27 Oct 2011

Chasing a cat...

My main season objectives being to improve my ten and twenty five mile time trial times, to start road racing for the first time and to try and get points and get my 3rd cat licence, also to try and improve my hill climb PB’s and go to the national hill climb again.

I started my season in early March with two hilly time trials and a crit race. I managed to PB on both hilly time trial course by five minutes on each and scored my first season road race points by gaining a 8th place in the crit.

My training was still geared towards time trials aiming to be going strong in may for the interservices, and towards the end of April I PB’d over ten miles doing a 24:30 a PB by 20 odd seconds. I arrived at the Inter Services time trial in good condition which is more than can be said for the weather which I feel was the worse winds I have ever raced against, I did a 25:09 for the ten which was a disappointment but then PB’d on the twenty five by just over three minutes so it was worth starting despite the conditions.

It was from then that I decided I would concentrate on my road racing as I was still chasing points after a few more races with 9th and 10th place finishes. I tried to train to be able to sprint just a little faster to be able to finish just a few places higher to get them all important points.

I entered a race in the South West a 4th cat only and felt that the course was to my suiting as it finished on a small incline, I had the confidence and the form and the belief of a win, after numerous attacks on the hills to wear the opposition down and break the group up it ended with a group of about nine of us so I was guaranteed points, however, my positioning was poor in the finale with people riding like mad men. I took a back seat as an accident was the last thing I wanted, subsequently I started my sprint from eight back and finished second and was gaining the whole time on first but ran out of road this was a valuable lesson and a season defining moment.

I had my 3rd cat licence and it was only may, I had achieved all my objectives apart from the hill climbs by May, this is where I decided to adapt my objectives and aim towards my 2nd cat licence , I knew it would be a hard task but I needed something to aim at rather than giving up in May. By getting beat in the sprint I realised that yes I was fit, yes I can ride a bike but I was just not aggressive enough, over the next few races I concentrated on how the better riders moved through the pack and asserted their authority on the race.

My next points came at a 3rd and 4th cat race in Brentor a very fast but lumpy course finishing on a hill, I knew who the people were to watch a I rode a good race a small group got away the 2nd to last time up the hill, but still a key rider remained and on the next hill he attacked everyone who was strong jumped but I was the only one that managed to go with him but as the hammer went down the other side I just didn’t quite have the legs to go with him again and was left in no mans land, turns out the guy was luke gray apparently very handy at cyclocross and a sponsored rider, so no disappointment there. I filtered back into the pack and with an uphill finish I positioned correctly into the final corner and with 200 metres to go went as fast as my legs would carry me and I managed to win the bunch sprint and got 6th, yet more points.

I was growing in strength and experience and awareness with every race that passed. Which lead me to the race where I was beaten in the sprint in a 4th cat race, I returned for a 3rd and 4th cat race with the ambition of winning, I rode a tactically good race and was fresh on the last lap, had a good wheel for the sprint and I jumped early to surprise everyone knowing I had the fitness to climb strong in the sprint, and with twenty metres to go I was still leading I look back and I had gone, no one was coming back at me now, apparently I kicked once and got a gap and as they got back onto me I kicked again and went away all I remember is pain, pain, pain and then the joy of crossing the line first. My first win and yet I still wanted more I knew I had enough to get my 2nd cat licence if I kept trying. Again I returned to the same circuit two weeks later tried the same plan and it so nearly came off I finished 2nd just piped in the sprint but still yet more points towards my 2nd cat. In the meantime I had had poor performances at both Interservices and RAF road races with my tactics and the wind playing havoc with me, it was a very steep learning curve.

I now needed just six points for my 2nd cat and only three more road races planned, I wanted to get it out the way so I could concentrate on my hill climbs. I turned up to a crit in cornwall hoping for the best , 3rd and 4th cat crit but we got stuck in with the elites and 1st and 2nd cat because of falling light, this was going to be tough but I knew I was strong and a result was possible if I could just stick with the elites for a bit I assumed the majority of 4th and 3rds would get dropped meaning good points on offer as although we started with the elites 1sts and 2nds our points were separate, now it has to be said with two elite riders and numerous 1st cats this race was possibly the toughest I have ever done, and hang on was all I could do but that’s what I managed to do an elite rider broke away and won but I finished in the chase group with 1 elite, two 1st cat riders and a few 2nd cats and only two of us 3rd cats managed to survive the onslaught I was confident in the sprint and so I should be I had won a few recently, with the prospect of a win and my 2nd cat I laid everything down beat the 3rd cat and a 1st cat rider and won my race, but also if I had been in the elites race etc I would of got 5th, that to me against that opposition meant more than my win, it said to me that I had deserved my 2nd cat and all the hard work put in was worth it. So from 4th cat to 2nd in a season finishing with fifty four points , now all I had to do was put the icing on the cake with the hill climbs.

