Hog Hill from March last year, but warmer than now...
All the same I thought that racing in February was as good a time as any to start the crit racing season, so with that in mind I made my way to Redbridge Cycle Centre in Essex, also know as Hog Hill. A 1.3 mile twisty circuit, with a finishing hill of 0.2 miles at 7%. Not much on its own, but 25 times is tough.
The weather was what I'd call grim. It had been raining, and the air was cold and damp. Couple this with a fairly brutal headwind, I obviously opted for a skinsuit. As a mere 45 riders in the 2/3 race lined up I know Hog Hill was going to tough today, and with the usual BC commissar talking to we were off. Immediately somebody jumped off the front, nothing too unusual in this though, often happens (must be trying to get tv coverage for sponsors...) nobody really seemed concerned, however after a few warming up laps with people jostling for position it was clear this chap wasn't getting caught, not yet at least. 3rd or 4th time up the hill and a Cambridge CC rider went off the front, in what seemed like effortless ease, he was sat down, most others were wrenching on the bars. Nobody had chased this attack, I'm not sure why? Maybe didn't think it would stick, however now 30 mins in and these two riders were flying and as the group neared the bottom of the circuit these two were pulling away, not at 36 seconds clear.
With just over 30 minutes to go there were various attacks now, including fellow London Phoenix rider Ben Knowles, and a chap from Handslig who every lap was being cheered on my his son. I had a few goes, engaging TT position but I just couldn't make it stick, partly my lack of power I suspect, but mainly the wind... Maybe. Riders were being dropped now and almost every laps there was a couple who had punctures and therefore a lap out. I somehow didn't get a puncture and stayed in the top 10 of the group, apart from a few moments when all of a sudden I found myself near the back, you've really got to concentrate here, so fought myself up again. 5 to go (thankfully) and the two riders were never getting caught, as reminded to the group my the commissar on most laps... The Hoggenburg was hurting now, not just me though, but the group was slowing as the wind hit us on every lap. 2 to go and yet more attacks, but yet nothing sticking as the wind soon winds you back in. 1 to go, legs and heart going now, Ben jumps off the front with one other, and this might stick, but as were near the final assent up the Hoggenburg they're caught, the pace goes up and the sprint start, too early for some as I go around the outside, and cross the line outside the points, but 12th, which isn't the worst.
Strava link: https://www.strava.com/activities/261071321
First race over then, and did I enjoy it? Well no not really. But will I be back and do more, of course, in fact next weekend. So I guess I'm half right, I don't really enjoy crit racing that much, but at the same time I'll keep coming back for more and more. Weirdo.