So far this year I have managed to attend (and more importantly finish) 4 races. Starting at the lowest possible British Cycling ranking of Category 4. I race for my local club Bristol South CC which is one of the oldest clubs in the UK (formed 1893!)
This was complete step up in terms of riding me having only recently acquired a geared bike at the turn of the year, not only that it was my first geared road bike. All previous ones have been mountain bikes (a long long time ago). Luckily I am not the only one with my good friends Kieran and Mark also venturing into the unkown.
The virgin race was a First Chard Wheelers organised cirucit race (Cat 4 only) at Ilton (an old airfield). I totally wasted all my energy willy waving at the front of the race as the picture below shows;
I was pretty happy to get round in one piece (Cat 4 cirucit races are notoriously crashy) but a little bit irritated not to be there or there abouts at the end as the wheel I picked for my lead out punctured on the sweep down to the finish. In hindsight this was by far the easiest race completed.
Next up was my first true road race at Blackawton (Cat 3/4), making a serious rookie mistake by starting at the back of the bunch I spent the first 10 minutes chasing back on! I guess at least I know I can do it now….
The race was and out back, out back and out a bit again of sorts in the rolling hills of Devon and again I pleased myself with my ability to finish with the main group at the front of the race, especially as the acceleration at the final turn really strung the bunch out. Descending in a bunch at 40 + mph is quite an experience also.
Someone made this rad video on facebook; Blackawton Road Race you can just about pick the Red and Gold up in it. Arty.
Next it was back to circuits again and the Castle Combe good friday meet. With my family visiting my old man did the good deed of taking me over and snapping some shots.
A huge field of around 120 took to the tarmac for the 4 only race and boy was it twitchy. The bunch was incredibly nervous in the two chicanes with the apparent inability of a lot of riders to hold lines through them. Fellow BSCC racer Mark rode over a dropped bottle on the first lap, a great feat staying upright.
A windy day meant no breaks went and a bunch spirint was on the cards, as we rounded the final corner I grabbed a wheel for a tow round to the right of the bunch only for some idiot to open up a sprint right from the middle of the group, skittling some riders including the one in front of me! A deft skid saw me avoid the tumble ahead but sapped all my speed to the finish, trickling over the line in the top 25. Plenty of people on the tarmac meant the paramedic had a good days practice and the ambulance saw some use as it had to take 3 people to the hospital.
The following Sunday saw my first Cat 2/3/4 race at the Brentor 2 Stage Race which I was pretty nervous about after reading the start sheet (read Alex Baskaya / Scott Easter).
Quote fellow BSCC racer Kieran ‘its going to be hurty’. It was a two stage race. Stage 1 was a TT which was one lap of the race circuit.
A simple (yet brutal) triangle it contained an unsurfaced road heading down, a undulating back section and a draggy climb back to the top. I posted a below par time. Time trialling is definitely an area I need to improve on so my attendance to the BSCC classic league series will hopefully ensure this happens.
Stage 2 was a further 10 laps of aformentioned circuit, the addition of Cat 2 riders ensured the pace was high. I was totally clinging on with 4 laps to go but managed to stay in touch until the very last corner, which saw me lose about 20 seconds as I could not stick with the burst to the end. I was incredibly chuffed to roll in where I did and chapeau to Steve, Tom and Mark who all finished in the top 15. With Steve and Sam taking points. Hopefully I can continue to learn off these guys.
Apologies for the essay but we are up to speed now. All the race data for the above can be found via the Strava link on the right if anyone is interested. I have a weekend off before returning to action in the Betty Pharoah Memorial in Wales next weekend.
Racing is hard, even at this level it seems extremely competitive and has a steep learning curve. I seem to be coping ok, having a great time meeting a lot of sound people (particularly members of The South). I will continue to document my season, its highs, lows and hopefully some more behind the scenes stuff.