I have been slacking with race reports on here of late. For example the fantastic Etape De La Defonce deserves a write up for the quality of the race (try PJ’s instead). I managed to bag points in the TTT, 2nd Road Stage & the GC, tipping me over to 3rd Cat. Maybe I have been spending too much time stretching instead of blogging after riding.
Anyway on to the Okehampton CC Brentor Road Race. This was a 3/4 Cat race on the same course as I had ridden a 2/3/4 stage race earlier in the year (click here and scroll down a bit). Knowing whats around the corners helps so much thats for sure. 4 other members of The South where in attendance (all had ridden the 2/3/4 as well), along with about 46 others from various clubs.
There was a dire forecast, Kierans twitter doom mongering was there to remind us of this. Luckily the weather pretty much held, yes the ground was damp and there was some puddles about but aside from one shower it actually held. Bonus.
Lots of things seemed to accidentally happened. I neglected to check my tire pressure but it was bob on for the conditions, I got in an accidental solo break for a large portion of the race.
Now I say it was accidental but we were firing riders off left right and centre in the early laps. Tom, Kieran and Me all had a go but it kept coming back together for the group to diddle up the climb.
It was accidentally good timing when I finally got away though. The lap after the final prime (lap 5) following the downhill drag I pushed through the rolling kick and got a gap. With no reaction from the bunch I pushed it on a little bit more and rode threshold up the climb. Next time I looked back they were out of sight.
Scenarios start to run through you head, psychologically and tactically it is a big thing to be out of sight. Even better then that when the Commi’s put a car between me and the bunch I knew it was pretty good . I decided to manage my effort as worst case I would get brought back and one of the others could attack. I knew the bunch had been slacking on the downs and going relatively slow up the climb. I rode the climb in the low 90′s of my max HR and most of the rest just below 90. The first time I have properly used my HR monitor in a race, knew it would come in useful at some point….
I crossed the finish line in the lead again on the next lap. At this point I realised the move could actually stick as the rest of the riders where still out of sight. I went to take on my last gel and dropped it, hoping this wasn’t a sign for potential fading energy! A couple of cars snuck onto the course in front of me despite the best efforts of the marshalls as well, I wasted a tiny bit of energy shouting at the drivers, they were moved on rapidly by the lead cars though.
I was joined just after the beginning of the last lap by Andrew Feather, who I knew was a strong rider. He had smoked a lot of people at The Only Way Is Up Road Race so I knew he would do me on the final climb here. When he joined I had a quick word to suggest we share the load which he was receptive to. In reality it was quite even but I did bigger turns on the downhill sections where he was slowing, my interest was in ensuring that this move stayed out. There was a sketchy moment on the final corner where we both nearly went down in a patch of gravel. True to my predictions he rode me of his wheel on the climb, a quick look behind showed I had plenty of a gap to take 2nd!
With a big solo effort involved I was well happy. My results have just kept improving through the season and the rest of the boys commented I had been due a good result. It’s nice to know others had faith in me where I may have been doubting myself slightly.
Lots of things conspired together in this race that meant I got the breaks. It was short race distance, only 37 miles in the end! I had a lot of rest in the week (I was nervous this would hinder me before the weekend, I know long term its not a good plan). I for some reason was given the rope to open up a gap. Tom, Kieran, & Mark patroling the bunch and makign a nusiance of themselves. The team work of Bristol South has been exemplary the season and it’s a real privilege riding with such a good bunch of guys.
To cap it off Tom had come in 8th, chipping away at the points to make 2nd cat. Mark was 11th, knocking on the door of points just again. Kieran came in just behind after a lot of early work, extremely selfless!
I really like the way that as a team we (almost) always look to shape a race rather then waiting for it to take shape. The same happened in the Etape where joining in attacks or creating attacks really worked out for us. Its awesome to see red and gold up the road in races.
Unlike the 2/3/4 race here I was not struggling at the back of the group but riding alone off the front of it, this is testament to how far I have come this season even though it was a lower category race. My personal lap split times where on the whole higher then that race. While 2nd cat is going to be out of touch this year it is definitely something I will aim for next year, I just need to start my charge a bit earlier.