SE Divisional Champs e123

21 May

After the relative success of last weekend I had in my mind that today maybe I could do a bit better than be pack fodder in a Nat b race. This weekend in May each region (I am SE) has its championships, which are all 85-90 mile road races open to e123 riders. Ours is usually hosted on the Edenbridge course which I’ve not ridden but I think from speaking to people it may have suited me better than the one we eventually raced on. Due to roadworks our race was moved over to a circuit in Challock, Kent, the exact same circuit in fact that the road stage of the Toachim GP was run on. So at least I knew what it was like. A long circuit with a long drag and a very quick downhill.

However upon arriving we were told that we were to do 3 smaller laps which involved doing the finish hill 3 times. The finish hill is a fairly long drag, around 6% average, has a steep bit near the bottom and shallows a bit near the top, its not the worst hill, but it is 1.5 miles long, and upon hearing this my heart sank a bit as I knew deep down that I wouldn’t be able to stick with the smaller guys up something like that. But still, I’d come all this way, and was keen to race so put it to the back of my mind. There were 4 of us from KW today, all Andy’s (Lack, Edwards, and Snook), so at least we would have a presence. The main team that were there in strength were that of Fleet bike shop PedalHeaven, who have a strong roster of riders, including Jake Martin who had been very strong recently, Francis Cade who used to ride with KW who was also going well, and a fair few others that are all strong riders (8 in total) so it seemed reasonable to assume that the race would be animated by them.

We got off to a start and the first time down the steep hill was a little sketchy with the smell of burning rubber and the sights of nervous cornering took hold. I obviously was au-fait with the hill so was quite comfortable, I was actually only telling Andy Lack in the park the previous day that people got dropped on the downhill last year, that is how quick it is. We did a lap and I was trying to keep and eye out for what was going on. Sure enough not long later, and I do mean in the first 20 miles a few guys got away, PH mostly, then one of the strong Felt guys joined, and I saw it going off up the road, I genuinely thought it was quite early and waited to follow the next wheel that went, none went, it was soon pretty clear that was the selection made, early doors. I was pretty annoyed with myself for not being more mindful and having the guts to just go with a wheel and get over to it. Anyway, our group was still pretty large and a lot of teams were still in the group that had nobody up the road, so I was hopeful that maybe something may go of note a little later.

We rolled around, and it was clear that nothing was going to be let go, a few attacks went, and eventually were caught, thankfully this time I had plenty of gels with me (after struggling through with 1 last time on this circuit!) so was biding my time, after a few other attempts to get away on the big circuit, once where I followed Will Pratt but again it wasn’t allowed to go anywhere. Then again on the last time round Andy Edwards attacked to get over to a move, that came back then another went over the top that I went with, looked good but once more was brought back. So we all just sat in and waited for the 3 small laps (around 15 mins long) up the hill, as it would be sure to split it.

Approaching the hill for the first time there was a small group that had gone up the road, we let them dangle a bit, and hit the hill for the first time, Andy again tried something but it wasn’t to be, he made the pace a bit hot but not enough to split it apart, just yet. The pace up the hill felt pretty quick (though upon further inspection, the front group went up 30 secs faster!!) and I was digging hard to stick with the little guys up the front, and then I attacked over the top to get over to the front group that was looking promising. I got over on the fast downhill and we had a gap, it looked decent for a while but again it was reeled back in. The second time up the hill it was much more sedate, but you could see it had been thinned out a fair bit. Again one or two people went, but I was in no mood to follow and the hill was killing people when they were solo. Up the hill for the final time was much like the first, pace quite high, it was difficult for me, every time I glanced down power was always 400+ which I know is hard work after 85 miles, I stayed near the front and slowly people fell back, it was whittled down to a bunch of maybe 6 with a couple of hundred to go. I actually thought that we were racing for 20th or something so was only really putting effort in for training purposes, so as we came to the line I was right near the front and people started sprinting, I wasn’t interested in sprinting for 20th so just rolled in 3rd or 4th wheel. It was then I learned that the prestigious 14th was up for grabs 😉 and I’d rolled in 19th, had I known that I might have tried to challenge Liam from Twickers who did a good job to take 14th, I think he and I were noticeably the only bigger guys who had managed to stay at the front on the hill.

A good day on the bike as the weather was good and I learned plenty, but I must be more vigilant, and I suppose gutsy, there is nothing to lose by getting in the break, as Andy said, if you blow up, so be it, but at least you were there. I feel I have/had the legs to be up there for the main part of the day, and felt a bit stupid for not making an effort to get over early on.

Couple more races now, Hillingdon, then the East London Velo race which I favoured over the SERRL 3 day, mainly because it was £80 and I actually fancied a bit of time to myself this bank hols, so hopefully the East London race will be good, a strong field of 2nd cat riders should make for a good race.

Race here

One Response to “SE Divisional Champs e123”

  1. David Woodhouse May 31, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

    Good write up Rob. Interesting to hear you crossing swords with Liam..

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