Monday, 7 March 2011

Let The Games Begin

The weekend just been was very hectic for me. Work Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, not to mention the first race of the season, and my first proper road race, and what a race it was!
Friday evening, I got to bed around 11:15, not the best time to hit the sack before a race, but I had work that night.
Anyway, seven hours sleep later, and after a big breakfast of four Weetabix biscuits and two slices of toast, I was on the road heading towards Aintree for the 50th Eddie Soens Memorial Road Race.
Luckily, we got there an hour before the start, which was a good thing because I needed to severely limit my gears for the Junior category. 
Several other teams had also decided to make this race their season debut, among them the newly formed Team Raleigh, Team UK Youth, 100% Me and a couple of Rapha Condor Sharp riders thrown in for good measure.
These teams came in brand spanking new cars and vans, covered head to toe in sponsor decals and brimming with the latest bikes, but these are merely mind tricks to make the less experienced riders nervous and soft with adrenaline for the start, and it worked.

Anyways, the race started without a hitch, group one (my group) setting off at 9:30 sharp. There wasn't a lot of cooperation in my group and no-one was really willing to do a huge turn on the front to attempt to lap the pro's and elites, who where setting off 3minutes later on the 1.64mile circuit. 
So I did a turn on the front for about a quarter of the course to get myself warmed up, because the pace group 1 was setting wasn't anything special.
For the first 2 laps, the equilibrium stayed constant with only 30secs separating group 1 from the Elites, however, after that the Pro's stopped gossiping and got to work, and thus swept the course by the 10th lap. 
At this point in the race, Team Raleigh was firmly in control of the bloated peleton of 150+ riders, and attacks came from left, right and centre from this outfit. Me, sensing that a potential winner could come from this team, caught onto as many attacks as I could from them, and the most we ever got off the front was about 100 yards. 
Me, filled with new-found confidence of having the ability of being able to keep up with the big boys and even attack the field to some extend, decided to sit in the peleton until about 2-3 laps to go and go for an all-or-nothing charge for the line. The reasoning behind this was that any attempts at attacking from anyone had not managed to break the elastic of the main bunch, and the thinking was that the race was going to end in a bunch sprint.
So every two or three laps I made my way to the edge, moved up a few places, probed at the success of attacks at the front, and then went back to sleep firmly in the middle of the bunch. 
Now, with 5 laps to go, I made my commute to the edge of the peleton, and went near the front to wait for my assault. However, once getting near the front, and being able to see the long straight in front of me, I noticed a small group of riders had gotten away, some 300 metres in front, like a mirage in a dessert. 
I asked the Raleigh rider in next to me whether they had broken away, or whether they had been dropped and about to be lapped. 'Broken away', he gasped at me. 
This was the sledgehammer to my glass of confidence, and in the last lap, I made sure I finished in the main group, since my chances of a top 20 finish had evaporated. 
I finished in 113th, in a time of 1hour, 40minutes and 2 seconds. I was 30 seconds of the winner.

And that was my first race, I  may not have won, but at least I wasn't dropped and had proven to myself that my doubts about my ability to race had been declared null and void. 

My next race, if I manage to get transportation, is in Stokesley, Middlesborough
This 50 miles pan-flat circuit is in memory of Neil White, and is once again open-category. 

That's all from me for this week, and once again, thanks for reading. 

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