iTeam 2/3

19 Aug

With the weather finally picking up a bit over the last week or so, it looked like we might get some racing done in the sun again. After doing the Python race I took the view that I should be more aggressive, or at least try harder in these races to get the results. On paper its more than possible, so really it was just making it work and THINKING about what I’m doing.

The weeks riding has been pretty good, certainly made the most of the good weather and had a good mixture of riding in my legs from this week, around 200 miles before the race, and maybe most notably was the TT I did yesterday, which I did put a full effort into, so I was thinking about how my legs would feel today. Luckily the course was fairly straight forward with only a couple of tiny inclines as opposed to any notable hills so even wit not fantastic legs, which they’re weren’t, it was possible to get round.

Today’s race was run on similar roads to our club race, down in Dunsfold, its a fairly quiet area, and with a couple of exceptions everyone seems more than happy to wait while we go through, which is nice. Oddly I was the only KW rider in the race today, not sure what the other chaps were up to, but it does mean that you can attack/follow anything you want without worrying you’re doing the wrong thing for your teamates. I arrived nice and early, and I’m pretty sure it was already well over 20 deg when I arrived in the car park!!

I signed on, and we got going, the notable thing about this particular circuit was that it had a flat finish, I don’t think I’ve done a SL race where that has been the case. Usually the finish is on a flat just after a hill, with that in mind I was interested to see how it went as it’s a finish that certainly wouldn’t hinder me. The neutral section was only about 500m before we were off and ‘racing’. The pace at first wasn’t that hard really, I was just sitting in wheels waiting to see what might happen. I knew a couple of names on the sheet, and I knew that the Node4 Rider Richard Prebble was strong and that his style based on past races was to break away near the end on his own (I think he is a former national TT champ, so certainly a man to watch), so I wanted to be near him to make sure if a move did go, that I was also in it, or at least saw it 😉 ! I’m sure there were many other very strong riders, but having one of the worst memories of anyone I certainly can’t memorize more than a couple of riders, helps when the kit is bright orange!

Anyway, back to the race, the pace was fine for the first couple of laps, not that quick, just getting a feel for it, despite the course being pretty safe, it was quite narrow and twisty at certain points, and the gutter was just that, a trench of mud and crap, and the tarmac wasn’t much better in places. About half way through the race a group got away, it had a few guys that looked strong, nobody looked to want to bridge to it, so I thought I’d just go on my own, always easier said than done…I went hard and got a gap, then quickly realised that yesterdays TT was making me ache a bit and the dilemma after 3 mins of full effort is whether to sit upor not, I thought that I’d already invested a lot of effort so may as well make it count, I managed to bridge them, but by the time I got there the bunch were not far away. However we proceeded to break again, straight away, I did a turn, then just blew up, I couldn’t do it given the 5 mins I spent chasing, the others were less than impressed when I shirked my turn! Still, not much I could do. We stayed in limbo for a while just off the front, until we got caught and we all sat up maybe half a lap later.

I think a couple of laps passed without too much to mention, I was in the top 20 nearly all the time, which is the place to be, although, with these races because the courses are generally not too taxing, people are quite fresh, and in the blink of an eye the who field can go up the inside/outside! I dropped back for a bit to get a bit of rest as I thought it likely we would have a sprint finish. A bit later I noticed the Node 4 rider went off the front with one other, we started to chase it down knowing how dangerous it could be, he stayed away for quite a while but we made the catch eventually. The last lap came and everyone was back together, the usual lot where near the front, the pace slowed a bit, then picked up a lot, then slowed down again, then as we were coming towards the finish and the only ‘hill’ of the course (which was slowly knackering me each lap even though you could probably do it in 20 seconds) the pace exploded and two guys came flying up the outside and more followed, this was it, it was the point that I either dug in to get a good position for the sprint, or did the usual and ended up 30th wheel firefighting for a spot. I opted for the former, in power terms it was pretty tame, but my legs were feeling it, and it was now very warm (30 odd), I managed to go with them, and down the other side managed to catch my breath a bit.

In the confusion etc one chap had got off the front, I don’t think anyone was paying much attention really because a few had done similar and been swallowed up within 5 mins,  but at the point he went it was a good move….One other notable thing at this point was me almost coming off at 30 mph…I’ve fitted a new cassette and because my back mech is a bit shit the shifting was not 100%, I thought I was in gear and fine, so sprinted out of a corner, only for the chain to jump down a cog and my knee hit the bar throwing the back wheel in the air! I managed to keep hold of it, but it was close, another rider said he thought I was ground-bound.

This part of the race is often the point where the riding goes a bit sketchy as people jostle for position etc, and today was certainly no exception, we approached the dogleg left turn onto the final straight which was maybe 500m to the line. I was probably in the top 10 of 20-25 contenders, but not really in a wheel, Richard Prebble was on the front at this point drilling it, we came round the dogleg and he started sprinting almost straight away! I was on the outside so had a good view of who was doing what,  I knew I couldn’t get a wheel in that mess so stuck to the outside (on my side of the road if you were wondering! but near the outside of the lane) where nobody wanted to be it seemed. I saw people coming on the left, I just decided to go for it and take the wind for a few seconds as there wasn’t another option, if I had enough then surely it would be OK, if I didn’t then I wouldn’t have been any better in a wheel. Meanwhile someone went by Richard (Steve Calland I later learned) and really got a good gap on ever the group, I really dug in here, out of the saddle at first then as it was so far to the finish I got tucked and just went as hard as I could, I went past the group and it was just myself, Steve, and the lone escapee, I was gaining on Steve, I dug a bit deeper (no idea where I found more from really) and caught him, just (results are still pending but two marshals saw it my way too) before the line before making the pass… the lone rider was about a bike length in front, great ride from him! So I got a 2nd place, which is pretty close to achieving my season goal of another win (Hillingdon doesn’t count! 😉 )

I was pleased with that, it showed that I had the legs in a sprint again, and that I can certainly get the results at this level (I don’t even think the easy course made much odds, I just was more concious of making it count and gettting the positioning nailed(ish) ) and it bodes well if I want to push on next season and go for 1st cat. 3 or 4 more road races this year, a couple of TT’s (my first 25 in a couple of weeks!) and a couple of handicaps before I buy a turbo, bury myself in the training with power book and try to increase power in the crap dark weather!

Some numbers  :

AP – 198 NP – 240w (easiest yet! – did take nearly 800w for 30s at the end though)
Avg Speed 25 mph
Distance 62 mi

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