The Paragon News Feed

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26/10/18

Norwood Paragon women's team: season update

Created by Michelle Arthurs Brennan at 2018-10-26 09:59:35

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The Norwood Paragon women’s team had a successful inaugural year, amassing 273 National British Cycling Points, five wins and netting the South, East, Central and Eastern Regional Road Race U23 win.

Anna Marie-Hughes – our youngest rider, currently studying at the University of Kent – set aim at the combined regional championships, taking a month off racing to train and prepare.

She achieved sixth overall, was the first U23 and took the second step of the podium from the Central region.

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En route to gaining her second cat license, she also won the Berkhamsted Castle Revolutions Festival 2018 (3/4 Women) criterium race and managed two top 15s at the competitive Team Series races (Cyclopark Grand Prix and Duncan Murray road race) – collecting Paragon points in the overall standings.

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan was our biggest points scorer, with 142 in total, leaving her second overall regionally behind Le Filles’ Nicole Oh.

Highlights included three wins, at Sussex Cycle Racing League’s Preston Park in March, CC London’s ‘Hog with the Occasional Hill’ in June and the Full Gas Summer Criterium in August.

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On the road, she managed third at the Diss CC women’s road race and fourth at the Margret Wright Memorial/High Wycombe CC Road Races – racing Team Series events and the National Series Cicle Classic to gain experience.

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Katharine Broadbent took an impressive breakaway win at Goodwood Motor Circuit in June, at the RC Ravenna FatCreations event. Jumping from the pack in the final lap, she motored away to cross the lie well clear of the sprint finish – on a flat and wide circuit where breakaways are nearly always caught.

Having joined Norwood Paragon from Geoffrey Butler’s women’s race team, Katharine has been a valuable team player, leading out other riders to podium position and using her strength on the hills to split pelotons.

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A key goal for Carolyn Swan was the National Masters road race championships, where she achieved fifth place in a competitive 50-54 category behind the formidable Catherine Coley (VC Londres) and Jayne Paine (Les Filles).

A regular at the Goodwood crit series – where Norwood Paragon frequently had a team of four in the women’s race - Carolyn gained confidence throughout the year, to take fifth during the sprint in May and as well as fourth at Cyclopark’s Crits in the Park in June.

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Another Goodwood regular, Gemma Hayes also gained experience and skills throughout the season, managing a top ten in May, as well as second and third at Surrey League’s Dunsfold races.

Gemma also played a valuable team role at the Team Kent Criterium, holding back the peloton whilst a breakaway including Michelle and Anna chipped away into the lead.

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In all, a successful first year – but the numbers, podiums and wins don’t tell the whole story. The goal in year one was to provide a friendly but competitive platform for female cyclists in Surrey to develop, and most importantly a team within which they could enjoy racing together – and it’s done exactly that.

23/10/18

Norwood Paragon's new race team launched

Created by Michelle Arthurs Brennan at 2018-10-23 17:58:17

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Norwood Paragon has teamed up with Maison du Vélo (MDV) and In-Gear bike shops to launch a brand new outfit: 1904 Race Team.

We'll have a men’s and women’s team. Austyn Tusler is taking on the management role, with Michelle Arthurs-Brennan leading the women's team and Tim Bishop of MDV heading up the men.

The squads will be made up of existing Paragon riders as well as MDV's racers, but there’s space for a few more to join too.

Riders will wear Hosté kit and receive discounts at Maison du Vélo and In-Gear (now under the same ownership) - on products, servicing, and bike fit.

This is a progression of the women's team and development rider's programme. Select race entries will be paid for and coached sessions provided.

We want the new riders recruited to become a part of the fabric of the club, and we're planning a joint group training camp in Spain for March.

Target races will be Team Series and select National Series (women), National B and Surrey League (men).

1904RT will be registered as a standalone race team but we’d like all riders to join Norwood Paragon too.

Interested riders should email a short bio to michelle.arthurs@gmail.com (women) or timcpb@hotmail.com (men).

25/09/18

Development rider George Skinner's racing update: victories, crashes and lessons in Flemish

Created by Michelle Arthurs Brennan at 2018-09-25 17:56:39

Development rider George Skinner updated us on his progress in May. A lot has happened since then - read on for his most recent exploits, up until the end of the season...

