On July 7th I nipped up the road to compete with my fellow age group racers in the LVRC National Road race Championships, I say nipped because for 2013 the Nats were on my doorstep. Arriving at the race HQ in Cottisloe school I was a little taken aback if not actually gobsmacked. There before me were well organised rows of official cars, ambulances, out riders and team vehicles. As well as race jerseys representing all corners of the country. Well I guess it was the Nationals.
My race day nerves started to settle after talking to Tim and Graham, both of whom were off in the A race that would leave three minutes before us. The LBRCC was doing a sterling effort of keeping all the other wheels moving, and Wayne was in Waynes World. And Tom from Twenty3c took a hand up for me.
We got the call up and moved into our grids, I only knew two other riders Carl from Corleys and Russell from Spirit, I was on my own in the biggest vets race on the calender.
Tim and Graham set off in the A's, my heart started to pound. Wayne was counting us down. In three minutes I'd be off. 3-2-1 and we're off, I'm clipped in and rolling happy for the Union jack to stay out as long as possible, but all to soon we're out of the neutral zone and we're racing.
I feel okay, but pissed off at all the riders crossing the white lines and cutting in front when the commissaire bibs them. Technically it's cheating, we've been told not to and it's bloody dangerous. I won't cross the lines even if it means being last in the bunch, which I soon am.
I hang on for the left turn into the long climb, pick a line and spin past some guys mashing. I get to the top well in the bunch. I'm still okay, but get even more pissed off as all the guys I passed cruise by on the wrong side of the road. The commissaires horn is going full tilt, but they get away with it. So I'm at the back again FFS!
I won't cheat or break the rules.
We're told that we are one minute on the A's, I read that as we're going fucking fast, but on with the job in hand.
I'm faced with one hell of a sprint through Stewkley, it's so fast the field is in single file, but I hang on. The bunch slows so I edge forward. We go up Wing Hill which feels soooo easy in the bunch, through Wing and towards Stewkley. As soon as the road straightens the usual suspects race up the other carriageway and I'm on the back again after being squeezed out. I make amends on the long climb again and slip well into the bunch, it slows and I can rest. Then, yes you've guessed it the 'law breakers' pass and cut in, but I'm still okay for the single file speed fest through Stewkley....until. The rider in white didn't see the give way island and careers across my path. Skidding sideways just before the fastest section of the course isn't what you want to be doing. I chase, but I'm off the back. I chase all through Stewkley I'm still off. I chase towards Wing I'm almost back on, I give it a final burst but my legs die before I can get a wheel. The race slips away. I keep pressing on in case the bunch slows but it doesn't, so I finally wave the commissaire past me. The fact that the commissaire was still behind me during my chase was very encouraging, but in the end I didn't have the legs.
I rolled into Wing and turned off to assist Vince with marshaling....and to watch the race.
I have to mention Tim and Grahams efforts in the A race, they were both in the mix at all times, and I think Tim took a top twenty, and remember it's Nationals not regional or Mickey Mouse circuit racing, so well done guys.
After the race I'm faced with a dilemma, I was outclassed. What do I do, stay put and carry on doing okay in the regional's or step it up to make the grade and take on all the extra work that entails? I went out on a lone 110 mile road ride the next day to mull it over, but the answer didn't come. I need a break to sort it, I'll see how I go over the next few weeks.