So, yesterday, I turned up for the SERRL handicap race.
For those who have only raced at Hillingdon, this is a different format as all the categories are racing together but “released” at different times.
First the cat 4s, then 1 minute later the cat 3s and then the E/1/2s. (Format is similar to the Ottershaw races in the Summer but on a circuit and more accessible for Cat 4s)
It is a slightly different dynamic as your group needs to work together and the pace in our cat 4 was definitely a bit quicker than the one other time I raced at Cyclopark.
My race as such was ended after about 15 minutes when I was caught behind a crash and lost my fellow cat 4s.
The upside was that I was then able to take a couple of laps to gather my thoughts before being swallowed up by the cat 3s.
I then kept with them for a few laps before I slipped off the back. Plans to wait for the E/1/2s and then jump on the back of them failed as I think there were only a small number of them and they came past at a pace too rich for my liking!
Still, I managed to catch a Cat 3 rider and the two of us worked together and treated the last half hour as a training exercise. We mopped up several more riders as we went and ended up in a group of about 6 or so.
So, an interesting introduction to handicap racing. The pace was definitely a bit quicker than an average Cat 4 but should have been manageable. The race was won by the E/1/2s this week but apparently the previous one had been won by a group of Cat 4 racers as they were not caught. So, if the handicappers get it right, there is a chance for all.
If you haven’t been to Cyclopark, it is a great purpose built facility near Gravesend (think Hillingdon but longer, more technical, better facilities). It is about 50 minutes from Waterloo East to Gravesend and then a 10 minute ride from the station so it is pretty accessible.
I think they have a winter series early next year so if you manage to complete the series at Hillingdon and don’t want to wait until summer, give it a go – it’s an interesting circuit!