I’ve not raced for 6 weeks. May was fairly hectic and I couldn’t make the one Crits at the park race (#4). I entered this race last minute on Thursday evening. I like to enter last minute so I can see what the weather is probably going to be like. The weather report was 50/50, but I decided that if I am to make 2nd Cat this year then I need to stop being a wuss and just go for it. During the fortnight leading up to the race I had entered 2 TTs and had done quite well, managing a PB. On top of this every Strava segment I’d gone for in training rides I had easily taken the KOM time. So I had been feeling quite confident, right up until a few days before, when I bashed my knee something rotten and had to take a few days off the bike. This was quite a good thing though, it meant I was very well rested. And for once, the night before the race I’d had a decent sleep and even a little lie in on the morning. So I’m going to keep the kids up past their bedtime the night before a race from now on! The day before the race I still got butterflies though, hopefully this will lessen the more I race?!
The day of the race, and I was woken by heavy rain. But it was just a quick shower, and by the time I was eating breakfast it was drying up. During the morning I set my bike up. I took off the TT bars and put one bottle cage back on. I’d taken off the bottle cages for the last TT I’d done in order to be more aero, I figured that I only need one bottle for a crit, so I’d only put one cage back on. Another aero gain I was making use of were some new Velotoze overshoes. I think they probably help, but they’re a pain to get on and off, and after just one use I have already put a hole in one of them.
Pace was quick but comfortable from the off. On the 3rd lap the guys on the front hit the wind and seemed reluctant to put any work in whatsoever. I thought that maybe they were engineering an attack, so I thought I’d give it a go. I managed to gap the bunch by 50-100 metres down the back straight and took the 90 degree left hander fast, but then didn’t feel like I had much left in the tank. As nobody else was trying to bridge across to me I sat up and recovered. Even when the bunch finally caught me up nobody wanted to go on the front, and I led the bunch for a minute or so at a relatively relaxed pace. From then on the pace remained comfortable and every attack was chased. So it seemed that everyone was seeing it out for a bunch sprint. I was tempted to attack again, but I chose to save my legs for the finish. The 5 to go board seemed to come very quickly. The pace didn’t ramp up until 3 to go and, funnily enough, my family turned up at this point. It was whilst I was waving to them stood on the bridge that the pace quickened. They do pick their moments to distract me! Two to go and I found it pretty easy to make up lots of places as everyone else tried to recover and ready themselves for the looming sprint. On the last lap I was in the top 10 all the way around the lap. Going into the last half of the last lap I shouted at the guys at the front to keep the pace up. They obliged, which played right into my hands. Going around the last corner I was in about 4th or 5th place, and I was feeling good. I patiently waited to pull the trigger. Shortly after the last corner someone shouted “on your left mate” at me, to which I retorted “no, I’ve got the left” – I wasn’t going to let myself get boxed in this time. With about 150 metres to go someone attacked, a voice from behind shouted “don’t let him go” and I didn’t. I jumped on his wheel, muscling in front of another rider intent on doing the same thing. The initial attacker wasn’t quick enough though, and two guys came up each side of me. I really wanted to be on the right side of the track, its flatter and therefor faster. However, my lead out man had made this impossible, and I was forced to go past him on his left. He swerved at me as I went past him, and our elbows brushed at about 50kph! I’d chosen a good gear, and was coming back at the other two sprinters when the three of us went over the line together. We asked each other who’d won, and none of us knew. I got back to the sign on desk and watched the iPad recording of me coming in second, the guy on the easier right side of the circuit beat me by half a wheel. Even though I’d missed out on the win I was chuffed with 2nd.
After the race I spent some time with the family, played with my 4 year old son in the playground and watched some friends from Bigfoot CC in the 2/3/4 race. Then my son rode his balance bike the 2 miles home and told me we got there that he’d won the race. So proud!