I’ve ridden a lot this winter so wanted to get the hump of the first race out of the way as soon as I could. There were many firsts, I’d never been on a proper cycling circuit before, first British Cycling race for proper points, first time representing a club, first potential sprint finish and so on – the number one aim, don’t get dropped!
I took up position on the start line behind the first row of riders not wanting to zoom off straight to the front and having to pull the bunch along for the full 35 minutes + 5 laps. The first few laps were spent getting used to the speed and the circuit, working out how fast you could realistically go in the corners and making sure that I stayed somewhere in the front half of the bunch to avoid the sapping concertina effect. Once the bunch looked like it was about to snap in half with me the wrong side of it but a short sprint rectified that.
The race settled down and followed a familiar pattern, 3 Worcester St John’s riders decided to work a proper team, sending one person zooming ahead with the other two sitting up at the front, I sprinted after the attacker the first time this happened as I was on his wheel but left all the other chases to other people. What I learnt from this display was that in 4th Cat riders generally can’t last off the front on their own for very long.
I was sat around 3rd-6th wheel of the bunch for most of this section of the race but as the last lap bell went off, I fell back as the pace quickened up the previously sedate hill and out of the top hairpin. I bust a gut trying to get back up the line and tucked in before reaching the clubhouse hairpin and was back at around 5th wheel again. Annoyingly though this appeared to be my last effort, I was unable to go with everyone else out of the hairpin and could only watch the bunch go with me a couple of bike lengths off the back going into the final corners. With noone behind me I sat up and resigned myself to my placing which turned out to be 14th.
I was frustrated by the result, because I’d been up there in the placings the whole race only to end up with nothing to show for it because of hitting empty two corners from the end. I only needed to be 1% stronger or 1% smarter and I’d have picked up a point or two.
On reflection, I achieved my aim of not getting dropped and had featured near the front for most of the race. With a bit more to eat nearer to the race start and a bit more conserving energy in the bunch instead of thinking everyone is going to disappear once they go off the front, I should have enough to get a result next time out.
(Result: 14th out of 40)