The Easter Weekend – a time for relaxation, reflection, Easter egg temptation – not for me! I was racing on Easter Sunday so on Good Friday I went out for a 65 mile ride, knowing I’d be resting on the Saturday. The ride didn’t go well, I fell off going down a descent, my own fault for getting a bit cocky on a hazardous bit of road. Ouch. No bicycle damage but I hit my hip hard and took some skin off. Saturday was definitely going to be a rest day!
On Saturday I limped into Newcastle centre and bought some gels – I was determined to race, I’d paid £20 to do it after all! Sleeping was an issue because I couldn’t get comfortable, and the clocks went forward – I got about 4 hours before I had to wake up. Aidan gave me a lift again (cheers!) and we were off at 715…at 800 I had some cold rice pudding, yummy. The temperature outside seemed to go from -2 to 1 degree, it was going to be a chilly one! We arrived to sign on in perfect timing, after the rider briefing we rolled up to the neutralised start. We were going to be neutralised for a good 2 miles, including a mile long climb.
Once on the climb, the first time of 8 ascents, I noticed that this was going to be a tough day – you’d never go out and do 8 climbs in training. A bit of climbing suits me though so I wasn’t worried. Looking around I could tell I was one of the few not worried, there were riders dropped in the neutral zone! Due to the attritional parcours I decided early on not to do any work for at least the first half, and so I sat there near the front of the bunch, in suspended animation. Every time we went up the climb to the finish I’d have a look round and the bunch got smaller, and smaller. Besides the mile long climb there was a couple of ramps mid way, nothing too hard, it was a fast course. I wasn’t feeling amazing and had some cramp after 4 of 7 laps, I’d put this down to my injuries and lack of sleep. I gulped a gel and kept going. Around this point 3 riders got away and held a gap of 1 minute, I wasn’t going to be able to bridge across today, I was going to have to wait for a sprint and hope it came together.
On the sixth lap just after a short but steep climb I switched back to the big ring and dropped my chain. Panic. I had no choice but to stop and watch the bunch speed past. I put the chain on, checked it was working and got going again. All this took 26 seconds, I could see the bunch in the distance. Now I was angry, this wasn’t going to upset a good result so I engaged the heavier gears and took off in pursuit. I chased hard, averaging 24 mi/h (after 45 miles of racing), took some risks on descents, sprinted up every incline and made the catch after 3 miles. Phew. During this time a small group had clipped off the front of the bunch so I had to work again, over the next half a lap we pulled the group back – I did a bit too much work here. I also lacked a bit of belief in myself – everyone was on the limit and I should of got away but I decided to save energy. I kept that approach all the way till the last 200 metres where I finally went and dropped a rider and passed another (sorry!) – I rolled home 5th, 1 minute 40 seconds down on the winner – the last survivor of the break – chapeau!
5th on one leg, after having dropped my chain – good result. Hopefully a win is around the corner!