What could be better than a cycle ride round a park? Last Friday (29th) I raced at Leazes Park, a lovely setting just behind St James Park. It’s part of a big weekend of cycling in Newcastle, including the Cyclone sportive and the Premier Calendar race, the Beaumont Trophy. That Friday evening there was many a spectator waiting for British professionals to spin round the challenging course, a criterium. I was part of the support race – in truth I was a support to the support race…
Racing against 2nd category riders I knew that the night would be a challenge but felt I had good legs. Warming up the course seemed great, fast and with a sweeping bend that you could take at great speed, a nice feeling swooshing round there. Other riders hardly warmed up, setting themselves up at the line…oh dear, they know something I don’t. I started towards the back. Us riders at the back laughed, joked, we knew what was coming. Flag down. Panic. Riders failing to clip in, racers at the front attacking straight off…I was behind but felt in control, I chased hard to get back onto the marauding bunch.
The circuit contains a hill of sorts, that is made tough by the speed you travel up it, and the fact you climb it every 90 seconds. Riders were struggling, taking me with them, I had to fight to get back to the bunch a few more times. Real efforts, the hardest I’ve ever had to fight in a race, I’ve never felt such pain in my lungs, my heart struggling to keep up as it stayed around the 180-190bpm region – I can only last so long at that level of effort. And so after only a few laps I crumbled, the bunch was just ahead but I couldn’t jump across any more. Another harsh lesson learnt – start on the line at criteriums, there is no warming up process like there can be at road races, it’s attack from the gun.
Plenty of decent riders were dropped, some left the race earlier than me. I can’t put into words how tough the course is – hilly, tight corners, and raced flat out – I bet it’s great to watch. I really reached my limit, and will be interested to see how I manage next year. My race ended after 25 minutes, me and a few fellow competitors were ordered off the track after the gap to the lead bunch jumped to 45 seconds. We stopped, we looked at each other, we’d been in a real race. Kudos to those 16 riders who finished the race, I’ll be back for more next year!
Lastly, thanks to all the support from Gosforth RC members, it was great to hear some vocal support and hopefully I can do a better job next year.
Race Report: http://www.velouk.net/2012/06/29/live-leazes-park-circuit-races/
Photo’s: http://www.flickr.com/photos/veloshooter/sets/72157630415621290/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/madcyclepath/7479602972/
Garmin Data: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/194312164