This week us Cat 4 warriors took on the battleground that is Ilton for the first Team Tor circuit race of the year. Conditions were a whole lot nicer than our last visit, with full visibility in the evening sun. This report isn’t as lengthy as my usual ones, but it gives a brief overview of my best race so far.
Ed & Adam rode strong at the front of the pack throughout the race, with Ed keeping the pace high especially towards the end with a couple of solo breaks.
Myself & Mark sat in the bunch most of the race, I had a pop at the intermediate sprint lap, maybe got a top 5 in that.
Coming into the last lap & Mark hopped onto my wheel, we bossed it through & around the bunch all the way to the last turn. It seems some riders got a little sketchy when they saw the red & gold train steaming through.
I looked back & Mark was no longer on my wheel, I realised I was the first of the BSCC boys coming in to the final straight, so I did what any aspiring sprinter would do & put in a final effort for the last hundred metres to pull away from the bunch, and turns out nobody else kept up. I’d won the race!
Words can’t describe how happy I am with this, hence the short-ish report. A massive thanks to Ed, Mark & Adam for all their help & motivation through this race. I’ll be a Cat 3 rider next time I race, sh*t just got (a little more) real.
2 weeks ago myself, Ed & our friends Mark & Adam took part in our first circuit race of the season. It was Ed & Adam’s first race on road bikes & they were understandably nervous about what lay ahead of them but we were all pretty excited about the first race, especially after the fun I had last year.
The conditions for the race were without a doubt horrible. It rained the whole way down to Ilton & this put a downer on the whole situation. We kitted up & got on our bikes for some sort of warm up about 10 minutes before race start.
The first half of the race was pretty messy (for myself at least) with my only goal being to stay towards the front of the bunch & finish with the masses & I’d be happy. I kept towards the front for the most part, which I was happy with, but any plan to ride as a team seemed like an impossibility in the conditions with the number of riders (around 60).
Coming in to the last lap & I felt like I had a little something left in my legs, a 4 man break had gone earlier in the race but 2 riders had dropped off this & I managed to bridge to them. We rode as a 3 man group for the first half of the last lap, I eventually got boxed in by these 2 riders, with the main group catching us soon after. I knew I had to get out of this situation or my race would be over. I managed to squeeze through a handlebar-width gap & got on to the front of the bunch, not ideal but it was better than being trapped. After a short time killing myself on the front the bunch caught up. Luckily at the front of this group was Mark, who had Ed right on his wheel, I tagged onto the back of Ed’s wheel & we rode the last couple of corners in a train, as a team, after an hour of us each riding on our own. After some amazing riding from Mark, coming in to the last corner I broke away from Ed’s wheel. I came out of the last corner in front of everyone, the 2 man break was just crossing the line, but I knew if I kept up the speed I had I could possibly have a chance of doing well in the sprint finish.
I actually got out of the saddle & pedalled almost certainly harder than I ever have before. Crossing the line with a feeling of elation & desperation. I say I crossed the line but due to the conditions I don’t even know where the line was. Anyway, 4 days passed & the results were posted online. Turns out I had won the bunch sprint & come in 3rd place after the 2 man break. Result. 7 points in the first race of the year. I’ll take that. All thanks to the brand new BSCC skinsuit no doubt.
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.