After last weeks race successful high I decided to join Ian and Daz once more for this weeks SERRL 4th cat only race, again at the Cyclopark. I am finally capitalising on living so close to the place: I live about a mile away, it almost feels like I’m cheating. In the week leading up to the race the three of us had chatted (via Strava) about possibly trying a break away this week, our confidence was palpable! So I had been really looking forward to this one.
However, I almost didn’t make it. A day or so before my baby son had come down with a temperature which got worse the night before the race, and then my 3 year old son decided to wet the bed and have a restless night to boot. Luckily family stepped in and took mummy and little one to the hospital for me, and toddler went to spend the day at Nannys. This meant I was able to race, but after almost no sleep the night before I wasn’t sure if I’d be capable. I had a pretty strong coffee with my toast, with some drinking chocolate powder chucked in for good measure!
Ian, Daz and myself met up en route and talked about the possibility of a breakaway. We thought 3 laps to go down the back straight would be the time to give it a go. This would mean we’d be sprinting off the front of the bunch into a strong headwind, but have respite for the remainder of the lap. Ian also informed us that another Bigfooter, Dave would be racing his first race today and that Phil from Panagua would be in the mix too.
So we all met up at the circuit, signed in, numbered up and put our transponders on our bikes. Didn’t like the transponder – not 100% compatible with the dropout on my carbon forks, and after the warm up laps I found that my front wheel needed to be tightened as it had moved and my front brake had been rubbing – glad I found that out before the race. I drank another coffee in the cafe, then went to warm up. During the warm up I tried a couple of little sprints to test the legs. The legs were OK, but the rest of me felt very tired, was on the verge of blowing up after only a few seconds. I decided that I needed another pick me up, so had a gel on the start line.
On to the race. The field was a bit thinner than last week, about 30-40 I think. The timing system took ages to initialize, and one rider had snapped a spoke in the warm up, so the race was shortened to 30 minutes plus 3 laps. As it was shorter I thought it was probably going to be a fast one. I had positioned myself behind Daz on the line, and tried my best to stick to his wheel throughout the race. The pace was pretty comfortable again, which on the one hand suited me because I wasn’t confident of keeping up with lots of accelerations, but on the other hand it meant if everyone was still fresh near the end of the race our breakaway stood less of a chance of being successful. My Garmin decided to crash again, so I had no idea how fast the pace was, I had to trust my instincts. The quality of riding was generally OK, apart from one chap who was literally all over the road, and off it a lot. Myself and a few others shouted at him a few times, but he kept doing crazy things like choosing to take to the grass to overtake the bunch. I made sure I kept my eye on him. Apart from him the average riding ability was good, but there were a couple of crashes. I almost had one myself, I was pedalling around the long sweeping bend at the bottom of the course when the one youth rider in front of me twitched off his line causing me to take avoiding action which in turn caused my inside pedal to touch the ground. Instinct kicked in from my BMXing days and I bunnyhopped and pumped my bike back into position. That woke me up! After half an hour of racing nobody seemed sure how many laps were left. About this point in the race Ian sprinted off the front of the group just after the hairpin, but Daz and I were nowhere near him. I turned to Daz and said “what is he doing?”. Sorry Ian, we were way too far back. With 2 laps to go (I think, recalling a race is very blurry for me) coming up the finish straight Daz had positioned himself near the front of the pack and I hustled myself up to be with him. I was suffering a bit at this point, but really wanted to try my best to make the break away work. After the hairpin I went for it, going past the few riders in front of me with Daz, and I think Ian, in my wheel. I flicked my elbow a few times but we’d not managed to create a gap so it was futile. With 1 lap to go Daz tried again and he flicked his elbow but I had nothing left and shouted at him to sit up. We let the pack go past us and recovered in the middle of it. On the last lap Ian, Daz and myself hustled our way up the pack to be near the front. At the bottom of the circuit I found myself on the front heading into the last bend. I’d been here before and knew that this was a bad position to be in. I sat up flicking my elbow for someone to come around me, nobody did at first, and I wondered if anyone actually would. One chap decided to take a chance, and just as I had done in a previous race, he went up the inside of everybody taking the racing line out of the bend at speed. I put in a little acceleration and jumped onto his wheel. Now in second place heading up the finish straight I needed eyes in the back of my head, as well as in front. the guy in front of me snaked about a bit, trying to get me out of his slipstream. I stuck to him like glue though whilst waiting for the bunch sprint to start behind me. My lead out man cracked though, so I was forced to start my sprint about 100 meters from the line. Knowing I needed just one point to move up to 3rd cat I buried myself expecting to be swamped by the pack at any moment. But it never happened. I saw one wheel to my right come alongside me and nudge ahead slightly, I kicked again summoning whatever strength I had left and then lunged my bike over the line. I looked around to see that I had been racing Daz for the win, but neither of us had a clue who’d taken it. One thing was for sure though – a Bigfoot 1 2!!! Ian also finished strongly for 7th place, and Dave finished in the bunch too.
Saying it was close would be an understatement – we found out that Daz had taken the win by 0.028 seconds! Everyone was on a high after such a great result, and several other riders congratulated us saying we deserved it. I checked my phone for family news and the little one had seen a doctor and all was OK, phew! What an awesome day!
Race time: 48:30
Average speed: 38km/hr
Strava link to what my busted Garmin made of the race.