Today was a trip over to Cyclopark to race the Southborough & District Wheelers Crit in the Park. A 2/3/4 race, but, as there was a cat 3 only and cat 4 only race just a few hours before this race just had cat 2s in. A decent size field of 36 lined up, some good riders present, so I was pretty sure I'd be in for a good kicking.
I'd had a pretty decent week, two chaingangs and some solid RP morning sessions meant my legs were feeling pretty good. Im still on the old TCR for now whilst my frame gets repaired, buckled wheel and broken saddle, stuff I maybe should have sorted, ah well.
I got a good start, maybe 5th wheel into the first corner (missing the hairpin due to a circus) and held it there for the first lap. I didn't really have a plan for this race, but I didn't want to sit in the bunch and do nothing only to miss out on the sprint in the final lap, that's boring right? So on the second lap I attacked up the hill, it's a good circuit for me, a decent size hill and plenty of corners. Apart from Palace (obviously) it's my favourite circuit. It was with some surprise to me (and probably others) that on the 3rd lap I was still away, the bunch now at 10 seconds back. This might be fun for a few laps I thought... Laps passed and I was still away, concentrating on nailing the corners and making sure my HR didn't dip below 180bpm. Around 15 minutes into this solo mission, two riders (James Freeman from Dulwich plus another) broke away from the bunch and tried to get over, they came within 12 seconds but just couldn't quite reach me, maybe I should have slowed and we could have worked together? Maybe just continue to end myself. 25 minutes in and I could see I was still maintaining around a 15 second gap, not huge, but enough, and I could see the gap growing on certain parts of the circuit. I didn't slow down, well I don't think I did anyway, but after 30 minutes I was finally caught by a Richardsons Trek rider and one other. We worked together briefly, with the RT rider going off on a counter attack, I followed, he shouted across to sit on his wheel for a rest and we can work together. Great idea in principle mate, and thanks, but I was cooked. He sailed off into the distance, never to be seen again and take the eventual win. Kudos. I stayed very active in the bunch for the last 30 minutes. Another attack meant I went clear for another 3 laps, but the bunch clearly thought I was on my arse, so didn't chase me down immediately. Back in the bunch, feeling good, but I knew I'd not have much for the sprint. Bell lap and there was a well timed attack, plus another shortly after meant it was a bunch sprint for 4th... I actually felt quite good, rolled over the line around 15th ish. So yeah, real death and glory stuff.
I was pretty chuffed to stay away for 30minutes in such a good field. I mean yeah, I didn't get any points, but I don't care, it was one of the best races I've done in a while, properly enjoyed it!
Thanks to Lucinda for the cheering, shouting and photos, and Southborough & District Wheelers for putting on a great event.