High Wycombe 2/3/4

16 Sep

After battering myself a couple of weeks back, this week was intended to be an easier week, and I’ve not really ridden that much. So understandably I felt pretty fresh for this race, and was hoping that I’d come back a bit stronger!

This race was run over the same Thames Velo Course than I was 3rd on back in April (in the 3/4) so I knew it quite well, and knew that it suited me fairly well. I also thought I had a fairly good idea of whether a break could stick on this course or not. I initially thought no, long straight roads, at times, mega winds, all of these things really don’t lend themselves to a break making it stick. What a pearl of wisdom that turned out to be!

After a massive debacle with the numbers, the race was set off about half an hour late, and slightly shorter than it should have been, but it still promised to be around 60 miles. There were plenty of good riders riding, Henry Latimer was pointed out to me, he is now a 1st cat I think, but was racing anyway, and is clearly an accomplished rider. There were a few other people that a mate of mine knew to be strong riders too. To be honest with it being a bit of a way from home, I only recognized a few riders from the Surrey based races, Richard Prebble was racing again too, so I knew there were a few people to watch, at least.

The race got underway and it was quickly obvious that the wind was pretty strong, but it never felt like a headwind really, just huge gusts come accross you. The pace was high right from the start, and attacks were going all the time. I really wanted to make sure I was in the move today – one of the biggest things I’ve noticed in moving up to these races over the 3rd only and 4th cat affairs are just how often breaks stick, they almost never did in the former races, so I’m still getting to grips with going with moves, and trying to pick which ones look good. Not an easy task, unless you’re fit enough to follow everything, which I tried to a certain extent.

After a lap or so and a few failed attacks and moves, a large group had gone clear, but it could not really be called ‘clear’, they were dangling off the front. I thought about trying to bridge, but I honestly thought that given we could see them just ahead that they wouldn’t be away too long. I was forewarned by a mate riding that there were indeed some strong riders up there, including Henry, I think. Anyway, with the bunch playing silly buggers, they did pull out a small lead of around 1 minute. The fact this was a large bunch was important, 6 people would have got battered by that wind, but 10 or so was perfect, if they could get it together…

With two laps to go (its a long old circuit at around 15 mi) we got our acts togther and started some through and off, it was going well, and at one point we had maybe 10 riders doing turns (including a few sprinter types, so vested interest no doubt!) and we quickly brought the gap back down, and they were again now visable just up the road. At this point everyone seemed to stop working together, maybe they felt the work was done and the catch would obviously now be made, maybe they didn’t want to be on the front when we did catch so as not to be gassed for an attack? Whatever the reason was, it was quite odd to me, that we had worked for 30 mins, hard, and now we were about to be rewarded with the catch everyone lost interest and again the lead group pulled away again!

I don’t think at any point this lead group had more than 50 secs on us, and on the long roads we could see them ahead. With the final lap approaching and the lack of interest now stronger than ever (there were now maybe 6 of us doing turns) it was clear that something else was going to have to be done. It was at this point that Prebble tapped me on the shoulder and suggested that I save myself a bit, and we would attack the bunch just after Little Milton, leaving us with around 10 miles to go to make the catch (if we could manage it). I agreed that it was probably the only option and he was a good be to go with given his previous, that or sit bored in the bunch, anyway. I told Ed who is the pvt member I knew what our plan was, and he was game. We waited, about 15 mins passed and Richard moved up to look like he was about to take a turn, I followed his wheel and he went, and he went hard, I was right in his wheel, and Ed was right in mine. We immediately started some through and off, and it was quickly obvious that following an accomplished tester is hard work, I’m certainly not bad in this respect, but his turns were solid, and he didn’t look to be suffering either. After maybe 5-10 mins of hammering it, we had one other rider join us who had been active in the bunch, this wasn’t a bad prospect as he was strong. We worked well together for the next few miles. As we approached the only hill of the course, there were a few more people that had got away from the main bunch and we joined forces, over the top of the hill there was probably 12 of us again, slightly too many really, because only 5 had any interest in working to try and get back, the lead group were now in sight again, 20 secs it must have been.

On the final drag it was obvious that we wouldn’t catch them,  despite them being so close, the pace went up and at this point I was pretty spent so just rolled in with this group, given another 3 miles we would have caught them. We had smashed the bunch apart though, and they were some way back, so I’m glad that we did it, even thought nothing came of it, as it was a great bit of training.

The learning continues, despite not getting any kind of result, it was a good race, it was hard at over 300w NP and 275 AP for the race, and I also had a taste of a proper attack. It was fun, if not a bit too much like hard work 🙂

Some numbers

AP 275W NP 301W (the last 12 miles which was when we broke were done at 315w, not far short of a TT effort)
Distance 57 mi
Avg Speed 26mph

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