The day started at 8am at Worthing High School We were doing a bike heck for their Eco Day. As I was leaving I bumped into Tim Loughton one of our local MPs. It turns out that he is doing a charity ride and I offered to sort out his bike. Having seen it he really ought to buy a new one. I don’t want the local press to see him on a bike that can’t have cost much more than a hundred quid new. It could give people the wrong impression of what a bike really is. Maybe we should lend him one.
The rest of the day was flat out ( we sold quite a few bikes) so I ate and drank nothing – my usual preparation for racing. It is not to be recommended. I kept an eye on the clock and sneaked upstairs to change at about five as I was destined to leave late. The racing started at 7pm, I got there with just enough time for a pee.
This was a handicap race so we 4th cats would be off first. The form is simple, cruise round until we are caught up by the good guys then hang on until the finish. That was the form but this bunch blasted off straight away and in the wind the group became a long snaking line of riders. Where were these guys last week? It meant that I ended up working too hard on the first lap but I did get into position for the first sprint. Dead into wind I bust a gut and think that I got second. The next two laps were hard and I got caught at the front and despite desperate efforts to drop back I found myself having to go too soon so I was out of the running for any points. The problem was that the last quarter of the lap was straight into wind (better described as a gale). Lap 4 was better and we all seemed to deal with it well. Coming round the final bend I tried to hang on as can only hold my sprint for about 50 metres. I went too soon pealing of to the right. As I started to fade I caught a glimpse of a rider coming up fast. I needed to change gear but couldn’t afford the loss of momentum to reach up from the drops (I’m using Campagnolo) so pushing through another pain barrier I launched the bike over the line hoping that I’d got first.
This was exhausting but before I had recovered the good guys caught us and I chased the first few – I’m such a prat! I blew up and the whole bunch came by, with nothing left in my legs I tried but failed and watched them ride away at 27mph. I caught a couple of others to try to work our way back but they were in a worse state than me. 8 laps left. I ought to have given up but that would have been a waste of a race. I struggled on and tried to deal with the mental battle that lay ahead. I actually started to increase my speed. I picked up a fellow straggler and towed him for 4 laps, this proved motivating and helped. My respect for time trialist increased. Their discipline is tough. They call it the Race of Truth. Chapeau to you, Wootton!. Whilst admiring those testers I had a go myself. Despite it being illegal I put my elbows on the bars and clasped my fingers as if praying and with my nose inches from my Garmin I gained 3kph riding into wind. I did it every lap.
All in all very tough but very satisfying. Fighting for sprints and then the mental battle of not giving up until the end. The lap function didn’t work so I can’t see my lap speeds. I have only my overall average of 21.9mph. That looks pretty poor on a flat course despite the wind. The golden rule is Never get dropped!
On the way back I passed Chris McNamara and stopped to offer him a lift but he declined, riding from Brighton to Goodwood, racing 13 laps then riding home is just a training ride……
I then spotted the night riding crew so pulled into the Hammer Pot layby and nearly had the van melted but the awesome fire power of their lights. So bright was their battery of beams that Ryan was able to enjoy the night with just a Backupz emergency light.
A good day.
The ride – shame no laps
Results – don’t know how soon they will be uploaded
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