Hillingdon E123

14 Apr

After a fairly tame start to the road season owing to my own stupidity (Wally Gimber) and illness again for the first SERRL race, and just plain inexperience the other week at Preston Park, this week saw me return to Hillingdon, over the last couple of years I’ve probably been once or twice a year excluding my first races in the 11/12 winter series and usually been there or thereabouts, but I had never raced a E123. I always liked racing there despite it being quite a frustrating place on occasion.

The main reason I went there this weekend however was that due to my partner running the marathon I had to withdraw from the Les Ingman on the Sunday, and this was about the only other race within the area! I rode up there for the event hosted by Westerly CC, it is only about an hour away, so opted for the training wheels as usually there is glass all over the place on the way there.

Saw a few faces I knew, Philip from VCL, Lewis from PedalHeaven, Tony Gibb of CSE racing (their new team) a couple of others I haven’t raced with but knew anyway, Liam Stones of Raleigh notable as someone to watch after showing he had a very good kick on him last year grabbing a podium at the Tour Series and winning many other events (the following day he went on to win the Porsche Autostrasse Race).

Predictably the race started pretty cagey, with the many people surging and trying to get up the road, I really wasn’t worried about anyone getting away apart from Lewis, Liam, and Gibb, and they did try, and I followed the wheels each time, it just strung the bunch rather than being let to get away. The race was 75 mins long, and with probably half an hour gone after plenty of failed attempts by other riders Liam Stones managed to get clear on his own, he stayed out for 3-4 laps and was holding a 10 or so second gap to the bunch who were on and off with their efforts to chase. Eventually a few of us got to the front in an attempt to bring him back in to touch, Gibb, Lewis and a couple of other riders, this was a lap or so, and going up the long chicane/hill section I noticed when I came through the rider behind let my wheel go, I put in a seated effort and moved clear (sometimes they look less dramatic and obviously attack like that a full sprint!) and set off to chase down Liam. Within half a lap there was already a size-able gap to the bunch and I saw Lewis from PH was approaching on his own, I eased off a touch to let him get on and I could see ahead Liam was waiting for us to bridge.

Once the bridge was made we worked really well together, there was approx 30 mins left of the race and I knew it would be possible to stay away given we were probably 3 of the strongest riders in the bunch anyway, my only issue was getting any draft when I wasn’t on the front, Lewis is a small rider and gets super low, and Liam wasn’t exactly a barn door either! With 20 mins or so gone I felt like I was pulling well still and I noticed Liam missing a few turns here and there, I thought I would likely get done over in the sprint by these two so was trying to hatch a plan, we rode through for the last couple of laps until the penultimate, at this point I attacked them just after Lewis had done a turn up the hill, I think had he not been there I would have gone clear but he was super strong and closed the gap with Liam in his wheel, in hindsight I should have done this more than once as I think it would have worked.

With the bell being rung we had approx 40 secs on the bunch thanks to Lewis’s dad giving us the shout each lap, we slowed to almost a halt as we approached the final corner, everyone looking at each other, a poor mans Flanders, if you like, eventually with 200m to the line or so Lewis opened it up, I was a bit slow to react and could tell right from the get go I probably needed another 25m to get passed Liam (a bit of ‘jump’ work needed) but Lewis was always going to win as he did, so I took 3rd from 3 haha! But it was a pleasing result especially the manner in which we rode the race, it felt like a good workout and I felt comfortable for the whole time, the 30 mins was circa 365-70w which at this point last year I would have managed in a one off effort, but not as part of a 3 up, my turns were around 400w and it felt OK, so I’m hoping my form is coming along well, just in time for a flurry of important events! I rode home after to get in a decent 3 hours for the day.

Head to Ireland for the RAS Mumhan on Thursday, and hopefully will have a decent account to give of the race afterwards!




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