I’ve not raced as much as I would of liked so far this year, ultimately I’m let down by my lack of car – you really have to travel long distances to race regularly as north of the Tyne there is few road races on. Road racing is where I want to be, I never dreamt of winning criteriums when I first started riding a bicycle a few years ago – they don’t hold the same prestige. People remember who won the local road race, nobody remembers the crit winner. Physically there is a difference too, crit riders tend to be bigger, train less, have a short fuse…on the road light weight is king. I’m a skinny chap. Crits are a means to an end for me, I race them if I can’t get to a road race and actually I hadn’t been to a road race since the Sloan Trophy in April…until a 50 mile, lumpy effort around the Cumbrian village of Lazonby.
Thanks once again to Nick for a lift across, our respect for each other has grown over the months – he’s a class rider. We’ll look back on this when we are old men! We arrived, signed on, and moaned as the weather turned to drizzle – its been a wet year. We pre-rode part of the course in the car, and it was clear that it was fairly hilly but with no major climbs, nothing really selective. Thankfully the rain stopped before we set off, and we ambled off, a nice gentle start before some action. Actually, I attacked coming down the A6, more of a speculative effort but a real sign in my improving confidence – I believe I can put the hurt on. My cornering is improving, in general I’m less scared of being in a bunch – all this takes time to come together.
A general rhythm was set for the race – we’d speed up, generally up the climbs, and then slow down to a relatively easy pace. Stop. Start. A couple of breaks went, people played their cards, everything was chased down, nobody was going to get away today. I felt decent throughout but not on top of the bunch, I wasn’t attacking, more hanging in there – not where I want to be but it takes time to get stronger. On the last lap the pace increased, particularly as we left the A6 and climbed, then descending at some speed. I kept thinking, I need to move up if I want to contest the sprint but I never committed to this – the pace was high but I should of given a bit more.
We hit a descent down to Lazonby, there was a horse and cart which in normal mode would cause alarm but once in race mode, fully concentrated, it was but a minor obstacle…we got through it safely. I was mid bunch as we turned on to the climb to the finish (1km @ 5%), a few people moved up and I got boxed in, a problem caused by being too far back. I was over geared too, the big ring, with my cadence down to 50-60 I was relying on strength, strength that had diminished over the 50 miles…next time I’ll go down to the 39 tooth ring, you can still climb fast in that one! I dragged myself up to the line, thinking I was quite far back I sat up towards the line – 14th place, I should of kept going for twelfth! A decent effort considering I’m a novice at these longer races – Nick (GRC) was 2nd, his best result to date, and Al Young (GRC) was 11th, a great effort by us all.
So what do I take home from this?
1) Change my gears
2) Eat – I never ate anything for the duration, or drank much for that matter
3) Positioning is key
I coped well though and look forward to further road races towards the end of July and throughout August – for now, it’s back to criteriums!