Crystal Palace

25 Jun

In the spirit of getting back into midweek racing, I thought I’d give Palace another go. I’d done it twice last year, managed to get round just about the first time and would have been top ten but our last lap was called early (long story), and then the second time my bike was mucking about. Either way, there is no doubt that both times showed me that this is a hard circuit.

A lap of the circuit is about 2 mins, maybe a bit less when going fast, it has one sharp left turn, nearly a u-turn, one off camber right turn, one very hard to get right sweeping left turn which is blind, and covered by bushes around the apex which leads straight into ‘the climb’ which is about 25 seconds slightly uphill, but your legs know about it when you get there. There are normally a good 100 people on the track but split between e12 / 3/4 and womens. The e12 set off first, and it doesn’t take long usually before the race splinters as you’re sprinting as hard as you can 3 times a lap!
There were a few faces I knew riding in our race, Jake from Pedalheaven who is very successful at palace, a few of the guys form the newly formed Cadence Team who’s shop is the HQ for signing on etc. Then the usual smattering of Dynamo/Dulwich/Bigfoot/VCL etc. We got started and it was hard, but it wasn’t quite as mental as it was the last time I did it. It didn’t take long for the bunch to line out and thin a bit. I was finding it fairly easy to keep the pace, which was good, though it did take a while for me to dial in to the corners and putting trust in my tyres…
As the race progressed, numerous people tried to get away, but nothing was sticking, my legs were feeling ok, but I never thought they felt good enough to attack really, I was having to work a bit harder to keep pace in the corners so attacking was not on my agenda last night, maybe in future weeks, though.
With the clouds looking ominous it looked like the race might be cut short, and spits of rain began to fall, the nature of the course means that if its wet prior to the race then they call it off, but if it rains while racing is happening they just chop the laps. And that is what happened, we went from 15 to go, to 10 to go, to 5 to go, and suddenly all was to play for…
Round the sweeping bend by the finish and  I heard a lot of clashing and commotion, Jake had come off quite hard, still to this point we don’t know why, but his frame had snapped, perhaps this was the cause of the crash? Either way, not good and hopefully he can recover for the nationals tomorrow…
The bell rang, and my positioning at this point was not ideal, I tried to claw my way forward, and by the last time up the hill I was making progress up the outside, until a mystery wheel stopped riding and caused me to slow a touch, at this point 4 or so riders who had positioned themselves well got a small gap, I sprinted up the outside and managed to just pip Stu Spies for 5th but the gap to the front 4 was a it too big to close down, I was a bit annoyed at myself as I could have won that sprint had I thought about it a bit more, but it was a good first race back. I enjoyed it and will be back!

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