We always planned to take the boys away for a couple of days hard training pre-season and the opportunity came to link up with the Marsh Tracks Racing Team over in Rhyl and their coach Alan Overson.
Plans were made and the team travelled across first thing on Saturday morning with the van carrying the bikes and kit and the car taking the riders all the way to the venue.
Once changed the boys all met with the other riders on the day and listened to the briefing:
The group left for their 40 mile (64km) morning ride and they rode this at a very decent pace, taking in a couple of little inclines and keeping together ready for the rest of the days work. A puncture held them back a little before they returned for a quick lunch break:
Everyone was happy with the morning ride and Alan then took the riders out on to the Marsh Tracks circuit to help them develop their racing skills and tactics. After a pleasant start to the day, the sun had now dropped and it was very chilly indeed, but the boys went through their drills and looked at several race situations:
After a couple of hard hours working with lots of little sprints and efforts they were looking forward to a good feed at the hotel, but the management had one final little challenge for them … something every good cyclist should do and that was to clean the bikes, ready for day 2 – the Brite Ride product did the trick in a couple of minutes.
The bikes looked pristine and it was off the hotel for a much needed rest and some pasta ready for an early night and a big day ahead in the mountains. However, before going back to their rooms, there was still time for a short team meeting where the management were able to go through the days events and also to prepare the boys for what lay ahead. There are lots of things that make a good team and a lot of that happens off the bike, so sessions like this are crucial in the boys development.
Sunday morning came and all the riders had a good feed for breakfast, lots of wholemeal toast and porridge and then off to change into the winter gear to face the nasty fog that was lingering around:
The reports from the route suggested the fog was very local and low lying and so the riders set off and the first 20km of the ride certainly got them nice and warm, but the fog was still around:
Naturally in a group of about 20 riders, there will always be a mechanical or two and the group had those, but by now the fog had gone and the sun was shining improving everyones mood.
Quite soon, the boys started to tackle the biggest climb of the day, a very long climb up to the Sportsmans Inn, quite a drag with snow still at the sides of the road higher up. There were some stunning views of the Snowdon range:
At the summit near the Sportsman Inn itself, there was a short re-grouping and a chance to grab a little bit more food for the return home:
The boys all coped admirably with the conditions, the route chosen and the group of riders, some of whom were older and more experienced.
As the group came back to the hotel it was great to see the whole bunch together but with the 4 green kitted Inspire VCUK riders at the front setting the pace.
Thanks for a simply wonderful weekend to Alan Overson and all the friendly parents and coaches from Marsh Tracks RT, the Faenol Fawr hotel were magnificent and thanks also go out to Kevin and Brendan Thompson for their help, support and company over the weekend.
The boys really worked well as a unit and have now started to appreciate the opportunity they have as they start their Youth racing season.