Over the past few months I have become increasingly interested in road racing, so much so I have actually started reading books about it! In my last piece I spoke about the Red Hook Crit and the high standard of racing, I want to race in the London event and would like it if I didn’t totally embarrass myself. So I have made the decision to get in as much practice as possible by entering as many road races as I can.
I headed to West Point just outside Exeter to compete in a local 4th Cat race. I had been looking forward to it for a few weeks and I had even been good, getting some training rides in. But disaster struck as a few days before the race as I managed to pull off a quite spectacular crash on my mountain bike and screw myself up. This definitely made yesterdays race a bit tougher than I had anticipated.
I wasn’t sure how well I would be able to compete and if my battered and bruised body would hold up to it; walking was a problem so I knew cycling was going to be difficult, but I wanted to give it a go anyway. After a brief warm up I was feeling quite good, my legs had loosened up and though I didn’t have full power I knew I had enough to have a good ride.
The pace was fast straight off the line. There were 33 competitors and my goal didn’t really involve placing I just wanted to finish the race. The field quickly split and a group of 4 riders broke away from the bunch, there was no reaction to the attack and the bunch struggled to work together to successfully reel them in. This is the thing with 4th Cat races, the riders are less experienced in working together and a lot of energy can be wasted.
I ended up stuck at the front of the bunch being a wind break for some time and know one would take their turn…well until I was pooped and my battered legs decided to start complaining. I remember looking down at my computer and seeing that the race had only been going 20 minutes and I wondered if my body would be able to hold the pace for the next 25 minutes.
Lap after lap I pushed through, grimacing and gasping for air, every lap I thought I wasn’t going to be able to push any more but you find the energy somewhere and carry on. There were 33 participants in the race at the beginning and those who got lapped or were going to be, were pulled out. I wasn’t aware of how fast we were going during the race as my computer only displays my heart rate and time moving, but it felt damn fast! In the end about half the field were lapped and pulled out, the standard seemed pretty high for a 4th Cat race and with an average speed of 40km/h I got a real good workout.
Every time I race, I ride around thinking; do I even like this? Am I enjoying it? This quickly turns to; ‘this is rubbish’ and ‘I hate this’ as fatigue sets in. When I finish the race I get that feeling of satisfaction and then my drive to do better kicks in and I start analysing my performance and and thinking of things I could have done better.
I guess this is what i enjoy about cycling, it the challenge and the ability to be able to compete against others and myself. I love a challenge and when I set myself a goal I work and try hard to achieve it. I want to be racing 3rd Cat so I am going to have to get busy and get some more races done. Lets see how this all pans out, thanks to Juliet Elliott for the photos and for cheering me on.