Malliot Blanc Column by Toby Miles - Snow won't stop my preperations for racing in Israel

PUBLISHED: 13:52 19 March 2018 | UPDATED: 15:42 19 March 2018

Malliot Blanc cycling columnist Toby Miles in competitive action on the continent. Credit: Martine Verfaillie.

Malliot Blanc cycling columnist Toby Miles in competitive action on the continent. Credit: Martine Verfaillie.

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Read Toby Miles' Malliot Blanc Column as the aspiring professional cyclist shares his experiences racing through the snow as he prepares for a prestigious race in Israel.

Malliot Blanc cycling columnist Toby Miles in competitive action on the continent. Credit: Martine VerfaillieMalliot Blanc cycling columnist Toby Miles in competitive action on the continent. Credit: Martine Verfaillie

Read Toby Miles’ Malliot Blanc Column as the aspiring professional cyclist shares his experiences racing in the UK.

I raced in the snow on Saturday, conditions that won’t prepare me for my trip to Israel for the prestigious Arad Tour on Wednesday.

From Milton Keynes’ grey skies, freezing temperatures, thick gloves and snow, to Tel Aviv’s sun, 20-degree heat and summer jerseys.

After checking that the race would go ahead - ice or flooding are the usual threat - I set off up the M1 with my bike in the boot. Cycling is a sport of un-written rules, and always arriving with a clean machine is a vital one. Clean bikes go faster. Fact.

The race was a one-hour circuit race around the service road that circles the National Bowl in Milton Keynes. The same arena that once saw Michael Jackson and Oasis, now hosts regular amateur bike races either on the service road or a cyclo-cross (cross-country) race on the bowl itself.

I’ve competed in countless races at the Bowl. In the cyclo-cross races sometimes you can hear the sound of your wheels compressing the layer of cans and plastic bottles that lies under the grass.

It was breathtakingly cold on Saturday, with zero-degree temperatures and a biting wind. I normally wear very little to race but I needed all the warmth a jacket, a base-layer and thick gloves could offer.

It’s particularly important to do a warm-up for the coldest races, so I use rollers. Rollers are like a portable running machine for bikes, you’re unsupported and it takes time to master riding them confidently.

I did a 10-minute warm-up, gradually increasing my power to a race-like effort where I’m starting to sweat. Warming-up switches on your aerobic system and readies the muscles and joints, ensuring you are using energy more efficiently and giving a significant performance increase.

Thankfully the chief commissaire (race referee) spared us a drawn out briefing, and the race got underway to a fast pace with light snow landing on our glasses. Often in bad weather the winning move goes early as riders are more hesitant.

That was the case on Saturday, and I was powerless to do much about it as my legs felt sluggish after a three-hour training ride the previous day.

I felt better as the race went on, and I tried a last-gasp attack with three of the short laps remaining. I had to make a big effort to pull away and unfortunately nobody joined me, so I couldn’t sustain it.

Once caught, I tried to position myself correctly to sprint for third, but got blocked off and finished outside the first 10.

Now I’m preparing for Israel, I look forward to sharing my experiences from the Middle East with you soon.

Follow me on twitter for updates from Israel: @toby_cometsport

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