I was holding out for some race pics but none have surfaced so here is the race report from last week.
Knowledge is power
Having passed on the wealth of knowledge I’ve learned in the 6 races I have done this year to team mate Dean Eason we both set off on a warm up of the Plungar course. We’d delayed this slightly due to a heavy downpour about 5 minutes earlier but the roads were drying up pretty quickly in the July evening sunshine. After a couple of laps we headed down to the start for the briefing and then set off behind the commissaries car with around 40 other riders. Dean has been going really well of late but this was his first attempt at road racing, however barring tactical errors I had no worries he’d be there at the end. I wasn’t so confident on my own form, the last 2 weeks have seen me only log 6 hours training due to physical and mechanical issues but I doubt I’d lose too much so aimed to stay at the front and see how things went.
The race quickly developed a pattern, a few tried to escape but were reeled back in, mainly because of the strong headwind on the backside of the circuit, to put into context it was tailwind, cross, head, cross so a real mix.
After a fairly uneventful first couple of laps I heard an almighty bang, it was clear someone had gone down, I was near the front but with a quick glance back I thought I saw a rider in SNCC colours down, thankfully half a lap later I could hear Dean talking to someone and then he came up alongside me so panic over. Due to the wind the race pace was slower than the 26.5mph average I last experienced here and I was feeling good, I purposely measured each burst out the corners to try and guard off any potential calf issues, I also aimed to keep my cadence higher and to not chase so many moves down. I did find myself on the front a couple of times but even then I just rode at tempo rather than try too hard and waste energy or risk injury, so far so good.
Overall race stats – 26.6mph vs 24.8mph
So far so good
Pleasingly Dean was going well, he was now keeping himself in a prominent position up the front, no doubt as a result of having to take to the grass to avoid the accident I mentioned earlier! As the race went on you could sense this was going down to a last lap sprint, there were a few attempts to get away, I think I even thought about this myself but as often happens it all comes back together. I’d told Dean before the race to just go for it if he felt good, no point thinking what could have been, but on the last lap he came alongside me and asked if I wanted him to do anything. Again I told him to do what he felt, don’t worry about me, but I really appreciated the gesture.
As we made our way toward the final turn before the 2 mile run to the line I felt good, I was near the front (as was Dean) and I began to think about how to try and get a decent result. In an instant I decided that if Dean went for it, I could get in his wheels and hopefully we could create a gap before the final corner, it’d be hard to hold people off with the cross wind but as I said before, no point thinking what might have been. So as Dean moved to the front I shouted for him to GO! And GO he went, I quickly moved in behind and sure enough we created a small gap as we exited the corner. Dean put the hammer down, I followed, but after about 200 metres I realised the peleton were coming so I went to plan B.
Plan B involved knocking the pace off, hopefully letting Dean go as the bunch sat behind me, this might mean he got the result and I could contest the sprint, my mistake here was letting about 8-9 riders in front of me and block the road. Dean stayed on the front, I soon realised I should have fought more for my place or just stayed behind Dean, hindsight eh.
My way forward was now blocked, in truth this gave me chance to fully recover but I’m just not brave enough to force the gap so as I waited and waited for the road to clear I had lost momentum, the gaps had been made and although I seemed to be finishing faster than most, I ended up in about 15th place, Dean not far behind.
Podium – a mix of builds, that winners jersey is pretty nice.
My feelings on the race were positive, it’d been great to have a team mate alongside me, we’d raced well, were 1-2 coming out the final bend (albeit with 2 miles to go!) but overall it was great fun. Speaking with Dean after the race he’d clearly enjoyed it and commented on how comfortable he’d been with the pace, we both discussed what the difference was between top 20 and top spot, I think we decided on a mix of talent and tactics, the latter we could both work on.
What I have noticed is that teams tend to work for each other, they’ll often help 1-2 riders try to finish well, sacrificing themselves in the process, I’m hoping we can get a team of 3-4 SNCC to see what we can do, I’d be more than happy to assume the role of domestique if it meant we could get a winner. But to sum up, another race completed, more experience gained and 35 miles of fun around the lanes of Plungar, not bad for £15.
OVB with 3 in the top 10
As always a massive thanks to all the helpers who put these races on, next race is tonight on the Lime Kiln circuit, I’m told it has a hill, hopefully the skinny riders will stay at home.