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20.05.2018 - EMRRL Team PB Performance – 16th

A 10km ride from university, a group of us rode out to the race start on what was set to be a pretty hot day.

We rode aggressively as a team but a move just managed to stay away despite our efforts to try and pull it back.

A touch of handlebars, as someone tried to push me onto the other side of the road as they tried to move up at the finish dropped me back a little so I finished just outside the points.

Frustrating, but still the highest placed Loughborough rider and a good long day on the bike.

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27.05.2018 – Performance Cycles – South Cerny RR – 2nd

A 100km pancake flat race near the Cotswolds. A 12 lap 90km race.

For the first lap, I sat towards the front, just to stay safe, as we went around the course for the first time.

Halfway through the second lap I decided to have a little dig on the only very slight rise on the course.

A group of 6 of us got a gap on the bunch with the main goal being to stay out of sight of the bunch. Within a few laps we were whittled down to just 3, with the race coming down to a sprint between us.

I managed to take second, half a wheel behind first place. My power for the two hours of the race was just a few watts under 300w and we averaged 44.5kph for the 90km. A rapid race!

29.05.2018 – Goodwood – 3rd

My first Goodwood of the year and my favourite midweek race. A strong fast race as always with a large break going up the road.

Initially I missed the move but I was quick to bridge with one other. As soon as we got there we knew we were going to stay away so everyone was rolling through steadily with no games being played early on.

With 3/4 of a lap to go, two slipped off the front and went on to compete for the win. I came around the chicane second wheel and unleashed probably my best sprint of the season opening up a few bike lengths between me and 4th place.

02.06.2018 – PNECC RR – 29th

A frustrating race for me as I was feeling strong. A break had gone up the road but with a lap to go a few of us lit up the front of the race reeling the break in under a lap.

However, this caused issues for me as I then cramped up as the decisive split went away with under a lap to go. This dropped me back into what was effectively the grupetto.

I worked hard to try and make it across but the cramping got worse and I rolled in behind the main bunch. I knew the cramp wasn’t down to my nutrition as I had been eating and hydrating well throughout the race. In hindsight we think it was caused by bike fit with my saddle being too high.

16.06.2018 – 17.06.2018 – OVB Stage race – 11th on GC

A good few days of racing for me and good to put up in Loughborough racing as a team. Stage 1 was a TTT in which we finished 4th, picking up a few points. We rode strongly and I set a huge power PB of just under 400w for just under 11 wheels.

Stage 2 was a short road race on a course that went up the infamous Harby Hill 3 times. I knew I had a good chance on this stage with a flat sprint finish a few kilometres after the top of Harby. I came over the crest of the hill just a handful of seconds off the back of the bunch and reeled my way back on, coming straight around the side of the bunch carrying speed. I won the bunch sprint to take third on stage losing a few seconds to the 4 guys in the break.

Stage 3 was a longer road race on the same course as the day before, except this time the finish was at the top of Harby Hill. We all knew this was a danger stage in terms of GC.

The three of us came in as part of the front bunch losing no time to most of our GC competitors but scoring no points on the stage.

The fourth and final stage was a Hill Climb (more of a slightly uphill time trial). I finished joint third. This placed me 11th on GC as the first rider from Loughborough. A good point scoring weekend.

24.06.2018 – VCV Summer RR – The Crash

A very selective course that I knew would be a good opportunity for me to come away with good points. It was a very hard race with a relatively difficult climb up to the finish line that makes it quite selective.

With just half a lap to go the rider in front of me went down leaving me nowhere to go except over the bars. I hit the ground and was out of the race.

After going to A&E I found out that I had separated my ACJ, putting me out and off the bike for 4 weeks.

Definitely the worse part of my season which was quite hard to take as I was in the best form I have ever been in when the crash happened.

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28.07.2018 – Ride Sussex RR – 17th

My first race back after the crash with the sole aim of getting around and to see where my legs were at. I struggled all race but got around and even managed to open up a sprint at the end to pick up 17th, just outside the points.

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01.08.2018 – Portsmouth Circuits – 1st

A 45 minute race around the outdoor track in Portsmouth. I was just rolling through and hanging on all race.

With only 15 of us racing it wasn’t a particular big bunch but with 4 laps to go someone attacked; I followed their wheel and as they swung off I put the hammer down a little. I then looked over my shoulder and realised the other rider had swung back onto my wheel and the bunch had all sat up.

