Tour Series Adventure

Grant Martin | Sunday 18th June, 2017

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At 10.30pm on a Thursday night, I got the call from DS, Cherie Pridham straight after the Stoke Tour Series round, to tell my brother and I that we were needed for the race in Northwich the very next day. This was the start of a very unexpected and busy period for me. Due to illness and injuries within the team, we both got the last-minute call up to race. Personally, I was excited and couldnít wait to jump at the chance to get stuck into the Tour Series and see what I could do, however for my brother; it just added to the stress of upcoming Uni exams therefore we had to come up with a plan of action which meant supporting the team and Fraser with his upcoming exams. The next day, we set off early morning heading down to Northwich for the race with my mum helping with travel. This support meant that straight after the race; my brother could head straight back home and continue his focus on exams. However, for myself this meant I would be staying with the team in Derby, which again made me quite excited. Hearing what everyone has to say about the Tour Series worried me about how I would cope and I really didnít want to disappoint. However, I stayed focused and prepared in the same was as I do for all the other races apart from involving a longer warm up. I later learned that this sort of racing requires a few changes to your preparation. Number 1:- Course reconnaissance. I only managed to ride one lap of the course between the team presentation and the start of the race; it meant for the first few laps, I ended up simply trying to figure out the best racing line through the corners. Number 2: - Tyre pressure. Before Northwich, the heavens opened and the rain hammered it down, I lowered my tyre pressure down to 85 psi thinking it was pretty low, however after I started racing and felt the speed everyone was going around the corners, I quickly learnt that 85 psi was not low enough for a wet Tour Series! In my final Tour Series race at Durham where a storm came down just before the race which also involved a cobbled climb, I dropped my tyre pressure down to 60psi after a reconnaissance of the course. Number 3:- Food Intake. For most races, eating 2 hours before is usually perfect however because the Tour Series races always starts off so hard and fast, it didnít work for me and I ended up getting a stitch during the race which had quite a big impact on me in Northwich. It suited me to have more of an empty stomach and I found eating about 3 hours 30 minutes before hand ended up working best for me. However, not knowing all this before Northwich, the excitement and adrenaline got me through. I managed to stay right at the front of the race, even when it split and I found myself alone with four other Madison Genesis riders. More riders managed to bridge across and that ended up being the move to be in and luckily, I had team mate, Enrique Sanz there. I did all I could until about 40 minutes in and I started to pay for having not modified my preparation for this race. I began to lose the wheels in front of me and ended up dropping from the front group. That said I was still pleased with my performance and Enrique Sanz went on to take the win on the night meaning the atmosphere around the team camper was great and I couldnít wait for the next one. That Sunday I raced the Lincoln GP which again was another great race that I loved and where I learned loads by doing what I could for the team. Followed swiftly again by another Tour Series round, this time in Wembley with the race starting at 8:30pm with yet more rain. This meant we were racing in the dark, therefore, another new experience. However, although Iíd learnt from my first Tour Series, I was still suffering from my efforts in the Lincoln GP two days before and clearly hadnít recovered making the Wembley race quite disappointing for myself. I then spent the Wednesday travelling from Wembley back home to Perth on almost every form of public transport, to sit three tests in college the following day. With the tests over on the Thursday, I travelled back down to Bristol on the Friday so I could race my next Tour Series race in Bath on the Saturday. Bath was yet again wet, however after a few practice laps and with lower tire pressure, I found I liked the technical streets of Bath and it was one that suited me. However about 20 minutes into the race, I was caught up behind a crash and spent the rest of the night chasing back on in a small group, we didnít have the power to bridge back to the bunch. In the end, I finished disappointed not to make the front split but pleased with the way I raced. Next up was the drive back to Scotland for the Motherwell Tour Series race on Tuesday. Personally, my best round. Motherwell wasnít so technical and stayed dry the majority of the race with a small drag on the circuit which by the end didnít feel like just a drag. I was again well positioned at the front and this time following moves until the very end, helping team leader Enrique Sanz for a bunch sprint where he managed to pull off a 2nd place. One of the crazy things about racing in Motherwell, reasonably close to home, was the crowds. I found it amazing people shouting me on all the way round the circuit, making a change from ďGo Ed ClancyĒ at every other round. However, come Wednesday ,I was back to reality, in college again from 9am to 8pm where I was studying and working in the college clinic. Next up though was another Scottish round on the Thursday up in Aberdeen which provided the best weather of all the Tour Series races. Having been through such a busy period tough, I felt like I was on my knees before Iíd started. This time Seb Mora let me start front line which felt great particularly with it being in Scotland, however I didnít have the legs to provide the goods in the end. Early on, the break went up the road which I attempted to bring back for the team however after my efforts; I was sadly finished for the day. After a chat with DS Cherie Pridham, we agreed I would race Durham as my final Tour Series round. Durham is known for probably being the hardest round of the Tour Series due to the steep cobbled climb you have to repeatedly go up. For me, I enjoy the cobbles however; itís the climbing aspect that makes it such a tough race. I raced well to begin with however faded as the fatigue of the busy period hit me again. Overall, itís been a great experience and I have learned a lot and enjoyed every minute. Not every race went well for me however I learnt from it all and am now looking forward to racing the Elite Circuit series next. Both Fraser and I are moving to Derby for the summer months to be closer to the team and reduce the travelling from Scotland. The funding from Braveheart will really help with this expense. Thanks once again for reading. Grant Martin

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