A casual ride over from Finchley ready for the 1pm start and the usual pre race faffing and what to wear, what to eat and is my bike going to fail? As the faffing continued, the hail started outside, despite this, and a strong wind, the sun came out again, and as a result the skinsuit was on.
A large field of 65-70 3/4 riders lined up on the start ready for the off, of which London Phoenix had 5 riders, so a good turnout for us. The pace was quick from the off and given my position on the start grid (mid pack) I was very keen to move up towards the front of the group and control the pace and more importantly stay out of trouble for the first few laps...
First time up the Hoggenburg I had forgot just how painful this is, having said that, for climbers it's a great place on the course to try and start a break and get a gap. After 3 laps the group had become really strung out, to around 30 or so riders, with myself and two other Phoenix riders within the front group.
On the front.
I was feeling great and each time up the Hoggenburg was kicking , not to get a break, but just to keep the pace high, Rich Poynter and Neil Mac were sharing the work and doing some great turns on the front, unfortunately the group (of around 15 riders) were not really willing to do much of the work, well apart from a few turns on the front from 2 Pro Cycle Hire riders which certainly helped to maintain the pace and also gave the legs a short rest. Couldn't quite believe it when we climbed the Hoggenburg to see the 5 lap to go board! Didn't feel like we had been racing very long at all. A big injection of pace from Neil and we managed to get a break going, and were now down to 9 riders, after shelling a few out the back as the pace went up, so providing I didn't get dropped I'd get at least 2 points. Happy days! Back to the front again for the final 5 laps where Rich and I again shared a lot of the work, even though Neil told us to try and get 4th or 5th wheel in, not that easy when nobody wants to get on the front but there we go...
Then at 2 laps to go a young lad from Cambridge CC jumped off the front and managed to gap us, there however didn't appears to be any urgency in chasing him down. Cue Neil who then jumped on the front, again, and as the bell went we could see that we were reeling this chap in... As with all last laps the adrenaline was huge and I loved it. Just as we get to the bottom of the Hoggenburg we caught the Cambridge CC rider and as the final finish line sprint up the hill started one of the Pro Cycle Hire riders put in a huge effort, I chased him down but couldn't quite get to him! Managed to bag 4th in the final sprint, which to be honest I was very happy with. I do however need to train my sprint a bit more, that does need some work.
Overall I was really happy with the result, my performance, my bike, my kit, I seemed to get everything spot on and perhaps the only thing I would have changed is not spending as much time on the front (usual story) but I don't always find it that easy to sit back...
So a few photos:
Leading up the Hoggenburg
On the front. Again.
This was a big effort. #aero
2,333ft of climbing
167 bpm av
189 bpm max
Next crit is the first SERRL Summer evening series on 1st May, in between that though I have a Duathlon and a 10 TT (reports will follow)
Photos thanks for Dave Haywood http://www.davehaywardphotos.com/