That was fast…
Today was my first race of the season at the classic Perf’s Pedal elite road race in Hampshire. First of all, I was glad that the race was dry with some sunshine, especially after all the training I had been doing in the relentless rain in Cornwall. Before the race I didn’t manage to warm up at all, as I needed to see what the finish line was like in preparation for the end of the race, so by the time I got back to HQ I just had enough time to sign on and get my kit on.
It was my first time racing on the new machine which was built up by my local mechanic John Morse, so a massive thanks to him. But I decided to use a set of heavy training wheels as the circuit had a few potholes and quite a bit of gravel in places.
From the start the pace was furious. It hit me hard as I hadn’t been racing for 5 months, the intensities were very high and I forgot what the racing was like. Looking at my power output was absolutely pointless as I had to go full power all the way. On the second lap, the race was stopped by the race organisers as quite a few riders were riding on the other side of the road with oncoming traffic, and as well as the potential danger, it did make us cyclists look bad. The commissar decided to disqualify 3 riders and that forced me to be extra careful, as there was no way that I wanted to go home early after driving 250 miles to race!
When the race restarted, pro UCI team Pedal Heaven totally smashed it on the main climb already. They had the train going in line, ripping the whole peloton apart. I was in the mid-way point of the bunch, which I thought I would be safe, but there was already a gap in front of me, and the group was scattering everywhere. When we reached the top of the climb we were hit with a strong crosswind, and I was totally suffering trying to hang on to the wheel.
On lap 3, the race split into 3 groups and I was in the 2nd chase group at 20 seconds behind the leaders. My legs were getting pretty warmed up but still not up to my 100% form yet. When we reached the main climb again, the riders in my group were hammering it down trying to catch the lead group. I was in the red zone, and I thought that I should ease back a bit to recover, then come back and catch the bunch. It was a bad decision. Tactics like that don’t work on these short undulating courses. But still I made the decision and I eased back and let the group go ahead. I don’t know what I was thinking.
Anyway, after I had recovered, I upped my pace and tried to catch the second group again, but the strong crosswind meant that there was no way to get back, so I continued to ride my pace until the 3rd group caught me.
With 5 miles to go, surprisingly the main bunch was now in sight ahead of us, and it was obvious that they had pushed too hard and were tiring, and my legs were getting stronger and I had some energy energy left. We were continuing working together, but the riders in my bunch were losing their calm and they started attacking, trying to catch the main bunch. So I stayed on their wheel. With 3 miles to go, we were on the long flat straight stretch with crosswinds, and I could see riders dropping off the back of the main. I put in a long sustained effort and we passed some dropped riders, then we turned left to the final drag with 1 mile to go. Up the final drag we passed a few more dropped riders, and I crossed over the finish line in 42nd place. Out of 85 riders only 51 riders finished the race, and I finished 2.53 down on the leader.
The race was a bit short but very tough, and I really enjoyed it as my first race of the season. I’m happy with my endurance but I still need to work on getting some speed in to my legs, which will come in the next races.
Next week I will be joining my team Pizzeria Espanola who are racing in the Copa de España, Circuito Guadiana in Spain on Sunday. I’m still waiting for my Spanish race license to come through so I can’t race until then, but you can follow the race live on Sunday morning on the Pizzeria Espanola team twitter feed – @EquipoPizzeria
You can also view the Perf’s Pedal race report and results sheet on Velo UK