I put my head down and rode to the line to win by half a lap. A great way to come back from my month off.

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05.08.2018 - SL Crawley Wheelers RR – DNF

A day where my legs just said no. I hung onto the back of the lumpy course for a lap but the second time we hit the bergs I was spat out of the back and rode around to the feed zone to help hand out bottles to Jack.

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07.08.2018 – Thruxton Round 8 – DNF

A race where I felt fairly strong I just made the wrong tactical decisions.

A large break of about 10 got off the front and it felt clear that they were gone and going to contest the points. I chipped off the front solo to try and bridge to the move. I didn’t make it and ended up being spat out the back of the bunch never to be seen again. The break ended up coming back as they stopped working together. Just one of those races where you get it wrong.

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08.08.2018 – Portsmouth Evening Circuits #19 – 11th

Not much to report a fast and hard race as usual. I was slightly boxed in coming around on the final lap I had to open up my sprint early to try and make up the places. Just missing out on any points this time around.

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14.08.2018 – Thruxton Round 9 – Race Abandoned

A really enjoyable race where I made the right decisions at the right time. I was in a large move of 8 or so with all the other strongest riders in the race. We were rolling around smoothly and holding a decent gap to the bunch.

A very unfortunate incident occurred in the 3rd Cat race requiring an air ambulance so racing was stopped a few laps early. Luckily there were no lasting injuries for the riders involved!

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15.08.2018 – Portsmouth Evening Circuits #20 – 9th

Another full gas 45mins of racing. A break of 6 took a lap on the bunch which I unfortunately missed. I took third in the bunch kick placing me 9th and giving me a point.

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19.08.2018 – Abingdon Race Team RR – Outside the top 15

I’m not sure of my final finishing position but annoyingly it was outside the points.

I felt fairly strong all race but I just couldn’t get the right move to work at the right time. Anytime I tried to chip away people would follow then not pull through, a very frustrating one. Especially as I had chosen to race this instead of going to the regional champs as I felt more likely to score points.

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22.08.2018 – Portsmouth Evening Circuits #21 – 6th

Off the line a group of 4 very strong riders took a lap on the main field. As they came up behind naturally they tried to pull over the top us to take another lap and catch everyone napping.

I was more than ready for this tactic but surprisingly everyone else in the bunch seemed fairly switched on and the break was shut down quickly. That basically left those 4 marking the main bunch so no one got a lap back and the main bunch marking those 4 making it impossible to get away.

As the 4 lap to go sign went up 2 attacked off the front and slipped away opening up a reasonable gap quickly that they would have to hold to the line to claim 5th and 6th. As we came around for 3 to go I attacked hard off the front catching one of the escapees with a lap to go. Knowing we would stay away from the bunch I sat on and opened up my sprint 150m out to take 6th. (No Pics but a nice bike).

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Belgium

Jack and I had made plans to go to Belgium for a short 3 day trip in which we would race twice.

On our first day we decided to go for a little pre race spin and thought a trip to the Kemmelberg would be ideal. Taking in the iconic cobbled climb was just what we needed before our first experience of racing abroad.

Our second day was our first race day. It was a flat 100km race in Oordegem with a finish on a short very lightly cobbled rise.

I knew it was going to be flat out from the gun so Jack and I made sure to be right at the front on the start line.

Sprinting out from the line I was positioned well for the first lap so I could race from the front and take in the first lap of the circuit as we had not been able to do a recce of the course. A few laps in a strong break opened up a reasonable gap. I was coping riding in the bunch but didn’t have the legs to really hit off the front whilst Jack was up there really contesting and trying to get away.

Our Flemish let us down as at the 90km mark unbeknown to us they had called our last lap early due to the break opening up a large gap. We came in at towards the back of the main bunch but all in all a great experience and a master class in railing 90 degree left hand corners.

Our third and last day was our second race day. It was taking place just a 5 minute drive from where we were staying so after a lazy morning we made it to the race start.

It was an absolutely disgusting day with extremely heavy rain. Having been warned the day before that Belgians couldn’t corner in the wet it was playing on my mind.

