I’ve been feeling pretty decent on the bicycle recently, I feel like I’m getting my speed back after losing an edge over winter. For me, the early season was always about getting sharp again rather than crawling around for points to upgrade my licence – so with that in mind I went to two races on the weekend, to get my feel and my form in tune – hopeful that before long I’ll have that light touch, where everything seems easier. I’ve never doubled up before, how would my legs respond!?!
Highfield Kitchens Spring Shield Round 3
This race is part of a series put on by Cycling Development North East, alternating between two circuits that are purpose built for racing bicycles on. For Round 3 it was back to Hetton-le-Hole, a place I’ve won at, and also a place I’ve left skin at – mixed memories. Thanks to Hendrik for letting me go in his car, it was good fun watching him in the Cat 4 race prior to the 3/4. I’ve come on a lot since my last 3/4 criterium at Prissick last June. Physically yes but it’s actually a mental thing that has propelled me to the sharper end – I’ve grown in confidence, I’ll go through gaps, I’ll lean over and not touch the brakes, I’ll ride across to a wheel if I have to. I got quite a decent warm up in and soon I was on the line awaiting the pain.
The pain came in bits and pieces, it was a negative race, I probably contributed to this myself. After 20 minutes a rider from Ilkley CC, Ben Hallworth, put a dig in and quickly got a gap. I’d chased onto a few attacks and I quickly thought I’d let this go and leave it to someone else. Nobody else wanted it. As it turned out Ben is a decent time trialist, who even had his helmet vents taped, and that was that – he was gone and we’d never catch him – a really great ride! After 35 minutes Daniel Bryant attacked, I opened up the legs and rode across to him. Flick of the elbow. I couldn’t do a turn after that effort, I had a rest and came through but I could tell we were doomed to failure as neither of us had the legs. Achieve Cycle Coaching rode us back, from here on in I waited in the pack for the sprint. Before in sprints I’d never find myself in the top 5-10 riders but now I seem able to get up there – I was in a decent position and owed to that I came home 3rd in the bunch (4th) – I was held up slightly and feel convinced I could of got second place otherwise (don’t we all). I did well considering all the covering of attacks I did, and the couple of laps off the front. Recovery was needed.
Wansbeck CC Australian Pursuit Race
The first road race of the season! A race with a bit of prestige and notoriety, instantly more enjoyable than a crit round a park! I could hear the rain all night but I was up for it, ready to ride through mud, gravel and potholes against some of the best riders in the North East. This race was classified as an E/1/2/3/4 – 4ths were 4 minutes ahead of us 3rds, and the E/1/2s were 3 minutes back on our group. Nick provided the transport and company on the way to the race HQ at Longhirst. It was cold but I’ve trained in the dark all winter, I’m ready for the chill factor!
Before we knew it, we were off. The way things are set up, with groups, forces riders to work together – this doesn’t mean everyone does and in our group there was a core of riders, like John Cann and Carl Donaldson who were prepared to ride into the wind. The tactic of sitting in is not something that angers me, sometimes to win you have to be prepared to lose, and if you are a sprinter you shouldn’t be doing the lions share of work. We pulled back the 4ths at a rate of about 1 minute a lap, so after 4 laps, there they were. A few managed to come with us, including Dave Hopper, who’ll be rising up the categories this year!
With 1 lap to go the E/1/2s rode back to us, and I’d lost hope now because I thought some would go on the attack and I’d be left with a ride to the finish. The pace didn’t rise as much as I expected, or at least my legs could respond. Things did get strung out for the last few miles but I was able to move up and placed myself in the top 15 before the corner that leads to the finish. Cornered well, and watched as the pace went up. Responded and dug deep, crossing the line in 7th spot. Happy with that, I’d raced the day before, been quite active in our group and still had a sprint – I could of come 4th with a bit more energy. The last time a Gosforth RC rider was in the top 10 at the Wansbeck was in 2006, so I’m happy with that! My next race is over in the North West on Sunday – I’m chomping at the bit to race again!