Kingston Sporting 14 – season opener

15 Feb

I generally start racing at the same time each year, the Kingston Wheelers Sporting 14. Its always an internal debate whether to enter Perfs which always falls on a similar day, but I’ve never raised enough enthusiasm to drive all the way down there and race for 45 miles. The Kingston event is always a good one, its really close as events go, its on roads I know, and obviously having ridden with the club for many years before the creation of Paceline it promises lots of familiar faces.

Quick recap on what this event is, 13.6 miles, two laps of a circuit that has a long uphill drag, bit of DC, then a shallow downhill back towards finish line, it always gets a pretty decent field with all sorts of folk having ridden in the past, and while I’ve won it the last two years, I only managed to take Wouter Sybrandy’s course record by a single second in 2015, there are lots of very strong testers on the trophy, Paul Pickup and Ben Instone to name a couple from past years. I have the trophy and it looks like no rider had won it two years on the bounce, and certainly not 3 years on the bounce so I was keen to put a showing in.

Typically the winter was not without issue, I’d been going really well and showed great promise in the Dec time trial, but all good things come to and end! And in Jan (almost exactly 1 month ago today) I hit a wandering pedestrian (London is full of them!) and went down and badly sprained my ankle, the usual black bruising on the foot and huge swelling etc pointed to it being a fairly nasty grade 2 sprain. At the time I thought little of it having done it before as a kid and it not posing too much issue. But as time went on it became clear it was going to be a slow recovery. I’ve had a lot of days off the bike, and riding at anywhere near normal level has been a slow old process, finally now its starting to feel more normal though I cannot run on it yet. With this in mind I thought that it would be quite touch and go whether I’d be ok to ride this and I was going to make a call in the days leading up to the event.

With a couple of days to go I felt like it was OK to ride given the event is only about half an hour. Conditions looked ok, cold but not a terrible wind, though I thought winning would be tough given some strong riders on the startsheet, including serial bridesmaid in this event Pete Tadros and clubmate Pat Wright who had beaten Chris Mcnamara and Tadros to win both of the Southdowns Sporting events last weekend with his new TT bike. So certainly it was going to be tough. I knew Pat would probably be my closest rival, but you never know who can do what on the day.

I got down there and quickly realized that in my attempts to change stem on my bike, which is a total faff on a Trek Speed Concept, I’d overloaded the headset and it barely turned, I’d not been outside on the bike so didn’t realize. I panicked, knowing how long it takes to yank the bike apart I got back to the car and set about dismantling the aerobars as quickly as possible, I found the bolt that needed adjusting and set about it. It stressed me out a bit as it only left me with about 20 mins to warm up. I got up to the startline to be told me Alice Lethbridge (ladies CR holder from 2015) that she had taken two mins from her record, and I had to do the same, she had switched to a TT bike but whichever way you cut it taking 3 mins in total from the 2014 CR to now is impressive.

Anyway, long and short is that I got off to a decent start but noticed there were a lot of cars on the circuit making it a bit sketchy at times, an the corners were super greasy, but I got round the first lap above CR speed, so I was looking OK. On the final lap I got stuck behind a car for what felt like ages, but probably wasn’t and just had to freewheel, very irritating! I hit the line in 30.31 which was 18 secs faster than my previous time despite only managing about 360W this time vs 370 last year, though I am a bit more slippery now. I got back to find Pat had beaten Pete to 2nd place by 3 seconds to finish in 31:10. Paceline 1>2 and team prize owing to Keith Lea who I think was closely behind also in the top 5. For my troubles I ended up with a great print from Dom Trevett, £180 odd quid, and the trophy for another year, which I should really go about getting engraved this time round..!

Next on the menu usually is the Redhill event, but sadly its been cancelled due to roadworks, so its a practice run at this years National 10, which is pretty meaty with a fairly large climb, so will be interesting to see how I go there – and then I’ll see if the ankle is up to some road racing and the East Surrey Hardriders, hopefully can get everything back on track and go about ticking some of this years goals.

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