Saturday, 25 August 2012

Racing, racing, racing and more racing

Come in number 34 your times up
Well the good old British weather came good....finally. And it meant that racing could once again resume.
No more cancelled races due to flooding, or in some cases washed away courses. No racing was back.
So full of eagerness I set off for an evening crit at the National Bowl. It was all looking hunky dory during the practice laps, even the deep dust on the course wasn't a problem. So with three minutes to go I got ready on the starting grid.
I didn't expect the deluge! within those few minutes riders were slipping over on the start line as the dust had become lethal slime.  You see there had been a concert there earlier, the Swedish House Mafia (no me neither) and the hoards of concert goers had dragged mud all over the place, you've seen Glastonbury. The riders had a quick chat and arranged a gentlemen's  agreement to set off steady just in case it was too bad. I can tell you it was bad, 20mm tyres, 100PSI, fast downhill corners and muddy tarmac were a real test and I was nervous every lap. I wasn't having fun and I could see riders pulling out. This was dangerous and not worth it. Then Psssssssssss puncture, result. Back to the car to think about next week.

I didn't have to wait another week, there was a mountain bike race at the very same venue. The damage done  by the concert goers was having an effect  on this race as well, even the off road bikes had to be diverted. The good thing though was the summer evening sun and dusty trails.
So back on the grid, this time with the Grand Veterans. I was gagging for this and when the gun went I was off. I was making up ground almost straight away. The road legs were keeping it fast on the straights and the cyclo cross legs were doing their stuff on the bends. This was great, this is why you train. This was just too good, it really was.
She was only a little'un that lady rider that got the best of me on the twin uphill singletrack. Little but a World Cup rider. She cut past me and I had to slam on the brakes, I didn't dab and tried to pull away again, but the huge effort on the very steep climb snapped my chain. Race over.
In fact it not only snapped the chain, it tore teeth off the cassette and chainring, bent the gear hanger and destroyed the rear gear.

So to the next race four days later, another evening crit. Nothing is going to go wrong tonight. And nothing did. It was a great little race. I even got it going by trying to get a break, but it didn't work. However it did set the scene. Break after break went and was caught again. I was having fun and all the time working out where I needed to be to get a good finish. We got the bell (one lap to go) and all the lazy buggers that hadn't done a thing all night started to roll to the front. We, the ones that had been 'racing' muscled back to the front. Boom, the sprint finish came a split second sooner than I thought and caught me in the wrong gear. A quick drop and I clung on to 11th place in the main bunch.

The last race to date was the final vets race at the Bowl. Again the weather held and we had a race on our hands. It was a different story this week though. A five man break had got away from the start and was keeping ahead thanks to the younger race that night blocking us. Five of us got a chain going, but no one else would help, so when we tired it all slowed down. Fed up with this I told a fellow worker that I was going to overtake the younger race and to hold my wheel. We got past and I'd towed the whole race past. The gap started to close, but no one else but us five would do any work. So I found myself lapping the younger race again. The effort to pass was far harder this time and I had to swallow my own sick, I was cooked and struggled on the back. That left just the other four doing the work, so the gap once again opened!
Why people enter a race and don't race I don't know. Perhaps they just like to say they race and wear all the kit?
The bell lap was a repeat performance of the previous week with the shirkers moving up. One guy even had a pop, but went to early and had to sit up. That's what happens if you don't work in a crit, you won't know what to expect when you get out in front. Then shirker number two went, again far too early, so I chased and got on their wheel...thanks mate. Then I just waited until I saw the line and passed. I got another 11th, though the leading five where 30 seconds ahead.

So that's that for now. No more road racing. Some big miles in France then it's cyclo-cross season. Bring it on.

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