Miles my racing partner and traveling companion call's to say the car won't start. Or tries to call as I have no mobile, the message gets through via Facebook just as Ross rolls onto my drive. My car is hurriedly pressganged into the team car, and two bikes go in the back before we set off to collect Miles. At Mile's place the car is blocking the way, and it won't move because the handbrake is electronic and won't release. Technology is failing today. We faff and don't get anywhere. We finally set off when we were meant to be there.
Luckily the journey there is an uneventful one.
We arrive at Welwyn to a dry windswept circuit over looking a lake. Windswept putting it mildly. The flags won't stay up, tape is blowing fully across the course, gazebo's are failing, there isn't an erection left standing!
We pour out of the car into the wind, eager for some reason to get well versed with this course. My day doesn't get any better. All season long I've been racing on general purpose tyres, but for today I've fitted brand new mud tyres because the forecast was so bad. Now I have super grip on a drying plasticine course when semi slicks would have done. I set them to sub 20 psi so they don't dig in.
Other than that the course seems fine. The strong wind is in your face on the descents, though I don't think that was down to careful planning. Therefore the climbs are wind assisted. Other than that it's classic CX.
I set off for a practice lap, and follow it up with two loops of the courses perimeter. After that I spend some time gassing with guys I might not see until next season. Though it's not long before one of them points out that my race is lining up to go. I race over to find I've lost my place on the grid and have to start right at the back.
It's right there and then that I loose the plot and any thoughts of doing well. The whistle goes and I tear off like number twos off a polished shovel. I pass loads within metres, and think blimey I've done well. Then the inevitable happens, I shut down tired from the effort and have to go into limp mode to recover. Darren passes.....Barry passes, Barry literally cruises by. I've blown a gasket on the first lap, and I can't even limit the damage.
You can read it anywhere.
'PACE WINS THE RACE'
I've done this on three occasions out of the eleven races I've done this season and it's always had the same result. Whilst some like a fast start, I need to just be there and kick in at about thirty minutes.
Halfway through I still had a stitch so couldn't even floor it on the flats. By now the hills were more welcome than the straights where I had absolutely no power.
I had also left my Buff on and was boiling because of it, I was really ####ing up today.
By now I was just holding on for points, Miles could come past at any time and I'd have nothing.
I don't know if I picked up a bit on the last lap, but I started racing on the tops and instantly felt better. Halfway through the last lap I wanted it to go on for another twenty minutes to see if |I could get back on, but that wasn't going to happen.
Darren took honours, followed by Barry. Then yours truly with Miles coming in fourth and Mike fifth.
I rolled back to the car wondering how on earth I could hold back the guys next year when I'd be pushing 57. My strength was going rapidly. I still could muster speed, and handling wasn't an issue, but strength when I needed it most, as in now when the going was hard wasn't there.
The years always throw up a new challenge. Since my late forties I've noticed strength and speed drop off in three year blocks, and it seems now I'm loosing another block of ability. I have coping methods in place, but it'll remain to be seen if they work.
But before we say goodbye to everyone for another year we have Ross going in the final race of the day and entire season.
Ross has a good start, pretty damn good actually. However our good intentions cheering him on from the side lines seem to make him write a cheque his legs can't cash ! And so he begins an epic battle on a tough course. There are a lot of London League guys out there today, and that's forced the pace. Still Ross rides a clean well paced race to finish well.