It was warm and windless and the race was seventy men strong, so was guaranteed to be fast as. And it was. From the gun a group tried to make a break for it, it wasn't the usual inexperienced rider thinking 'this is easy' before dying a death. This was a group that could stay away, and ten minutes later I was in the unenviable position of bridging the gap for the bunch. I had a momentary thought about going with them, but when I got on the wheels of the leading group I was cooked, so I sat in and looked back. We were one again. This cat and mouse game went on for the duration of the time that the race remained within the gates. It was hard, but no one was going out of the back. To add to the 'fun' I had a rider beside me who seemed intent on cutting me up at every change of pace, there's no way he couldn't have heard my 'for fucks sakes' unless his hearing was as bad as his eyesight.
|leading out through the gates|
'Wrong place wrong time' Just as I sat up to recover the A/B race lapped us. Etiquette dictates that passing riders shout a warning of coming through left or right, and everyone files past. However this time it was shouts of both, and to add to the confusion shouts of MIDDLE. The chaos caused decimated the race, and I was left far out the back. I raced solo for a whole lap and just got on only to find the rider I'd just attached to sit up and bail out. So another solo lap, and almost on when a poor change on a fast corner sent my rear wheel hopping across the tarmac. I sat up.
I looked behind me to see a few souls pushing on, so we formed into a small but coherent group. Lap after lap we picked up more and more riders, until we had a good race going on. The leading bunch from which the winner would come was now beyond reach so we were racing for honours.
It was clear that three of us were stronger, so we worked to keep the pace high.......until the bell lap. then it was all stares. I didn't want to lead this out, nor did anyone else. We slowed to the next bend, where I took a bad line on purpose so I could fall in behind the others. I slipped in and stayed in tight so as not to be seen. Round the bend, along the straight, up the climb, around the tight corners and then with the line in sight I pulled out for the sprint. I passed wide and noticed the lead rider glance at me before reacting, and the sound of his late gear change confirmed my attack had worked.
I would rather have paid my dues in the main bunch, I felt I had the strength to do so. Perhaps next week?