SERRL Biddenden 2/3

23 Jun

Its been a strange week really, I felt like though I missed any decent results last weekend (well I suppose I did get 2nd in a TT) I was thinking my legs were coming together. Monday I took it super easy for an hour as I was heading to Palace on Tuesday, I started, and was REALLY finding it tough, thankfully after 3 laps my seat-post slipped down making the bike un-rideable, which was a blessing as I was about to be out the backdoor anyway I reckon. The bike felt like a wet noodle, no responsiveness. I took the wheels into a local guy and he said the back hub was very loose and indicated that this would give the feeling of instability and wobbliness. Anyway, with that sorted I had a test ride yesterday and it felt fine which was a relief as I was lining up some Enve’s 😉

This morning I wasn’t really up for it to be honest, I’d been out quite late last night for a mates birthday and purposefully limited myself to only a few drinks as had this race to do. Early start, got down there with plenty of time, I started to feel more positive about it when I was there. I think part of what gives me the pre-race blues is knowing I have to drive down there on my own for 90 mins, its pretty dull. Today’s race was to be held on one of the circuits near Biddenden, which was in rural Kent, lovely. It was a rolling circuit with a few fast downhills, and a fairly poorly surfaced drag up to the finish maybe half a mile long at 4% or so with a couple of ramps and a drag up to the finish line. I did have the company of Andy Lack today, a previous SERRL winner and a teammate for the stage race in a couple of weeks, he gave me a good heads up on the course and said that it held a rich history for KW as Damien had won here before from a break.

The race got off to a start, there were probably around 50 riders today, a long neutral zone and we were off, the pace was predictably quite high, and for the first lap or so nothing much of note happened. I noted that the best line up the finish hill was probably up the right hand side where the road was bad, but not the worst. A couple of laps passed and Keith Lea of Addiscombe came through and we had a little dig, it was early days and nothing was being allowed to stick just yet so we were brought back. Another lap or so passed with a few little things here and there before we (or I) found ourselves in a familiar position …. Flying down one of the fast bits of the course we come across two horses, as per exactly what happened last time (last year), they went mental at the sight of 50 bikes, a few people went by them and the rest of us stopped, they eventually calmed down and took another route, not sure if more can be done to prevent this because its certainly not an ideal situation and in such areas of the country its going to happen more and more often. Anyway, the front group slowed to let the race come back together again.

Shortly after this with a couple of laps to go an Aprire rider (possible Michael Barnes)got away and nobody seemed to interested in chasing him initially, he must have been out front for a fair time because while he was away I tried to get away another 2 times, once again with Keith which amounted to not a lot, and then again with Paul Sewell and another, which looked more promising and we brought Michael back in sight before we were caught and it all slowed down again for half a lap. This was just before we got the bell lap, so it was now on for him to ride away solo as he had around 35 seconds on us, we went down the fast hill and took the sharp left hander and this is when the decider happened…I was about 10 wheels back on the inside, and Paul Sewell flew up the outside with two riders in tow, by the time I could get anywhere near a position to move out they were up the road. Instead of chase it right away which till that point had always resulted in the bunch reacting and chasing me down, I thought I would chance my arm a bit. My legs felt good, and I was confident that I could ride over to them if needs be, so I waited a minute or two and they were gaining quickly, then two others chipped off the front, a Paragon and another chap, it was at this point that I thought I had to move or I’d be sprinting for 6th, and with good legs, that is not what I wanted. So I nailed it up the road, hard, and only one followed, and we got a gap (hurrah I thought, first time that day!) I took the wide line and we went straight past the Paragon and other and carried on, I was driving the pace, looked down and strangely 400w felt perfectly sustainable, which was proof that my legs were playing the game. I waved the London Phoenix rider through, nothing, I then waved him through with a bit of encouragement and got a 10 second turn, I thought if I let this chap do turns like that then we will not get over, so back on the front and nailed it for all I was worth, we had got a good gap and were closing on the 3 who had now caught Michael Barnes so 4 lead group. Phoenix did another turn and then I carried on and really buried myself up the drag into the headwind and finally with about 3k to go we made the juncture. Paul said afterwards he was quite surprised to see me there!

I looked back and pack was out of sight, so I knew it would be down to this 6, I fancied my chances against Phoenix chap, Michael as he had been out so long, and I wasn’t sure of the others. I knew from previous that Paul has a big kick (he beat me to 1st in our club race if you remember) so I was calculating (insert Sean Kelly joke here) what was my best bet for the win…

We slowed and took the sharp left into the last 0.5 mile drag to the finish, I quickly positioned myself on the right side where it was smooth(ish) and watched, everyone was waiting, it was still early, at that point I thought, do I want to risk a bunch gallop on this surface, or do I make the best of what I’m good at (30-40 sec effort) and gun it from here…Predictably option 2 sounded better to me, so with a clear path I nailed it seated and went clear with nobody on my wheel, I just kept it pinned and tried not to look back, it felt like an age, but in reality was 30 secs, I looked back and I had 20m on Paul who was the closet, I eased off as I approached the line and took the win. A quick look at the numbers shows 1150w peak in the saddle which is one of my better efforts for this, and it works so well as its not as obvious – kind of like a poor mans Cancellara as he attacked Boonen on the Muur, or even Sagan this year – it has its place on crap road surfaces.

I was really pleased with the result and it really bodes well for the Tour of Sussex in 2 weeks time what with most of the would be contenders for that race also racing today.

A pic here courtesy of Dave Hayward – (I will be purchasing to add to the collection of self indulgent pics I have in the living room 😉 )


And race here –

I may try Palace again this week, then have a couple of TT’s next weekend as I want to try and put right last weekends outing at the first of the Richmond Park events 🙂 Was starting to doubt whether getting up to 1st cat was going to happen this year as last couple of races I’ve just felt a bit crap – but in hindsight I’ve not arrived fresh at a race since the Div’s, last weekend I’d done a TT just beforehand and as much as I don’t think it makes any odds, today proved that it most certainly does. So a quick bit of maths and I think I’m almost 3/4 of the way there now with a good few races left, so I reckon it could be on the cards if I can get some more strong results in the bag which of course is the main goal.

One Response to “SERRL Biddenden 2/3”

  1. Andy June 23, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

    Great result Rob – and thanks for not mentioning my devastating attack while the race was neutralised for the horses. You and a few others seemed to enjoy it at the time!

    Was Benenden/cranbrook by the way. In case you care about these things.

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