After a seemingly endless winter my first road race of the season was here. An unproductive couple of month’s training due to bad weather, work and illness meant that I wasn’t feeling particularly confident. Given that it was a sprinters' course I was hopeful that the pace wouldn’t be too fast and I would still be there at the end. Myself and Paul Bridgen had entered the 3/4 and Michan had entered the 2/3/4.
Photo credit: Chris Kendall
The morning of the race was the nicest day in a long time, which definitely improved my mood as I was driving to the race. Maybe I would even take my leg warmers off (I wouldn’t want my freshly shaven legs to go to waste…)
The race started fairly steady with a few early attacks that were largely ignored (I think – I was stuck near the back of the bunch). I finally worked up the motivation to get myself to the front of the race just in time to see a group of 10 or so riders get a gap from the main bunch. It looked dangerous so put I in a big effort to get myself across to it – frustratingly I arrived to a stalemate with no one willing to work. It all came back together and Andy from Valley Striders attacked over the top. Instead of sitting in and recovering I hopped on his wheel along with another rider. We got a good gap but it wasn’t long before the bunch chased us down. I gave myself a good talking to and decided to be sensible for a while.
Photo credit: Darran Moore
The attacks kept coming all through the race but they were all chased down. Paul dangled himself off the front of the bunch with a couple of laps to go, but he too was reeled in. It was going to come down to the inevitable bunch sprint. I nervously started to try and work out a plan (I hadn’t gone to the effort of shaving my legs to go home empty handed).
Luckily the attacks carried on during the last lap (and unluckily there was a pretty big crash) which meant that the group wasn’t as bunched up as I was worried it would be. With a couple of Ks to go I squeezed through a gap that probably wasn’t there and hopped on Mac from FTR’s wheel for a lift to the front. I hopped on someone else’s wheel and sat in second position for a little while, until they peeled off and I was left in the wind with 500m to go. Not an ideal position, but I kept a decent tempo so I wouldn’t get swamped and waited in the hope someone would go early.
Coming in to the finishing straight I was still on the front and I started to feel a bit worried. Luckily a lad from Otley CC attacked out of the corner hoping to escape the bunch sprint. I hopped on his wheel bringing the rest of the bunch with me (sorry Otley guy). With 200m to go a Sqaudra rider sprinted past me so I chased after him – plenty of time to get on his wheel, he was bound to start fading. By the time I realised that he wasn’t fading any time soon, the finish line was rapidly approaching. With one last effort I got on his wheel and came around him, crossing the finish line side by side. Neither of us had any idea who won, but I wasn’t particularly bothered – my legs felt okay, it was sunny, and I managed to get some points. We went and spoke to the commissaires who were studying slow motion footage of the finish. I was second by a centimetre or two.
Photo credit: Craig Zadoroznyj
Michan on the 2/3/4 Race
I lined up solo to represent Alba at the Seacroft Wheels RR 2/3/4 for my first ever road race with the 3/4 being full up. My plan for the race was to try and get into a break or instigate one to avoid being caught in a bunch sprint.
On the first lap I found myself sitting on the front of the peloton with one Prologue rider up the road and decided to jump across to join him. About 30 seconds after pairing up I hit a pothole, which had been called out to us in the race briefing, losing one of my water bottles. Not ideal as I knew I’d need as much energy as possible in the 93km race.
Photo credit: Chris Kendall
My initial break attempted didn’t last long with too many riders trying to jump across resulting in it all coming back together. The first hour or so of the race saw this process repeated multiple times. It was very tough with people throwing in attack and counter attacks relentlessly, many of which I had followed in desperation to make a break.
Inevitably my legs started to go and I decided to stop chasing and let the race play out a little. Sure enough a short while later a group of 6/7 got off the front. Time splits from the front group grew up to as much as 70 seconds before another attack went off from the peloton.
By this time I was pretty cooked and missed the second breakaway. I had had both my gels but was trying to save my one bottle to make sure it lasted me the race. Two hours in it was apparent that the third group I was in would just roll round to the finish with everyone being too tired to make any serious moves up the road, despite a few people trying every now and then.
Photo credit: Chris Kendall
On the final lap the pace started to pick up a little in my group but we were well out the points by this point. I focused on trying to position myself near the front coming into the last corner but overcooked a pass and found myself on the front with a few meters gap to the next rider. I went into the final turn on the front and foolishly thought that if i could keep the pace high enough on the last 300 metres then I could take some pride over the line. I put my all into the my effort but only to hear the distinctive noise of deep sections wheels gripping the tarmac from riders sprinting behind me then past me. I stood up to compete in the sprint but if anything that seemed to make me go slower!
I learned at the end that the two groups who went off the front ended up combining making a 15 or so group leaving a peloton, which was not working together, no chance of catching them.
Although I couldn’t say where I finished I hit new a 90 minute heart rate high along with 90 min power peaks for the year and thoroughly enjoyed myself learning some very valuable lessons that I’ll take into my next race.