Crits At The Park #6, 02/07/2016, 3rd Cat, Race Report

The British Cycling website said that online entries to this race closed on the Sunday before. Far too far in advance to know what the weather would be like. I decided to throw caution to the wind and enter anyway. If I’m going to get my 40 points this year I need to enter more races, and if the heavens opened on the day I’d now have to race. During the last few weeks I’d not managed to get as much riding in as I’d have liked. So on the Tuesday before the race I went out for a long ride that ended up being 180km, probably a little too far to be beneficial. On Thursday I entered the Bigfoot Club TT, probably a bit too short.

Leading up to the race I’d not given it too much thought. The night before settling down to sleep it did play through my mind a bit, but I was much more at ease about the whole thing that I had been for previous races. At last!

Stupidly I’d worn my two sets of club kit in the week and not washed them, so I had to don my dHb ASV kit and go incognito. Putting on the ASV stuff I realised that I’ve put on a bit of paunch around the waist, I need to ride more!

Rain threatened on the day and the wind was pretty strong, blowing from the south west, which meant a headwind on the back straight of the Cyclopark. The ladies race was before the 3rds and there was a light shower. Luckily though by the time the guys were allowed on the track the surface was bone dry and there was a nice blue gap in the dark clouds overhead. The rain stayed away for the whole hour, but returned for the 4ths in the race after us and was really heavy. We lucked out!

The Race

The start was quick to the hairpin, the first real corner, but then SLOW as the headwind hit and the guys at the front sat up. It seemed nobody wanted to put much effort in at all. This is how the first couple of laps went. I pretty much led the whole of the second lap, and on the finish straight I sat up, turned around and said to everyone behind me “Are we racing today or what?” which got a few wry smiles. After this the speed ramped up and the attacks came thick and fast. I had promised myself to try and get in any break, so I chased everything. At points some breaks made small gaps but were soon reeled in. One chap and I made a promising break, but when he flicked his elbow for me to take my turn I had nothing. I apologised and we settled back into the bunch. My stamina is currently lacking, I need to ride more! After that I buried myself chasing every break, apart from one 2 man break who weren’t going hard enough to make it stick and were left out to dry for a few laps. I questioned if I was going to be able to keep putting in these hard efforts – I need to do more intervals! I also kept finding myself on the front of the peloton. I was doing waaay too much work and suffering for it. One thing I kept doing wrong was taking the left hand 90 degree turn flat out – I’d accelerate past everybody going down the back straight and take the corner at 50kphish, everyone else seemed happy with 35kph but I wasn’t! My cornering has gotten quite good I guess. It seemed likely that the race was going to finish in a bunch sprint and I needed to keep something in the tank for that. The 5 laps to go board was a welcome sight as I chased down yet another gap. At 3 laps to go a solo rider, the guy I’d had a go with earlier, jumped the bunch into the headwind down the back straight. I was already in the red at this point and this was the first time I opted to hold back and not chase. I recovered a bit and tried to put in a couple of efforts on the front, but was mindful of the final sprint, so I only ever gave it 90%, and everyone else around me seemed to be doing the same, or less. A lap later and we were losing sight with the break. So with 2 to go I gave up on any hopes of a win and decided to recover as much as possible. Going up the finish straight I throttled back and watched about 10 riders go past me which I didn’t enjoy at all. Coming up to the hairpin I forced my breathing to slow and let a small gap form. I knew that I can take the hairpin faster than a bunch of riders and exit with more speed. That’s exactly what happened, allowing me to most of the places back that I’d just lost, what I lacked in fitness I made up for in cunning. Coming into the last few corners for the penultimate time the pace ramped up and a few guys tried to break. I jumped on to the back of them and made it over the line in about 5th? The last time around the hairpin and everyone in front of me put some power down. I chased and caught the two guys who’d made a small gap, but as I did so they sat up into the headwind. I had nowhere to go and slammed on my breaks just as a group of about 5 riders put in an acceleration and went past all of us. Shit shit shit!!! I panicked for a moment and then jumped on the front of the peloton and led down the back straight into the headwind trying to chase down the second break. I took the left hander as fast as I could and thankfully two guys went past me straight after it, giving me much needed respite in the back end of the course. We were making up ground on the 5 in front, not fast enough for my liking, but there was nothing I could do about it. Going around the last bend and the two guys in front of me put in a real effort. One of them quickly peeled off and the other chap stood up and started his sprint nice and early. I sat right on his wheel and we very quickly caught the 5 in front of us. As we went around the right of them he peeled off left to take the middle of the track. This was awesome as it gave me a clear track on the faster side. I flicked up 2 gears putting me in a much bigger gear than I normally use. I wrenched my legs around, dug deep and went past my lead out man winning the bunch sprint and coming second overall. The family were there on the finish line and I tried not to have a heart attack in front of them!!!

After the race the chaps from Brixton CC came to congratulate me which was really nice. The organiser from 4T+ Velo shook my hand and took a presentation photo with me which my 4 year old Corben photobombed. This was good though as he had his Bigfoot CC kit on – so hopefully we’ll see that on their website (we did). The winners were getting a trophy and a bottle of something fizzy, I got a High 5 energy pack and £20 🙂

Then we had coffee and cake in the café and watched Mark Cavendish win the first stage of the TdF on the tele. Another awesome day! BTW – that’s me on the front in the photo 🙂

Distance: 38km

Time: 59 minutes

Speed: 38.6km/hr

Link to Strava activity

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