It's my first race of the season tomorrow. In the sense of 'race that I have a reasonable chance of being in at the end', as opposed to 'race that I've entered'. Odd Down's Winter Series gave me a nice opportunity to ride round with the second cats for a single-digit number of laps before the elastic broke. But the Castle Combe Easter Classic has a thirds-only race and no tight corners, so I reckon I should be able to hang on. I guess we'll see.
That up there is what I'm going to be racing on this year. It's a Boardman Road Pro Carbon SLR and it's a great bike for the money. You can read Stu's review here. It's out of the same mould as Boardman's Elite bikes and built up like this it's 7.5kg on the nose for a 60cm frame. It's a full SRAM Force transmission; SRAM is my favourite system for racing because you can do everything on one lever (I won't be needing the inner ring round Castle Combe, or if I do I'm in real trouble) and you can easily shift up or down from the drops. I tend to wind the shift paddle back a bit so it's away from the brake, which makes it even easier to find.
The bike comes with Mavic Ksyrium Eilte wheels. I've swapped them out for Swiss Side Hadron 485s because they're excellent. They have the following advantages over the stock wheels:
1) They make a cool swooshy noise
2) They look PRO
3) erm, they're more aerodynamic and a bit lighter
Psychologically it's good to have swooshy wheels. And these wheels handle really well and do perform very reliably and predictably at speed. When you need to scrub off the speed they have an alloy braking surface too. I've got Schwalbe One 25mm tyres on them, which I really rate. Ideally I'd go tubeless and run Pro Ones, but that's not an option here, sadly.
I've got Garmin Vector 2 pedals on the bike. Training with power is something I'm currently trying to get into more deeply, and the pedals will give me some useful data on what the demands of a race are so I can tailor my training to making myself better at the specific stuff I need to do. All in the hope of scoring a few Third cat points. One would do. I'm using a Garmin Edge 520 to record my rides.
So that's me! I'm not really feeling ready for it, I'm a bit heavier than I hoped I'd be and my knee is playing up a bit. But hey. I have swooshy wheels.
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.