The very first corner two riders in front of me went down leaving a gap for me to close to get back on to the small bunch ahead. I chased for a lap but just as I was getting back on another rider went down on the same corner as the previous lap and I decided to call it a day. It was playing on my mind massively and I really didn’t fancy and end of season Belgian get down.

Jack went on to take a very creditable 15th with only 2 riders actually riding full race distance.

02.09.2018 – John Holman Memorial Race – 14th

A race that I had set my sights way back in July after the crash as one where I wanted to back to full fitness.

I wouldn’t say I was fully back however the legs did feel good. It was a course that particularly suited me however I gave it a good crack.

I rode an aggressive race but was another one where I couldn’t get the right people to follow. It came down to a very sketchy bunch sprint with a fast descent into a 90 degree left hander about 400m from the line. During the descent there were people all over the other side of the road going into oncoming cars causing carnage as they tried to force their way to the front. Not what I had been getting used to in Belgium on the completely closed roads.

I came across the line in 14th having wiggled my way up the left hand side of the bunch.

Not quite the end of season I had hoped for but after a two week break to go to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Zanzibar I feel ready and rested for another strong winter of training to really attack next season from the get go. I’d like to thank everyone from Norwood Paragon who supported me this year, in particular Jack and Austyn.

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14/09/18

Racing Update #2 from Development Rider Jack Wyllie

Created by Marcus Brueton at 2018-09-14 13:05:58

With Uni out of the way and the 2.1 bagged, I got myself straight back into the routine of racing the Thursday handicap series and a road race each weekend.

Eager to get back to it after exams, my return to racing didn’t quite go to plan with back to back crashes at Cyclopark and then the Crawley Wheelers Nat B, luckily no damage done to myself or the bike. Thankfully the saying that “crashes come in threes” didn’t follow as I managed to stay upright and get myself round the next race unscathed.

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Mid-Week Handicap Series

The mid-week handicap races have been slightly different for me this season, predominantly set off in the scratch group, unlike last year where I often benefited from being placed in the first couple of groups with a hefty time gap. Whilst this has meant the chances of soloing to victory have been slim, the racing this year has been a lot of fun. With the emphasis being more on getting a decent workout in order to benefit the weekend road races, I’ve tried to be aggressive and make moves rather than sit in and take the points where I can in the bunch sprint. Consequently, my best results in the handicaps this season have come from breakaways, with 5th at the Laughton and Newdigate Surrey League handicaps and then at the Goodwood Tour of Sussex support race handicap. Whilst not the biggest races in the world, getting into these moves certainly gives me confidence that everything is moving in the right direction both tactically and in terms of strength as a rider. It would have been great to finish off one of these races and get a win, however each time I’ve learnt a little more which I will be taking on for the rest of the season.

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Road Racing:

Regional A road racing this season has followed a pretty similar, albeit slightly frustrating pattern. This was probably most evident at the Duncan Murray Wines Road Race. I had intended to race the London Dynamo Nat B at Milland Hill on that weekend, but with my Grad Ball in Loughborough on the Friday night, I decided it probably wasn’t the best prep for arguably the hardest race of the season, so instead I stayed up north for an extra night and raced the Duncan Murray. Hacking round 11 laps of Milland and it’s 25% berg will just have to wait until next year.

Keen to get in the early break I followed the moves of the stronger riders, eventually getting away just before half way, with riders from Spirit Tifosi, Morvelo Basso and a few others. With the group working well, I was convinced this one was going to stick. However just at the bottom of the drag up to the finish, we were brought back (fair play whoever did that!!), it was at this point attacks came, going straight over the top of us and forming the winning break. With 6 or 7 guys up the road I rolled in with the bunch, again not what I was hoping for but a fun race regardless. Although I am significantly stronger than I was last year and am reading races much better, so far I don’t feel the results quite reflect this.

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Regionals:

From the start of the season, the South East Regional Champs have been a bit of a target for me, with a top 20 (improving on 30th last year) I felt not an unrealistic aim, especially as I seem to go better in these attritional races.

Unsurprisingly a very strong field turned out to tackle the testing Lingfield circuit, making getting in the early move and still being there at the finish a fairly unrealistic ambition. Having already raced on the Lingfield course earlier in the season and paid the price of going very hard early on, I was conscious of saving as much energy as possible in the first half, although this didn’t stop the occasional rush of blood to the head and attempt to follow promising moves.

