by CPS In-Motion for 3 full seasons now, each year having quite a different competitive focus and event schedule, rather than the same races, ranging from TT, to road-racing and occasional sportive. Even though each year, alone, has presented it’s own set of challenges for preparation, carefully navigating around injury, illness, work trips and life’s stresses to keep performance on track has been the critical path that has led to Simon’s recent success in securing Category B LVRC Toachim Veterans Champ status for 2017.
We can safely say that the combination of training focus on Time Trial and Road Racing has addressed Simon’s weaknesses, and worked on his strengths as part of his long term athlete development which has led to his win, with a tremendous points advantage after just 8 of 10 events.
This is a real world account of how we went about his training, support, assessment, physiotherapy and how Simon executed his race craft to crush his close rivals….
The first race of the series was in Basingstoke, a 5 lap x 10mile rolling course, well represented by Dulwich Paragon, who Simon races for as a member, across the categories. After watching a two-man break go on the third lap, not long after Simon found himself bridging the gap solo, with just the main field behind. Having caught the two lead riders, he was able to comfortably take advantage of their work while a team mate was able to prevent any further attacks from the field sticking, although they were a long way behind by now. As the strongest rider in the break, Simon rode off their wheels 2km from the finish line, and for his first ever road race win, on the first race of the series! A great start, perhaps a spot of lucky timing?
The second race at Hook End was to prove that wasn’t the case and Simon’s legs meant business with progressive peak performance planned still to race into form to try and secure a decent overall classification! The 5 lap flatish 10 mile course in Essex was to become a heavily fought battle ground on two-wheels. The combined category field saw multiple attacks and an escape, all while still on the first lap! Simon secured his place in that 2-man break and was confidently chain-ganging it with a team mate. Pushed to the limits, himself and Julian Bray managed to extend their lead by almost 4 minutes even with a couple of incidents; an unfortunate vehicle obstruction and Simon’s saddle slipping a whole 7cm!. Both riders being in separate categories, the winner was decided amicably between them and based on merit as Simon had done most of the work! Simon’s second win, and 2 of 2! 2017 was looking very promising indeed.
In between racing, Simon and myself were able fine-tune his recovery and preparation to make sure he was as fresh as possible for each race, but be primed and still follow a positive trajectory in performance progression. This meant checking power-to-heart rate ratios and tailoring sessions according to the effort made by Simon during each race.
Simon returned back to reality at Crowhurst, as the racing was on the familiar Dulwich Paragon TT course. One of the early skirmishes in the first two laps looked like it would last, but Simon had missed it. So instead this was Simon’s turn to cover moves for club mates in the escape and allow them the glory he had recently experienced, which became much of an effort. Even still, Simon managed a decent sprint at the end, against some strong riders left in the main field to steal 6th in category.
After the previous sobering race of riding as Dulwich Paragon domestique….Simon’s taste for victory was once again satisfied at Lee Valley. The recovery time too slightly longer before going into that race, as efforts from the last three events were starting to accumulate. By now Simon definitely knew how to display his authority in the field and took his third victory in style. A few manoeuvres had failed, but Simon was in a prime position to follow a break of three, 15 minutes from the end of race. Simon chipped off the front with an initial tester, which was reeled in, but the group had slowed after so he gave it full gas into the stiff headwind on the finish straight for the win, and to demonstrate yet further great form with his third win!
The Toachim Vets series are well represented by other teams and clubs (G.S. Vecchi, Ciclos Unos, V.C. Meudon to name just a few), so it has been fantastic for Simon to hold his own with some extremely strong Cat 1 riders. The fifth race of the series at HogHill highlighted that, with the ‘Hoggenberg’ playing very well to Simon’s strengths. Elevating Simon’s lactate threshold power-to-weight and sub-maximal VO2 duration was something we had emphasised over the last couple of winters preparation, and was accentuated during his successful TT season winning his Club TT championship trophy. We also made sure that Simon was undertaking adequate stretching, physiotherapy and sports massage to aid recovery and prevent injury.
After five races, it was clear some of the other vets racers had ridden into form, so Simon had had to rely on tactics much more to place well and maintain his points advantage for a chance of winning the overall category.
The sixth race, also at HogHill was the epitomy of more thoughtful strategy, especially in very warm conditions on the day. Having survived a few attacks before the winning break made its move, the small field was distanced by a group of 6 riders chasing the leaders and trying to stay away. Simon was able to conserve his energy at the back of the chase group until the approach to the line, where he was able to kick round everyone on the final climb to take 3rd overall in the race, and 2nd in category. Leaving him 29 points clear for the classification win after just 6 races.
Race 7 at Ottershaw was more of a messy affair with a largely disorganised main field, and some erratic skirmishes that were covered by Dulwich Paragon being at the front of the field. Simon maintained his composure throughout to avoid trouble and bridge to the leaders and still manage 2nd in category.
Newbury was the venue for the 8th race, hosting a tough long drag to the finish line. Most attacks got swallowed up, so Simon collaborated with a club mate to both try and escape at an opportune time on the drag. Unfortunately a couple of punctures had changed the dynamic and the main bunch were able to pull them back on the descent, so Simon jostled for good position for the finale and came round many riders to take 3rd in the sprint and 3rd in category!
By this point, the Cat B of the LVRC Vets was secured for Simon, and a chance for him to back-off and introduce some sessions to address weakness, and strength loss during one of the longer gaps between racing. Simon entered his penultimate race at South Chailey, Sussex, with his overall result safe, and once again found himself riding to help club mates secure some more points or even podium before the end of the series. As the nature of road racing is typically dynamic, this didn’t pan out as anticipated and found himself riding a club mate off his wheel on the final drag, to open up the finish line for other contenders, and assisting those riders you are trying to prevent from taking crucial points. So good lessons in team race strategy learnt, albeit when it least mattered for Simon.
The final race was in Bletchingley, Surrey, where Simon’s role had become super-domestique this time as 2nd and 3rd places were the main contest on the day. Still, with end-of-season legs Simon was glad he didn’t need to fight for further points and instead tried to help his club-mate onto the podium, to no avail. 2nd position was being contested for by a G.S Vecchi rider and a Finchley RT rider to the bitter end, where Simon helped bridge one or two escapes, but kept out of trouble on the sprint to finish the series in the best possible way…and mostly relieved it was over, with celebrations to come!
Having achieved his 2017 objective, Simon has had a well-deserved break from cycling, and is now in full preparatory period to battle it out in the tougher 5-round Percy Stallard series! We should have some exciting race reports to post….