I've never hurt like I did in training for the hill climbs I just prayed it would be worth it, with my local club hill climb being my first of the season and my form was building I knocked nearly twenty seconds off my PB and was ten seconds away from the course record in horrible conditions, I moved onto the Shropshire championships with the win being my objective, I gave it everything and won by a huge forty seconds and only sixteen seconds outside the course record, I am Shropshire hill champion and a nice trophy is on its way.

I had to enter an open to qualify for the nationals, with work being busy I needed to have a good ride as I didn’t have time for a 2nd open event. I chose the Warwickshire two stage hill climb knowing some good opposition always attended. I was disappointed Matt Clinton, Tejvan Pettinger and James Dobbin were in attendance, the first climb I didn’t get a chance to ride before the race I went in blind and I don’t think it went bad but it wasn’t perfect I was disappointed until I got back to HQ and saw I was 7th overall out of fifty odd riders , I was shocked I didn’t think I had gone that well , I was buoyant for the 2nd hill climb, Dovers hill I had done this at nationals last year and suffered and wasn’t overly looking forward to the prospect again but 7th overall I knew I had to try. I've never pushed so hard in my life the pictures show it , Pain like never before but when I looked at my result I was 50 seconds quicker than I was at the nationals and was 9 seconds outside James Dobbin time (ex National Hill Climb Champion) , I had secured my 7th place by a big margin , that is possibly my greatest achievement so far , yes its no win and yes its only 7th but against my opposition and looking at my times in a single year I had progressed so far it really was an achievement to show just how far I had progressed even got my name in cycling weekly for the first time. And then the following weekend I did a local 10 and PB’d with a 24:26 on a poor day.

Now just one race left the national hill climb, now since my hill climb heroics I've been on exercise for three weeks with no bike and no training and unfortunately it shows I've tried my best to arrive at the national ok so I'm not laughed at but I don’t expect too much from it to be honest I'll go there for the enjoyment and experience and maybe next year I'll shine more there. I got 109th last year if I break top 100 then I've done a good job. If any of you are passing by feel free to stop at the Nationals and give me a shout of support or abuse, either way anything to mask the pain .
So all objectives for the year achieved and smashed. After the nationals a well earned rest, but not for too long. I'm also looking to start cyclocross in the winter, just to maintain a little more fitness for spring, so I don’t go stir crazy.
A few thanks I would like to say, one to all at RAF Cycling who have welcomed me at races, sorted out administration for me to race and accommodation etc.

The biggest one to Mark Griffin, frankly without him, I wouldn’t have achieved what I did. He coached and mentored me through the winter and early season; setting me up for all I have acheived. Massive thanks to him for his depth of knowledge, he was always there at the end of the phone for advice and morale and it certainly made the difference, I owe you one or maybe a few.

One final thing, as I'm the only RAF representative at the Nationals, does that mean by default I'm RAF Hill Climb Champion, again?

Dan Watts

19 Oct 2011

Mike Page Starts The Season With A Howler

RAFCC Cyclo X 2010 Vets Champion targets the Yorkshire Series 2011/12

Yorkshire Points Series Round 1 Oldham Page started towards the back of the 60-strong field including Zepnat Racings Matt Denby. Climbing to around 25th by the end of the first lap; Page felt quite strong. However, before reaching the climb at the end of the first lap he suffered a broken chain! Unbelievably, he endured a sprint back to the car park to get a quick link in order to carry on. Once back in the race he was making progress quite nicely, but then managed to pick up a front wheel puncture and head planted at the bottom of a fast descent. Stopping racing at this point, he can be commended for his tenacity, however – he had obviously upset the Gods of ‘Cross at some point. When interviewed, Page had this to say “Luckily, it's a 'Best 6 results from 9' league so I can ignore this terrible result.” “I got home and beasted myself around the local playing fields for 45 minutes to get rid of my frustration and to get some training in (without any punctures or breakages).

RAF DownHill Coaching day a gr8 success!