As the main break containing the majority of the expected names eventually slipped away, I was expecting the race to calm a little, however at halfway there was a significant split, breaking the remainder of the field in two. Initially the wrong side, I managed to see what was happening just in time and was one of the last riders to get across. With another group having broken off, we came into the last lap with myself in what remained of the peloton. It was at this point I was able to get into a strong group of four with two riders from Richardson Trek and Vitus joining us soon after, escaping what remained of the very depleted bunch. With my legs screaming in agony for the entirety of the last lap, I came to the finish in 21st, slightly misjudging my sprint to the line and getting rolled in the final few metres. Whilst gutted to miss a top 20 and my first National point, I will take 21st, hopefully something I can improve upon next year.

With a little trip to Belgium coming up and racing well into October, there is still plenty of racing left this season and I am optimistic that there are good results to come. As always, big thanks to Norwood Paragon for their continued support!

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08/08/18

Racing Blog update from Development Rider Jack Wylie

Created by Marcus Brueton at 2018-08-08 10:43:35

Racing update from Norwood Paragon Development rider Jack Wylie

Hi guys - for those of you that don’t know me, I’m Jack currently a Cat 2 rider in my second season racing and in my first season as a Paragon rider. I’m a little late in starting the blog this season, so in attempt to keep everyone’s interest I’ll break the season and blogs into three parts.

With this past year my final year at Uni, I decided it was probably best to put the racing on hold from late April to mid June, to focus on my exams and make sure the dreaded 2.2 was avoided. However, while I was home for the Easter break in March and early April I had some wet and wintery early season racing to get stuck into.

Wally Gimber:

Following the cancellation of the early Surrey League races due to the double beast from the east, unintentionally my first race of the season also happened to be both the longest and hardest race I’ve ever done, the Wally Gimber Nat B. Excited to finally get my season under way and test the legs, this excitement was quickly replaced with apprehension after seeing the start list which resembled a who's who of domestic pros, fresh from winter training camps. Either way this made survival the job for the day. Weirdly I actually find these races the most enjoyable, just being sat on the limit all day seeing how long I can survive.

After a frantic start, the day’s break went allowing the race to settle a bit. I spent the day, sat not so comfortably in the peloton trying to save all energy possible, well aware that the race could take off at any minute. In the end I finished towards the back of the main bunch. Not a particularly standout performance, but having been routinely spat from National Bs of lower quality last year, to survive this was definitely a confidence boost and evidence that winter under the new coach had worked. (@astutecoaching - check them out! They've honestly been brilliant, especially tailoring my training during exams)

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Tour of the Marshes:

Following Wally Gimber I had the Tour of the Marshes, another National B, lined up the weekend after. Despite lacking the depth of the week before, the field again was strong, as a result I was keen to really test myself and get up the road. Following the early moves, I was feeling good until around half way, when I hit a huge pothole left by the recent bad weather, giving me a rear flat. A little assistance from the neutral service and I was soon back chasing, trying to claw back the minute and a half gap to the group. I ended up spending a pretty painful half hour on the bumper of the neutral service getting back into the race, setting a new 20 min power PB in the process, so not all bad! However, after eventually rejoining the bunch it was confirmed by the other riders that the rattling that had been coming from my back wheel, that I’d been ignoring in my desperate chase back, was in fact a broken spoke in the wheel I’d just been given - race over. A frustrating end but again lots of confidence gained, giving me belief that I can do more than just get round National Bs.

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To end my small block of Easter racing were some Regional A races, the first of which being a Surrey League at Seale in probably the most miserable conditions I’ve ever ridden in. This was also the first time I raced alongside my Development Teammate George Skinner. The two of us were keen to make any early moves, almost taking it in turns to get up the road or follow attacks. It soon became pretty clear that the race was going out the back rather than off the front as the bunch depleted rapidly. Given the weather this wasn’t massively surprising, as I’ve never seen race ending mechanicals celebrated so much. Nevertheless with hands so cold that changing gear was a challenge let alone opening up a gel, we ploughed on, coming into the last lap with little more than 10 of the 50+ riders left in contention, leaving a depleted bunch kick inevitable. George picked up 3rd with myself in 8th. Not what I was looking for personally but a solid performance nonetheless.

Thanks for reading and hopefully I’ll have more success to report in the next post!

Jack

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