Milland Hill 3rds

7 Apr

After last weeks poor show I was keen to try and have a good race today. Done some decent miles during the week, and am back to full health (which helps!)

Today’s race was down in Petersfield, where I have actually lived and worked in the past, so I am familiar with the area, but I was never into cycling back then, so it was a different kind of blast from the past. Todays race was the 3rd cat only, I still fairly sure on a flat race I could cope fine in a 2/3 but with hills in the mix, I thought for now best to see how I get on in my own category – there were 3 other wheelers racing today, strong guys too, we had a good team.

Early start today, 7.45 out the door, had some spectators, my parents and my girlfriend were watching today which was nice. The course is fairly spectator friendly, mainly because there is a 25% hill just before the finish line every lap!! It isn’t very long, but its certainly enough to make you glad you stuck a big block on the back when you see people doing their chains and spokes all over the shop 😀

The race kicked off, the first half of the circuit is downhill really, so we got into our stride at a gentle pace, when the car lets us race it was a fair way from the hill, and we carried on at a decent lick round towards it. I was feeling ok for the first few laps, there was no doubt the hill was hard work, I’m so glad I did change the cassette as I think I would have broken something on a 39/25 (probably the chain), and it allowed me (a fairly average climber at best) to stay in contention most laps because I could spin up it seated. This was nice in two ways, one because it saved my legs, and two, the hill was very damp and whenever I got out of the saddle my rear tyre would spin fairly easily, so seated was the way forward (and indeed up! it was bloody steep!)

After a few laps a couple of things happened, mainly I could feel my slight aching back coming back to haunt me, so a bikefit is the nest step.Firstly a teammate had got away, Colin went quite hard and got a gap, but it didn’t last that long with a rapid bunch and the hill rapidly approaching we swallowed him back up.Another teammate, Damien mentioned that the break that I had barely noticed slipping away had got a minute on us! And that we should do some work, sadly I thought that if I put major effort in then my back might not last the course. Damien did put a few digs in, as did Robin.

As the race went on the hill was hurting more and more people, Robin got away for a decent period, but the same eventually happened to him on the penultimate lap, after the hill on that lap the bunch was smashed apart really, and a pack of 7 maybe got clear, in this were Robin and Damien, we were trying to work to get away, but a combination of the bunch gaining and others not wanting to work meant that as we came into the fast downhill section we were all back together again.

I had noticed that on the downhill I was finding it very easy to move up the bunch, probably because I was heavier and had an aero bike, but this gave me the idea (a foolish one!) to go for it on my own, so I sprinted off the front, and quickly got a good gap, at its best it was probably 20 secs, it was at this point that I saw the break of 2/3 riders who had been gone all race. They looked a bit tired (as anyone would be), so instead of bridging to them I sat up and let the bunch catch me on the other fast section. By this time we were flying down the back of the circuit, I was over 40 mph a number of times, and peaked at 48mph at some point, so it was not for the faint hearted. We came into the start of the hill much quicker than before too…

After the first drag up towards the ‘wall’ it was a high pace, higher than the other laps, I was thinking that I could possibly make up some places as I was about 20 back, but the thought in the back of my mind was that the climber types would rip it up so I’d be a bunch finisher, so I did try to move up, but wanted to conserve my energy – my only chance of gaining chances was on the hill, it was steep, but short enough to be a power hill which helped me. Coming up to the hill I had to pass someone who had obviously forgotten the hill was there and was in totally the wrong gear, I could see Damien and Robin shooting off up the hill, but they are both far quicker up hill than I regardless of power, so I kept churning, as it ramped up, so did I putting in some big efforts, at the crest of the hill I even for some reason made an odd roar/grunt as the effort was so much (sorry for anyone I scared), I came over the top of the hill in 5th place (the front 4 were well gone by this point) the clang of people switching back to big ring was in my ear, I could see people behind me, so I just gritted my teeth and pushed as hard as my lactic ridden body would allow, it was enough to keep me out the front of all but one chap, who did very well to come round me at the last minute (S.Gerrans would be proud 😉 ) to pip me into 6th – having looked at the data I still got back up to 36 mph for that, so fair play to him. I was elated, as I had not expected to get anything on a course like this. I rode down the way and collapsed on a verge with exhaustion, knackered.

Turns out Robin got 3rd, Damien 4th, and me letting the 3/4/5 down got 6th. A great Wheelers result, and a strong showing from all concerned. I’m pleased with my form, and am just waiting for some slightly flatter finishes again and hopefully I can maybe bag a win this season? Half way to 2nd Cat now, so lets hope it happens before then, as the standard goes up a vast amount when you start getting the 2nd’s in there!

Race stats – 48 miles – 22 MPH avg – Max speed 47.8 mph

Next Race – 22nd of April Thames Velo RR (but I might do some crits before then, so will update as and when)

Happy riding!

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