2010 RAF DH Champs/Discovery Day held at Aston Hill on 3rd Nov 04/11/2010
Report From Barry Fenton RAF DH. See Video...
The leaves have just settled on the 2010 RAF DH Champs/Discovery Day held at Aston Hill (www.rideastonhill.com) on 3rd Nov. The day was a resounding success with a good turn out (given that most of the DH regulars seem to be out of the country!) of 21 riders. In a huge boost for the event, Ian Warby and Richard Abbott (CTC and Firecrest Mountain Biking) were on hand to provide top level coaching for the participants. As coaches to world class riders and experienced racers, they were able to provide an impressive insight into the skills essentials and mental focus required to shave seconds off a downhill run.

Rather than using a normal downhill race format, the participants were coached in the morning before completing a timed run on a section of downhill track. After lunch, the techniques learnt in the morning were developed with the aid of more coaching and to finish the day, a second timed run was completed on the same section of downhill track. A quick glance at the results from the second run quickly confirmed that the coaching had clearly paid off with the vast majority of riders being anything from 0.5 to 26 seconds faster than their first run.
All participants took home extra skills and techniques to use and develop on all future rides and races which was the main aim of the event. The RAF DH Champs results are below but they are very much of secondary importance to the main outcome. Hopefully this event is the first stepping stone on a path to improvement for all RAF riders next season.
There were many highlights and stories from the day so I won't cover everything now
- Most importantly, there were no serious injuries despite the slippy conditions. There were plenty of crashes and a few grazes, cuts and bruises but the First Aid kits remained unopened which is a result!
- Special mention goes to Nicole Way who was on parade at RAF Benson at 0830 on the day but was still able to turn up and shave almost 3 seconds off her first run time (and beat her husband by 0.84secs!) taking the Female DH Champ title.
- Best Newcomer Award goes Matt Verrier (RAF Lyneham) who came 4th on a borrowed bike but could so easily have been on the podium if he hadn't crashed on his second run in fading light conditions!
- Most Improved Award goes to Craig Jenkins (RAF Benson) who was 12.22secs faster on his second run demonstrating that smooth is quick.
- Henry (the Hungarian Vizsla) posted a blistering first run time of 35.64secs but was subsequently disqualified after allegations of course cutting!
- Well done to the RAF Halton XC riders who gave it a go and posted some very respectable times. Si Taylor is now the (un)official RAF Halton DH Champ and I'm sure Joe Owen still has a sore bum after a spill on the 4X track!
- Despite attempting a "just clipping into my SPDs" rolling start, Jon Gates could only improve by 0.52secs securing 2nd place.
- It was good to see a strong turn out from the Army and quite amusing to watch Tank sprinting the last 50m of the track with his bike on his shoulder after crashing on the last drop off (still 4secs faster than his first run though)

18 Oct 2011

Trumpets at the Swindon Cross for Lewis

See image here
& here

On the second lap the leaders came into the woods with James still leading Doyle and Cotty. But he slipped which allowed the others past, and this is when Cotty attacked. He was third into the trees but first one out and with a small lead.
The first major casualty was Steve James who was felling unwell and retired at the end of the lap.
As the race progressed Cotty opened up a gap of over 30 seconds with the rest of the chasing bunch all together. The chasing group of five were all together for a couple of laps, until Doyle saw his chance to attack and pulled away from Lewis, who in turn could not chase him down because he would have pulled all the others along with him.
He had to wait for his chance, and with a lap to go he made his move and pulled away. Doyle then had his work cut out to keep Lewis at bay. Bjergfelt had to have a bike change when his shifter lever became loose, but was soon on his way quite quickly, but Matt Macdonald passed him and took a fine finish in a very hard race.
As Cotty started the last lap he rode hard on the grassed area so he could go carefully through the single track and wooded sections. He came across the line well clear of the others, with Doyle next up followed by Dan Lewis in third.

15 Oct 2011

What is the best way to develop talent?

Well this is how - take some talented cyclists and put them on steep development curves. this is what happened to one such individual, RAF Bensons Gary Sparkes was recently introduced to RAF Cyclings Head Coach the hard way! During a recent coaching session at RAF High Wycombe Gary and several other talented cyclist were put through their paces during Maximal Aerobic Power or MAP testing. This involves gradually incresing resistance on a turbo trainer until the body cannot continue - the data is then used to populate specific training plans and act as a benchmark for future progression. Sparkes said "this was brilliant initiative and was pleased to have been invited" RAFCC hope to develop riders like Sparkes over a three year period in order to dominate both the Army and Royal Marine/Royal Navy in future Inter Service events. Featured in the video are RAFCC Head Coach Dave Green, triathlon coach Marc Preece and Steven Brealey one of the top performing surprises from Air Command.

