Things aren’t warming up in the north of England – I started my race season 6 weeks ago in March and things haven’t improved much, Gran Canaria seems like a distant dream. On Sunday I raced in terrible conditions. It’s taken me a few days to warm up and sit down to write the report. Days are too often described as epic, rarely are they so but Sunday was epic, I can only be thankful the 3/4 race was shortened – the E/1/2/3 took 3.5 hours! Thanks to John Cann for the lift and Karl Denton for the post race maltesers.
So, where to begin? Somewhere near the start line. I wasn’t too cold or wet at this point – it was going to get worse. For the CDNW Old Hutton road race, there is quite a long neutralized start, a good 10-15 minutes of potholes and gravel – my heartrate rose. Then the start, under the M6 I think, the only dry place on the course. After a brief respite we were off, and the lycra got wetter. I’m at a loss to describe the race properly because I spent much of it clinging on, fighting the part of me that said “quit” – not much was left to memorise things.
Suffice to say the long gradual climb up to the finish was my favourite part of the course, a place I could recover – bizarrely This was because the mountain goats, the skinny fellas, like myself, were quickly removed from the front of the race – mostly due to a lack of fat giving warmth, and the associated demise and trip back to HQ. I was still there though, somehow. Not sure how. Anyway, the climb wasn’t hard because the big fellas can’t climb so well, not that I was anywhere near ready to attack. I was recovering as I said earlier, drifting up, shielding myself from the hurricane wind that was blowing in my ear and blowing some off the road.
After climbing comes descent, which was a test of bicycle handling skills in the wet. A couple of times I flirted with some white lines, I look over, there she is, all dressed in white – dazzling in the gloom. Drawn in I was quickly brushed aside, skidding off into the gutter – a cruel mistress. It’s hard to admit weakness, due to the pride most serious athletes have in abundance. Well, I was weak on the back part of the course, it was flatter and the big fellas had a go here – not all of them were big, John Cann was giving it some beans – a racing snake but with the power of a Belgian bull. I reached some low points here, each lap, the burn in my legs, my lungs, my pride. A few bicycle lengths would open up, I’d eventually decide I wouldn’t be dropped and sprint back on. Time and again. Time and again it hurt. My legs were nowhere, my heart rate was suppressed. I was too cold to ride well. Eventually, having endured some hail, plenty wind, and constant rain, we reached the end. This of course meant the last time up the climb to the finish, I could have a rest here, the big fellas can’t climb so well, remember? It was club run pace but could I care? No. I was thinking about the cup of tea I was going to enjoy at the HQ. Just a few more minutes. Ever closer now. The sprint for the win…I couldn’t even remember what the end looked like so I went when others did and had no time to give it a good go. That sounds daft but I usually reach the dizzy heights of 190 beats a minute pounding from my stressed heart during a race finale – for this sprint I reached 166. It passed me by and I came 5th, not far from 1st – well done Rob Ormrod – you were a harder man than me.