As we sat in the sports hall of the University of South Wales I don’t think i’ve ever felt so out of my depth, a 5 day, 6 stage road race in Wales over some pretty tough terrain. What was I doing?
The first stage was a Team TT of 6.9 miles, with effectively no climbing at all. London Phoenix (Simon, Ben, Joe and myself) were off first at 3:32pm (thanks to Gunther winning the Ras last year) We arrived with enough time to ride the course before, and managed to note down any key points where we needed to be careful, or could seriously drop the hammer, like 3km to go. The course was on quiet country lanes, that in general, were in very good condition, a few sketchy corners and rough sections but overall it was looking good. Conditions were humid to say the least, car said 29 degrees! We were going to be dripping!
Pre TTT Selfie
As we stood in the layby, with 2 minutes to go I was nervous, our previous training sessions for me had never gone great, I always seemed to tired and didn’t have the legs, however having rested well over the past week I was feeling good, I think.
We were off. Joe first, then me, Ben and then Simon. Joe shot off, I clipped in just, and Ben almost clipped in, a few moments passed but then both Ben and Simon were on, and we settled down to what would likely be a very painful time. We had agreed to do turns of around 20 seconds on the front, then rotating clockwise to the back, in practice this had worked well, and seemed the best option. I pulled through and maintained a constant 30mph (50kmph) for my turn, I was feeling good (thankfully) and couple this with a borrowed set of 50mm wheels holding this pace, and getting back onto the group seemed good. I rolled around and joined the back as Ben was now on the front pulling, the pace still high. We were doing well, upto the half way point our average was around 28.5mph, certainly more than I was expecting to see given we were on standard road bikes (minus aero wheels) Just after the half way point there was a sharp left turn, I took this perhaps a little too slow being on the back, but sprinted back with a bit more effort. By this point, Simon, who was nursing a hip injury from a road race crash the previous weekend seemed in pain, he dropped back for a turn and it was just the three of us powering on. 3km to go (thankfully) this was where we agreed to really drop the hammer, I certainly tried, but our average was dropping slightly and were now at 28mph for the ride. 1 km to go it was a world of pain, we were all hurting now and could see the pace dropping ever so slightly on our turns, and the turns lasting slightly shorter. Never the lass we crossed the line Joe, me & Ben at 14:56 (time taken on third rider) Simon 5 seconds behind us.
I was chuffed! I felt great throughout and despite it hurting towards the end, it hurt everybody, so that was kind of ok? To be honest, I was just pleased to finish strong and not let the guys down! We had no idea really how we’d done, being the first team off, but as we rolled back to the start there was a lot of very pro looking riders, lean was certainly the name of the game here.
Back at the Uni we had dinner and checked the results, joint 5th, what a result! The team (and I) was really pleased with that, and better than we had hoped for. Beat quite a few good teams too.
Tomorrow is a “rolling” 52 miles road race, so we’ll see what happens...