However this post is different, this post is about Crystal Palace, and the fact that I won the 3/4 race there. As much for my own memory than anything.
Crystal Palace, in South London, is one of the best crit racing scenes. Situated in the park, the short circuit of less than 1k is brutal, sharp corners, a hill (not very steep) and dead mans corner all serve to offer serious levels of pain. Many people view this circuit as one of the harder ones in London, and that often means a strong field in both e12 and 3/4 races.
I sat on the grass before the start, eyeing up the competition, the usual suspects, trying to see if they'd moved onto cat 2, alas, not the case, not yet anyway. I felt relaxed, after a big week last week I had rested over the weekend and the legs felt good. Andy P from Phoenix also in the 3/4 race, and as we sat on the start line (no warmup) I was saying how Palace is one race is love to win, maybe the rest of the riders heard me say that? I've done enough of these now (5 this season) to know that being in the top 10 riders is key, because of the corners and narrow circuit there is no real opportunity for a big bunch to gather. A few laps in and settled down to a comfortable pace, didn't seem too high, maybe is was slower, maybe I felt good, or maybe it was the 6 shot bloks I had before the start? Nothing much happened, a few attacks from Bigfoot and Dynamo, but they didn't stick. A drop in the pace, and Andy came through, proceeded to tow everybody around at a great pace for two laps. This helped get ride of any stragglers, and we were left with a fairly large group of around 20/25 riders. My turn now, and I came to the front, attacking out of every corner and making sure my cornering was spot on, I wasn't really gaining much distance, so after two laps of this sat up to let a few others have a play. We were now at 10 laps to go, or there abouts, I was placed well in the top 10 riders. Just before the bell another attack up the hill by Bigfoot, dragged a Dynamo rider and Andy across, they had a gap of maybe 50 meters when they crossed the line on the bell. I was 4th wheel now going into the final lap, I was quite happy with 4th so held my position, bottom of the hill now and I could see the pace of the three riders slowing abit, still no riders have come past me, so at the bottom of the hill I went, past Andy and the other two and I kept going, bloody hell I was in the lead coming into the final straight, I sat down, gurned some more and crossed the line, nobody came past, no celebration, no two hands in the air for glory, just a shout and a quick air fist pump once I was sure if won. Wow, I've just won Palace. Couldn't quite believe it. First win in more than 2 years, great stuff.