The usual suspects are all present. Chris and Ross in seniors. Jules, Andrew and Darren in Vet/40. And the dream team of Miles, Kevin and myself in Vet/50.
First the early excuses;
1) First race in ages due to being ill since October.
2) Accidently set the saddle 3/4" too high.......yes WTF indeed.
3) Overdressed, never worn longs, thermal or thick gloves when racing before.
4) Pratted about for too long and rushed getting my bike ready.
5) I've larded up an extra 3/4 stone
So anyway. The course was a corker, the sort of course you'd conjure up in your minds eye if you were thinking cross. Different to last years course though. There was a tough little drop leading to a long climb, that was to be hard and a tight left hander into hurdles at the start of a climb, that was just cruel. The rest was rideable textbook stuff.
In warm up I found it all rideable apart from the hurdle climb. but after one circuit I stood about pontificating instead of getting ready or having another lap, so when the call up came I was freezing and ill prepared.
I was called up, but there were only two rows of vet/50's so for me position wasn't crucial, in fact Miles held back, wanted someone to chase?
We're sent off just ahead of a full, sold out Vet/40 field. They are going to come after us hammer and tong.
Kevin passes me on the lead out. And Miles is knocking at the door on the first technical. A rider gets a pedal in my front wheel and in that time Kevin is off. We all exit the turns and head for the hurdles. I close on Kevin and think that after a few laps he'll slow and I might bridge the gap.
We hit the steep drop, Kevin clears it. Miles has caught me and passes, but I pass him on the turn and lead up the long climb. This is killing me. I have a dilemma! I can ride it, but only just. The 36/25 combination means I have to pump whilst sat down to keep traction, but running seems an even worse option. When I clear the climb I have to recover on the following fast section, and I should be hammering it here. That's clearly evident as Kevin is off on the horizon and Miles goes past. That said old rivals are well behind me. I press on recovering slightly, at least I can ride the course, that isn't a problem.
|Hiding the suffering, but not the weight|
I complete the second lap, and feeling bad and thinking I'm sitting last I abandon.
Not been here before, well in cross. I go to the timing tent and hand in my number. What happens next floors me. I see my old rivals pass by. My numbers off and I was well ahead of them. I'm mortified I've just mistaken doing good old fashioned hard racing for feeling unwell still. It would later transpire that I'd almost certainly have come in behind Miles and Kevin in a 1/2/3 down the results.
I sling on warm clothes and watch my team mates slog it out, by the time I'm barrier side the bell is ringing and I know I should have still been out there. It's horrible standing to one side when the race is over.
Next it's the final round at Letchworth. A few pounds have come off and the saddle is lower again. And there are no plans to change routine race day again. The only pressure on me is to finish as I've missed so many races and I need this one to get a standing.
The 2014/15 season has been a far cry from the 2013/14 season. A far better field, and I hadn't raced the summer as in all previous years. It'll be interesting to see how the last race pans out. I know one thing .....I vow to do better next year.