So it's my favorite course, why? well it's super fast, it's well cut firm turf. The technical sections just call for good timing and old fashioned cyclo cross skills, rather than 'skilz', but today was a bit different. The main technical feature was a series of grassed over air raid shelters, sadly these weren't in use today. I actually thought I'd arrived on the wrong day as the familiar sight of the taped shelters was missing. Instead we had a very hard series of switchbacks which involved descending wet grass and turning sharply on greasy paving slabs before climbing back up again. The whole speedy aspect of the course had also been changed slightly by a very slippery surface, it was wet but not wet enough to cut up.
I had a good warm up, most of the course was the same old version so I spent a bit of time mastering the new technical section. Once happy I went off to warm up some more.
Now it was time to race. I waited eagerly to be called up, but nothing. This was the second time I was put right at the back despite my laying third overall. At the last race the commissaire had apologized afterwards for the previous oversight, so I was surprised it happened again. hey ho.
The whistle went and so did I, in fact I burnt most of my matches in those first few yards taking myself from last to fifth before the first turn. the race was very quickly single file so I settled in where I was.
Before I go on I need to lay my excuses down!
I hadn't ridden for two weeks. First of all my Nan died not quite making 100, so that called for a lot of family commitment. Then I came down with a heavy cold that floored me. Basically I couldn't ride for two weeks. Did I mention I hadn't ridden for two weeks?
So anyway I'm riding along, and the inevitable happens. I get passed, I go down to 6th then 7th then 8th then 9th then 10th. Then I think 'okay I'm not on form' but this is taking the piss. I decide enough is enough. The rider in front of me has clearly overcooked it to get ahead and is flapping on the bends. I bide my time and pass on one of the tightest corners and pull away 9th. The next rider is more savvy and we become locked in battle the entire race. He can corner far quicker than me, but I can pass him on the straights and we exchange leads all race. The key will be riding perfect laps, pace and timing. Then on the penultimate lap, just after the technical section he goes down. I pass and I dig deep to get a good gap. I'm holding the gap, but sweating like a pig with nervous energy. I'm racing to the technicals knowing that managing them well will see me to the line ahead of him. I clean the section and grab 8th.
|Bitch slapped by a sapling|
It was another good race, a few were pleased to beat me for the first time, but I'll be back for vengeance next week. I shake hands with the man I've been racing and we analyze the race 'bloke in the pub style' we were so caught up in our own in race that we didn't think about working together. Only seconds separated us from higher positions, we probably could have grabbed another place at least.
Still a great race, a superb course and a great crowd. Roll on next weeks new venue.