Back to the Cyclopark I went, and this time it was hot!
After two second place finishes in my last two races I should’ve been feeling confident. However it’d been 3 weeks since my last race, add to this the hot weather and a good result was certainly not guaranteed. I’d been out in the hot weather during the week to see how I fared. I suffered, eek!
On race day I woke with heavy legs. I was probably still paying for getting a PB in Thursday evenings club TT, and had then had a late night on Friday. We were also out of bananas!!!! I put on my club kit, and it felt very tight, especially the shorts, my legs must have got bigger. I decided that it’d probably be OK and stretch a bit. A bad start. I rode to registration and then went for a warm up, tried to wake my heart up, but I think I’d left it in bed. So it’s like that is it…
As the weather was so nice a lot of people had turned up on the day. I recognised the guy who had won the last race and had a quick chat with him. Lots of expensive bikes with expensive wheels as usual. A win today was going to be hard. As usual.
The getaway was fast, but not very hard. But the first few laps were very punchy. Every time the pace dropped slightly there was an attack. I chased down a fair few, but my HR was going into the red very quickly and then took ages to recover. The chap who’d won the last race did a lot of chasing too, I spent a lot of time on his wheel which was all I could manage at points. In the second half of the race there were several crashes. I only saw one which happened just in front of me. The peloton took the fast 90 degree left fine, but one of the riders at the front seemed to take himself out as he straightened up. Unfortunately the rider on his wheel had nowhere to go and went flying over his handlebars as his front wheel slammed into the guy on the floor. Looked nasty as 40+kmh crashes do. There was another crash soon after, but I didn’t see it – I’d sprinted after the break that happened after the first crash. Then there was yet another crash, but I didn’t see that one either, making 3 in total. Apparently someone recorded all the crashes on their on bike camera, I will link to it if possible.
I was feeling every acceleration and was digging into my reserves, so was happy to see the board say 4 to go. I made sure to stay at the front and took every chance to recover a little bit. I’d been rationing my water but was almost out and felt very thirsty. Approaching the start finish line on the penultimate lap I was in a good position right at the front and was starting to feel good. So my heart sank when I saw the black flags and signalled to everyone behind me to slow and stopped first on the line. An ambulance had arrived to see to one of the crashed riders, who was in a bad way. The race was almost cancelled, but it was agreed to add an extra lap to make it three to go. Whilst we were stood waiting on the line I felt my legs twinge with cramp. I sprayed the last of my water into my mouth. On the restart the cramp felt even worse and I wondered if I was going to make it to the end? I kept the legs spinning through the pain, but every little dig I had to put in hurt badly. On the last lap the lead rider peeled off, it was the guy who’d won the last race. Thought he must be cramping too, but found out after that he’d punctured. I managed to stay at the front of the peloton and ended up on the front going round the bottom of the course. Luckily someone else took over just as there was a very early solo attack. I had no hope of chasing that down, so stuck to my lead out mans wheel like glue. We went around the last corner and other riders started their sprints early. I was cramping so badly at this point my sprint was comical – knees out like a cowboy, gingerly pushing a very easy gear. We caught the early attacker who’d blown up, as other riders went around me with ease. But only 4 went past me and my lead out man, and I crossed the line in 6th pretty close behind them. I was surprised I’d finished in the points, so reasonably happy. But I was also a bit gutted as it had been an ideal opportunity which, without the black flag, restart and resulting cramp, I stood a good chance of winning.
Looking at the stats by HR was high, which is no wonder as some of the lap times were very quick, and the weather was pretty high too. Think my club kit is probably too tight on me now too which possibly helped to cause my cramping legs. Will stick to the dHb stuff in future, and when money allows get a speedsuit. Brutal race, hardest crit I’ve taken part in. Lucky to come out of it in one piece, with points too!
Valuable lessons learnt too – drink more water, get more sleep and make sure you have bananas in the house! Oh, and train harder! Always learning.
Time: 1:08:10 (2 minutes stationary on line)
Average speed: 39kmh