13 Oct 2011

9th for the 'Paceman' Paul Mace

A very respectable 9th for the Paceman at Milton Keynes seen here adopting an unorthodox yet smooth lift.

Results here

Wessex League Round 1

Lewis Secures 5th

The Wessex Cyclo-Cross League got underway at the newly named Oxford Spires Academy near Cowley on Saturday, with the Bikezone Cycles 'Cross.

GWR Floodlit Series Round 5

Full race report here

Paul Lloyd took the win at the 5th round of the GWR team Floodlit Winter Cyclo cross Series, beating Crispin Doyle and more significantly Dan Lewis, now leading the overall series.

With the warm autumn weather continuing 52 riders were attracted to the venue, a new record, for the 5th round of the winter series.A very strong field of riders lined up on the start line, with Dave McMullen, recent winner of round 2 of the Wessex league, and previous GWR round winners Dan Lewis and Paul Lloyd. The race was run off in the usual darkness but with very little wind it was still very warm and the track was hard packed.The first lap saw the leading group of four riders pulling out a small gap between themselves and the chasing pack. The first rider to lead through the technical section was the previous round's winner Dan Lewis closely followed by Paul Lloyd and Luke Cowely, who was returning from a knee injury. The chasing group was made up of Dan Smith, George Bate and Matt Hargrove.On the second lap, the leaders came into the woods with Lewis still leading Doyle and Lloyd. These three went on to pull away from the chasers and the battle for the victory in round 5 was to be fought out between them. On lap 6 of 11 Lloyd pressed a slight advantage over his chasers which he held to the line, Doyle took a very close 2nd and Lewis who suffered with some bike trouble claimed third. The battle for 4th was a constantly changing struggle between Smith and Bate. Bate was to climb into the 4th spot though, as Smith flatted on the last lap exiting the wooded section. 1st Veteran rider to finish was Gary Clarke, 1st Junior was Matt Woods and 1st Lady was Caroline Goward. The race for the overall is still to be decided but seems destined to be a two horse race between Lloyd and Lewis, with only 4 points separating the riders and a 50 point gap to Smith who is now third.

GWR Floodlit Series Round 4

Dan Lewis back to his very best

Round 4 of the GWR Team Floodlit Winter Cross League saw 40 riders signing on, greeted by late evening sunshine (before the darkness arrived) on a warm night reminiscent of the Summer League series, held at Supermarine Rugby Club in July. The track now completely dried out from the previous week’s mud bath, was now like a fast off-road crit circuit.
With only 2 points separating the leading two riders in the competition and seven races from ten counting for the overall, the series is beginning to heat up. For the second week in succession the new start line, allowed for a long grassy sprint into turns near the club house. From the gun it was series promoter Dan Smith who headed the field, only to crash out in the early turns next to the club house. Dan Lewis took over at the front before, when on lap two Paul Lloyd assumed control for one lap, only to have a mechanical and required a quick visit to the pits. Lewis took over the lead on lap three and never looked back during the 45 minute race to take the win. Behind him a chase group of Lloyd, Scot Easter and Peter Kench forced the pace trying to close the gap to Lewis.
By Lap 9 of the 11, Lewis was still out in front, with Lloyd gaining a gap on the two riders behind, Kench put in an attack along the rugby pitch to make contact with Lloyd and dropped Easter. These two pulled away from Easter, but could not close the gap to Lewis who took his second win of the series. Lloyd maintained his consistency of not placing outside of the top three in the four rounds by taking 2nd place, with Kench coming home in for 3rd place (his 2nd in two weeks).
Dan Lewis has now regained the lead in the series, with only one point separating the leading two riders.

GWR Floodlit Series Round 3

Lewis manages a respectable 5th to stay in contention

At round three of GWR Team’s Winter, Floodlit Cyclo Cross Series on September 20th saw 45 riders signing on for what was to be a very wet and muddy race at Supermarine Rugby Club. The course saw a change to the start and finish line, with a new section created in the top woods to further extend the lap.

