First road race of the season came in the shape of the Peter Young Memorial. Good two main reasons (for me) – its pretty flat, and its pretty local – ideal! What was not ideal however is the weather forecast, for the last week it had not rained and had been mild, that particular Sunday however was meant to be cold and raining for the duration of the race.
I woke up and it sure enough had rained, and it was chilly, I was half thinking of staying in bed, a nice brand new shiny bike that I’d just made, I wasn’t overly keen to get it covered in crap! But I pulled myself together and made my way. It did get a bit brighter, and it wasn’t too bad when I got down there and started warming up. It was a pretty decent field with good representation from a number of teams inc Pedalheaven, Catford, Richardsons Trek, Corely Cycles and a few smaller ones too. Owing to the Paceline training camp I was the only rider from our lot riding, and there wasn’t anyone from Kingston either, so today would be about riding smart and getting into things that were well represented by those teams.
The race got off to a fast start as always and the first big lap we averaged around 27mph, given the course is pretty easy it didn’t really feel difficult and my legs felt pretty good. A few people tried things and a half decent looking move got away for a while, but I thought with none of the big teams represented it would likely not work out, it was also pretty early doors so I thought best not to commit to that. The laps ticked on and nothing much looked like sticking with a few little digs here and there, sadly the first crash of the year was soon upon us as a few people got tangled and hit the deck on one of the main roads. I think this was down to pothole dodging, but not a nice thing to see, I don’t think anyone was too badly beaten up, and the bunch slowed to let everyone re-join.
At around mile 50 things were getting a little twitchy and more people looked to fancy pinging off the front, I was not ideally positioned when I saw a move I liked the look of, Wouter Sybrandy, Ash Cox, two from Corley and two from Trek along with one PH and another rider I can’t quite remember all got away and it looked good. Knowing Ash and Wouter (both winners in their time of the well fought North Road Hardriders) were strong testers I thought this was a good prospect, with representation from three of the big teams it had most of the ingredients people look for in a winning break! I sprinted up the outside and made my way over to them, it took around a minute of drilling it at 500w which isn’t difficult, but when you’re going downhill its not easy to keep that power/cadence going, but I got over and the bunch were miles behind and nobody had come with me, ideal.
That break formed at around mile 57 or 87, so it was always going to be a hard rider to make it stick, but I thought we had a good shot. We got into a half decent through and off and the gap quite quickly was out to over 30 seconds. However it wasn’t long before people started skipping turns and not coming through, strange really, I did notice that the PH rider was being told to keep it calm by his team manager, and he was just soft tapping through, I had a feeling that didn’t bode too well! We were away probably for around 25-30 mins and the bunch were almost back on us, a shame because I think if we made it to the finishing circuit with a half decent lead it would have been much more possible to make it stick. As we were caught I wondered whether I’d got the legs to do much up the final finish hill. Sadly the choice was made for me as I noticed my front tyre was going down, the pace was quite quick and I thought if I dropped back to get service that would be the last I saw of the bunch so with 2 or 3 laps of the finish circuit to go I pulled over with a very soft front tyre. I watched as a Twickenham and PH rider got away together and almost made it stick only to be swallowed by the bunch near the end. The final gallop was mopped up by in form Rory Townsend and the PH from the break in second, obviously still had plenty in his legs ;-)
All in all it was a bit annoying but confirmed at least that I had the legs, even though the course was pretty easy I don’t think I was really properly hurting at any point so maybe this winter has been a good one. Touch wood I’ve not been ill since November and have not really had much time off the bike. That coupled with some decent early season TT’s has got me into half decent shape!
One slightly irritating discovery was that Zipp 303 Firecrests do not compute with SL4 Tarmac frames as they’re too wide on the rear and rub on the stays. The good news is that I’ve just about done a deal on some Enve 6.7 to replace with, every cloud ;-)