Race 4 – Hillingdon

7 Jan

Race 4 – Winter series Jan 7th

I’ve got into the habit of putting a new post on as soon as I get home from the race, as otherwise I find I give duff info as my memory is terrible!

My cycling this week was really dictated by the snapping of my frame last week. I didn’t hang around and promptly snapped up a Raleigh Avanti frame from Bikeradar, cheap enough, looked OK, near me, in my size (ish 58 vs my last bike that was a 56) so I picked it up on Bank holiday. I was excited to get it all up and running, but those plans were soon scuppered after I ruined the gear cables taking them out of my old bike and also found the seat post was a different size. Balls.

So that led to a week of commuting, on this…

To be fair it wasn’t that bad, its heavy, flexy, and obviously made for women but it still got me the 18 miles to work in a little over an hour, for three days, into gale force winds…!

A couple of days later and a few irate twitter rants about Wiggle and their ‘priority’ dispatch, I finally got the final bits and went about building the Raleigh. It was a bit of a pain in the ass with indexing etc, but got there in the end, about 11pm last night after a few glasses of wine… So that meant I had not ridden this bike at all before this morning which makes my eventual result a little more pleasing, a few blasts up and down the road got the rough setup right. The shifting still isn’t perfect and today I needed sometimes to shift down to and shift up one to get the gear I wanted, annoying to say the least…

Anyway, onto the racing, you know, the point of my ramblings! Today I cycled up to Hillingdon alone, and I managed to remember the way, so that was a good start. I arrived pretty early, and met up with some guys who were in the 4ths race, and also two chaps (well one young chap) that were in the 3rds with me!

We got out and as per it was windy as sin and pretty chilly, despite being 9 deg or thereabouts! We lined up and I was just thinking to myself that I wanted to stay on my bike this week as despite the sterling job my girlfriend had done stitching my skinsuit back together I wasn’t keen on the whole bike building nonsense. So would today be different?

I started the race and felt good, a slight dull ache in the legs from the commuting, but it was fading as I was getting warmed up, right from the off there was a lot of erratic movement from some of the riders, and I was trying to be as vocal as possible to let riders know I was on their left etc, and actually it worked well, when someone knows you where you are they are certainly less likely to swerve across your wheel!

I sat mid group for the first 35 mins, and then something starting to raise concerns on my bike. Every time I would stand up to pedal, or put any power down the rear wheel would hit the brake blocks, and it was rubbing fairly constantly, despite me opening the callipers.

For those who saw me at the back, I got dropped from the main bunch twice and passed the 4ths probably 5 seconds back on the last person, this probably happened for about 5 laps, I was close to calling it a day to be honest. I slogged on however and thought instead of a sprint my only chance might be a long beak, I knew something wasn’t right, I was putting effort in and people were still going by me, that doesn’t normally happen quite to the extent it did today, I knew something wasn’t right. So I stopped, I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop in the last 5 so stopped just before the last lap board, I had a look at the front wheel, it was fine, had a look at the back, it seemed fine, I lifted the rear to spin the wheel and to my horror the wheel almost fell out of the frame, the quick release had come apart and it was only in the frame by the weight I was putting on it, so at any moment my rear wheel could have come out of the frame, it would have been a huge crash if it had done that at 28 mph!

After being told “you should make sure it doesn’t do that” by someone by the start line (one of the most inane comments I’ve ever been witness to) I waited for the group and got back on the track, I soft pedalled round the corner to let them catch me as it would have been totally unfair to blast it with my man made break!

The pace hotted up, and the riding got worse, a particular gentleman was riding VERY aggressively, at one point going on the grass in order to get by me and then cut back in and also generally being a complete nightmare, I hope not to see or race with him again! With about two laps to go we were going round the long sweeping bend after the finish line and someone caused a pileup, I saw him wobbling and slowing, I think his tyre might have gone and instead of turning the corner he obviously had no control and went across two or three others causing a crash. I hope everyone is OK!

With one lap to go the pace really hotted up, Nick Baker from Zappi’s (who had looked god for most of the race and gone on small breaks a couple of times) looking strong and clearly the man to follow when it came down to it, I felt OK, and now the bike was fixed I was keeping up no problem and had half an eye on what he and co at the front were up to

Sadly the next big event was a negative one; we got to the corner of last weeks smash, the combination of (and also the 1st race) the pace, the natural want to cut in, and the wind, caused a big pile up, as with the first race I ever did, I missed it by inches, literally inches (I heard plenty of swearing so someone had obviously done something silly), I had to go on the grass for about 20 meters to avoid it, I thought the bike was going to fall apart as it rattled me to death!

This really put paid to my hopes of winning as Baker et all had got up the road, and when I got back onto tarmac by the clubhouse, they were round the corner and on the way up the hill! Anyway, I thought I’d suffer a little and put a dig in, I started this dig before the last corner and so probably a good 400-500 m from the line and I could see I was gaining on everyone, and was passing people left right and center, I knew I couldn’t win as there was no space even if I did get to them, but I kept pushing and I reckon I probably went from 25-30th place by the clubhouse to possibly scraping a top 10/12 on the line.

I was pleased with that as it re-affirmed that I was quicker than most when I really wanted to go for it, and more importantly I stayed on my bike! I will be really happy if I got in the points this week as it looked impossible at one point. Not sure who won but I’d imagine Nick was up there as he looked like he had the legs on most people.

All in all a pretty different race for me, getting dropped from a bunch was an eye opener (obviously I know why now!), avoiding two crashes by a few inches was a bit of a rush, in a macabre sense, and I felt like I got a good work out, especially when I was trying to chase back on when I was geting dropped.

4 more races to go, still in two minds whether to do anymore as it seems the chance of coming a cropper is VERY high, but result depending today (series points depending really) I might keep plugging away to try and get to the highest position I can for the series.

Hope everyone is OK after the spills and the bikes aren’t as fooked as mine was!

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