With seven events of the ten race series counting for the overall prize of a holiday to Joyriders in Spain, it is still very tight at the top of the table with the top three leading riders separated by just 12 points. The new start position allowed for a long grassy sprint into some turns near the club house. From the gun it was series leader Dan Lewis, Paul Lloyd, Harvey Lowe and Dan Smith forcing the pace, in very slippery conditions. Lewis and Lloyd gained a gap on lap two along with George Bate who had moved up to assume the lead, from a chasing group. Behind there were many positional changes as riders struggled with the changing conditions, as the circuit became very slippery late on. Bate held the lead until lap four, when Lewis made his bid for victory, unfortunately he was to suffer from a fall on lap eight and Lloyd took advantage pressing home for his first win of the GWR team winter series.

Paul Lloyd now leads the series with 2 points separating the leading two and only 20 points separating the top 5 riders it’s still all to play for and the prize of a holiday to Joyriders, Spain.

GWR Floodlit Series Round 2

Lewis heads the field

Round 2 of GWR Team’s Winter, floodlit Cyclo cross series had another record entry of 48 riders signing on for a surprisingly fast and dry race that was held in windy conditions at Supermarine Rugby ground. With seven events of the ten race series counting for the overall prize of a holiday to Joyriders in Spain, riders were keen to get a strong result in the 2nd round. So it was all guns blazing into the first woodland section. With round 1 winner Matt Denby not making the trip south this week, it was left to 2nd place Dan Lewis and 3rd placed Paul Lloyd to try to make headway at the top of the table and assume the overall lead. Leading the field into the first of the woodland sections was Lewis, leading the field for two laps. Lloyd remained in contact and took the lead on lap three, only to relinquish it on lap 6 to Lewis who went on to take the victory in the 13 lap race.

GWR Floodlit Series Round 1

RAFCC Dan Lewis takes a season opening 2nd to Zepnat's Matt Denby

See full report here

GWR Team's Winter floodlit Cyclo cross series started with the largest field yet, as 48 riders lined up for the first race of a ten race series; making a strong starting sprint all the more important. Earlier in the day there had been the typical winter cross weather, of heavy showers, but due to the circuit being based around the well drained rugby pitches of Supermarine, the course remained hard packed and fast. Leading the field into the first of the woodland sections, was Weston Summer Series winner Dan Smith who took the hole shot and led the field for the first half lap. As the riders hit the main drag through to the finish line, for the 1st completed lap, Paul Lloyd led, with Dan Lewis and Matt Denby in contact, the latter two riders starting slowly from the back from the grid, making their way to the head of the race.

With 15 minutes to go, Denby had built up a sizable lead to take the first win of the series making the most of an advantage over Lewis that he held until the finish line. Lloyd came home in a conformable third.

