Its been a hectic few weeks, exams are round the corner, the National Championships are in two weeks time and I've only got one pair of shorts. I've been slowly easing into the season, but everyone else seems to submerged in it, doing races near and afar and racking up impressive results. A good top end speed is the outcome of this and I struggle with sudden changes of pace in the opening stages of races.
However, a good strong base I have accumulated over the winter is starting to bear fruits, with me having an increased endurance to that of last year. In the longer, harder Elite road races I have do so far I believe this work I did over the winter with fellow riders is helping me.
Anyway, enough of the fitness and more of the racing. I have done around 10 races so far this year, two Elite road races and the rest being criteriums of regional and Elite level. I've got some results and the points are slowly ticking over, but I really need to step on the gas to get the 200 I need for a 1st category license.
Races of note I've done recently are the Sheffrec CC E/1/2/3 road race and the Junior Only Crit at Tockwith. In the Sheffrec race I knew I had no chance of winning, since riders like Tom Barras and Graham Briggs were competing on the day, so I did the sensible things and followed wheels through out the race. The circuit had a very exposed straight after a short hill and the wind really strung the bunch out, so much so that splits were appearing. This was immediately followed by a long, flowing downhill, and as every Junior rider knows, the downhills are harder than the uphills. On one occasion, I had crawled along the outside of the line on the straight because the bunch was so long, a split was a very real possibility. I got towards the front before the downhill with my legs drained by the soul destroying wind.
On the downhill the splits had become reality and I found myself sliding out of the 'echelon' I was in. Instead of fighting in no-mans land I tagged onto the next group and luckily the peleton came back together on the headwind drag. Two groups of Elites had broken away earlier in the race so a win was not a possibility, but a few token points were. The finish itself was on the exposed straight so I got myself positioned on the sheltered side of the road, only to find myself blocked in. I got out and rolled over for 28th. A decent finish considering I had raced the day before and that last year I was lucky to get that in a 2/3/4.
The Junior only Tockwith was a real eye-opener to the cut and thrust of racing against your peers. Rider of note was Harry Tanfield, a Team GB rider fresh from racing the small version of Paris- Roubaix over on the continent. The first few attacks of the race were nothing special, and soon fizzed out as the small bunch re-claimed the weak. One or two laps in Harry and a track regular, Jacob Scott put in a powerful attack. I knew instantly this was the winner and gave chase, either from the front or behind wheels, the details are fuzzy. Anyway, a four rider chase established itself and we worked well and strong, just keeping the two leaders within 200-300 metres. The early blistering pace was starting to take its toll on my cold, unprepared legs and I ended up slipping off the chase group after 4 or 5 laps. All that was left now was to drive on by myself in the wind and rain in the knowledge I had a bunch somewhere behind me and that I had another race straight after. I am a 'take my cake and eat it' person, metaphorically and literally, so I decided to let the bunch chase me and plodded on. Forty minutes later , the bunch was starting to show itself at the end of the straights, but luckily for me the lap counter had diminished to 3 to go and up ahead was a lapped rider and a dropped chasee. I caught these two on the last lap and sprinted past my early co-worker to claim 5th spot, my best result so far this season.
In the next senior race, a mere 10 minutes after I had finished the junior race I got an 11th place. I read the race to near perfection, sitting nicely behind wheels and helping the chase of dangerous riders. As a result, the bunch was all together on the last lap and in the final gallop I was too far back coming into the last corner, as well as my speed being blunted from the junior race and a crash 3 laps previously, I had to settle just out of the points.
Thats it so far, next race is Brid and I'm riding out on the friday to the caravan we hire nearby. Fellow rider Will Staveleys also coming, should he accept the challenge. Ciao!