It’s been a crazy 10 months or so learning about the world of road racing.
Last week I notched a 4th place finish which tipped me over the 40 point threshold required to go from 3rd category to 2nd category racing.
Over the months, I’ve learned a lot about road racing. The strategy of the race, decision making, positioning and deciding when to turn on the taps are all the mentally demanding things faced in each race.
Physically, you have to be extremely efficient at riding inches from someone’s wheel, elbow to elbow, banking into turns in a pack and being mindful of sketchy riders who could pose a threat to your well being (see below photo). There is not a moment to switch off at all, otherwise you could easily go down and take others with you.
Each race has provided me with a learning opportunity in one way or another. I may have got boxed in, missed the chance to join a breakaway, sprinted too early, did too much work at the front, chosen the wrong gear or on two occasions, banked too steep into a corner and hit the deck.
Heeding these lessons, I’ve been able to jump aboard a steep learning curve and the results have followed, especially in recent months when both confidence, race craft and fitness have all been better than ever.
Races have mainly been on closed tracks (Castle Coombe, Thruxton, Goodwood, Hillingdon) but I’ve also taken part in two closed town centre criterium races (Guildford and Farnham). These races are fast and furious and a completely different challenge to the more tidy circuit races. I’ve also taken part in a few road races which are a kind of happy medium between closed circuits and town centre crits.
A cold and wet February race at Hillingdon wasn’t much fun and to make things interesting I put some power down and ended up on my backside. Lesson 1 – be patient!
Luke and I enjoying a warmer evening going round Thruxton.
The 4 laps of closed roads lends itself to TT bikes perfectly and a decent time was posted.
Throwing a bit of Time Trialling into the mix for good raw power training!
A hilly 9 mile Surrey road circuit that we completed 7 laps of. Didn’t get any points but mixed it with the cat 2’s pretty well. (cat 2&3 race)
Guildford Crit. Amazing race, great crowds and a totally new type of racing. Was in the breakaway for top 5 finish but a poor gear change meant my chain dropped off and I was out of the race with a few hundred yards to go! Clown!
Close but no cigar.
Farnham Town Centre Crit. First ever crit race. A poor start, strong middle and nearly a great ending. Got too excited and cornered too hard. Went down. Wasted opportunity!
Debut at Castle Coombe with my trusty sidekick, Lukey. Placed 4th which began the hunt for 2nd cat.
The calm before the storm.
Making a break but only a short lived attack
A disturbing photo. I knew my solo break was enough to take a clear win but I didn’t know the carnage that unfolding behind me.
Can’t beat the feeling!
Another win at Hillindon put 10 more points in my pot and my entry fee plus a few beer tokens in my back pocket.
with Team FCCC cat 3 riders, Lukey and Nick, at the Winchester Park & Ride Car Park! Wet and horrible and happy to stay upright. Claimed 4th with no legs at all somehow and thus achieving 42 points and my cat 2 licence.
Debut race in the Elite/1/2 category. Fast and slick racing, fantastic race craft, power and ability on show. Went with a break and 10 of us held off the main bunch. Survived to attacks in which I was dropped and had to make my lungs and legs bleed in order to get back on. Finished in the sprint and bagged 5th. Sweet!
Debut at Redbridge Cycle Centre in the E/1/2 race. Cracking conditions for a good race around a technical circuit with a famous hill finish.
The was a National B race and I placed 8th, gaining 8 points.
Now it’s all about gaining more experience amongst better riders and hopefully collecting some more points this year, hopefully in some road races and at the Nationals in a few weeks. No doubt, an interesting journey awaits!