Monday, 18 March 2013

Learning the hard way.

Yesterday was the second round of road racing in the South West Scotland Cycling Project race series. The 4th cat race started at 9:30am and was scheduled to head up over the moor behind Corsock and back down the A713 along the shores of Loch Ken to the finish at Clarebrand. Unfortunately the weather was, once again, a little wintery so the route was changed to avoid the high ground and stick to the shores of Loch Ken. I'm glad it did, it was cold and wet with a couple of snow flurries, being higher up would have been even more miserable!

After my experience the weekend before, this week I decided to hide in the bunch and wait for the end. Unfortunately this didn't quite work out as planned - and it was entirely my fault. With the tragic events of a couple of weeks ago still fresh in everyone's minds, we were warned not to cross the white line at any point during the race by the organisers or we'd get disqualified. At the start I found myself right at the back of the bunch. Without crossing the white line and nipping up the outside of the group I really couldn't see any other way of getting nearer to the front. I waited for an opportunity but the conditions were so bad and I didn't have the bottle to force my way to the front through the middle of the bunch. As it was wet and cold people were sliding all over the place and puncturing constantly. The pace kept dropping then suddenly accelerating as various hazards were negotiated. Being right on the arse of it I had to brake harder and accelerate harder than those up front. So I was working really bloody hard to stay on the tail. Every other rider at the back with me was getting dropped. I fought and fought to stay on, sprinting over 50kmh to keep in touch every time there was an acceleration. By the time we got to the final few km's I thought I was going to get dropped. I lost the tail of the group on a wee climb outside Laurieston. I could feel the elastic stretching to breaking point so I hammered like mad to get back, which I did, just. I steadied myself and even gained a few places as we swept through a right/left sequence of bends onto the finishing run. Then it was just head down and keep going. Once we were into the final km the pace went up, I somehow kept with it and started to gain places. Once we were sprinting I flew right up the field! From dead last to 18th and finishing in the body of the main sprint.  I was utterly spent by the end, I worked very hard to even keep within touch of the bunch and can definitely feel it sitting here now.

As it was finishing where I did was as good as I could have hoped for. More lessons learned and more to ponder for next time.

Unfortunately there isn't another local race until well into June, but this means I have lots of time to train and work hard in preparation! I might have to look around for some other races nearby so I can get some more experience as I think that's the key to doing well (if you're not a naturally talented rider like some people seem to be!) I have to say I'm surprised how much I'm enjoying road racing.  I'm sure if I think hard enough I can think of some new bits of kit I'd need to make me faster too...

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