Visit Royal Air Force Cycling here

10 Oct 2011

45th for Paul Mace in 49th Three Peaks CX

At the start line on a wet Sunday morning, someone joked 'this is not cyclo-cross race, it’s a walking race carrying your bike up three big hills'. I tend to agree.
Leaving Helworth Bridge I managed to be in the top 60 or so riders, quite important to be near or at the front when approaching Craig Gath, trying to squeeze a few hundred riders into a narrow track causes bottlenecks, chaos and a lot of swearing. I was held up briefly by someone unshipping their chain, but not to bad a start.
It has been raining in the Dales over the last few months, making the ascent of Ingleborough very muddy, it left many of the early sections unrideable, which in previous years has not been the case. This made it tough going to the top. A mixture of walking and riding before the real steep section starts, I found it tiring getting on and off the bike just to cycle a few yards but its where I could rest before the real action started.
At the steepest part I was using the fence to pull me up, my calves’ and lower back screaming at me to stop. Getting to Rawnsleys Leap is a strange experience, one minute there are a number of riders around you, then the next minute over the stile you are on your own, just the odd rider disappearing into the mist surrounding the top of Ingleborough. Reached the first check point in 75th place.
The descent was a little trickier, I am not good at this, crashed once and lost a few places, and I arrived at Cold Cotes in 84th position and in one piece. That was as bad as it got.
Just a rolling road section to Bruntscar, picked up a few riders on the way, we worked well together before the ascent of Whernside, this was not a bad climb, paving slabs have been placed over the years, saving on the usual scrambling up any way you can. Got there in 65th place.
A take your brain out descent followed. There are paving slabs to the stile about halfway down and I had real problems negotiating them, basically my nerve had gone. Louise Robinson looked impressive as she whizzed passed. I crashed once. I wore two jerseys, providing with extra pockets. I kept my food and water in the under jersey and spare tubes on the outer one. The point is I landed on my back and squashed the 500ml water bottle causing the bottle cap to come off and empty the contents down my back, I hadn't opened it yet.
I was running, walking and riding just before the stile, after which its case of picking my line and avoiding the rocks. Reached Ribble Head in 65th place.
A headwind on the road section to Horton, I was in a group of five riders we were all sharing the load, making short work of the 5 miles to Horton, then the start of the last ascent, Pen-y-Gent, most of this is rideable and suits the cyclist rather than the runner, made up a lot of places on this hill, passed Louise Robinson. When I got to the walking stage I caught up Keith Murray, he was just about to start riding but it was little bit steep for him to get started, so I gave him the push he required, he thanked me and peddled off.
Many spectators, helpers and walkers cheered you on, I heard several cry’s of 'c'mon the RAF' and 'you should be flying up here', that was shouted quite a few times; still any encouragement spurs you on. On nearing the summit, a rider coming down did a spectacular crash, he had a front tyre blow out it and it came off his wheel, he was riding tubs, he went straight over the handlebars, luckily he landed on grass.
I reached the last check point in 50th place. This descent is the easiest of the three, many parts of it are point and go, not that technical, which suited me, just avoid the riders coming up the hill. Steep in places, I was glad when it levelled off as my hands were aching from the constant braking. I passed Keith Murray, who looked to be carrying an injury. I passed the unfortunate rider who had had a blow out. It would be a long run for him to the finish.
It is quick near the bottom and you are riding on a path made up of big pebbles, I felt like my eye sockets were going to pop out, you just need to hold your nerve and avoid the riders coming up the hill, pinch punctures are frequent here. I passed one other rider who was with us on the road to Pen-y-Gent. Approaching the final road section, Keith Murray and a Yorkshire Velo rider flew past me, which was a surprise as I was not hanging about.
Two miles to the finish from Horton to Helwith, I was closing in on the two riders in front, (Keith Murray and Yorkshire Velo rider) I managed to bridge the gap just before the final rise and sat in for about 30 seconds, as soon as I saw Helwith Bridge on my right, I went for a long one, sprinting on a cross bike is funny, its like its in slow motion, Keith responded and passed me, I was able to react then went again just before the right turn and then it was over the bridge then another right to the finish. I came close to catching another rider but it was not to be and finished in 45th place.
My time of 3hrs 42mins 34seconds was 6 minutes quicker than last year, but 10 minutes off my best. I am content with my performance; I was after a top 50 place. I had no punctures which is always a bonus.
I have competed in this race on numerous occasions and this is the first time that I have not eaten any food or taken on any fluids, only through circumstance regarding drinks. I was quite thirsty at the finish. Next year is the 50th anniversary, one I shall hope to ride.

9 Oct 2011

Armed Forces Day

I now know just how hard it is for a photographer to get just the right picture for a portfolio! When I was asked to contribute to RAF Coingsby's Armed Forces day campaign by Gary Beezer, I never expected I would have to cycle 20 miles just to get 'the shot' Still any miles are good miles -right?

8 Oct 2011

Lee Simpson meets Chris Boardman and Russ Downing at Stoke

Wow, not only did I have the chance to work on this years Tour of Britain thanks to the RAF and Sweetspot, but I also got to meet a life long cycling hero, not to mention Sky pro rider Russell Downing to name but a few.

RAFCC Dan Lewis Reviews Schlamm Jacket

The Schlamm jacket has served me well for the 2010/2011 Cyclo-cross season. Its fantastic thermal properties has been a great benefit when I have been pre-riding & warming up in the National Cyclo-cross series & the National Champs!
I partically like the high collar & the zips on cuffs. This ensures my neck & wrists are kept warm. On some cases I even got too warm in the jacket, as its wind protective properties also help to keep that chill out. The Large 3 pockets on the rear came really useful to carry water bottles, as if any keen cyclo-cross rider knows. There are no water bottle cages on a cross bike. So when warming up it is essential to carry fluids & energy drinks. The Jacket was ideal for that! The Two zipped pockets were also useful especially to keep my car keys in, whilst racing. The zipps are also good as if I had gloves on I could easily get hold of them.
The only down side of the jacket was its colour. Mainly white & red wasn’t ideal at muddy races, as it got pretty grubby. Even when washed, it didn’t really come out as white again. But it was great to be seen in! The only benefit of this colour would be commuting in, during the depths of winter. 
All in all this is a great winter jacket which keeps you warm. So if it keeps my Girlfriend warm whilst wathcing me race, it definitely gets a double thumbs up !