I’ll throw in a caveat here, it’s hard to get all the detail correct when racing….
When I started racing this year I had envisioned warm summer nights but like last week the wind was strong and rain looked imminent, no bother though I needed to get cracking and do a recce of the 3 mile Lime Kiln circuit so off I went. Lots of the surface had been relayed, none of those stupid chippings here, it was smooth tarmac, it was also very narrow in parts but only one corner looked like it would need attention. It’s not a hilly circuit but there are a couple of drags that would need some extra effort, 2 laps done and I got back to the HQ for final prep and the race briefing. At 7pm we set off behind the car and soon enough the race was on.
OVB in control
The race pace was strong, OVB had 6 riders enabling them to dictate the pace once more and soon enough around 3-4 riders made a break. With only a couple of riders willing to work the break pulled out more time and soon enough they were out of sight, a few riders complained about no one giving it a go and stupidly from my part this kind of goaded me into doing some work. I soon found this was pretty futile as all it did was enable riders to come over the top of me, putting me in the red and fighting for position. I recall giving myself a head check and to try not to be suckered into rookie moves before settling into my race again. All I needed to do was keep near the front, react if needed and with about 4 laps gone this is where I kept myself.
Around lap 6 I could spot 2 riders attempting a break, I’d estimate they were about 40-50 metres off the front, with not much thought I moved out and began reeling them in, looking over my shoulder the peleton were not chasing me down, after an almighty effort I found myself on their wheels and pushing on. I shouted to both guys that I needed to recover first so would have to skip a turn or 2 but once my legs came back we began working as a 3 and continued to build the gap.
I wasn’t sure if we could catch the earlier break, in fact I wasn’t sure about anything, oxygen depletion will do that to you. As we approached the 3 lap to go sign I sought clarification from Mike (OVB rider) that there were indeed 3-4 riders up the road, “No it’s just us” he replied, holy shit, with a 1 minute gap back to the main group I might actually get some points. It then dawned on me that the race car was in front of us so Mike was indeed correct.
Three become two
With about 2 laps to go after working incredibly hard the other rider began skipping turns, Mike thought he was sandbagging but I had a feeling it was genuine because of the way he was having to fight to stay on the wheel. A few minutes later and sure enough 3 became 2 as he ran out of legs, I heard him shout “good luck lads” which spurred me on even more. It was basically all or nothing now, Mike seemed the stronger and although I wanted to win if you could have given me 2nd place with 1 lap to go I would have chewed your arm clean off.
As the bell sounded I looked over my shoulder and the main group were not in view, I was pretty confident we wouldn’t be caught but self-doubt began to creep in as my legs started to show signs of cramp, but we both pushed on. I did notice that my turns seemed to be getting longer, was Mike tiring? Could I win? Both of those questions were answered with ½ lap to go as Mike attacked and created a gap that I was never going to close.
You can see Mike’s attack from his power graph here on Strava (apologies for the stalking)
I think it was clear his race craft was way ahead of mine, this move didn’t happen by chance so kudos to him for executing it. Although costing me time I kept looking back to see the where the bunch were, more doubt crept in as I couldn’t picture myself getting 2nd place, but when I did eventually see them, I knew barring a mechanical, alien abduction or spontaneous combustion (which given my present state seemed possible) I would hold on. I could see Mike celebrating and as I crossed the line I gave myself a little first pump, 2nd place and my first points.
Fist pump (Collapsing over the line, I look great on a bike don’t I)
The winner, you can make me out in the headlights
At the finish I congratulated Mike, he informed me he couldn’t sprint so went for the break, by the time the line came I could barely pedal never mind sprint so he would have been fine. With the race finished we rolled back to the HQ, the 2 miles felt like 10 but after handing my number in and getting a makeshift podium photo I was pretty pleased with the nights work.
Massive thanks to all those involved in putting these events on, Mike for the win and the photographers for capturing the moments.