I’ve criss-crossed back and forth from the dark side to the light more times than Darth Vader in the final sequence of Return of the Jedi. Today was intended as a training ride for the upcoming Colin Carfield road race, which is now cancelled. More on that later. Rather than have a series of goals for this one, i opted to keep it simple.
Goal A: Finish a road race, hopefully in the bunch rather than coming in 30 minutes down, head bowed, legs cramped to buggery. This involves not getting lost or crashing.
I had no other aims or hopes and dreams beyond this simple and driving ambition. I absently-mindedly fantasised about riding off the front with ten miles to go and leaving the hapless roadies trailing in the wake of my immense power, elbows on the tops, but this particular saucy dream will have to wait for another day. that day may never come.
Interestingly, i tried to work out the last time i’d ridden 62 miles in anger. It was possibly July 27th 2011, on tour. My training is generally shorter and sharper, in keeping with the kind of distances i race in time trials. In short, this meant that it was going to be a tough last 15 miles. It didn’t help that the race was run off at a 25mph average, with lots of changes in pace. If you don’t road race much these surges are hard to follow. It’s ok for the first 5 or 6 corners, but after a while the lactic builds and builds and each surge becomes that bit harder to track.
Early in the race someone turned to me and said ‘So, decided to do a real race then? I laughed a bit and asked if he was a time triallist. He wasn’t, but he had read this blog. It’s nice when people recognise you or say something about the blog, as long as it’s not ‘your inane shit is polluting the interweb’. This chap – Rich Cleaver i think from Leisure Lakes - seemed to fall into the former camp, i think, although we didn’t chat for long because the neutralised section ended and there were a couple of attacks straight off. At Gillingham last week a chap said I was one of his heroes. That was nice. I’ve never, ever had anyone ever say i was one of their heroes. It may have been the endorphins talking, he’d just tackled the kind of climb that makes you ride like a drunken arachnid. Nevertheless, it’s nice to have a few readers, and I can now count at least 3, including my wife.
The BSCC had 6 riders in the race, probably a few more than anyone else. After a bit of shilly-shallying in the opening laps it started to open up a bit and we made a bit of the running, trying to make the breaks and set things up for each other. This was hampered by two key things, no-one really had the legs for a proper knockout, and we were 3s and 4s (Sam excepted) in a 234 race. It was great fun though. Eventually it worked, sort of. Nearing the last third of the race things got noticeably edgy. Not in bad way; the riders knew that one of the next breaks was liable to stick. There were some riders up the road and the pace was swinging. Coming out of a sweeping right hander i was behind Sam and urged him to go across. He shook his head, but went for it anyway, getting in the break, staying with it when it took shape and then coming home to grab some points.
I made it across the line somewhere near the back of the bunch, delighted to have finished. There were no crashes. There was one spicy moment when something sketchy happened in front of me in the bunch, but luckily i was drinking at the time so could only use the rear brake – it probably kept me upright. I was involved in a touch of wheels but again, no harm done. My legs were in bits and I learnt some interesting things. Small and punchy climbs suit powerful riders, not tempo riders like myself. I was quite surprised to go backwards on these and had to work hard to position myself nearer the front in the run up to the very short climb. Kieran, a stronger, more powerfully built chap and probably the first to admit that as a general rule i can climb a bit better than he can, scorched it each time.
The best things about today were really quite simple. I finished, it felt like a superfast club run, this was good. I am happy with the training benefit. It was amazing to ride with the BSCC chaps and work to animate the race to the extent that people afterwards commented positively on our riding. This year has seen a real explosion in the numbers racing for the South, both time trialling and road racing. It’s fantastic.
66.40 miles, 2:38:49 hours, 25.1 mph, 2,392 ft.
It was won by Dave Starkey, but I’m guessing not the nasty racist historian Dave Starkey, but a nicer, friendlier, cycling variant. except with legs of iron.